Oscar Nominations 2018

2018 Oscar Nominations

Hollywood is in such a shambles these days that it’s almost a surprise the Academy Awards are going through with an Oscars ceremony this year at all. Nevertheless, tradition must be upheld and too much money is on the line. Actors Andy Serkis and Tiffany Haddish presented the latest round of nominations this morning.

Desperate to avoid further controversy, scandalized figures such as Harvey Weinstein and James Franco were snubbed in virtually all categories despite having movies that were well received with awards buzz last year (‘Wind River’ and ‘The Disaster Artist’, respectively). By this point, absolutely no one expected Weinstein to ever be rewarded with anything else for the rest of his life, but Franco’s scandal is so recent (and tamer in comparison) that he just won a Best Actor Golden Globe a couple weeks ago and was nominated for a SAG Award too, which left social media fretting with consternation about whether he’d attend the Oscar ceremony if nominated. That turns out to be a moot question, as ‘The Disaster Artist’ scored only a single nomination, for its screenplay written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, which must have felt like a safe enough token acknowledgement for the film since Franco can’t receive the trophy himself.

Brief knee-jerk thoughts on the other nominations (or lack thereof) follow. As always, I must put forth the caveat that I am terrible at making Oscar predictions.

Best Picture

  • ‘Call Me by Your Name’
  • ‘Darkest Hour’
  • ‘Dunkirk’
  • ‘Get Out’
  • ‘Lady Bird’
  • ‘Phantom Thread’
  • ‘The Post’
  • ‘The Shape of Water’
  • ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missiour’

Current Oscar rules allow for anywhere between five to ten Best Picture nominees. This year brings us nine. Of them, the only one I find surprising is ‘Darkest Hour’, which (aside from praise for star Gary Oldman) was met with largely tepid reviews and box office. That film, ‘Call Me by Your Name’, ‘Lady Bird’, ‘Phantom Thread’, and ‘The Post’ are all “It’s reward enough just to be nominated” contenders in this category with negligible chance of winning it.

I’m very disappointed not to see ‘The Florida Project’ in this line-up. That was my favorite film of last year.

Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ is the year’s big populist pick, but horror films are generally looked down upon by the Academy and I can’t see it winning Best Picture except perhaps as a political statement. And if the voters wanted to pull that kind of stunt, I think they’d probably put their support behind the female-driven ‘Lady Bird’ instead.

As it had at the Golden Globes, Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Shape of Water’ leads the pack with the most nominations overall (13 total). However, it failed to nab the big prize at the Globes and likely will here as well. Aside from ‘The Lord of the Rings’, fantasy films are usually dismissed as frivolous entertainment by Oscar voters.

Following its Golden Globe and SAG wins, ‘Three Billboards’ appears to have the most momentum at this time, but it has also faced a huge backlash from viewers who simply haaaaaaaate it and have demanded the heads of everyone involved in its making. Controversy like that can be good for buzz, but this year of all years may hamper its odds of winning.

In my view, all this leaves Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ as the safest choice for voters. The film was embraced by critics and a big box office hit. Its World War II subject matter is perennially popular with Oscar voters (especially the sizable contingent of older voters). Right now, I’m not aware of anyone involved in its creation being hit by scandal (though that could change at any moment). It seems to be primed for Oscar glory.

On the other hand, ‘Dunkirk’ was somewhat criticized for lacking a strong emotional core or well-developed characters, and for whitewashing a historical event that actually involved more people of color than are seen on screen. Its lack of strong female roles may also be a big detriment this year.

Ultimately, I’m not sure where this will go. I could be completely off-base with all my reasoning, as I was last year. Perhaps a dark horse like ‘Lady Bird’ will sneak in and claim victory. I won’t discount that possibility, but if I’m forced to make an off-the-cuff guess…

Josh’s Prediction: ‘Dunkirk’

Best Director

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

From what I can tell, this looks like a two-way race between Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro. Voters are likely to be torn between the impressive technical achievement of ‘Dunkirk’ and the compelling fantastical vision of ‘The Shape of Water’.

That said, Greta Gerwig is only the fifth woman to have ever been nominated for Best Director (only one of which has actually won so far). Not to be too cynical about what is by all accounts an excellent movie, but a political motivation like that could score big points this year.

In recent years, Oscar has treated Best Director as more of a technical rather than artistic category, which leads me to think…

Josh’s Prediction: Christopher Nolan

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.’

I half expected the Academy to do away with the male acting categories entirely this year.

‘Phantom Thread’ is allegedly Daniel Day-Lewis’ final acting performance, but he already has three Oscars and that’s more than enough.

‘Darkest Hour’ may not be either the best movie or the best performance in Gary Oldman’s career, but he’s a well-liked figure in the industry and the Oscars have a long history of turning this award into a cumulative career achievement prize. It’s also a very large, showboating performance, which the voters love.

Josh’s Prediction: Gary Oldman

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’

Aside from being a final performance, everything I just said about Daniel Day-Lewis also applies to Meryl Streep. Doesn’t she already have enough trophies on her mantle for several lifetimes? Continuing to nominate her for every single movie she makes has grown tiring. There are other good actresses in the world, you know.

Frances McDormand won at both the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards and appears to be on a winning streak.

Josh’s Prediction: Frances McDormand

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’

‘The Florida Project’ was shut out of any other nominations, but the voters couldn’t ignore Willem Dafoe’s heartbreaking supporting turn. It’s a change of pace for the actor, who usually specializes in playing skeevy villains, and he knocks it out of the park.

Sadly, that movie was largely forgotten in other respects. Most awards attention has turned toward Sam Rockwell instead, and I expect that to hold true at the Oscars.

Josh’s Prediction: Sam Rockwell

Best Supporting Actress

  • Mary J. Blige, ‘Mudbound’
  • Allison Janney, ‘I, Tonya’
  • Lesley Manville, ‘Phantom Thread’
  • Laurie Metcalf, ‘I, Tonya’
  • Octavia Spencer, ‘The Shape of Water’

Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf gave the standout performances in their respective movies, both playing domineering mothers (albeit of different sorts). Metcalf’s character proves to be more sympathetic, which may give her the edge.

Josh’s Prediction: Laurie Metcalf

Best Animated Feature

  • ‘The Boss Baby’
  • ‘The Breadwinner’
  • ‘Coco’
  • ‘Ferdinand’
  • ‘Loving Vincent’

I can’t see this going to anything other than ‘Coco’. It looks like a blowout to me.

How did ‘The Boss Baby’ even get nominated? Was the competition really that weak?

Josh’s Prediction: ‘Coco’

Best Foreign-Language Film

  • ‘A Fantastic Woman’ (Chile)
  • ‘The Insult’ (Lebanon)
  • ‘Loveless’ (Russia)
  • ‘On Body and Soul’ (Hungary)
  • ‘The Square’ (Sweden)

Of these titles, only ‘The Square’ had much of a theatrical release in the U.S. last year. The film also won top prize at Cannes. Barring any election interference from a foreign power, surely that will get the most votes.

Josh’s Prediction: ‘Loveless’

Best Original Screenplay

  • ‘The Big Sick’
  • ‘Get Out’
  • ‘Lady Bird’
  • ‘The Shape of Water’
  • ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’

Best Screenplay is often used as a consolation prize for movies that don’t win any of their other nominations. I see that happening to ‘Get Out’ this year.

Josh’s Prediction: ‘Get Out’

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • ‘Call Me by Your Name’
  • ‘The Disaster Artist’
  • ‘Logan’
  • ‘Molly’s Game’
  • ‘Mudbound’

Same rationale as above.

Josh’s Prediction: ‘Call Me by Your Name’

Best 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’

It’s got to win something…

Josh’s Prediction: ‘Blade Runner 2049’

Best Cinematography

  • ‘Blade Runner 2049’
  • ‘Darkest Hour’
  • ‘Dunkirk’
  • ‘Mudbound’
  • ‘The Shape of Water’

Josh’s Prediction: ‘The Shape of Water’

Best Original Score

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

Josh’s Prediction: ‘Dunkirk’

Best Original Song

  • “Mighty River” from ‘Mudbound’
  • “Mystery of Love” from ‘Call Me by Your Name’
  • “Remember Me” from ‘Coco’
  • “Stand Up for Something” from ‘Marshall’
  • “This Is Me” from ‘The Greatest Showman’

Josh’s Prediction: “Remember Me”

For the complete list of nominees, see the official Oscars web site. The ceremony will air March 4th on ABC. Jimmy Kimmel will return to host.

31 comments

  1. Scott

    Okay, this is likely going to be a controversial statement.

