The Academy goes for mass appeal with the 2019 Oscar nominations

Best Leading Actress-nominated Yalitza Aparicio and Marco Graf in the Best Picture nominated “Roma.”

Alexander Gray

The Academy seems to be aiming for increased audience accessibility with this year’s nominations; “Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Roma” lead the race for the 91st Academy Awards.

Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” earned ten nominations including best picture, original screenplay and directing. Cuarón is no newcomer to the Oscars, nominated for his work on films like “Gravity,” “Children of Men” and “Y Tu Mamá También.” “Roma” makes history as the first best picture nomination for a Netflix original film.

“Black Panther” marks the first best picture nomination for a superhero film after a successful awards campaign by Disney and Marvel Studios. Ryan Coogler’s film takes six other nominations including costume design, original score and original song.

Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born,” Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favorite,” Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” Adam McKay’s “Vice” and Bryan Singer’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” round out 2019’s best picture nominations.

Pixar’s “Incredibles II,” the hyper-stylized “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” face a close race in the animated feature film category.

Glenn Close for her role in “The Wife” and Melissa McCarthy for her role in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” are the clear frontrunners for actress in a leading role. After making the transition from pop singer to actress, Lady Gaga has the chance to win for her role in “A Star is Born.” 

Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury and Christian Bale’s portrayal of Dick Cheney are both completely transformative roles, setting them apart from the rest of the nominations for actor in a leading role.

Among 2019’s nomination snubs are Damien Chazelle’s “First Man,” John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” and Josie Rourke’s “Mary Queen of Scots,” completely shut out of best picture, director, screenplay and acting nominations. Controversially, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” a documentary about the life of beloved Fred Rogers, was left out of best documentary nominations.

Touting massive blockbusters like “Black Panther” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” 2019’s Best Picture lineup is considerably different and more accessible than years past. The best picture nominations in 2018 were populated by “higher art” films like “Phantom Thread,” “Lady Bird” and “Call Me by Your Name.”

The 2018 Best Picture films with the highest box office gross were “Dunkirk” and “Get Out,” grossing $526.9 million and $255.4 million respectively. Compared to 2019’s highest grossing nominations, “Black Panther” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” grossed $1.347 billion and $798.8 million respectively. (Box Office Mojo)

According to Nielsen ratings, 2018’s 90th Academy Awards saw a 19 percent drop in viewership from the year prior, a staggering blow to the awards show. It’s possible the Academy voters purposefully selected more films with mass appeal for viewers to rally behind in an attempt to remedy this loss.

It explains their attempt to introduce the outstanding achievement in popular film award to add blockbuster films like “Avengers: Infinity War” or “Aquaman” to the awards show that wouldn’t otherwise see a best picture nomination. The award’s announcement was met with nearly universal criticism and was later withdrawn, but it’s possible to see its return in future shows.  

The Academy Awards has also found difficulty in securing a host for the show after Kevin Hart stepped down for the role when the comedian was brought under fire for tweets from earlier in his career.

After Hart’s resignation, the Academy may forgo any host at all for the 2019 awards show, with no host announced even after the nominations were released. Instead the show may be supported by skits featuring celebrities, with a large portion of the “Avengers: Endgame” cast rumored to be involved.