The Academy Awards race has been a difficult one to pin down this year. Unlike last year, when La La Land was the clear front-runner (despite eventually losing Best Picture to Moonlight in an infamous envelope mishap), no favorite has emerged from the 2017 crop of awards contenders.
Though Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Lady Bird have earned honors in the awards ceremonies leading up to the Oscars, The Shape of Water nabbed the most nominations for 2018, receiving 13 altogether. Fantasy films don’t typically win Best Picture, but Guillermo Del Toro’s movie shouldn’t be viewed as a genre piece. Based on those 13 nods, Academy voters apparently agreed.
Three Billboards earned seven nods, while Dunkirk received eight nominations. Lady Bird ended up getting nominated in five categories (tied with Blade Runner 2049), behind the six which went to Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour.
The Oscars don’t often reach a wide audience because popular films that more people watched aren’t usually recognized. But Get Out simply couldn’t be ignored — and that’s despite being released in February, which is typically viewed as far too early for awards consideration. Not to mention it’s a horror film!
Get Out earned four nominations, including Best Picture and a Best Director nod for Jordan Peele. That could bode well for more viewers tuning in for the Academy Awards, though the movie doesn’t figure to win in any of the categories for which it’s been nominated.
Here are the nominees in the major categories, along with the notable favorites and snubs and takeaways from the Academy’s choices:
Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
Favorites: Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf have been drawing the majority of awards recognition this season. Janney will likely win for what’s a much flashier role as Tonya Harding’s abusive mother, LaVona Golden. But Metcalf’s performance as an overworked and underappreciated mother raising a teenager in Lady Bird definitely deserves strong consideration.
Snubs: Holly Hunter seemed like a favorite for a nomination, but The Big Sick hasn’t gotten much awards love despite its critical acclaim. It seems likely that Mary J. Blige’s breakout performance in Mudbound or Lesley Manville, despite Phantom Thread‘s late release, cost Hunter a nod.
Best Supporting Actor
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
Takeaway: The acting in Three Billboards really impressed Academy voters. Woody Harrelson hadn’t received much recognition for his role as a small-town sheriff dealing with an unsolved murder and a serious personal issue, mostly because Sam Rockwell has gobbled up most of the awards. But it looks like Harrelson may have edged Armie Hammer out of the nominations here.
Favorites: Rockwell is likely considered the favorite, but Richard Jenkins should draw strong consideration for a heartbreaking performance in The Shape of Water, in addition to an impressive career that deserves an Academy Award.
Snubs: Call Me By Your Name topped a lot of critics’ best movie of the year lists, so it has to be a surprise that Hammer wasn’t nominated. Apparently, voters thought that Timothée Chalamet (nominated for Best Actor) was the more impressive performance that carried the film. It’s too bad because Hammer could have performed a dance number during the Oscars ceremony.
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
Takeaway: Welcome to the most competitive category of the 2018 Academy Awards. Any one of the nominees has to be considered a possibility — and would be a very deserving winner — and no favorite has really emerged to this point. There really wouldn’t be a wrong choice here, which shows what a strong year it was for female acting performances.
Favorites: With all of the awards love Three Billboards has drawn, maybe Frances McDormand could be the front-runner. But Saoirse Ronan arguably should have won two years ago for her role in Brooklyn (no slight against Brie Larson) and that might provide some goodwill for what was another excellent performance in Lady Bird.
Snubs: Jessica Chastain might have a case for great work in Molly’s Game. But who would she bump from this list?
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.
Takeaway: Denzel Washington getting a nomination was a big surprise. He’s achieved the status of earning recognition every time he’s on screen. And maybe this just seems surprising because so few people saw Roman J. Israel, Esq., but he carried that film with an excellent performance.
But applause for Daniel Kaluuya being nominated for his role in Get Out, which is probably the one people saw the most.
Favorites: Gary Oldman has been the favorite ever since critics began seeing Darkest Hour. Not only is his portrayal of Winston Churchill the best role of an amazing career, but an Oscar would also serve as something of a lifetime achievement award.
However, Timothée Chalamet might be gaining on Oldman, now that more people have seen Call Me By Your Name an his performance as a precocious teenager experiencing a sexual awakening. But Chalamet is so young that voters may feel that he’ll have another chance in the future during what figures to be a strong career.
Daniel Day-Lewis has to be considered a contender any time he’s on screen, doesn’t he? Talk of this being his final role before retirement might add to some sentimental votes. But this probably isn’t the year for him.
Snubs: One of the biggest questions going into the Oscar nominations was whether or not James Franco would be affected by the sexual misconduct allegations against him that emerged after the Golden Globe Awards. We probably won’t know if that was the case, but that will surely be the speculation.
It’s also stunning how little attention Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Stronger has drawn. Maybe it was just the wrong year, but portraying a real-life figure who lost his legs in an inspirational true story would typically attract a significant amount of Oscar buzz. (Is that too cynical?)
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Takeaway: How competitive a category was Best Director this year? Steven Spielberg didn’t get nominated for The Post, which many critics felt was the best movie of 2017. Considering the acclaim Call Me By Your Name has drawn, Luca Guadagnino being left off this list is probably a surprise as well.
Paul Thomas Anderson may have nudged either filmmaker off the list for Phantom Thread. Again, that seems somewhat surprising, considering how late the movie entered the awards race. But PTA has achieved must-see status, and from all accounts, Phantom Thread is a great film that could be his best.
However, Jordan Peele’s nomination is one that should make everyone smile.
Favorites: Guillermo Del Toro will likely be viewed as the front-runner with The Shape of Water being a strong Best Picture contender. But this could be the year Christopher Nolan scores a Best Director award. Dunkirk may not be the best film of his career — which is why many will say Del Toro should win (and they wouldn’t be wrong) — but it’s an impressive achievement in filmmaking, taking a story that doesn’t really have a central character and making a riveting account of war from it.
Snubs: How was Martin McDonagh not nominated here? Three Billboards earned Oscar nods in virtually every other category for which it was eligible. Maybe it’s viewed as more of an actor’s and writer’s showcase (McDonagh did earn a Best Original Screenplay nomination) than a well-directed film. Also, who would McDonagh replace on the list?
Call Me by Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Takeaways: With the expanded Best Picture category, many fans and movie writers may have been hoping that a comic book or sci-fi film like Logan and War For the Planet of the Apes would receive recognition. (Logan did score a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, which is notable.) But this was a surprisingly crowded category this year.
The Big Sick was a critics’ darling when it was released in late June (going wide in July), but lost momentum once the fall and more awards contenders hit theaters. Against that competition, it just didn’t measure up for critics despite drawing so much praise from nearly everyone who saw the film.
Stronger‘s lack of acclaim or attention during awards season is also baffling. Has it still just been too soon since the Boston Marathon bombing? (Last year’s Patriots Day was also largely ignored.) Do people think depicting real-life tragedy is somehow exploitative when events are relatively recent?
Favorites: Three Billboards and Lady Bird have received most of the awards recognition over the past couple of months, but The Shape of Water (with 13 nominations overall) should be the front-runner. If Guillermo Del Toro doesn’t win Best Director, his film should certainly earn Best Picture. Though the fable-like story might be too weird for some people, the movie has excellent acting performances, is beautifully shot, and is bolstered by a wonderful score. It’s even a tribute to old Hollywood in many ways.
Snubs: Many predictions for Oscar nominations had the Academy filling up all 10 slots for Best Picture this year (the category was expanded from five films in 2009), but nine made the cut. Smaller films viewed as contenders like The Florida Project, The Big Sick and I, Tonya lost out, maybe because Call Me By Your Name received most of those votes.
The 90th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 4, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.