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Tuesday December 1st, 2020 10:31AM

‘Joker’ leads Oscar noms; ‘1917,’ ‘Irishman’ close behind

By The Associated Press
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Female filmmakers were shut out, “Parasite” made history and “Joker” edged out “The Irishman," “1917” and “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” in Monday's Oscar nominations.

Todd Phillips’ R-rated superhero smash “Joker” topped all films with 11 nominations to the 92nd Academy Awards, while Martin Scorsese’s elegiac crime epic “The Irishman,” Quentin Tarantino’s 1960s Los Angeles fairy tale “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” and Sam Mendes’ continuous World War I tale “1917” all trailed close behind with 10 nods apiece.

Those four were among the nine films nominated for best picture by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The others were: Greta Gerwig's Louisa May Alcott adaptation “Little Women,” Noah Baumbach's divorce drama “Marriage Story,” Taika Waititi's Nazi Germany romp “Jojo Rabbit," James Mangold's racing drama “Ford v Ferrari” and Bong Joon Ho's class satire “Parasite" — the first Korean film to be nominated and only the 11th non-English best-picture nominee.

“Joker,” which gives the DC Comics villain an antihero spin cribbed from Scorsese, was expected to do well. But the academy's overwhelming support for a divisive movie that was far from a critical favorite was unexpected. Its nominations included best actor for Joaquin Phoenix and best director for Phillips.

Though a record 62 women (or about a third of nominees) were nominated Monday, the academy put the most weight behind a handful of swaggering male-driven and man-made movies predicated on virtuosity, spectacle and star power. For the 87th time, the academy selected all-male directing nominees.

Hollywood, in the midst of a streaming upheaval, also gave Netflix more nominations than ever before: 24. The 10 nominations for “The Irishman” tied the most for a Netflix film, following “Roma” last year. Scorsese, a one-time winner for “The Departed,” was nominated for best director for the ninth time. The film also won nods for Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and its de-aging special effects. “We put all of ourselves into this picture,” said Scorsese in a statement.

“1917" followed up its Golden Globes win and strong opening weekend at the box office with nominations not just for its technical achievement (including Mendes' directing and Roger Deakins' cinematography) but for best screenplay, too.

“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” was nominated in just about every category it was expected to, including Tarantino for directing and screenplay, best actor for Leonardo DiCaprio and best supporting actor for Brad Pitt. And Hollywood loves little more than a good story about itself.

“It's a real love story to this industry," DiCaprio said by phone. "In this movie, Quentin got to do a movie that was a homage to Los Angeles and a place that I grew up in.”

Despite a year in which women made historic gains behind the camera, female directors were again shut out of best director. The most likely candidate was Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), who was the last woman nominated, two years ago for “Lady Bird.”

“Congratulations to those men,” said Issa Rae, who presented the nominees alongside John Cho.

Rebecca Goldman, chief operating officer for Time's Up said of the lack of women nominated for directing: “This is why Time's Up exists — to ensure women in entertainment and across industries get the opportunities and recognition they deserve.”

There were many surprises. Awkwafina, who was poised to become just the second Asian American nominated for best actress (the first, 1936 nominee Merle Oberon, hid her South Asian heritage), wasn't nominated for her acclaimed leading performance in “The Farewell.” Also overlooked for best animated film was “Frozen 2,” the highest grossing animated film ever; Beyoncé, for her “Lion King” song; and the hit documentary “Apollo 11.”

Most glaringly, Jennifer Lopez, long considered a supporting actress front-runner for her performance in “Hustlers,” was also denied her first Oscar nomination.

Those oversights left the Oscars with their least diverse field since the fallout of #OscarsSoWhite pushed the film academy to diversify its membership. The only actor of color nominated was Cynthia Erivo, the British actress, for her Harriet Tubman in “Harriet.” (Erivo was also nominated for best song.) Last week, the British film academy nominated only white performers, leading Erivo to decline an invitation to perform.

Bong Joon Ho's “Parasite,” however, made history for South Korea. Along with the country's first nomination for best international film, the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or-winner also scored nods for Bong's direction, best editing and best production design.

