First Man got snubbed and other Ars Technica Oscars 2019 ran

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Sadly, Annihilation didn't get any nominations

The Super Bowl of film nerdery has finally arrived—this Sunday, the 2019 Oscars take place. While no awards show can be everything to all people, these Academy Awards have undeniably become the de facto historical record for the big screen over time.

If you've kept up with Ars' film tastes in the past year, maybe our preferences are already clear. It seems silly that a CGI-d Winnie The Pooh will take on superhero movies for Best Visual Effects instead of the trippy sci-fi experience that is Annihilation or that the unbelievable amount of care put into the screens of Searching doesn't get an editing nod. But most categories only get five slots and Academy voting body tastes are slow to expand over time. Not every film fan's preferences can be ultimately fulfilled.

That said, this week's Orbital Transmission can't help but voice opinions from the Ars water cooler one last time. Maybe we should all just be happy that a film like Wreck-It Ralph 2 can find critical adoration even in today's ultra-saturated entertainment world. But as passionate film watchers, naturally we have a few Correct Opinions™ about what should go down this Sunday, too. 

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Orbital Transmission 2.19.2019
Ryan Gosling in First Man

At least acknowledge First Man's VFX artistry

Made by a past Oscar nominee and starring a past Oscar nominee, First Man likely didn't have the awards season anyone expected for a high-profile period piece/biopic. But have you watched this thing recently? Though Ryan Gosling's Neil Armstrong is (accurately) a quiet character and this film revels in a surprising amount of stillness considering it covers humanity's most impressive technical achievement to date, every launch sequences conveys a stunning combination of artistry, monument, and rickety realism. Avengers: Infinity War is rumored to be the VFX favorite, but fingers crossed for early spaceflight. "There are some stunning action scenes in the movie that bring to life some of the most dynamic moments in Armstrong's life most of us have only read about," Ars Space Guru Eric Berger wrote in his review. "In putting these moments on a big screen, and making a concerted effort to relate them faithfully, First Man feels like a grand gift to space fans."

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We still can't believe some films are sitting this one out

It's impossible to see all the films in a given year, but that will never stop anyone (Ars included) from holding a few Oscar nomination grudges. First Man's Best Picture bonafides aside, two of the best films we saw on the 2018 festival circuit—the technical achievement that is The Guilty, the heartfelt genre-blending mystery that is Border—are sitting the Best Foreign Film race out. Same goes for what certainly felt like the most surprising (read: batshit) documentary of last year, Three Identical Strangers. At the very least, an Oscar nomination is a high-profile recommendation that might help an otherwise forgotten film potentially find a new audience, and each of the above titles deserves an addition to anyone's streaming queue.

Spider-man: Into The Spiderverse

The best superhero movie of 2018 may be animated

We'll skip the inevitable Internet rage wars of Avengers stans somehow trying to argue it's better than Black Panther. We enjoyed both (and animated film Oscars nominee, Incredibles 2), but this latest Spider-Man incarnation really surprised everyone around the Ars office. Into The Spiderverse took what seemed like a silly premise and made a film that reflects a lot of life's complexities in 2018/2019, all while earning genuine laughs and introducing a sleek new animation style to salivate over. "It's easily the best comic-nerd film in years to warmly embrace the kinds of viewers who know their comics canon front and back, all without intimidating the inevitable kid and newbie viewers attracted to this incredibly family-friendly adventure," wrote reviewer Sam Machkovech.

Killmonger and T'Challa in Black Panther

C'mon, let's all root for Black Panther as Best Picture

The Dark Knight (and maybe even to a lesser extent Star Wars or Harry Potter) did not fall short of Best Pictures past in vain. In 2018, the world finally got a superhero that seemingly elevated an increasingly familiar genre. Black Panther widened pop culture's vision of a superhero and a superhero world, it spoke to present day philosophical struggles (walls and nationalism, technology as savior, etc.) like movies with far fewer powers and capes, and it solved some of the genre's more lackluster tropes (lack of a role for women, a one-note and unsympathetic villain, etc.). If you didn't work directly on another nominee, the Best Picture candidate to root for seems clear. "In a year where the world lost Marvel Comics pioneers Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, it also gained something remarkable: a superhero film that answered years of shouts about taking risks, exploring new characters, and giving more kids in the world an otherworldly universe that speaks their language," Machkovech wrote when naming Ars' top film of 2018. "Avengers: Infinity War landed at the bottom of my personal list because it shrugged its shoulders at the true meanings of love and hope. Black Panther is at the top of my list because it took a much bolder and well-rounded look at those two painful, imperfect concepts."

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