If you were up at around 8:15 this morning, you witnessed a good amount of history being made in the land of Hollywood with the nominations for the 90th Academy Awards. Hosted humorously by Tiffany Haddish and Andy Serkis, the nomination ceremony had a few surprises and “about time” moments. Let’s break it all down.
Fantasy and horror get their day
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro’s fairy tale for adults, leads the pack with 13 nominations, just shy of the 14 “La La Land” earned last year. Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer earned acting nominations and del Toro secured one for directing. Horror flick “Get Out” earned four nominations, including best picture and best director for Jordan Peele. Daniel Kaluuya scored a best actor nomination. Fantasy and horror usually don’t get invited to the big dance, and both films are game-changers in this year’s selections. Will “The Shape of Water” have better luck at the end than “La La Land,” which won six Oscars but not best picture?
History already made
Rachel Morrison is the first woman to be nominated in the cinematography category. She is competing with her work in “Mudbound.” The post-World War II drama is up for four awards, with two nominations for singer/actress Mary J. Blige for supporting actress and song. Writer/director Dee Rees is nominated for adapted screenplay. It’s also the first time that a Netflix movie has made it into the top narrative categories, but it’s still not best picture. Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) is only the fifth woman to receiving a directing nomination, and Jordan Peele (“Get Out”) is the third African American in that category.
A mighty “Thread”
While many expected Daniel Day-Lewis to earn a nod for his “final” performance (I’ll believe it when a decade has passed and he’s not acting) in “Phantom Thread” and recognition for its costume design and score, it was a surprise for it earn additional love for best picture, director for Paul Thomas Anderson and supporting actress for Lesley Melville. Day-Lewis could earn his fourth best actor Oscar, and Jonny Greenwood could finally collect one for his score. Melville, who was snubbed for her brilliant performance in 2010’s “Another Year,” has a chance this time.
Off the cliff
As expected, not all performances and work can be nominated, but a few omissions stand out. James Franco did not make the cut for “The Disaster Artist” in the best actor category, and the supporting cast and director of “Call Me By Your Name” were not named. Despite the quick shuffle to it in the awards fight, “All the Money in the World” could only squeak out one nomination with pinch-hitter Christopher Plummer getting it for supporting actor. Other snubs included Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba for “Molly’s Game,” box-office juggernaut “Wonder Woman,” Haddish for “Girls Trip,” Martin McDonagh for best director of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “Jane” for best documentary feature and “Into the Fade” for best foreign language film. Left out of the best picture race are “The Florida Project,” “The Big Sick” and “Logan.”
The studio with the most to gain and lose in this race is Fox Searchlight, as it is backing “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” With recent best picture winners “Birdman,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “12 Years a Slave,” it will be interesting to see which of the two films will have the most studio back. It will be a battle between the present-day, in-the-moment drama or the horror/fantasy American tale that will prevail. The two have battled it out all season, making it a boring competition in a way. This may allow for dark horses like “Phantom Thread” or “Darkest Hour” from Focus Features or “Lady Bird” from A24, the studio behind last year’s best picture winner “Moonlight,” to move ahead.
As for my predictions, I only got the best actress category completely right. Last year, it was only the best actor category. Tune in later when I begin the Road to Gold series ahead of the Oscars telecast March 4.