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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The 90th Annual Academy Awards: Nominations and Notes

The Oscars Turn 90 – Here are the Silver Screen Surprises of This Year's Nominations

By Chris Sabga

Just as I did last year, I will list the nominees and then examine the "Silver Screen Surprises" for each of the main categories.

Which films and performers was I surprised to see on the list?

Were there any surprising omissions?

And the Oscar goes to...
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"

Surprises: With all of the hoopla surrounding "Wonder Woman," I really expected it to the lead the pack – and maybe even win. Instead, it has been completely shut out. That's somewhat surprising in the year of #MeToo and #TimesUp where women are rising up and exposing widespread systemic sexual abuse, unfair gender wage gaps, skewed power dynamics, and many other major problems both in and out of Hollywood. It's long overdue. If there was ever a movie I assumed the Academy would choose as a "symbol" of everything that's happened, it was this one. In the past, phony Tinseltown has shamelessly attached itself and certain movies to major issues going on in the world in a futile attempt to "look progressive." While this omission is sure to upset many, perhaps it's a sign that everyone in Hollywood finally realizes that these women aren't going anywhere – nor should they – and a token nomination or award isn't going to be enough this time to solve all of the very real problems plaguing the film industry.

However, in the battle of "superhero movies," my heart was with the surprisingly powerful and poignant "Logan" – which stripped the iconic X-Men characters of most of their powers and instead explored their humanity and fragility. Alas, it too was completely omitted from most of the major categories.

Another major omission, for me, is the wonderful "The Big Sick." It takes real artistry to turn a movie about a girl in a medically-induced coma into one of the funniest and most heartwarming films of the year. Combining comedy and drama is never easy, and this movie does it effortlessly.

Of the current nominations, none of them are even remotely shocking to me. They're the same movies I've seen in other awards ceremonies and on various prediction lists for the past several weeks.

Lead 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."

Surprises: "Roman J. Israel, Esq." has been plagued by critical scorn and audience indifference, so I wasn't necessarily expecting Denzel to show up here. He is always solid though.

James Franco was predicted to be the front-runner at one point for "The Disaster Artist," but allegations of sexual misconduct may have put the deep freeze on his Oscar chances – and his career in general. A far cry from just one year ago where Casey Affleck faced similar accusations and sailed away with the Academy Award anyway. #TimesUp indeed.

I loved Kumail Nanjiani's semi-autobiographical performance in "The Big Sick," and while expected, I'm still sad to see him left off this list.

Lead 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"

Surprises: Meryl Streep gets an unexpected nomination. Oh, who am I kidding? There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Meryl Streep getting nominated for an Academy Award.

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"

Surprises: I'm not sure I was expecting both supporting actors to be nominated for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," but you can never go wrong with Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell.

Patrick Stewart's heartbreaking turn in "Logan" as an elderly superhero who can no longer control his powers was unjustly overlooked by the Academy. Surely, we could've had one billboard outside Ebbing, Missouri in this category to make room for the former Captain Picard.

Speaking of former TV actors, Ray Romano's kicked puppy dog performance in "The Big Sick" was quietly powerful – and unfortunately nowhere to be found in this category.

Supporting Actress

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

Surprises: No real surprises here. Octavia Spencer has become the new Meryl Streep with all of the nominations she's racked up over the years – not that I'm complaining, because she's terrific. It's also nice to see Laurie Metcalf too.


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

Surprises: With "Wonder Woman" not in the Best Picture race, its director Patty Jenkins isn't here either. Neither is James Mangold for "Logan."

Animated Feature

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

Surprises: I never expected "Loving Vincent" to be recognized. Look for a review soon!

Adapted Screenplay

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

Surprises: "Logan" gets something at least – this is its one and only nomination – but can it win?

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

Surprises: No real surprises, but I'm happy to see "The Big Sick" here. This is its lone nomination.

Other thoughts: This is the first Oscars of the post-Weinstein era. In addition to being a horrible monster accused of multiple counts of sexual assault and misconduct, he also used his considerable power and influence to shift the awards advantage to movies under his own banner. Ask any regular person why they stopped taking the Oscars seriously and they'll likely point to the year "Shakespeare in Love" upended "Saving Private Ryan." Now, "Shakespeare" was a nice little trifle of a movie – I enjoyed it well enough – but nothing in it comes close to the staggering open scene of "Ryan." Let's hope for a purer and fairer Academy Awards this year.

Note from Silver Screen Lawyer: Please automatically assume "alleged" or "allegedly" are attached to every sentence written here about famous and powerful men accused of sexual abuse and misconduct, whether the words are actually present or not – even if they aren't grammatically correct or otherwise appropriate to include. Also, add "Mr. [Fill-in-the-Monster-Here] unequivocally denies any allegations of non-consensual sex."

The rest of the categories and nominees are:

Animated Short

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


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

Best Documentary Feature

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

Best 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

Best 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

Best Foreign Language Film

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

Film Editing

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

Sound Editing

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

Sound Mixing

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

Production Design

"Beauty and the Beast" – Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
"Blade Runner 2049" – Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
"Darkest Hour" – Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
"Dunkirk" – Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
"The Shape of Water" – Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

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" from "Mudbound" – Mary J. Blige
"Mystery of Love" from "Call Me by Your Name" – Sufjan Stevens
"Remember Me" from "Coco" – Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
"Stand Up for Something" from "Marshall" – Diane Warren, Common
"This Is Me" from "The Greatest Showman" – Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Makeup and Hair

"Darkest Hour" – Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
"Victoria and Abdul" – Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
"Wonder" – Arjen Tuiten

Costume Design

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

Visual Effects

"Blade Runner 2049" – John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" – Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
"Kong: Skull Island" – Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" – Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlon
"War for the Planet of the Apes" – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist