The 2018 Oscars will be different from the 2017 Oscars. Last year, we experienced a three-headed monster of contenders (Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, La La Land) which really ended up being a two-hander in the end (the Best Picture award literally passed from one movie to the other, in case you forgot the wildest moment in awards season history). La La Land won a bajillion of the awards, losing out on the most prestigious (a travesty if you ask me). 2018, well, is different.
These Oscars will feature competition among many across the board. Genre flicks push through, indies from underheard voices stand strong, classical tales with weird spins (fish fuckin’ is what I’m talkin’ about), epic war stories, and 30 year late sequels to cult classics stand prominently. While that coveted Best Picture trophy is down to two, maybe three, films, the rest is a tight competition with almost all nominations having legitimate resumes.
That being said, there were still some major snubs, even bigger surprises, and standouts. Let’s look at the most interesting storylines from the Oscar nominations.
You can view the whole list of Oscar nominations here.
Call Me By Your Name came into December hot. People were falling in love with this festival hit, about a budding romance in a picturesque seaside Italy. It was lauded as a beautiful romance that traverses relationships we don’t often see on the big screen (the romance is between a male college student and a late-teens boy). The acting in particular was rousing applause. Hammer, the older in the romance, was a major pick and potential favorite for the Oscars.
On Tuesday, his name was not mentioned. After months of campaigning, gracing the covers of Vanity Fair and GQ, experiencing Twitter virality and eventual social media deletion, Hammer felt like a sure thing. Changing from “that guy who played two dudes in The Social Network” to “Armie Hammer, prestige actor” was the foremost thought. He didn’t even experience backlash (one could argue the age difference of the characters in the movie could be problematic) other than one of the most absurd pieces of writing I’ve ever seen. Coming from Buzzfeed though, that could be expected. Hammer will have to continue waiting for his moment in the spotlight on stage.
The Big Sick
Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon molding their real-life relationship into an entertaining, funny, heartwarming, and at times heartbreaking movie was great. Infusing racial themes to great success was even more great. It was one of the highest reviewed movies of the year, a success by audience response standards, and experienced a fair push for award recognition. Ultimately, it only came away with a Best Original Screenplay nomination.
Holly Hunter and even Ray Romano were excellent in their roles of worried parents thrust into this weird relationship with an ex-boyfriend of their comatose daughter. Hunter had more to do and more emotion to convey, but Romano, who I legit can only imagine yelling “DEBRRAAAAAAA” in his Kermit the frog voice, was the more surprising. What he did in subtleties and being a well-liked comedic actor taking a turn into slightly more dramatic fare is usually a recipe for success. Both got left off, and while not all too surprising, the movie as a whole couldn’t break into a Best Picture slot.
Franco turned in the greatest directing and acting he has ever done and got left off. Making this weird, real person seem like less of a character than they do in real-life isn’t exactly easy. Making an audience feel sympathy and at times root for this manipulative and sometimes volatile weirdo is even more difficult. While my hope for him receiving a Best Actor nom was very much fueled by wanting to see Tommy Wiseau at the Oscars, he still ultimately deserved a spot, especially over one of the more ridiculous nominations of the past couple years which we will get to in the surprises section.*
*Note: Franco is currently in the muck of some sexual harassment allegations. This could have played a part in his lack of nomination.
This one is less a snub and more a gripe I have. I’m sure Meryl Streep is fine, as she is in literally every role except the ones where she is straight doing too much (hello, August: Osage County). But she straight up has not deserved a nomination she’s gotten in the past 10 years. It’s a ridiculous thing that she keeps getting nominated, to the point that she either has the Academy by the balls (very likely) or everyone is playing a huge joke on me and the Meryl Streep Is Bad club I run (less likely; accepting new members though, meetings every Tuesday night).
Chastain is pretty great in Molly’s Game, running through Sorkin dialogue like the seasoned vet she is, performing a bit like she did in Miss Sloane but better considering it’s Sorkin and not a Sorkin impersonator. Whatever, though, screw Meryl Streep’s billionth nomination.
If you didn’t know, Kevin Spacey is a pervert. His pervert moves (which I think may have actually been sexual assault but don’t quite know for sure so I won’t go full slander) were enough to get him booted from Hollywood and scraped from the prominent role of J. Paul Getty in All The Money In The World. This all happened in very close proximity to the release of the actual movie, leaving the studio and Ridley Scott spinning. Luckily, the 88 year old legend that is Christopher Plummer hopped in and knocked it out of the park.
Shooting a full movie’s worth of scenes in less than two weeks isn’t an easy task so that undoubtedly helped in getting him his nomination, as well as performing the admirable task of replacing a nasty human. Plummer is awesome in the movie, but this still comes as a surprise considering the lack of fanfare surrounding the movie as a whole.
To note: Michael Stuhlbarg who is amazing in The Shape of Water and supposedly Call Me By Your Name and even pops up in The Post is a notable miss here, as well as the previously mentioned Armie Hammer.
Netflix is still working its way to respect from the Academy. As they have grown and grown, and developed and put out more and more original movies, they never received anything more than a couple documentary and short nominations. That’s even with a powerful film in Beasts of No Nation and rockstar performance by Idris Elba. This year, it all changed.
