Here’s an Oscar prediction that will serve you in good stead every single time: There will be some snubs and there will be some surprises. This year’s nominations, which were just announced, were heavy on the latter.
First of all, there was some post-Golden Globes course correction. Greta Gerwig got the Best Director nomination for Lady Bird that fans and peers–perhaps most notably, Natalie Portman–were clamoring for, and Phantom Thread settled into its role as a dark horse contender in some major categories. These developments were mostly expected, however (as was a first-ever directing nod for Dunkirk‘s Christopher Nolan). Let’s go a little deeper and take a look at the nominations from this morning that left Fast Company‘s entire Slack shook.
Logan is Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay
In what’s apparently the first writing nod for a comic book film ever, Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green share a nomination for their work on 2017’s ultraviolent Wolverine movie. It’s a heightened legitimacy point for non-Christopher Nolan-directed comic book movies in general, and another vote of confidence for R-rated ones like Deadpool.
The Big Sick is Nominated for Best Original Screenplay
One of the year’s most charming underdog stories is how first-time screenwriters Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani took their autobiographical film from Sundance hype to actual box office sleeper hit last summer. Now, the duo’s story comes complete with some Academy Award recognition (the story most likely ends here, though, as the pair is nominated against all the heavyweights, some of whom are mentioned below.)
Denzel Washington is Nominated for Best Actor
Ordinarily, it wouldn’t be a surprise for Denzel Washington to be nominated for Best Actor: This is his eighth nomination, expanding his own record as the most nominated African-American actor in Oscar history. However, the film he is nominated for, Roman J. Israel, Esq., flew almost completely under the radar. Roman premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last October, and then director Tony Gilroy and Washington reportedly recut it before wide release, based on audience reaction. Although their last-ditch effort didn’t save the film from its weak box office showing of just under $12 million, the performance from Washington was apparently strong enough to capture voters’ attention.
James Franco is Snubbed for Best Actor
The space that Washington won in Best Actor had been thought to go to James Franco, who won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy for his role in The Disaster Artist. Perhaps his performance in the movie was a bit too out there for the staid sensibilities of the Academy. Another likely factor is the sexual misconduct allegations against him that came out just after the Globes, when there were still a few days left for voting.
Martin McDonagh is Snubbed for Best Director
Three Billboards Outside of Ebbings, Missouri had a spectacular showing at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards, and seems poised to win big in some categories at the Oscars. Best Director, however, is not one of them. It is not often that Best Picture contenders don’t also receive nominations for their director—though Argo did win Best Picture in 2013 without Ben Affleck himself getting a nomination for directing. Perhaps this snub is how the long-brewing Three Billboards backlash is manifesting itself.
The Shape of Water is Shaping Up to Be Huge
Many were surprised that Guillermo del Toro took home a Best Director award at the Golden Globes earlier this month. That win was probably just the beginning, though. The film he was nominated for, The Shape of Water, has a suspiciously pulpy logline: janitor falls hard for humanoid sea creature. Those who have seen Shape, however, can attest to its sumptuous visuals, compact storytelling, and spellbinding performances. The Shape of Water earned the most nominations this year with 13, just one behind the all-time record, which should get the attention of anyone who dismissed it as “the fish-sex movie.”
The Post is Barely Nominated
It turns out Martin McDonagh isn’t the only director of a Best Picture nominee to get snubbed in his own category. Steven Spielberg was not nominated for The Post, despite a lot of attention to how he crashed the movie into production last March and completed it in time for awards season. In fact, The Post’s only other nomination went to Meryl Streep for Best Actress (her twenty-first nod), leaving Tom Hanks, the film’s writers, and a sprawling supporting cast in the dust.
Mudbound is a Triumph for Netflix
When Netflix quietly released Mudbound last fall to rave reviews, some critics feared the film might get lost in the shuffle. Potential viewers might have been too busy re-bingeing Stranger Things 2, while Academy Award voters could continue their resistance to Netflix. In the end, however, the World War II era drama set in the rural South earned four nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, Best Supporting Actress for Mary J. Blige, and Best Cinematography for Rachel Morrison, the first woman ever nominated in the category.
Get Out Finally Gets Respect
In the weeks leading up to this morning’s announcements, there had been rampant speculation about Get Out’s Oscar prospects. Could it really get a Best Picture nomination? In hindsight, that speculation now seems almost silly, as Get Out is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Jordan Peele), Best Actor (Daniel Kaluuya), and Best Original Screenplay (Jordan Peele). Get Out was ecstatically reviewed, struck box office gold—$255 million worldwide—on a shoestring budget, and most importantly, had perhaps more cultural impact than any other film last year. The term “the sunken place” will be in the vernacular for a long time, as will gifs of Catherine Keener stirring tea and Allison Williams fumbling for keys. TSA agents may just find themselves being treated with a little more respect by the film’s biggest fans. Now the conversation can finally turn from whether Get Out deserves to be nominated–to why it deserves to win Best Picture.