The 91st annual Academy Awards has unveiled its 2019 nominees with “The Favourite” and “Roma” leading the list with 10 nods each.
However, the nomination list is still considered to be very white-dominated as it lacks in Asian representation, and Asian fans are especially disappointed that box office hit film “Crazy Rich Asians” is completely shutout by the Academy.
It is understandable that Jon M Chu’s movie “Crazy Rich Asians” is not exactly Oscar material due to the fact that it’s a rom-com which features an all-Asian cast to boot, but not having a single, tiny spot at this year’s Oscars at all doesn’t seem to sit well with the Asian audience.
“While representation for African-American and Latin films and actors was decent this morning, Asian performers missed out on best-picture inclusion for ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and a supporting-actress nomination for co-star Michelle Yeoh,” says IMDb.com correspondent Dave Karger.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that no Asian made it to the nomination list at all. This year, 8 Asian Oscar nominees have been listed in the 2019 Academy Awards nominations – though in smaller categories. Check them out!
Mirai – Best Animated Feature
Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, Japanese animated fantasy film “Mirai” is the 6th Japanese film to be nominated in Oscar’s Best Animated Feature, and the only film that is not released under Studio Ghibli. Past Japanese animated films nominated for this category include “Spirited Away” which won the category in 2003, “Howl’s Moving Castle”, “The Wind Rises”, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”, and “When Marnie Was There”.
Synopsis: The movie follows a young boy who encounters a magical garden which enables him to travel through time and meet his relatives from different eras, with the guidance from his younger sister from the future.
Isle of Dogs – Best Animated Feature
Though the movie is not directed by an Asian director, it is set in Japan and is typically about the country’s culture. Some critics have argued that the film is an example of racial stereotyping and cultural appropriation, but one of the co-writers of the movie who is also one of the voice cast, Kunichi Nomura noted that the movie does respect the Japanese culture the right way. The movie is directed by Wes Anderson, featuring an ensemble of voice cast including Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, and more.
Synopsis: Set in a dystopian near-future Japan, the story follows a young boy (Koyu Rankin) searching for his dog after the species is banished to an island following the outbreak of a canine flu.
Shoplifters – Best Foreign Language Film
“Shoplifters” is considered to be the highest-profile nomination for an Asian film this year. Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, the movie is described as a “socially conscious” film about a family that relies on shoplifting to cope with a life of poverty. The movie is one of the highest-grossing domestic films of the year in Japan with over US$37.8 million.
Synopsis: The story focuses on a family of small-time crooks who try to survive their everyday life through petty crimes. One day, they come across a young girl living by herself on the streets and decide to take her in and raise her.
Capernaum – Best Foreign Language Film
“Capernaum” is the 2nd Lebanese film to be nominated in Best Foreign Language Film category after “The Insult” in 2017. Written and directed by Nadine Labaki, the movie won the Jury Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and received a 15-minute standing ovation at Cannes.
Synopsis: A streetwise 12-year-old Lebanese boy has ran away from his negligent parents, committed a violent crime and sentenced to 5 years in jail. While serving his sentence, the boy sues his parents in protest of the life they have given him.
Bao – Best Animated Short Film
Written and directed by Chinese-Canadian Domee Shi, “Bao” is the first female-directed Pixar short to be nominated for an Oscar. The short is inspired from Shi’s personal experiences as a daughter of Chinese immigrants. The short film was released together with “Incredibles 2”.
Synopsis: The film is about an aging and lonely Asian mother, suffering from empty-nest syndrome, who receives an unexpected second chance at motherhood when she makes a dumpling that comes to life as a boy.
Free Solo – Best Documentary Feature
Directed by husband and wife pair Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the documentary which was produced by National Geographic chronicles the first-ever free solo climb of El Capitan at Yosemite National Park. The feature won the People’s Choice Award: Documentaries at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
Synopsis: The film profiles rock climber Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000 ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, Honnold completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history.
Minding the Gap – Best Documentary Feature
“Minding the Gap” has won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival, and the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Non-Fiction Film. Helmed by debutant director Bing Liu, former U.S. President Barack Obama cited the film as one of his favourites of 2018.
Synopsis: The documentary chronicles the lives and friendships of three young men who are united by their love of skateboarding.
First Man (Ai-Ling Lee) – Best Sound Mixing & Best Sound Editing
Singaporean sound editor Ai-Ling Lee received 2 nods at this year’s Oscar. Lee who works in Los Angeles has involved in various Hollywood productions such as “Bruce Almighty”, “Tangled”, “Deadpool” and more. She previously received 2 Oscar nods in the same categories for “La La Land”. Together with Mildred Iatrou Morgan, their nomination in Best Sound Editing made them the first female team to be nominated in the category.
Synopsis: Directed by Damien Chazelle, “First Man” is based on the book “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong” by James R. Hansen, with Ryan Gosling taking on the lead role. The story follows the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon.