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90th Academy Awards Nominations & Thoughts


This morning featured the reveal of the nominations for the 90th Academy Awards. This list features a lot of favorites, many predictable noms, and a few and surprises. As always, while Oscars are unquestionably a considerable achievement, they do not suddenly take away the thoughts that you or anyone had on individual films. Not seeing a movie mentioned does not mean you were wrong or that they were right in the varying amounts or praise, things just happen the way they do. There are always a good number of films I wish would see more recognition, both in a realistic and hopeful sense, but things happen the way they do, and it's ultimately just fun to play along. So I'm happy to share some thoughts on this list of nominations. Of course, the ceremony itself won't take place until March 4th, where the winners will be determined but in the meantime, I'm sure much debating will take place.

Best Picture (Ranked In My Order Of Preference):

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

It seems like the only thing unpredictable about the Best Picture nominations is whether or not it will go all the way to ten noms these days. As it stands, we have 9, which means there was not enough push to get a 10th for The Florida Project, I, Tonya, The Big Sick or even the Wonder Woman attempt, which seemed about as likely as hopes people had for Deadpool. As for the actual noms, I have nothing to complain about, as 5 of these are in my top ten, 7 in my top twenty, and all 9 in my top 40 for 2017. Additionally, since my first and second favorite films of the year will most likely be the ones duking it out, things could be worse.

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.”

There is some stiff competition of veteran actors here going up against a couple of newbies. That said, one of my favorite nominations of this year happens to be one of those newbies. Daniel Kaluuya turned in a terrific lead performance that has not been overlooked, and I'm pleased about that. That said, while this may be Gary Oldman's to lose, I would be happy seeing some momentum rise for some of these nominees. Also, good for Denzel! I don't tend to bet against him getting noms any more than another nominee on this list, but since Roman J. Israel flew under the radar for most, I'm happy to see the film get some credit for a strong performance by one of the best working actors. Of course, that means people don't get to see Franco get his nom for The Disaster Artist, let alone the great Tom Hanks, but for a weaker year in this category, I'm happy with what I see.

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”

It seems as though everyone pretty much predicted this as the final set of noms for a strong category. There may have been some question regarding whether Streep would once again take a nomination over Jessica Chastain in Molly's Game or Michelle Williams in All the Money in the World, both great performances, but there was no real change. Given how this is the first time in a while I'm not displeased by a "default" Streep nomination, I can't argue with what's going on here and will be more curious if it's just coming down to Ronan vs. McDormand.

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”

I can't argue with seeing one my favorite films of 2017 getting recognition for some of its best performances, but it would have been nice to see a few more unpredictable choices made. Plummer is excellent in his last minute performance, but pushing towards Stuhlbarg (who is in three of the films nominated for Best Picture) would have been preferred. There's also a giant list of talent in Mudbound that's mostly been ignored. At least Dafoe continues to receive his share of praise for playing a genuinely nice person.

Supporting Actress:

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

Holly Hunter belongs up here, and many have made a good case for Tiffany Haddish as well (Melissa McCarthy could pull it off, but things aren't apparently the same this time). Still, while it's nice to see Octavia Spencer score another nomination, but The Big Sick could have gotten a lot more love, and this is just one of the areas where that could have happened. It doesn't matter much though, as it's Janney vs. Metcalf at this point. Great to see Manville land a nom, as Phantom Thread really has many significant aspects and the trio of lead performances is undoubtedly one of them.


Director:

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

The big surprise is the lack of a nom for Martin McDonagh. That may not put Three Billboards is in danger, but it certainly clears the field for del Toro to win an Oscar, which would be amazing. That said, Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig landing nominations speaks worlds for how open this Oscar race is and how inclusive things are this year in a way that's more notable than mere supporting actor nods. Once again, Phantom Thread managed to gather steam as well, which is great to see and an interesting way to displace some other noms many were thinking would happen, including Steven Spielberg, which puts much-loved but little-awarded The Post down to only two nominations overall.

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

Really? The Boss Baby? Apparently, the academy is just not big on LEGO films. A real shame, as The LEGO Batman Movie was my favorite superhero movie of 2017 and easily better than at least 2 of the nominated movies seen here. 

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

Eventually, my lovely girlfriend and I will be able to see all of these films, and we look forward to it. That said, we can now all say Academy Award nominee Kobe Bryant.

