The nominees for the 2018 Academy Awards were announced on January 23rd (see the entire list here), and the ceremony will take place on March 4th. We’ll have to wait until then to see who wins, but based on the potential nominees that were left out we DO know who WON’T be winning. After having a week to think it over, here are our thoughts on the biggest mistakes that the Academy voters made this year.
This year’s Oscar nominees ran the full gambit from awarding clear Oscar-baits to throwing a bone to some genres that typically haven’t even been recognized. I guess what I’m saying is that it is both as expected and against expectations, if that makes sense. If anything, that makes this year’s awards more interesting than in times past when it seems like it has been a members-only club. Even if we aren’t seeing the diversity that we hoped for in the nominees, there is still clear progress on that front. However, there are still some clear cases in my mind where talent did not get the credit that it deserved (beyond the annual Andy Serkis Oscar swipe):
Best Director – Denis Villeneuve
Blade Runner: 2049 was one of the most ambitious films to be released this year, and while it may not have been as ground-breaking as the original Blade Runner, I felt that the director deserved credit for his achievement. Villeneuve created a spellbinding visual masterpiece, and the fact that he approached such a difficult task and succeeded is worth something.
Best Actor – James Franco
Franco won the Golden Globe for best actor in a musical or comedy for his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. With that win under his belt, he clearly had the momentum to earn an Oscar nomination. His film even created a lot of buzz coming into the Oscar season. However, sexual misconduct allegations hitting the media just days before the Oscar nominations were released probably caused the Academy to reconsider and go with their next highest vote-getter. See Denzel Washington below.
Makeup and Hairstyling – I, Tonya or The Shape of Water
Makeup and Hairstyling is always a difficult category to predict because the Academy always seems to nominate fewer films than they should. For this year, both I, Tonya and The Shape of Water got left out. I, Tonya should have been nominated not only for the way the way the film mimicked Tonya Harding’s actual hair and makeup, but also for the transformation of Allison Janney in her role. Furthermore, the prosthetic work necessary to make “the creature” come to life in Shape of Water was a centerpiece to the film’s success.
Best Supporting Actor – Michael Stahlberg or Armie Hammer
It seemed that both Michael Stahlberg and Armie Hammer would be receiving nominations for their work in Call Me By Your Name, but neither were recognized. The film has received a lot of praise and buzz at the right time, and so it is even more perplexing that neither of them got one. See Woody Harrelson below.
Cinematography – Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Call Me By Your Name
Speaking of Call Me By Your Name, this is a film that did everything well. Everything includes the cinematography. Especially given the circumstances of the shoot. The film looks warm and bright, but the filmmakers had to contend with a stormy season, and now Mukdeeprom won’t get the accolades he deserves for pulling it off.
Cinematography – Paul Thomas Anderson, The Phantom Thread
PTA’s films always have an impeccable visual style, and his latest is no exception. However, PTA made his latest film without the collaborative efforts of the cinematographers he usually works with. Instead, he claims that it was a team effort to pull it off. PTA didn’t want to credit himself for cinematographer when so many other people helped, and so he just decided to have no credit for director of photography. As a result, the film wasn’t really eligible to be nominated.
Animated Feature – The Lego Batman Movie
The Lego Batman Movie may be an expensive commercial, but that expensive commercial was loved by audiences and critics alike much more than Ferdinand or Boss Baby. It deserved a nomination in a year where there were a lack of animated feature films to choose from.
THE HEAD SCRATCHERS
Despite being generally satisfied with this year’s crop of nominees, I felt that there were a few instances of nominees not necessarily deserving their spots, especially over the films that got left out or snubbed.
Best Actor – Denzel Washington
It is clear that Denzel’s spot as a nominee comes at the expense of James Franco. Now Denzel is a very talented actor, and did a great job in this role, but the film as a whole did not seem to generate the buzz and accolades that other films with worthy leading-actor performances had. And it’s not like Denzel is being underappreciated at the Oscars. In the past 6 years, he’s now been nominated for Best Actor for half the time.
Best Supporting Actor – Woody Harrelson
In my mind, this is the biggest flub of this years’ nominees. I enjoyed Harrelson’s performance in this film, but to me it wasn’t anything that stood out in my mind. The film is a great one, but Harrelson’s performance doesn’t necessarily make it so. Both Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg are among the reasons that Call Me By Your Name works so well. Either one of them deserved this more than Woody.
Best Director – Greta Gerwig
Ladybird is a great film, and Gerwig deserves a lot of credit for that. She is a talented writer and filmmaker, and it is a great thing to see a woman nominee for Best Director. However, of all the nominees in the category for this year, I think that she is least deserving. Ladybird did not stand out in terms of technical accomplishment or tour-de-force filmmaking. In my mind either Denis Villeneuve, Martin McDonaugh, Steven Spielberg, or Luca Guadagnino should have been nominated instead.
Best Picture – 9 Nominees
This seems to be a consistent headscratcher since the Academy increased the number of potential Best Picture nominees to 10. Since that change in 2010, the Academy has nominated fewer than 10 films seven times. I don’t understand this. What harm is it to nominate another film to make it an even 10? Is there really that much of a gap between the films that have been nominated and others that have received a good number of other Oscar nominations, but not Best Picture? There are several other films that could have been included here, and they are all just as worthy as the ones that were nominated: The Disaster Artist, I, Tonya, Blade Runner:2049, or even The Big Sick.
Those are my choices for this years’ Oscars snubs and head scratchers. What are yours?