Happy (or maybe not-so-happy) Oscar nomination day to those who celebrate!
For those who aren’t cinephiles and don’t participate in the annual early morning ritual that is The Academy Award nominations, you heard it here first that the API community had some nods to celebrate. Celine Song’s “Past Lives” received nominations for Best Picture and Original Screenplay, Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron” rounded up the Best Animated Feature Film nomination, “Godzilla Minus One” was recognized for its visual effects, and Yoko Ono-executive produced animated short film “War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko” earned recognition in the Best Animated Short category.
For all the wins, there were, of course, some unfortunate and surprising snubs. Here’s our list of some fabulous showings that missed out.
The Netflix film “May December” may have at first received buzz because of its star-studded lead actors, Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, but critics and non-critics alike determined its real breakout was “Riverdale” alum, Charles Melton.
Melton plays 36-year-old Joe Yoo who is married to 59-year-old Gracie (Moore), their relationship is the result of an affair that took place when Yoo was 13 and Gracie was 36. Melton imbues Yoo with the effect one would expect of a man who is still stuck in the age he was traumatized in, from his hunched posture to hesitant step to muffled speaking voice — he’s truly a boy in a man’s body. The emotional climax of the film is even led by Melton, in which Yoos’ ordinarily quiet disposition transforms into a confrontational one. Having been recognized as best supporting actor by the Gotham Awards, Critic’s Choice Awards, New York Film Critics Circle Awards, and our very own Unforgettable Gala, many thought he would at least get a shot at the Oscar, but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be this year.
The box office hit and prequel to “The Hunger Games” trilogy, “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” has everything from a talented cast to riveting original music. In fact, all American darling herself, Olivia Rodrigo, had the chance to write an original song for the film and knocked it out of the park. “Can’t Catch Me Now” written by Rodrigo and producer Dan Nigro perfectly encapsulates the story of main character Lucy Gray Baird’s (Rachel Zegler) lasting effect on Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blythe), and forgetting it’s beautiful lyricism, has over 100 million streams on Spotify and practically 20 million views on YouTube. Considering the song was shortlisted for the Oscars and that Rodrigo’s sophomore album, “GUTS”, was a 2023 release, the singer was primed for a chance at the Best Original Song Oscar.
There is always next year!
- “The Boy and the Heron” by Joe Hisaishi
Hayao Miyazaki is, once again, back. The master animator returned this past year with the critically acclaimed “The Boy and the Heron”, a tale about a young man grappling with the death of his mother. Of course, in Miyazaki fashion, things get fantastical. Also in Miyazaki fashion is the incorporation of a dazzling score by frequent collaborator Joe Hisaishi, whose scores elevate the best of the Studio Ghibli films. Unfortunately, Hisaishi was left out of this year’s Best Original Score lineup, which did not include any animated features, (many citing “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” as another that was snubbed), and instead made room for John Williams who scored “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” Hopefully, we get another magical Miyazaki and Hisaishi collaboration in the future, and, like times before, this isn’t the director’s final film.
Although “Past Lives” received nods from the Academy for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture, the key element to its success was overlooked — the people behind and in front of the camera. Greta Lee and Teo Yoo play our main characters, Nora (Lee) and Hae Sung (Yoo), two childhood sweethearts who reunite after 24 years and reflect on the “What ifs?” of their lives. Lee and Yoo are stellar, both giving masterclasses in subtlety and intentionality. Nora (Lee) is so strong, but Lee rounds her out with tender gazes at her spouse Arthur (John Magro) and an almost tangible hesitancy toward Hae Sung (Yoo). Yoo on the other hand is able to be a strong leading man because of Hae Sung’s vulnerability, and not in spite of it. Between the two actors, they’ve been recognized by the Golden Globes, BAFTA, Gotham Awards, and, for Lee, a Best Actor in Film Award was earned at the Unforgettable Gala this year. Finally, since “Past Lives” merited Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture nominations, it’s baffling that director Celine Song didn’t make it into the Best Director lineup, seeing as though an accolade for overall picture would indicate outstanding directing. Having already been recognized by the Golden Globes, Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Sundance Film Festival — where Song took home a Vanguard award — she was believed to be in good territory to receive a nod from The Academy.