A Closer Look At This Year’s Oscar Nominations

For a full list of the 2018 Academy Award nominations, scroll to the bottom of this article.

As Tiffany Haddish and Andy Serkis announced the nominations for the 90th annual Academy Awards this morning, there was really only one category and two names we were all waiting to hear, so when both Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele’s names accompanied their respective films (Lady Bird and Get Out) in the Best Director category, I felt a collective sigh of relief breeze through the room as The Academy successfully righted the wrongs of the Golden Globes’ all-male (and nominally all-white) line-up. As an added bonus on my end, seeing Paul Thomas Anderson effectively steal Martin McDonagh’s nomination in that category was the most exciting surprise of the mini ceremony. Despite the directorial snub, McDonagh’s tonally schizophrenic and deeply problematic Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (whose Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild sweeps have inspired more audible groans than any of La La Land’s trophies from last year) landed nine nominations, making it the second most recognized film this year behind Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and its thirteen nods. With some minor surprises, the nominations didn’t venture too far away from expectations, though Phantom Thread (easily the film I loved the most out of all the major contenders) fared a lot better than the pundits had pegged it, likely due to the suspicion that few people had even had the chance to see it by the time ballots were due. Though we all know the winds can change quickly in these times, here are my thoughts on some of the major categories as Oscar himself turns 90.

Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Capping at nine nominees, I can’t think of a year where choosing a frontrunner has been so unclear. Typically, by the time the nominations roll around, it’s already a two-film race (Moonlight vs. La La Land, Spotlight vs. The Remnant, Birdman vs. Boyhood, etc), but this year, six of the nine looks to have decent shots at claiming the prize. Up until today, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri looked like the film to beat, but with backlash mounting and the Best Director snub, its chances are diminishing fast. However, it is worth noting that Argo still won Best Picture despite Ben Affleck being absent in the Director category. The Shape of Water has been building momentum since its Golden Lion win at the Venice Film Festival last fall, but for all its whimsy and charm, I haven’t seen the outpouring of love for it that I have with getting Out, Lady Bird, or Call Me By Your Name. Phantom Thread is the dark horse here; I can’t imagine Darkest Hour, The Post, or Dunkirk have even a modest shot at the gold. The question remains as to how Moonlight’s unforgettable win last year will inform the voters this time around. Does it hinder the chances of both Get Out and Call Me By Your Name, or does it show that the newly expanded and diversified Academy is open to new ideas? Or will the #metoo movement push Lady Bird ahead of the pack? While I’ll honestly be pleased if any film other than Three Billboards walks away with the night’s top honour, I can see the easiest choice of the nine, The Shape of Water, joining the ranks of the already forgettable crop of Best Picture winners in recent years: Spotlight, The King’s Speech, and The Artist.

Best Director

Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

While another shade-throwing introduction by Natalie Portman following her “all-male nominees” jab at the Globes would have made for a fun television moment, it’s heartening to see Greta Gerwig become just the fifth woman to be nominated for Best Director with her kinda/sorta feature debut (she co-directed Nights and Weekends with Joe Swanberg back in 2008). Five being the magic number, Jordan Peele also became only the fifth black director to be recognized in this category. With that glorious Martin McDonagh snub (though he does already have an Oscar on his mantle for Best Live Action Short in 2006 for Six Shooter), the Academy made room for the only other previous Best Director nominee, Paul Thomas Anderson. Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro have both received nominations in the screenplay categories in the past. Following in the footsteps of his compatriots and friends Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu, del Toro seems like the sure bet in this category, though Anderson could (and should) pick up steam over the next few weeks.

Best Actress

Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post

Since it’s customary for the Academy to nominate Meryl Streep for every other performance she delivers no matter the quality (Florence Foster Jenkins and Into the Woods, really?!), it’s sad to see more deserving performances (like Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread, Diane Kruger in In the Fade, or—my personal favourite—Cynthia Nixon in A Quiet Passion) fall by the wayside. If the Globes and SAG Awards are any indications, this race is Frances McDormand’s to lose. If she wins it will be her first since Fargo two decades ago. It’s a showy performance where McDormand shouts obscenities at anyone in her orbit and knees teenagers in the crotch, but her Mildred—unlike the four other characters here—has the least amount to do (unless you count firebombing a police station) and shows the least amount of growth. While Sally Hawkins’ silent performance in The Shape of Water (I’m still not over her snub for Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky) and Margot Robbie’s invested portrayal of Tonya Harding in I, Tonya both beautifully overcome daunting obstacles, the Academy has a track record of awarding young starlets in this category (Brie Larson, Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence)… so I’d put my money on Saoirse Ronan taking home the gold on her third nomination at only 23 years old.

