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Hollywood Wakes Up Early To Hear Oscar Nominations


All right. From the royal family to Hollywood, this morning the stars woke up before dawn to see if they were named as nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards. The nominations were announced by actors Issa Rae and John Cho. They were at the soon-to-open Academy Museum here in Los Angeles.

And NPR's Mandalit del Barco is here with me at NPR West to talk through the news. Hi, Mandalit.


GREENE: Got to start with the "Joker." Right?


GREENE: Eleven nominations. This is the psychological thriller about a mentally ill comedian, earning nominations for star Joaquin Phoenix and also the director, Todd Phillips.


JOAQUIN PHOENIX: (As Arthur Fleck) People are starting to notice.

BRETT CULLEN: (As Thomas Wayne) You think this is funny?

PHOENIX: (As Arthur Fleck, laughing).

CULLEN: (As Thomas Wayne) Is this a joke to you?

DEL BARCO: While people are starting to notice "Joker," it also...

GREENE: Apparently.

DEL BARCO: Yes - it also earned nominations for costume design, cinematography and score. But David, it's worth noting - it's worth taking a closer look at that directing category. The nominees include Martin Scorsese for his gangster film "The Irishman," Quentin Tarantino for his nostalgic take on 1970s Hollywood "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood," Sam Mendes for his World War I film "1917" and South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for "Parasite." And you'll notice, though, that not a single woman was nominated for directing. Announcer Issa Rae quickly noted that after the category was read.


ISSA RAE: Congratulations to those men.

GREENE: Oh, wow (laughter). She didn't hold back at all.


GREENE: All right - something to note there, obviously. Well, those films you just noted for best director, all also nominated for best picture. And can't that be a funny category. You can have, like, five. You can have 10 nominations due to this ranked voting system. And this year, they settled on nine.

DEL BARCO: Nine, yeah. And besides the other films that we mentioned, that list also includes "Ford V Ferrari," "Jojo Rabbit" "Marriage Story" and "Little Women."

GREENE: OK. So now to the actors - and I mean, as we know, one of the things Oscar has been criticized for for a long time is lack of diversity. What are we looking at this year?

DEL BARCO: Well, in the leading actor category, Antonio Banderas was nominated for "Pain And Glory" along with Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Driver, Joaquin Phoenix and Jonathan Pryce. And in the supporting actor category, well, it was all white men. And that group includes Tom Hanks, who was nominated for a supporting role as Mister Rogers in "A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood" - his first nomination in 20 years. It also has Joe Pesci and Al Pacino going up against each other for their parts in "The Irishman."

And for actresses, Scarlett Johansson was nominated twice, once for supporting for "Jojo Rabbit" and again for lead in "Marriage Story." She'll be competing against Cynthia Erivo for "Harriet," Saoirse Ronan in "Little Women," Charlize Theron in "Bombshell" and Renee Zellweger for her turn as Judy Garland. Here is a clip from that movie, "Judy."


RENEE ZELLWEGER: (As Judy Garland, singing) There's a land that I've heard of...

You won't forget me, will you?

(Singing) Once in a lullaby...

Promise you won't.

GREENE: Gives me chills. That's beautiful.

One other category I wanted to ask you about - it looks like it'll be especially competitive. It's the newly named best international feature category. And one movie competing is "Honeyland," nominated for doc. Right?

DEL BARCO: Right. That's right. "Honeyland," the film from North Macedonia, is about a woman in the mountains who is keeping the tradition of beekeeping for honey alive. And in that very competitive international feature category, "Honeyland" will go up against France's "Les Miserables," Spain's "Pain And Glory," Poland's "Corpus Christi." And perhaps the biggest competition will come from South Korea's "Parasite," which earned a total of six nominations.

GREENE: All right. There are the Oscar nominations from NPR Arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco here at NPR West. Mandalit, thanks so much.

DEL BARCO: Thanks, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.