Oscar nominations: Joker, The Irishman NJ favorites for Academy Awards

The nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards are here, and all eyes will be on New Jersey at this year’s Oscars.

That’s because two locally-shot films, “Joker” and “The Irishman,” are among the year’s most-nominated movies.

An origin story for Batman’s arch-nemesis, “Joker” topped the Oscar contenders announced Monday morning, earning 11 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix in the title role and Best Director for Todd Phillips.

A dark and gritty villain’s saga that was shot in Jersey City and Newark in 2018, the film also earned a Best Cinematography nomination for Teaneck native Lawrence Sher. The executive producer was Ocean Township native Michael Uslan.

In September, “Joker” won the top prize at the 76th Venice International Film Festival, the Golden Lion Award.

Previous Golden Lion winners, including Laurence Olivier’s “Hamlet” (1948) and Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” (2017) went on to win the Best Picture Oscar.

Earlier this month, “Joker” won a pair of Golden Globes: Best Actor in a Drama for Joaquin Phoenix in the title role and Best Original Score for Hildur Gudnadottir’s music, also nominated for an Oscar.

Martin Scorsese’s Netflix crime epic “The Irishman,” named one of the best films of 2019 by the Asbury Park Press, is also a local contender with 10 nominations. The film — starring a once-in-a-lifetime ensemble of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel and Bobby Cannavale — was partially filmed in Paterson.

Newark native Pesci, who owns a home in Lavallette, earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the film. Scorsese previously directed him to Oscar gold in that category for 1990’s “GoodFellas.”

While it tied with Sam Mendes’ “1917” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” for second-most nominations at 10 apiece, sailing hasn’t exactly been smooth on the way to the Oscars for “The Irishman.” It didn’t take home any of the five Golden Globes it was nominated for. It did, however, earn Best Film honors from the likes of the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle.
Film production has been booming across New Jersey since lawmakers in Trenton approved tax credits to draw movie and television production back to New Jersey in 2018.

Other New Jersey-connected Oscar contenders on Monday morning included studio Sony Pictures Classics, where the co-founder and co-president is Tom Bernard of Middletown. Their “Pain and Glory” by Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar earned a Best International Feature nomination, as well as a Best Actor nod for Antonio Banderas.

Ocean Township’s Robert Legato, a three-time winner, earned a Best Achievement in Visual Effects nomination for Disney and director Jon Favreau’s re-telling of “The Lion King.”

The Oscars smiled on New Jersey last year, as Best Picture winner “Green Book” chronicled a chapter in the life of the late Frank Anthony Vallelonga Sr. of Paramus, also known as Tony Lip, played in the film by Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen.

The 92nd Academy Awards will air, once again host-free, on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 9.

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