Mudbound is a period piece detailing PTSD, drought hardship, racism and racial tension, and familial themes wrapped into (what I personally think is) a pretty overstuffed and overlong boring movie. While I couldn’t get through more than half of it, the acting was pretty good, I respect the direction, and there are some gorgeous shots which standout especially considering you are watching it on a small screen. It received four nominations, one of which is one of the most notable of the whole crowd as Rachel Morrison receives the first nomination for a female in the Cinematography category ever. Groundbreaking for Netflix and groundbreaking for diversity.
The Woodster, as I like to call him (we are close friends, do not dispute this or ask him please) is a high point of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. That said, he wasn’t exactly a first pick for Best Supporting Actor. Alas, he still got in. That category was filled with surprises and Mr. Willoughby (who has a real nice cock, BTW, according to his terribly acted wife in Three Billboards in one of the worst lines ever written in the history of cinema) snuck right in amidst them. Good for him, cause he rocks, but come on.
Speaking of Three Billboards, the director Martin McDonagh got shut out in the directing category! A shock, honestly, despite my reservations about the film. Three Billboards was one of the hottest movies coming in and received a plethora of nominations, including being a leader for the Best Picture award. A Best Picture frontrunner that has a bunch of other notable nominations usually means that director did a pretty good job and will get a nod of his own. Not here. I’m not upset about this but this is a truly weird moment, one that is reminiscent of Ben Affleck getting snubbed when Argo was the Best Picture winner.
The weirdest, most egregious nomination was Denzel sneaking into the Best Actor race. For a movie (Roman J. Israel) that has 49% on Rotten Tomatoes, is generally considered a severely average to below average movie, this is just flat out stupid. It’s bordering on Meryl Streep level idiocy. I guess he was supposed to the best part of it in a different style role than he usually plays, but really? SMH.
Shape of Water
Here’s your biggest winner of the week. This is piling up awards in other competitions and is likely to have a hell of a night come March 4th. It’s your leader for the Best Picture and Best Director race, two of the most important in terms of film quality and respect. It got 13 nominations, by far the leader of any movie nominated.
Dunkirk and Three Billboards
These two picked up 8 nominations each. We’ve already mentioned Three Billboards a bit so let’s talk why this is big for Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan hasn’t gotten much respect from the Academy despite making a fair amount of thrilling, intriguing movies. He made a more Oscar-friendly film while still utilizing his signature styles and not losing any of the excitement his previous works had. This is a big one for big summer blockbuster movies, something reflected elsewhere in other nominations as well.
I am yet to see this but by all guesstimations it sounds boring, despite a pretty good critic response and general respect for the surprising humor in it. It was on ZERO radars coming in, expected to get a costume nomination and naturally a Daniel Day-Lewis statue-in-waiting, and came out with 6 nominations instead. A Best Picture spot and Best Director nod aren’t going to win but it still shows a shocking hidden positive response to the movie.
Congrats to this turd for receiving 4 nominations, mainly in technical. A shame that sound editing and sound mixing team couldn’t have just muted all the terrible dialogue the rest of the movie featured. Then they’d really deserve to win.
HUGE. GODDAMN. MOMENT. A changing of the guard if you will. Now that the Academy is being injected with diversity and youth we are finally seeing some changes and more mainstream sensibilities. Horror movies NEVER get respect. Guess what? Get Out picked up 4 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director! Guess what else? Blade Runner 2049 nabbed 5 nominations, and although they are mainly technical that is still awesome to see for a movie so deserving of praise that occupies the sci-fi space. And lastly, Logan broke in, in one of the most delightful spots possible. The Adapted Screenplay category is reserved for magazine, newspaper, play, and novel adaptations generally. A comic book being adapted into an Oscar movie? Unheard of. Not anymore. Logan picked up its only nom in that category, showing a surprising and awesome respect for a smart comic book, superhero movie.
No nominations for Wonder Woman, the first female-helmed and female-led superhero movie. Yes, it got a lot of love from critics and audiences, but it also wasn’t really Oscar material. Come at me if you’d like, but you will be proven wrong. Just because it was a shocking step above the other DC trash, and huge for female superheroes and blockbusters, doesn’t mean it was perfect.
Surprisingly, despite the Meryl Streep shit, one of the more classic Oscar contenders got almost entirely shut out. It received a Best Picture nomination and nothing else. Nothing for Tom Hanks, beloved actor. Nothing for Steven Spielberg, beloved director. And nothing for the screenplay, something one would expect a Best Picture nominee to have if it had nothing else.
The Disaster Artist
One of my favorites of last year, this was another that lost steam as the season went on, maybe not helped by the fact it’s about a very bad movie and has more comedic sensibilities than most Academy voters generally like. Maybe it was Franco’s potential legal troubles. Who knows. All it got to show is an Adapted Screenplay nom.
Call Me By Your Name
Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg get shut out of Best Supporting Actor. Luca Guadagnino gets no love in the Best Director category. And the cinematography gets no recognition as well. A movie that was seen as a frontrunner falling pretty short is, I think, more a signal of a well-balanced year than anything else but it’s hard to not say that CMBYN wasn’t one of the bigger losers this year.
As the next month goes on and the Oscars approach nearer and nearer, we will be posting more about the contenders, our predictions, and what to expect from the biggest night in Hollywood.