    I am not a homophobe, nor do I take issue with anyone of that persuasion. I am however a cinephile who has a wife who does not share my passion as much and therefore is not compelled to see movies as often as I do. Likewise, 99% of my friends are only interested in seeing the next blockbuster, action flick, or bullsh*t current Marvell movie.

    So… I find myself in the same conundrum that I did last year. Last year I saw every movie in the theater except for the “gay” movie, Moonlight. And here it happens again this year. I have seen every movie on the best picture list save Call Me By Your Name. So what is a heterosexual, single ticket buying man to do?

    I suppose I will just go and see it and hope none of my meat head friends from the gym sees me.

    • Timcharger

      If you go to movies alone, the knuckle-draggers already think you are queer. If you have interest in indie art films, you are already seen as strange. If you care about intellectual, nuanced, diverse, challenging films, then you already know your answer.

      • cardpetree

        I prefer to go to the movies alone. I have to ask the wifey if she wants to go even though she never does. She gets upset if I don’t ask though. Women.

    • theHDphantom

      HAHA! Listen, I love horror films, but yeah, I know exactly what you’re saying. It’s very strange for this to be even nominated. But, as Clark mentions, I too believe it is all about “politics”. And that’s just another reason why I don’t even waste my time with these “awards” shows anymore.

  2. “How did ‘The Boss Baby’ even get nominated? Was the competition really that weak?”

    No. The competition was ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’. Biggest snub of the year.

    Also, I would think ‘Best Cinematography’ goes to ‘Blade Runner 2049’. Roger Deakins is long overdue for Oscar love.

  3. Bolo

    If I had to guess, they’re going to split the top two categories between ‘Ladybird’ and ‘Dunkirk’. In recent years, the Best Director award (and many of the nominations) tends to go the film with the flashiest visual staging. The Academy seem to think that elaborate, attention-grabbing camera tricks are what makes a director great. So by that logic, I would fully expect ‘Dunkirk’ to claim the prize seeing as it’s being touted as a great feat in staging (I haven’t seen it myself). Nolan has made the industry tons of money and has positioned himself as a prestige populist, and WWII flicks have always been awards bait.

    However, the politics this year make me think they really want to see Gerwig up their accepting the award. And the thing is, ‘Ladybird’ is a well-directed movie. Being a director involves motivating actors and shaping an overall story and realizing that sometimes the best visual storytelling approach is the one that calls the least attention to itself. Do I think ‘Phantom Thread’ demonstrated a superior mastery of the craft? Absolutely! But even though it would be politically-motivated, it wouldn’t bother me to see Gerwig get the award.

  4. I always knew the Oscars were a highly skewed, but this James Franco bit is waaaaaay too transparent.

    To not have the Golden Globe winner for Best Actor even nominated for a Best Actor Oscar screams that this these are the “best” actors from an approved selection of actors.

    I’m not getting into the accusations throughout Hollywood, past and present, but what ever happened to judging artistic work on the merits of the work itself? “I thought this was the best performance all year, until I heard about something in their private life…now, it’s not.”

    • EDIT: Let ALL the actors and actresses who won Oscars through Weinstein productions return their statues. That would be the best statement they could make. Anything less is just words.

      • Timcharger

        Yes. That is sound logic. Those actors & actresses in every Weinstein production are guilty of the crimes of Harvey. Anything less than punishing everyone in proximity is just words. So if President Joffrey goes to jail, that means I, red hat wearer and voter, that I have to go, too? Wait a minute.

  5. Judas Cradle

    If Roger Deakins does not win for cinematography – that would be a crime.
    Loving Vincent will win animated. It’s the first time a film was made using only oil paintings.
    Gary Oldman all day long.

    • Clark

      Loving Vincent is kinda meh… the story is not told in an engaging manner – narrative-wise, that is. The animation may be revolutionary, but it also made me dizzy in the first 10 minutes or so.
      Coco all the way!

  6. Chris B

    I’ve never cared less about an Oscars ceremony than this one. I just hope BR 2049 wins a bunch of awards. It’s one of the only movies out of the nominees Ive even seen.

  7. Timcharger

    “Barring any election interference from a foreign power, surely that will get the most votes.”

    No collusion. I’m the least colluding person you’ve ever met. No never whatsoever. And is it so wrong if I ask Russian Oscar voters who they are voting for? That’s smart to do that. Makes me a good candidate. And I’d be very appreciate to those who helped me. It’s good to have a good relationship. But no, no collusion ever. Fake Oscar commentary, Josh.

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