Academy Award Nominations 2018: Some Commentary


Best Picture  

My favourite to win: The Shape of Water 

It is a bit of a surprise that “Phantom Thread” as well as “Get Out” made this list. “Get Out” is a horror (not the Academy Awards’ favourite genre), which was released a bit less than one year ago. Even though it is good to see the Academy nominating such a dark-horse, the amazement is still there. For all its unforgettably tense psychological atmosphere, “Get Out” is still a flawed film (see my review here), and one may  wonder whether, as with “Moonlight” the year before, there were not some “race politics” involved in this decision as well. On the other hand, such a great film as “The Florida Project” is nowhere to be seen here, which is astounding. I guess the Academy thought that by nominating “Call Me By Your Name”, they would be done with it when it comes to paying their dues and nominating aesthetically-pleasing, independent-spirited films. The limit is ten nominees per category, and, surely, “The Florida Project” deserves its tenth place on this list. 


Best Director 

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

My favourite to win: Christopher Nolan 

This was the category which was tricky to predict. Jordan Peele for “Get Out” and Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird” were preferred to Steven Spielberg for “The Post” and to Martin McDonagh for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”. The only thing I can say is that I am happy for both Peele and Gerwig, and their achievements are really grand especially if you think that both of them are actors-turned-directors, and have not had much previous experience directing, with “Lady Bird” being only the second film for Gerwig as a director and with “Get Out” being a directional debut for Peele.  


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

My favourite to win: Guillermo del Toro

In my view, the “original” screenplay written by Jordan Peele is not really that “original” given so many so-called “influences” on that. It may be alright for del Toro to be “loosely” inspired by “Creature from the Black Lagoon” to come up with his “The Shape of Water” , but when you think deeply about “Get Out”, you see “The Stepford Wives” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” in almost every scene, and the screenplay also too evidently relies on some details from both “The Skeleton Key” and even “The Invitation”. Given that, could Peel really bag an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay? The situation here reminds of the screenplay for “Big” being nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Original Screenplay back in 1989 when in fact the film could be categorised by some as a remake of an Italian film “Da Grande“, which was made only a year before.


Actor in a Leading Role 

  • 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.

My favourite to win: Gary Oldman 

Daniel Day-Lewis was a predictable nomination here, but given “Phantom Thread”‘s rise, one may wonder whether Day-Lewis’s retirement and the Academy’ general veneration for the actor were also contributing factors in “Phantom Thread”‘s revival. Undoubtedly, people would also compare Washington’s nomination for “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” to Smith’s non-nomination for “Concussion” back in 2016. Considering Daniel Kaluuya and his film nomination, one may also think about another relative film newcomer who was not nominated in her category, but probably should have, since her acting was as great (if not greater) as that of Kaluuya’s: Florence Pugh for “Lady Macbeth“. I guess it helps the actor if your film has been seen by virtually everyone and is also a nominee in the category of Best Picture.


Actress in a Leading Role 

  • 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

My favourite to win: Frances McDormand 

Meryl Streep can call the Academy Awards her home already, and I am pleased by the nomination of Saoirse Ronan  for “Lady Bird”. Given the competition this year, Jessica Chastain could not make that list, even though her performance in “Molly’s Game” was also very good. 


Documentary (Feature) 

  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail — Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
  • Faces Places — Agnès Varda, JR and Rosalie Varda
  • Icarus — Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
  • Last Men in Aleppo — Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Søren Steen Jespersen
  • Strong Island — Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes

My favourite to win: Strong Island

First of all, it is unbelievable that the documentary “Jane” is not on this list. This documentary tells the story of Jane Goodall, a leading anthropologist and primatologist, who is known for her work with chimpanzees. Brett Morgen, director, is known for his thought-provoking documentaries, and “Jane” really deserved to be on that list given how great and critically-acclaimed the documentary is (see the trailer here). The only explanation for such a shameful omission could be that more people watched “Abacus”, which is an exciting documentary about attempts to jail a company because it was considered “small”, than “Jane”, which would require more lovers of nature (and chimpanzees!). 


Animated Feature Film 

  • The Boss Baby — Tom McGrath, Ramsey Naito
  • The Breadwinner — Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
  • Coco — Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
  • Ferdinand — Carlos Saldanha
  • Loving Vincent — Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Ivan Mactaggar

My favourite to win: Coco

This year, as last year, the Academy chose to bypass Japanese animations altogether. Such great acclaimed Japanese animations as “A Silent Voice”, “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” and “In This Corner of the World” were pushed aside, and yet “The Boss Baby” (with its rotten tomatoes score of fifty-two percent) was considered good enough for a nomination. Well, at least the Academy had some sense not to nominate “The Emoji Movie”, but even that would not have surprised me too much given the randomness and bias which is often applied to this category. 


Foreign Language Film 

  • A Fantastic Woman — Sebastián Lelio, Chile
  • The Insult — Ziad Doueiri, Lebanon
  • Loveless — Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia
  • On Body and Soul — Ildikó Enyedi, Hungary
  • The Square — Ruben Östlund, Sweden

My favourite to win: Loveless 

It is telling that such high-flying international film festivals contenders as Argentina’s “Zama”, Austria’s “Happy End”, France’s “120 Beats Per Minute” and Cambodia’s “First They Killed My Father” were not nominated. It is probable that the Academy took cue from the Cannes to nominate “The Square”, and, in all likelihood, “The Square” would only compete with “Loveless” for an Oscar in that category.


