Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Oscar Nomination Reactions

So, what’s going to win Best Picture?  This hard-to-predict Oscar race is still slightly askew even after this morning’s nominations.  Going by the traditional precursors (the major guild awards and the Golden Globes), it seems like all of the contenders are missing at least one usually-key statistic in its favour. 

“Shape Of Water,” for instance, cleaned up in Oscar nominations but wasn’t nominated for a Screen Actors Guild ensemble award.  “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was seemingly scoring everywhere but then Martin McDonagh didn’t get a Best Director nomination.  Everyone loves “Get Out” and “Lady Bird” as underdog candidates but neither were nominated for an editing Oscar.  “Dunkirk” seemed to be losing momentum by the second and nobody really seems to like the movie, yet it notched all of the Academy’s key categories.

You have to say that Shape Of Water is still the favourite at this point, though who knows, Three Billboards can still get in there based on the seemingly lessening importance of the Best Picture/Best Director connection.  Only one of the last five Best Pictures saw its director also win, and one of those films (Argo) won despite Ben Affleck being snubbed entirely from the directing slate.  You also can’t count out Get Out or Lady Bird, though the fact that they’re both in the running could split the “beloved underdog” vote.  Dunkirk could still yet sneak in, or maybe I should be making more of “Phantom Thread” emerging from out of semi-nowhere as an apparent Academy darling.  Quite a bit if still up in the air, and I’ll believe any scenario come Oscar night — a tie, another mistaken winner announced, whatever.

Some more observations…

* This is the first time in a while that I haven’t seen every Best Picture candidate by the time the nominees were announced.  You’re still on my list, The Post!  I have a vague “eat your vegetables” sense about my desire to see the movie, thanks to that damn Bridge Of Spies.  Don’t let me down again, Spielberg!

* Man, that Best Director category is just about my favourite slate of nominees ever.  I didn’t even much care for Dunkirk, but Christopher Nolan was so absurdly overdue for a directing nomination that I don’t begrudge him finally getting on the Academy’s list.

* First-time acting nominees: Margot Robbie, Daniel Kaluuya, Timothee Chalamet, Sam Rockwell, Mary J. Blige, Lesley Manville, Laurie Metcalf and Alison Janney.  It seems like at least one of the winners will come from this list — one of Metcalf/Janney will win Supporting Actress, and Rockwell has to be the favourite in Supporting Actor.

* Speaking of that category, you could see Rockwell and Woody Harrelson split the votes of the Three Billboards supporters, paving the way for Willem Dafoe (long overdue, critics’ awards darling), Christoper Plummer (respect for his emergency bailout of his film) or even Richard Jenkins (if Shape Of Water sweeps).  Rockwell has to be considered the favourite, but still, suspense!

* If there was a category for Best Supporting Location, the winner is clearly Call Me By Your Name, which honestly could’ve been two hours of just the Italian countryside and that gorgeous house and I would’ve been satisfied. 

* Perhaps the most notable first-timer in more than one sense is Rachel Morrison, who is somehow the first woman ever nominated for a cinematography Oscar.  ONE female nominee in 90 years?  Yikes, Academy.

* Can she win?  Well, Morrison has the advantage of going up against famed Oscar-loser Roger Deakins, who is still trying to land that first trophy through 14 freaking nominations.  There isn’t really a bad choice in this category (scratch that…Darkest Hour, huh?) but man, Deakins losing again and again is just getting ridiculous at this point.  Not as ridiculous as, say, womankind’s 90-year cinematography losing streak, but still.

* So with eight first-time acting nominees, that means we have 12 familiar names filling out the rest of the categories.  Meryl Streep got her record 21st acting nomination, Denzel Washington got his eighth, Daniel Day-Lewis his sixth, Frances McDormand her fifth, Saoirse Ronan/Willem Dafoe/Christopher Plummer/Octavia Spencer/Woody Harrelson their third each, and Gary Oldman/Sally Hawkins/Richard Jenkins are each up for the second time.  Streep and DDL can each tie Katherine Hepburn’s record of four Oscars with a victory, while Denzel can join the three-Oscar club with a win.

* I had a bit of a personal stake in this year’s Academy Awards, since an acquaintance of mine worked on The Shape Of Water.  (On the special effects side of things, I should note…I’m not (yet) friends with, like, Sally Hawkins.)  While the film got nominated in 13 categories, however, I’m not at this moment sure my chum will get to share in the fun, since Shape Of Water didn’t score a Best Visual Effects nod.  Not that the five actual nominees weren’t deserving either but man, throw a local boy a bone!

* Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood is an Oscar nominee!  The strings in Phantom Thread (not a pun) were so gorgeous, give him the trophy, Academy!

* Agnes Varda, in the same year she’s getting an honorary Oscar, is also up for first competitive award.

* Here’s a question I never thought I’d ask: what does Tom Hanks have to do to get nominated for an Oscar?  Do you realize it’s been 17 years since he last got a nod?  I haven’t seen The Post yet so I can’t judge if he deserved one or not this year, but between that, Bridge Of Spies, Sully, Saving Mr. Banks, and (especially) Captain Phillips, a curious pattern of overlooking is developing.  To be fair, the only one that is a real overt omission is Captain Phillips, yet you’d think Hanks would’ve scored at least one “aw, we love Tom, let’s nominate him!” nod over all these years.

* The Thomas Lennon who made one of the nominated documentary shorts is sadly not the same Thomas Lennon from The State.  C’est la vie.

* A great year for superhero movies is recognized in the form a best adapted screenplay nomination for “Logan,” which was strongly deserved.  I was vaguely hoping that Patrick Stewart could’ve snuck in there for Supporting Actor but I’ll take what I can get.

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