Best Actor

Timothée Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Most Oscar predictions had James Franco’s lively turn as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist in the mix, noting that the sexual misconduct allegations against the actor came just one day before ballots were due. His omission this morning gave way for Denzel Washington, who is treading on Meryl Streep territory. But most of us know that this category is down to a revered thespian (Gary Oldman) and the year’s most promising newcomer (Timothée Chalamet), even if this is the last chance for three-time winner Daniel Day-Lewis to collect another Oscar. In a highly politicized year, this category will have extraneous factors to consider. Oldman has already received some pushback on social media for his past behaviour. Chalamet, on the other hand, recently donated his entire salary on Woody Allen’s upcoming A Rainy Day in New York to charity following a number of tense interviews on the subject. I think the Academy will end up favouring Chalamet, which it should, considering he gave the most shattering performance—trilingual, at that—of the year as Elio in Call Me By Your Name.

Best Supporting Actress

Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

Let’s hear it for Mary J. Blige, picking up a pair of nominations this morning for her acting and her songwriting for Mudbound. Let’s also give a shoutout to surprise nominee, respected British actress Lesley Manville who steals every scene in Phantom Thread. Let’s not forget the past winner in this category, Octavia Spencer, who received her third nomination for The Shape of Water. But we all know it’s really between our two favourite multiple Emmy-winning TV character actresses, Laurie Metcalf and Allison Janney, both first-time nominees here. Metcalf has collected most of the critics’ prizes for her brilliant, moving performance in Lady Bird, and Janney has nabbed the major industry awards as Tonya Harding’s hard-edged mother in me, Tonya. As much as I love Janney, she could have done that performance in her sleep. But few actors could have pulled off Metcalf’s heartbreaking airport sequence, so let’s look to see her collect the O in her EGOT journey as we await her spoken word album to clinch that title.

Best Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

What once looked like a no brainer for Willem Dafoe became complicated by a series of wins by Sam Rockwell, playing the most troubling character of all the acting nominees. As a violent, racist cop who is, for puzzling reasons, given a redemption narrative, Rockwell delivers what’s asked of him, but is this the sort of character the Academy wants to recognize? With Call Me By Your Name’s Michael Stulbarg and Armie Hammer apparently cancelling each other’s nominations out (Stuhlbarg gave the deserving performance), Woody Harrelson snuck in as Ebbing, Missouri’s “good guy” police chief. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but Harrelson’s inclusion might also divide voters and drive the win back to Dafoe, as the benevolent hotel manager in The Florida Project.

Best Foreign Language Film

Sebastian Lelio – A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
Ziad Doueiri – The Insult (Lebanon)
Andrey Zvyagintsev – Loveless (Russia)
Ildiko Enyedi – On Body and Soul (Hungary)
Ruben Ostlund – The Square (Sweden)

Narrowing down the list of foreign-language Oscar submissions from ninety-two to nine in December, a number of hot contenders like Robin Campillo’s BPM from France, past winner Michael Haneke’s Happy End from Austria, and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father from Cambodia fell out of contention, proving that nothing is ever a sure bet in this field. So it’s hard to be too surprised when the frontrunner of the shortlist, Fatih Akin’s In the Fade from Germany which won the Golden Globe in this category a few weeks ago, was a no show on the final list of nominees. After famously making a video lamenting the fact that his previous feature Force majeure didn’t make the cut a few years back, Swedish auteur Ruben Östlund can rejoice that his latest, Palme d’Or winner The Square, was among the five. Another prize winner from Cannes, Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Loveless from Russia, which took the Jury Prize, was also among the nominees. The other three also had a number of film festivals accolades to their name: Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult from Lebanon won the Best Actor award at Venice, and at the Berlin International Film Festival, Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body and Soul from Hungary and Sebastián Leilo’s A Fantastic Woman from Chile won the Golden Bear (the festival’s top honour) and Best Screenplay award respectively. While my vote goes to The Square, one has to wonder if, like Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth back in 2011, its dark humour is too strange for the relatively conservative voters.

Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins – Blade Runner 2049
Bruno Delbonnel – Darkest Hour
Hoyte van Hoytema – Dunkirk
Rachel Morrison – Mudbound
Dan Laustsen – The Shape of Water

In an Oscar first, Rachel Morrison became the first woman to receive a nomination in the cinematography category for Mudbound, which by all means could have filled that tenth slot in the Best Picture category. Her strongest competition comes from Hoyte Van Hoytema’s dazzling work on Dunkirk and thirteen-time nominee Roger Deakins for his marvellous job on Blade Runner 2049. Look to Deakins to finally pick up his long-overdue trophy.

Best Original Screenplay

Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor – The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Facing off for the second time this year, Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig both have better chances of winning in the screenplay category than in directing, but they’ll be facing off against Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards. I’d say that a screenplay as incoherent, messy, and puzzlingly aloof as Three Billboards wouldn’t have a shot at winning, but it could certainly join Crash as another film to fumble in its ridiculous attempts to address racial issues in America. I’m giving the edge to Peele, though this will be another category I’ll be questioning up until awards night.

