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Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

2018 Oscar Nominations and Early Picks


Some Observations and Early Thoughts on the 2018 Academy Awards
by Guy S. Malone, Researcher

The 90TH ACADEMY AWARDS will be telecast from the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center on Sunday, March 4, 2018.  On Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed its nominations for the 2018 Academy Awards.  As a wild year winds down, the fallout resulting from the disgusting acts of Weinstein and his ilk still permeates filmdom like a poison gas.  The Oscars telecast will deal with it, we are certain, but they will focus on the art and the light.

And the new.  While the structure of the program remains the same, and many old hands return to the scene, we feel a tide shifting.  Yes, Meryl Streep returns to claim what has become the honorary Meryl Streep slot, allowing for the recognition of only four other excellent actresses, but it's safe to say that only Margot Robbie stands less of a chance of winning.  Meryl's film, The Post, is standard Oscar-bait, and its director surely had that in mind when he cast her and Tom Hanks in the lead roles, with an eye on the Best Director slot for himself.  We know what happens to those best-laid plans, though, don't we?  Jordan Peele, in his rookie debut as writer-director, landed nominations in those two categories, plus Best Picture and Actor in his satirical horror film, Get Out.  Topping that, Greta Gerwig, in her solo directorial debut, wrote and produced Lady Bird, a quasi-autobiographical, coming of age film that has garnered five nominations.  And even more impressively, Guillermo Del Toro's beautiful fable, The Shape of Water, became the tenth film in Oscar history to earn 13 nominations (the record of fourteen nominations is held by All About Eve (1950), Titanic (1997) and La La Land (2016).

Enough pontificating.  Let's get to the films and the categories that will take center stage.  Below is a breakdown of each category, with early frontrunners in bold.  Sometime during the week before the Awards telecast, we will return with our final and more informed predictions.

First, here are the films that have earned multiple nominations:

The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) 13
Dunkirk (Warner Bros.) 8
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight) 7
Darkest Hour (Focus Features) 6
Phantom Thread (Focus Features) 6
Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros.) 5
Lady Bird (A24) 5
Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) 4
Get Out (Universal) 4
Mudbound (Netflix) 4
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Walt Disney) 4
Baby Driver (Sony Pictures Releasing) 3
I, Tonya (Neon/30 West) 3
Beauty and the Beast (Walt Disney) 2
Coco (Walt Disney) 2
The Post (20th Century Fox) 2
Victoria & Abdul (Focus Features) 2

THE CATEGORIES (with early favorites in bold):

BEST PICTURE
Since increasing the Best Picture category from five nominations to a maximum of ten, much discussion revolves around not only which films but also how many films will earn nominations.  Originally, the thought was that some box office monsters would be chosen, with hope that a pleasant result might be increased viewership of the Academy Awards show, but that has rarely been the case.  This year, 3rd top grosser Wonder Woman held hope, but it was overlooked; however, Dunkirk (14) and the year's surprise film Get Out (16) got in.  After that, we have to scroll to The Post  (52, as of this article) to find the next ranked nominee.  In a competitive year, notably overlooked films include The Big Sick, Molly’s Game, Mudbound, Victoria and Abdul.  Three of the best--Detroit, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and mother!--were too polarizing for the gentle tastes of the Academy, but history will elevate them, at least in cult status.  And Wind River fell victim to the Weinstein curse.
Right now, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri are running neck and neck.  Before the Oscar nominations came out, it looked like Three Billboards had become the favorite, but McDonagh was not awarded a Director nomination and Del Toro was, so slight edge to TSoW.