No filmmaking couple has had an Oscar nominations morning quite like Gerwig and “Marriage Story” director Noah Baumbach. Their movies were each nominated for best picture, best screenplay (adapted for Gerwig; original for Baumbach) and six nominations in total.

“Little Women” producer Amy Pascal, the former Sony Pictures chief, said she would celebrate with Gerwig and Baumbach at dinner Monday evening. On Gerwig's lack of directing nod, Pascal said: “I wish it were otherwise. But we're so proud this morning.”

Nominations for “Marriage Story” included nods for its leads, Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, and Laura Dern for best supporting actress. Johansson, also nominated for her supporting turn in “Jo Jo Rabbit," became the first two-time acting nominee since Cate Blanchett managed the feat in 2007.

Also nominated for best actress was Renée Zellweger, considered the front-runner for her Judy Garland in “Judy”; Charlize Theron ("Bombshell"); and Soairse Ronan ("Little Women"). Just 25 years old, Ronan now has four Oscar nominations.

Joining Driver, DiCaprio and Phoenix for best actor were Jonathan Pryce, who stars as Pope Francis in “The Two Popes"; and Antonio Banderas, who plays a semi-fictionalized version of director Pedro Almodóvar in “Pain and Glory.” “What are the odds that you are being directed by your own character?” Banderas said by phone. "Very rare, right?”

No category was more competitive than best actor this year. Those left out were themselves a formidable group: Eddie Murphy ("Dolemite Is My Name"), Robert De Niro ("The Irishman"), Christian Bale ("Ford v Ferrari") and Adam Sandler ("Uncut Gems").

Sandler on Twitter responded: “Bad news: Sandman gets no love from the academy. Good news: Sandman can stop wearing suits.”

Tom Hanks received his first Oscar nomination since “Cast Away” 19 years ago for his Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” But Pitt, who is heading toward his first acting Academy Award, is the overwhelming favorite among the supporting actor nominees. Joining Pitt, Hanks, Pacino and Pesci was Pryce's papal co-star, Anthony Hopkins.

Along with Dern and Johansson, the nominees for best supporting actress were Kathy Bates (“Richard Jewell”), Florence Pugh ("Little Women”) and Margot Robbie (“Bombshell").

“American Factory,” the first film from Barack and Michelle Obama's recently launched production company, Higher Ground, was nominated for best documentary. Said Obama: “It’s the kind of story we don’t see often enough and it’s exactly what Michelle and I hope to achieve with Higher Ground.”

“Honeyland," about a wild bee keeper in rural Macedonia, became the first film ever nominated for both best documentary and best international film. The film, directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubo Stefanov, began as a short video commission from Macedonia’s Nature Conservation Project and grew into one of the year's most acclaimed releases.

Also up for best documentary are: “For Sama,” “The Edge of Democracy” and the Syrian Civil War film “The Cave.” Feras Fayyad, director of “The Cave," was nominated in 2018 for his “Last Men in Aleppo” but was unable to attend the Oscars when his visa was rejected because of President Donald Trump's travel ban.

“I wish my film, which provides clear evidence of crimes against humanity committed by Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime and his Russian conspirators, did not need to exist," Fayyad said in a statement. “I wish I was still in Damascus drinking coffee with my artist friends.”

The other nominees for best international film were “Pain and Glory” from Spain, “Les Miserables” from France and “Corpus Christi” from Poland.

The nominees for best animated feature film were: “How to Train a Dragon: The Hidden World”; “Toy Story 4”; “I Lost My Body”; “Klaus”; “Missing Link.”

After the most dominant box-office year in Hollywood history, the Walt Disney Co.'s top films — including the record-setting Marvel blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame” — were largely relegated to categories like best visual effects. The studio, which has never won a best picture Academy Award, does have a few contenders via its acquisition in April of 20th Century Fox: best picture nominees “Ford v Ferrari” and “Jojo Rabbit.”

The 92nd Academy Awards will take place Feb. 9 in Los Angeles at the Dolby Theatre. ABC will again broadcast the show, viewership for which last year rose 12% to 29.6 million. Like last year, this year's ceremony will go without a host.

Another thing that will be the same: John Williams is again a nominee for best score, for “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.” His 52 nominations are second only to Walt Disney's 59.

___

AP Entertainment Writers Jonathan Landrum Jr. and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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