Did the 90th Academy Awards get it “right” for once? Well… sort of.
The nominees for Best Picture are…
Call Me By Your Name (4 nominations)
Darkest Hour (6 nominations)
Dunkirk (8 nominations)
Get Out (4 nominations)
Lady Bird (5 nominations)
Phantom Thread (6 nominations)
The Post (2 nominations)
The Shape of Water (13 nominations)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (7 nominations)
My first thoughts on this list? I think the Academy got it mostly right. This is the list I wrote last night except Darkest Hour took The Florida Project‘s slot. More on that crime below.
Actually, before I speak of crimes, I should probably state upfront that while I have already seen six of the Best Picture nominees, I have not yet seen Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, or The Post. In fact, just writing that sentence and looking at the number of nominations, I suppose I should say The Post took The Florida Project‘s slot. (Yes, I know that technically there are ten slots, but mathematically ten is practically impossible.)
In short, overall, this is a solid Best Picture list. I like the fact that there are a multiplicity of styles and genres represented and that many of these pictures show real craft. Would it be my list? No, but it never is.
Of course, I’m happy to see three of my own top ten list on there, although I really don’t think either Get Out or Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri should win “Best Picture” on the night. Yes, folks, it’s true, sometimes you can separate your own reactions to films from these things. Not always, but sometimes.
What am I rooting for at this point? Duh…
And with that, let’s get up close and personal with the rest of the nominations, shall we?
I am over the moon that Greta Gerwig got her rightful nomination for Directing. Often, “smaller” films only get recognized for their script because, let’s face it, nine times out of ten that is where the magic lies, but Lady Bird was an all-around precision instrument.
In fact, I’m pretty happy with how the Directing category shook out as a whole. The five films in this category (Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water) all represent fresh and distinct perspectives that the Directors branch is not always willing to reward. I wouldn’t have nominated Jordan Peele myself (see above re script), but I’m happy to see him there.
In the acting categories, my biggest joy comes from the fact that James Franco is not among the nominees. And who can complain about Denzel taking a spot? No one, that’s who. Otherwise these nominees are fairly predictable. I would have spread the nominations far more widely, but I can’t really criticize anyone on there.
Cinematography is another category where I’m extremely pleased with the selections. Based on other awards, there are no surprises, but everyone on this list is extremely deserving. And hey, the Cinematographers branch finally nominated a woman after only ninety years (Rachel Morrison for the gorgeous Mudbound). Baby steps.
Still, as always, go Deakins, choose Deakins!
Sorry, but there is no way that Dunkirk should be there for Sound Mixing. Sound Editing maybe, but I thought the mixing was horrible. It actively detracted from the film. In fact, Dunkirk likely would have been in my top ten otherwise, despite the flaws in its script. I would have preferred to see War for the Planet of the Apes in the sound categories instead. But, unfortunately, that great franchise has yet to win an Oscar and is only nominated this year for Visual Effects.
As for writing, the Adapted Screenplay category was predictably weak this year, and I can’t argue with any of those nominations, but I’m a bit disappointed to see The Shape of Water in the Original Screenplay category. I liked the film just fine, but I don’t think it merited thirteen nominations and I never would have singled out its script for praise, especially given how many other original scripts were out there this year. For that matter, although I loved the dialogue, I don’t think I would have put Three Billboards in this category either. What would I have liked to see? A Ghost Story, The Florida Project, or even Ingrid Goes West were more worthy.
Speaking of A Ghost Story, I’m sad that “I Get Overwhelmed” couldn’t be on the Original Song list, but I had already learned that it was apparently ineligible for contention so no surprise there. Still, I had hoped for that beautiful film to be recognized somehow.
More of a surprise was the lack of love for The Florida Project. To have earned only one nomination (for Willem Dafoe) is a real shame. I would have loved to see Brooklynn Prince or Bria Vinaite sneak into the acting nominations. Or Alexis Zabe be acknowledged for his beautiful cinematography. And, hey, Sean Baker certainly deserved a nod for his work directing child actors alone.
I don’t see much ugly here. But I’m sure Twitter does…
Oscar Blitz Plans
So, what will I be running out to see?
Well, as mentioned above, I’ve haven’t seen three of the Best Picture nominees (Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, The Post) and they are all playing locally right now so I will likely hit all three. I was already planning to see Phantom Thread this week anyway. P.T. Anderson is hit or miss for me, but I suspect this one will be a hit. I had already resigned myself to seeing The Post, although I suspect it will be one of those solid but not particularly memorable Spielberg productions. I’m not super jazzed to see Darkest Hour either, but I can’t imagine I’ll hate it. After all, I liked the two other films about Dunkirk this year.
In what may be a first, I’ve actually seen all of the films with three or more nominations that didn’t get Best Picture: Baby Driver (3 nominations), I, Tonya (3 nominations), Mudbound (4 nominations), and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (4 nominations). So, after seeing the three films above, I will have covered most of the feature film categories.
The only other films I haven’t seen that have two or more nominations are Beauty and the Beast and Victoria & Abdul and, well, I don’t suspect I will actually see them before the big night. I may see some of the one-offs in the major categories just for completism’s sake but probably only if they are part of the Math Greek’s screener set or I can otherwise watch them at home.
In sum, this list was fairly predictable and mostly satisfying. I’ve already seen articles writing this up as The Shape of Water versus Three Billboards, but I don’t think that is how the night will play out. We’ll see I guess.
Oh, and they invited Jimmy Kimmel back, so we have a known quantity there.
What are your thoughts on this morning’s announcement? Add your thoughts below and stay tuned over the next month for my Oscar Blitz series with more details on all the major categories.