Call Me By Your Name

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

Phantom Thread

The Post

The Shape Of Water

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri


DIRECTING
Dunkirk provides Christopher Nolan with his fifth nomination overall but his first for Director, a surprise to many who follow his work.  Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), in her first solo directorial shot, is the fifth woman nominated for this award.  Despite winning several precursors Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) was not nominated in this category, a major snub, as was Director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name) after earning BAFTA and Independent Spirit nominations.  Slightly less of a snub is the omission of Stephen Spielberg (The Post).  Darren Aronofsky (mother!) and Yorgos Lanthimos (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) made works of art extolled by peers and critics, but they were deemed too far outside the acceptable parameters of AMPAS and general audiences.  AMPAS must have figured one female director was enough because Kathryn Bigelow's terrifying Detroit and Patty Jenkins, whose Wonder Woman became the first billion-dollar film ever directed by a woman never entered the conversation.

Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)

Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)

Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape Of Water)


ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Strong arguments could be made that any two among a group including Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game), Judy Dench (Victoria and Abdul), Nicole Kidman (The Beguiled), Jennifer Lawrence (mother!), Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth), Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper), and Michelle Williams (All the Money in the World) to be more deserving than Streep and Robbie.  But Streep is Streep. so she's going to get a nom any time she is eligible, and Robbie's people and her studio put on a publicity blitz that would make even the old Weinstein campaigns blush.

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)


ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Kaluuya and Washington are relative surprises--deserving, yes, but still surprises.  Timothy Chalamet is a 22-year old revelation, but his reward is the nomination.  Daniel Day-Lewis gets in on the "Streep Effect," especially since he announced his retirement after this.  No, folks, this is Gary Oldman's win, and not because "it's his time."  He earned it.  Some performances,  such as Jake Gyllenhaal's powerhouse in Stronger, Robert Pattinson's career best in Good Time, and Jeremy Renner, also a career best in Wind River could have earned nominations.

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.)


ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Sam Rockwell won most of the precursors, but he wasn't running against another actor from the same movie (Woody Harrelson).  Is it possible those two split votes, enabling Willem Dafoe to sneak in?Michael Stuhlbarg and Armie Hammer (both Call Me by Your Name) were strong contenders who missed out.  (In fact, Stuhlbarg appeared in three nominated films--Call Me by Your Name, The Shape of Water, and The Post--and he gave awards-worthy performances in the first two.  And where in the name of all that is holy was the electrifyingly evil turn by Will Poulter or one of his victims, Algee Smith from Detroit?

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)


ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Early favorite Hong Chau (Downsizing) merited Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations but was overlooked here, as were Kirsten Dunst (The Beguiled), Holly Hunter (The Big Sick), Michelle Pfeiffer (mother!), and Tatiana Maslany and Miranda Richardson (Stronger). When the awards season started, it looked like a race between Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf, but Janney has kicked butt with the precursors.

Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)

Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread)

Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

Octavia Spencer (The Shape Of Water)


ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories, sadly,  never made a dent in the conversation here.  In a very tough category, experts are saying Lady Bird, but we have a feeling that The Shape of Water or Get Out will take the day.  Let's say ...

Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick)

Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)

Guillermo Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor; story by Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape Of Water)

Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)


ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Not quite the competition here as in Original Screenplay, it seems to be boiling down to Mudbound versus Call Me by Your Name.  This will come as a surprise to the self-aware talents of Aaron Sorkin (also in his directorial debut for Molly's Game).  Also, Logan is the first superhero/comic book film nominated for Adapted Screenplay--it won't win, but it's an interesting bit of trivia.

James Ivory (Call Me By Your Name)

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (The Disaster Artist)

Screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green; story by James Mangold (Logan)

Aaron Sorkin (Molly's Game)

Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees (Mudbound)


CINEMATOGRAPHY
Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049) is the most-nominated Cinematographer in the Academy’s 90-year history (18), Rachel Morrison (Mudbound) is the first woman ever nominated in this category, and Hoyte Van Hoytema's achievements in Dunkirk are astounding.  Deakins has been robbed a few too many times; this is a pick of my heart as well as my head.  Under-appreciated was Matthew Libatique (mother!), Ed Lachman (Wonderstruck)

Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049)

Bruno Delbonnel (Darkest Hour)

Hoyte Van Hoytema (Dunkirk)

Rachel Morrison (Mudbound)

Dan Lausten (The Shape Of Water)


FILM EDITING
I, Tonya is a bit of a surprise, considering some of the clunky skating sequences, but a good argument can be made for the rest.  A sliver above, though, are Dunkirk and Baby Driver.