Best Adapted Screenplay

James Ivory – Call Me By Your Name
Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber – The Disaster Artist
Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green – Logan
Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game
Virgil Williams, Dee Rees – Mudbound

Like the original screenplay category, this really boils down to three contenders. Though the film only received a single nomination, Aaron Sorkin can never be completely discounted for Molly’s Game, but the likely showdown will be between Dee Rees and Virgil Williams’ adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s novel Mudbound and James Ivory’s adaptation of André Aciman’s novel Call Me By Your Name. My money is on four-time nominee Ivory, better known as one half of the filmmaking duo Merchant Ivory.

A full list of the nominations:

Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director

Dunkirk — Christopher Nolan
Get Out — Jordan Peele
Lady Bird — Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread — Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water — Guillermo del Toro

Best Actress

The Shape of Water — Sally Hawkins
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Frances McDormand
I, Tonya — Margot Robbie
Lady Bird — Saoirse Ronan
The Post — Meryl Streep

Best Actor

Call Me By Your Name — Timothée Chalamet
Phantom Thread — Daniel Day-Lewis
Get Out — Daniel Kaluuya
Darkest Hour — Gary Oldman
Roman J. Israel, Esq. — Denzel Washington

Best Supporting Actress

Mudbound — Mary J. Blige
I, Tonya — Allison Janney
Phantom Thread — Lesley Manville
Lady Bird — Laurie Metcalf
The Shape of Water — Octavia Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

The Florida Project — Willem Dafoe
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Woody Harrelson
The Shape of Water — Richard Jenkins
All the Money in the World — Christopher Plummer
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Sam Rockwell

Best Foreign Language Film

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)  Sebastián Lelio
The Insult (Lebanon)  Ziad Doueiri
Loveless (Russia) — Andrey Zvyagintsev
On Body and Soul (Hungary) — Ildikó Enyedi
The Square (Sweden) — Ruben Östlund

Best Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049 — Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour — Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk — Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound — Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water — Dan Laustsen

Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick — Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out — Jordan Peele
Lady Bird — Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water — Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Martin McDonagh

Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me By Your Name — James Ivory
The Disaster Artist — Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Logan — Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Molly’s Game — Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound — Virgil Williams, Dee Rees

Documentary (Feature)

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail — Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
Faces Places — Agnès Varda, JR and Rosalie Varda
Icarus — Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
Last Men in Aleppo — Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Søren Steen Jespersen
Strong Island — Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes

Documentary (Short Subject)

Edith + Eddie — Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 — Frank Stiefel
Heroin(e) — Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon
Knife Skills — Thomas Lennon
Traffic Stop — Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

Live-Action Short Film

DeKalb Elementary — Reed Van Dyk
The Eleven O’Clock — Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
My Nephew Emmett — Kevin Wilson Jr.
The Silent Child — Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton
Watu Wote / All of Us — Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen

Animated Feature Film

The Boss Baby — Tom McGrath, Ramsey Naito
The Breadwinner — Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
Coco — Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
Ferdinand — Carlos Saldanha
Loving Vincent — Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Ivan Mactaggart

Animated Short Film

Dear Basketball — Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant
Garden Party — Victor Claire, Gabriel Grapperon
Lou — Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
Negative Space — Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
Revolting Rhymes — Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer

Production Design

Beauty and the Beast — Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049 — Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
Darkest Hour – Sarah Greenwood, Katie SpencerDunkirk — Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water — Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin

Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Film Editing

Baby Driver — Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos
Dunkirk — Lee Smith
I, Tonya — Tatiana S. Riegel
The Shape of Water — Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Jon Gregory

Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast — Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour — Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread — Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water — Luis Sequeira
Victoria & Abdul — Consolata Boyle

Makeup & Hairstyling

Darkest Hour — Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
Victoria & Abdul — Daniel Phillips, Lou Sheppard
Wonder — Arden Tuiten

Original Score

Dunkirk — Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread — Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water — Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi — John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Carter Burwell

Original Song

“Mighty River” — Mudbound, Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinson
“Mystery of Love” — Call Me By Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” — Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” — Marshall, Diane Warren, Lonnie R. Lynn
“This is Me” — The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Sound Editing

Baby Driver — Julian Slater
Blade Runner 2049 — Mark Mangini, Theo Green
Dunkirk — Richard King, Alex Gibson
The Shape of Water — Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
Star Wars: The Last Jedi — Matthew Wood, Ren Klyce

Sound Mixing

Baby Driver — Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin, Mary H. Ellis
Blade Runner 2049 — Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mac Ruth
Dunkirk — Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
The Shape of Water — Christian Cooke, Bran Zoern, Glen Gauthier
Star Wars: The Last Jedi — David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Stuart Wilson

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