The 90th Oscar Nominations


Written by Richard Houlihan

SAG (Screen Actors Guild)
PGA (Producers’ Guild of America)
DGA (Directors’ Guild of America)
BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Awards)

The 90th Oscar nominations were announced and The Shape of Water led the way with thirteen nominations, with Dunkirk behind with eight.  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri picked up seven, but missed a Best Director nomination for Martin McDonagh.  Both Darkest Hour and Phantom Thread managed to get six each, as Lady Bird received five, along with Blade Runner 2049 (although they were entirely below the line categories).  The other Best Picture nominees were Call Me By Your Name (4), Get Out (4) and The Post (2).

All the precursor awards indicated that Best Picture was down to either Three Billboards or The Shape of Water, but now the Oscar nominations have made the race even more unpredictable.  While Three Billboards won best drama film at the Golden Globes and the SAG ensemble award (a strong best picture indicator), only two movies have ever won Best Picture without a directing nomination – 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy and 2012’s Argo.  Like La La Land last year, The Shape of Water won PGA, Critics’ Choice and the most Oscar nominations, yet missed the important SAG ensemble nod.  In SAG’s 24 years, 1995’s Braveheart is the only film that missed the SAG nod and still won Best Picture.  Dunkirk seems unlikely to win due to its lack of screenplay and acting nominations.  Is this another year where the Oscar rules get thrown out the window?  We’ll just have to see.  Here are many notable surprises and snubs among the nominees.

  1. SURPRISE: Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele

Lady Bird’s Greta Gerwig and Get Out’s Jordan Peele both made history as the fifth woman and African-American to be nominated for Best Director.  They will also go head-to-head in best original screenplay.

  1. SURPRISE: Logan, adapted screenplay

Logan made history as the first superhero movie to garner a screenplay Oscar nomination.  Nearly one year ago, Logan was released and critically-acclaimed, with many pundits vocalising Oscar potential for actors Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart.  This nomination marks the second for the X-Men franchise, as well as the first nomination for writer-director James Mangold, who helmed Oscar-winning dramas such as Girl, Interrupted and Walk The Line.

  1. SURPRISE: Phantom Thread

With six nominations, Phantom Thread performed far better at the Oscars than anywhere else.  Pundits correctly predicted it for score, costume, Daniel Day-Lewis (in his final performance), and Lesley Manville for supporting actress.  However, Paul Thomas Anderson – who failed to get a DGA, Globe and BAFTA nomination – was still a dark horse in a crowded director field. This is Anderson’s second director and picture nomination since There Will Be Blood.

  1. SNUB: No Best Supporting Actors for Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name newcomer Timothee Chalamet top an amazing year with a best actor nomination, but his two co-stars missed out.  Armie Hammer had been campaigning throughout all season and was Globe-nominated, so was the movie’s central romance seen as a testament to Chalamet’s performance?  We weren’t entirely confident that Michael Stuhlbarg would end up among CMBYN’s nominations, since his performance was understated and his memorable monologue comes at the end of the film.  Some thought his appearance in three Best Picture films – The Post, Call Me By Your Name and The Shape of Water – would have raised his profile.  It was stiff year for Best Supporting Actor.  Three Billboards became the first film since 1991’s Bugsy to get two nominations in that category.

  1. SURPRISE: The Mudbound ladies made history

It was a great morning for Netflix with Mudbound’s four nominations – supporting actress, cinematography, adapted screenplay and original song.  Rachel Morrison became the first female cinematographer ever to be nominated, director Dee Rees became the first black woman to get a writing nomination, and Mary J. Blige became the first person to receive both acting and song writing nominations in one year.

  1. SNUB: James Franco, The Disaster Artist

Although James Franco is currently the centre of sexual assault allegations, the controversy only went public the day before Oscar ballots were due.  The success of The Disaster Artist is a testament to Franco’s surprisingly-moving performance as the over-the-top actor Tommy Wiseau.  After a Golden Globe win and SAG nomination, things weren’t looking so bad for him.  Whether or not the allegations hurt Franco’s chances at a second Oscar nom, it is peculiar that The Disaster Artist screenwriters were nominated while the star himself went home empty-handed.

  1. SNUB: Holly Hunter, The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon retold their love story in The Big Sick, and now the husband-and-wife writing-duo are Oscar-nominees as a result.  Beloved actress Holly Hunter, a previous winner and four-time nominee, was expected to get a supporting actress nod, but she missed out.

  1. SNUB: The Florida Project

Outside Willem Dafoe (who was nominated for supporting actor), it was very tough for The Florida Project to crack into another category.  Still, writer-director Sean Baker was big player in the critics’ awards, and while the odds were against 7-year-old Brooklynn Prince, she was absolutely astonishing. It is odd that the beloved-indie didn’t make it into Best Picture, yet The Post managed to get in with just a Meryl nomination.

  1. SNUB: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman was a gorgeous movie that struck a chord with critics and awards pundits.  While I’m not surprised that Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot weren’t nominated for best director and actress (despite their many vocal supporters), it is a shame the movie did not turn up in a single category.  Did Justice League kill the Amazonian warrior’s chance?

  1. SNUB: Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards

The Academy loves auteurs.  The Irish playwright and former nominee of In Bruges was expected to get his first directing nomination for Three Billboards (he got nominated for Globe, DGA and BAFTA).  The biggest shock of the best director line-up was that McDonagh missed out, despite landing two nominations for himself (picture and writing) and three for his actors.  Was the movie seen more as a writer’s job?  Is McDonagh viewed as too “punk” for the snobby directing branch of the Academy?

  1. SURPRISE: Christopher Plummer, All The Money in the World

Nearly two months after replacing the disgraced Kevin Spacey on All The Money in The World, Christopher Plummer received his third supporting actor nomination at age 88, making him the oldest acting Oscar nominee ever.  Some were worried that the decision to recast was destined for failure since director Ridley Scott had only one month to erase Spacey and film new shots of Plummer before the release date.  The film’s three Golden Globe nominations last month was a big question mark since it had only been shown to the press at the time.  Once the film was released, many agreed that Plummer was the highlight of the film.

  1. SNUB: Hong Chau, Downsizing

After receiving Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice noms, Hong Chau was considered a sure bet for best-supporting actress for Downsizing (seven actors have been nominated for Alexander Payne films).  The film’s lukewarm reception may have hurt her chances.

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