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos (Baby Driver)

Lee Smith (Dunkirk)

Tatiana S. Riegel (I, Tonya)

Sidney Wolinsky (The Shape Of Water)

Jon Gregory (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)


MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Anyone who has seen the close-ups of Gary Oldman as Churchill has to favor Darkest Hour.

Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick (Darkest Hour)

Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard (Victoria & Abdul)

Arjen Tuiten (Wonder)


COSTUME DESIGN
Well, here's a no-brainer.

Jacqueline Durran (Beauty And The Beast)

Jacqueline Durran (Darkest Hour)

Mark Bridges (Phantom Thread)

Luis Sequeira (The Shape Of Water)

Consolata Boyle (Victoria & Abdul)


VISUAL EFFECTS

John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover (Blade Runner 2049)

Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick (Guardians of The Galaxy 2)

Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus (Kong: Skull Island)

Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan, Chris Corbould (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist (War For The Planet Of The Apes)


PRODUCTION DESIGN

Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer (Beauty And The Beast)

Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola (Blade Runner 2049)

Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer (Darkest Hour)

Nathan Crowley and Gary Fettis (Dunkirk)

Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin (The Shape Of Water)


MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
Carter Burwell also provided moving soundtrack on Wonderstruck.
.
Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk)

Jonny Greenwood (Phantom Thread)

Alexandre Desplat (The Shape Of Water)

John Williams (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)


ORIGINAL SONG
Unless a blockbuster musical has a nominated song, always go with the blockbuster animated feature.

"Mighty River" by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson (Mudbound)

"Mystery of Love" by Sufjan Stevens (Call Me By Your Name)

"Remember Me" by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Coco)

"Stand Up for Something" by Diane Warren and Lonnie R. Lynn (aka Common) (Marshall)

"This is Me" by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (The Greatest Showman)


SOUND MIXING

Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis (Baby Driver)

Ron Bartless, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth (Blade Runner 2049)

Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker and Gary A. Rizzo (Dunkirk)

Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern and Glen Gauthier (The Shape Of Water)

David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)


SOUND EDITING

Julian Slater (Baby Driver)

Mark Mangini and Theo Green (Blade Runner 2049)

Richard King and Alex Gibson (Dunkirk)

Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira (The Shape Of Water)

Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)


ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Loving Vincent is the first film done completely in oil paints, Ferdinand is adorable, but it won't overcome Coco.  While the absence of The LEGO Batman Movie is a surprise, the inclusion of Boss Baby is an absolute shocker.

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner

Coco


Ferdinand

Loving Vincent


FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
There were three significant snubs: In the Fade (Germany), which won the Golden Globe and was considered a favorite here, Angelina Jolie's First They Killed My Father, and the AIDS activist drama, BPM (Beats Per Minute).  Otherwise, I have no idea about this category so I will mention the only other film I have heard of--A Fantastic Woman.

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

The Insult (Lebanon)

Loveless (Russia)

On Body And Soul (Hungary)

The Square (Sweden)


DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
In a surprise, Jane, the most rewarded Documentary Feature of 2017, misses out here.  So, another guess
Abacus: Small Enough To Jail

Faces Places

Icarus

Last Men In Aleppo


Strong Island


For the following categories, you're on your own.  I haven't even researched yet I won't hazard a guess:

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Edith + Eddie

Heaven Is A Traffic Jam On The 405

Heroin(e)

Knife Skills

Traffic Stop


SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

DeKalb Elementary

The Eleven O'Clock

My Nephew Emmett

The Silent Child

Watu Wote/All Of Us


SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Dear Basketball

Garden Party

Lou

Negative Space

Revolting Rhymes



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