My Thoughts on the 2018 Oscar Nominations

Some quick thoughts on this morning’s Oscar nominations (see the full list here: ):

As expected, The Shape of Water leads the way, with a total of 13 nominations. Only 11 other films in Oscar history have received 13 or more nominations. 8 of those 11 went on to win Best Picture.

While it is looking good for The Shape of Water, Phantom Thread came on strong this morning, pulling in a surprising 6 nominations, including Best Picture.

The rest of the Best Picture lineup was pretty much as expected, except for the exclusion of The Big Sick and Mudbound and the inclusion of Darkest Hour. I, personally, felt that Darkest Hour was a weak film and there were much better films that could have been recognized instead, including The Big Sick (my favorite movie of the year) and The Florida Project. Some were hoping Wonder Woman would have had a shot here, but, instead, it was shut out completely.

Also shut out was James Franco, who was thought to be a shoo-in for getting a Best Actor nomination for The Disaster Artist. His “snub” seems to be read as a nod to the #MeToo movement, as Franco was publicly accused of sexual misconduct right in the middle of the nominating process. Getting the fifth slot for Best Actor in Franco’s absence is Denzel Washington, a semi-surprise, considering his film, Roman J. Israel, Esq, was widely panned by critics. But Washington is an Academy favorite and putting him in in place of Franco seems to be a timely choice. Other options could have been Tom Hanks (The Post) or Jake Gyllenhall (Stronger), but the more diverse Academy seemed to be making a statement here.

Best Director also has some notable and timely choices. Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and Jordan Peele (Get Out) both represent underrepresented minorities in this category: Gerwig is only the 5th woman and Peele the 5th black man ever to be nominated for Best Director. Another first: Christopher Nolan, after an illustrious and critically acclaimed career so far, pulls in his first nomination for Best Director, for Dunkirk, as does Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water). That makes 4 of the 5 nominees for Best Director first-timers. Only Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread) has been nominated before, but he’s never won.

Dunkirk, by the way, managed to get 8 nominations without a single acting nom. Impressive. Also impressive are the nominations for Meryl Streep (Best Actress: The Post), Roger Deakins (Best Cinematography, Blade Runner 2049) and John Williams (Original score, Star Wars: The Last Jedi). The nominations this morning represent their 21st, 14th and 51st Oscar nominations, respectively. Streep has won 3 times and Williams 5. Guess how many Deakins has won: 0.

While I am hoping Deakins finally wins for Best Cinematography after 13 tries, I can’t help but be rooting for Rachel Morrison, who was nominated for Mudbound. After 90 years, the Academy had never nominated a woman for Cinematography until today. Lots of firsts today.

In perhaps another nod to the #MeToo movement, Christopher Plummer nabbed a surprising nomination for Best Supporting Actor for All the Money in the World. Plummer made headlines when, only a month before the expected release date of the movie, he was cast to replace Kevin Spacey, who had been scandalized by sexual assault charges. Director Ridley Scott had 10 days to reshoot all of Spacey’s scenes, now with Plummer. This required a reassembling of cast and crew and feverish editing and post-production to make it to its December 21 release date. It not only made it, but it garnered a nomination for Plummer, making him the oldest Oscar nominee in history. It can’t help but feel like some sort of statement. Of course, if they really wanted to make a statement, the Academy could’ve nominated Michelle Williams, who famously was paid $80 a day for the reshoots, while her costar, Mark Wahlberg, made over $1 million (which he subsequently donated to the TimesUp campaign).

But Williams was not nominated, and neither was Holly Hunter, who should have been for Best Supporting Actress for The Big Sick. Hunter was fantastic and had been recognized by every other award this season, but her spot went to Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) instead. It’s hard to find much else to fault about the category, however, as all 5 women are over 40 and are fabulous. Mary J. Blige, Octavia Spencer, Laurie Metcalf and Allison Janney are all fantastic. Even though I think Metcalf’s performance was phenomenal and should win in a landslide, it looks like the momentum is going to carry Janney to the win and, really, I have a hard time finding fault with that. No matter how much I love Metcalf, it is physically and emotionally impossible to not be happy at the thought of Allison Janney winning an Oscar.

Other notes:
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, was the front-runner for Best Picture, but its lack of a nomination for its director (Martin McDonagh) is a sign that its not as strong as some may think, which could open the door for The Shape of Water to win.

-To see In the Fade (Germany) not make the cut in the Foreign Language category is a travesty.

-The 4 nominations for Mudbound are the first non-documentary Oscar nominations ever for Netflix. Amazon, for its part, only garnered one nomination, for original screenplay for The Big Sick.

-So happy to see Carter Burwell (Three Billboards) and Jonny Greenwood (Phantom Thread) nominated for Best Original Score. I’ve always loved Burwell and Greenwood has made the successful transition from rock band (Radiohead) to legit movie composer, which I love. Although I admittedly did not love his score for Phantom Thread. I felt it was, much like Hans Zimmer’s score for Dunkirk (also nominated), overbearing and distracting. I have a feeling I will be very disappointed on Oscar night though, because one of those two will likely win.

-If you think Allison Janney will be the tallest person at the Oscars, you’ll be wrong. They might have to raise the roof, literally, to accommodate Kobe Bryant on the red carpet, since his short film, Dear Basketball, was nominated for Best Animated Short Film. Maybe this is how they coax Jack Nicholson back to the Oscars.

So that’s it. The nominations are in and now it’s a mad sprint to the finish line at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, on Sunday, March 4. See you then!!

POSTSCRIPT: To see all the winners, go here.