27 thoughts on “Academy Award Nominations 2018: Some Commentary

  1. I have to say that I am very disappointed by the fact that Bladerunner 2049 and Wind River did not get nominated in the best picture category . Both were, in my opinion, incredible films.


  2. It’s so true; given that there are ten slots available, it seems particularly churlish that FLORIDA PROJECT isn’t in there. Besides the ones you mentioned, I’m surprised DARKEST HOUR is there. It’s a fantastic, almost magical, performance by Oldman, but the film itself is pretty ordinary given the excitement of the other films. I mean, compare DARKEST HOUR to DUNKIRK: both run narratively next to each other, but they’re a century apart in terms of cinematic ambition.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is how unfairly it all goes. I guess best actor/actress nominations like to go with their respective best picture nominations and vice versa, and the actor’s performance may be so good that there is a compulsion to nominate the film as well no matter what. Thanks for your comment! 🙂


        1. Sorry, I must have missed that comment of yours. I am not qualified to answer that at all. I hardly ever watch Russian movies, and even less those released in the last decade. I guess the films of Zvyagintsev or Tverdovskiy would have that.


  3. It’s nice to see some of your favourite wins of each catergory Diana. Ofcourse I’m out of the loop I feel with my knowldge on the oscar nominations of this year, particularly as I have watched a fair few that do not make it to the nominee board it would seem, but I’m glad to see Lady Bird and The BreadWinner up there. I recently watched Lady Bird anxiously as it is usually not something I steer towards, but I found it really entertaining, it packs a hearwarming punch I felt without the teenage cringe of it.

    I still have yet to watch Three Billboards Outisde Ebbing Missouri, but I would no doubt, want her to win aswell as she is always so intrguing to watch in her given roles. Lovely post here.

    Sincerely Sonea

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is hard to dislike Lady Bird. It even had an absolute 100% score on rotten tomatoes with 220 reviews positive, until one obscure reviewer decided to write a negative review and now it has 99% rating, which, in this context, sounds like an outrageous thing to do hehe It was just something I found curious.
      I am also glad to see The Breadwinner among the nominees too, but seeing The Breadwinner there being nominated, I feel sorry for Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father” (being Cambodia’s submission). I thought it would at least make a cut among the nominees in the foreign language category.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I hope Nolan finally wins an Oscar, he’s too good not to have one. Same with Paul Thomas Anderson, he’s overdue.

    Because of the times, and the political correctness of the Academy, I predict transgender drama A Fantastic Woman will win for Foreign Film, though I’ll be rooting for The Square which is in my top 10 of the year.

    Curious to watch the snubbed documentary about Jane Goodall you describe! Robert Pattinson for Best Actor in Good Time was a snub that comes to mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have heard a lot of good films about Good Time and Pattinson’s performance there. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people have seen this film, and I am sure there are plenty of people who don’t even know about it.
      As for political correctness in the Academy, you are right. My worry is that there is a bias towards such films developing – a sort of a bias in favour of films that portray sexual/racial bias and which have minorities and their opinions in them. Wherever you look there are now films which must tick that box to be successful or noticed, I mean The Shape of Water is all about disadvantaged minor characters coming together to play a larger role; The Florida Project is about underprivileged poor growing up in the shadow of the Disneyland; Call Me By Your Name – a gay relationship, and the list goes on. If there was La La Land effect, there was also Moonlight effect. It definitely snowballed at this point in time, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, the Academy is bias to minorities, just look in the past to films about the deaf and the blind getting noms. Possibly getting worse with #oscarssowhite.

        In recent years, I prefer the films from Cannes (Good Time was released there). I feel that festival champions daring, original cinema, and is less concerned with ticking specific boxes. But there were some oscar movies I liked this year, I Tonya and Get Out are in my top 10.


        1. Just want to add, “getting worse with #oscarssowhite” makes me sound racist(which I am not). I welcome black nominees as long as its earned. If they are selected over better white performances for the sake of diversity then the nominee system is a failure


          1. I share your views completely. The point is to give awards to those who earned them – cinema-wise. Giving awards to films and people just to demonstrate one’s commitment to fight inequality or to protest certain Presidency is just wrong.
            The films from Cannes have also been impressing me recently, and sure, I prefer them to the Academy’s selection. For example, I was completely taken by “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I am sure the “race and gender political” atmosphere has a good deal to play in the selections. There is always that and Hollywood is especially fired up now. The Weinstein issue of course has to be painful for those involved with the film and have become collateral damage because of it. Sad. It cannot be denied that the issues being addressed were long past due, but nonetheless, at what cost?

    Otherwise, I tend to agree with most of your assessments. (Only because I’ve not viewed them all) You have a good eye.


    1. Thanks for agreeing with my views.
      I did not want to bring up the Weinstein issue too much in my above commentary, but yes, the sad reality is the prime need to punish one individual, his company or close entourage and the culture – cinematography – films themselves have to suffer as a result – and sure, all those involved and spent probably years in helping to produce these films without even sharing any blame in the allegations have to endure the injustice.
      One thing is to cut out one actor – such as Spacey from a movie, but another thing is to tackle Weinstein – whose influence/productions could be seen in many places and to be found at the very core of Hollywood. It is like Hollywood shoots itself in the foot, or tries to amputate their own limb by distancing itself from Weinstein – Weinstein production has been part of Hollywood.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was good! I’m not crazy about how it ended. I’m going through all the Best Pic nominees this week before Sunday so it’s fresh on my mind. I’m torn on which one is my fave so far.

        Liked by 1 person

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