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

While the films nominated are certainly good, this is a weak year for Best Adapted Screenplay. Not to pick on the outside the box pick of Logan, but that's a pretty good indicator as to why. Still, right on the film for scoring a Marvel film an actual significant Oscar nomination. Regardless, this is still a lock for Call Me By Your Name, the only Best Picture Nomination in the group. 

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

Glad to see The Big Sick get its true reward here, a screenplay nomination, as the film and this story certainly earn it. The same can be said for Get Out, which was the award I would assume it would only get, before seeing just how well the film managed to stick around in the conversation for the entire year. Really, given this list, what a great lineup of films that have to compete for best screenplay.


Cinematography:

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

This is like a category devoted to letting audiences find out which films Roger Deakins will lose to once again. This is his 14th nomination, but he's never alone, as The Shape of Water and Dunkirk are right there making strong cases of their own, no matter how fantastic the world of Dystopian Los Angeles looks. All of that said, Mudbound is a terrific-looking film, and Rachel Morrison is the first woman ever nominated for a cinematography Oscar, let alone one of the first two non-documentary nominations for a Netflix film.

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 

I haven't seen enough docs this year, but apparently, I saw all the wrongs ones. Need to catch up.

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

Similarly, these will all be watched eventually as well.

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

Once again, will be catching up on these as soon as my girlfriend and I have a chance.

Best Foreign Language Film:

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

I really wanted to see Loveless before the end of last year, but I will have to wait. That said, In The Fade surprisingly didn't make the cut (it's just okay), neither did BPM or Foxtrot, but I'm plenty happy for The Square


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

Now this is a wild category. Action films have had a history of upsetting some predictions when it comes to editing, and given how dependent on editing Baby Driver is, I am fully prepared to see the film take home a prize for it. That said, Dunkirk has plenty of things going for it in this regard as well. Sad Lady Bird didn't make the cut here, as the editing was something I particularly gave praise to as far as making such a tight film and leaving no room for fat, while still getting across so much emotion. I can't say I'd give that same praise to I, Tonya or Three Billboards, but the latter is, at least, a Best Picture nom.

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

Once again, it comes down to Best Picture nominee vs. an action film dependent on editing. In this case, it's in regards to sound.

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

The same line-up as editing is right here, so I guess it's time to note how mother! was looked over and that's a shame. Fantastic sound design in that film and crucial to making such a wild technical accomplishment work.

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

It would have been great to see The Last Jedi score another nomination here, especially over Beauty and the Beast, but there are no real surprises here. Could have just as easily seen The Beguiled or  Murder on the Orient Express as well, but there's a mix of genres going on in this category that I can appreciate.

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

Who am I to say that John Williams doesn't deserve an Oscar nomination for a Star Wars movie of all things. Maybe I just didn't catch onto the newer compositions as much this time around compared to Force Awakens, but that really is a huge part of the film, and I love The Last Jedi, so I'll take it. That said, Jonny Greenwood finally qualifies for an Oscar nomination in a PTA film, and he got it, so that's wonderful. However, Desplat did wonders with The Shape of Water, and I'm all for seeing him take home another trophy.


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

I'm actually pretty happy to see songs from a bunch of movies people have seen be nominated, as opposed to a random documentary this year. I liked other songs from Coco more, but I get the love for "Remember Me." That said, while it's nice to see Common score another nomination and Mary J. Blige having two noms in one year is interesting, the Sufjan Stevens track is a good one for sure.

Makeup and Hair:

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

Victoria and Abdul is this year's Suicide Squad. The academy really didn't get enough of this with Darkest Hour? I suppose I should be happy that Bright wasn't on this list at least. Shame that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 didn't get the clear praise it deserved in this area.

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

Another nom for Victoria and Abdul? C'mon! A shame more genre love didn't extend here. Blade Runner and The Last Jedi feature truly original designs, but here we are with lots of period pieces. That said, I've been calling Phantom Thread from the start and would be happy to see it.


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

Valerian may have never had a shot, but huge props to Kong: Skull Island for pulling off an Oscar nomination. Great competition here, but surely it is finally time for an Apes films to shine. This trilogy deserves something.

***
That does it for my thoughts on the nominations. As always, I am looking forward to the ceremony, even if Jimmy Kimmel is back and continues to not excite me as a host. There are a lot of good films vying for awards so it will be neat to see who comes out on top. I happen to have my two favorite movies of the year competing for big wins, with several of my other favorites all right behind, so it is sure to be a fun night for films I like. That said, we could get a lot more movies sharing the wealth all around if there are a lot of varied voting patterns. As always, we will see.

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