-The love for Phantom Thread! Six major nominations pushed Paul Thomas Anderson onto the Best Director list which did NOT edge out Jordan Peele or Greta Gerwig but instead nudged the much less deserving Martin McDonagh! Yay! This very likely means Three Billboards is no longer a potential frontrunner and that’s the thing I’m most happy about.
-There is no Netflix bias! It was a big breakthrough for them with Mudbound, which got four nominations, including Cinematography, Screenplay, Song and Supporting Actress. It didn’t get into Best Picture but it’s now only a matter of time before the streaming service pulls that off. And I’m happy that Mudbound wasn’t totally ignored, since it’s my second favorite of the year.
-Hilarious nod for Christopher Plummer, I guess because of his heroic work in replacing sexual predator Kevin Spacey and completing a reshoot of an entire role in a finished film in just ten days.
-Oscar firsts and other markers: Rachel Morrison is the first woman ever to be nominated for Cinematography for Mudbound, Jordan Peele and Great Gerwig are only the fifth black man and fifth woman to be nominated for Best Director, Logan is the first superhero movie ever to get nodded for its screenplay, 22-year-old Timothee Chalamet is the youngest Best Actor nominee in 80 years (since 19-year-old Mickey Rooney in 1939), while screenwriter James Ivory and filmmaker Agnes Varda are the oldest nominees ever (both 89). And Meryl Streep lands her 21st Oscar nomination while Denzel Washington gets his eighth.
-Darkest Hour gets six nominations despite almost zero love from the guilds this season. This was entirely due to the British bloc in the Academy, which clearly loved the movie, as we saw at BAFTA. I figured it was a dark horse for a Picture nomination at that point, so I personally wasn’t too surprised at that.
-As I mentioned earlier, Martin McDonagh for director, although I frankly wouldn’t call it a snub. Like, at all. Even so, it means Three Billboards is hurt in the Best Picture race.
-The shutout of The Florida Project (right). All the passion vote went towards Phantom Thread apparently. Now Sam Rockwell is virtually guaranteed the Oscar for Supporting Actor, and not enough people will even see my favorite movie of the year. Boooo.
-James Franco missed out for The Disaster Artist, which a lot of people are contributing to the late breaking allegations against him of harassment and misconduct. He seems to have been replaced in the category by Denzel Washington for a movie that was pretty poorly reviewed, but I’m not certain he would have made it anyway. Pretty sure that scandal broke right as the voting was ending, but maybe everyone does fill out their ballots at the last second.
-I’m surprised Wonder Woman didn’t get nominated for anything. Like, not even sound or effects? That’s usually where they honor the popular action movies of the year, but this time all that love was reserved for The Last Jedi. For a movie that was a true cultural phenomenon AND well received enough to get honors in the guilds and critics awards this season, I’d call that a pretty big snub.
Obviously, The Shape of Water getting 13 nominations puts it in frontrunner position to win, and Guillermo del Toro is sure to pick up Best Director, but there’s always a chance for an upset, especially with the preferential ballot that ranks movies and tosses ballots until one is left standing. I think either Get Out or Lady Bird is most likely to upset if it happens, but which one? The answer could be in who wins original screenplay, where all three are competing against each other, along with Three Billboards, which I guess remains a dark horse, despite the directing miss.
All recent Best Picture winners also won in Screenplay. So I’m keeping my eye on the WGA, which happens on February 10th, and where all three of those films are also up against each other. If Get Out takes the writers guild award, I think it might come up and snatch this, but the same goes for Lady Bird. However, Lady Bird also has the chance to be awarded in another big category, like Actress or Supporting Actress, where they might choose to go with it instead. Despite all the guild love, I, Tonya only got three nominations in the end, which may leave an opening for Laurie Metcalf over Allison Janney, and I also think Saoirse Ronan still has a chance to overtake Frances McDormand (who all but asked the voters not to choose her in her SAG acceptance speech a few days ago). Of course, all this might be moot if The Shape of Water actually takes that WGA award after all. In that case, I'd have to go with del Toro's monster movie over anything else on Oscar night.
Overall, I do think this was a pretty good list of nominations this year (despite overlooking The Florida Project). There were lots of different kinds of movies that got in, and a group that nominated films like Darkest Hour and The Post alongside Get Out and Phantom Thread is clearly evolving in its taste, while the old fashioned adult entertainment crowd remains in there still. Nominations to me are always more interesting than the winners, honestly. The Oscars will air this year on March 4th (after the Olympics), which does leave some time for people to potentially change their minds and not necessarily follow all the precursor awards. Hopefully there will be some surprises at the actual show (and not the kind where they read out the wrong name for the winner of Best Picture).