Another year, another round of Oscar nominations. Announced this morning by Andy Serkis and Tiffany Haddish, the event went pretty much as planned. No real surprises, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing at this stage. There’s always one or two disappointments. One or two pleasant surprises. Here are the nominations:

Image result for 90th academy awards

And here are my thoughts:

  1. Oscars so white?-The first thing that jaded me looked at was if the voters were able to keep the #Oscarssowhite movement at bay for another year. Indeed, they did. Jordan Peele for Best Director. Daniel Kaluuya and Denzel for Best Actor. Octavia Spencer and Mary J. Blige for Best Supporting Actress. I’m ecstatic about Peele and Kaluuya’s nominations. In my opinion, Get Out was the movie of the year. Less enthused about Spencer and Denzel’s nominations. Denzel receives his eighth nomination in his incredible career, and I think he’s one of the best, most accomplished actors of all-time, but Roman J. Esquire by all accounts is a pretty mediocre film. Octavia Spencer receives her third nomination for The Shape of Water in a role that is essentially the exact same role she played in The Help or Hidden Figures. There were other performances that deserved that spot (Holly Hunter in The Big Sick for example). This feels like exactly what I didn’t want to happen where it becomes obligatory to nominate a black performer, bypassing merit.
  2. A woman directing? A movie?-Greta Gerwig becomes the fifth female nominated for Best Director, and, after that perfectly executed shade spewed by Natalie Portman at the Golden Globes, I saw this coming. Still, it’s completely warranted as Gerwig was able to turn a deeply personal story into a relatable, funny, and moving film.
  3. Christopher Nolan’s first nomination-A man by the name of Christopher Nolan received his first Oscar nomination this morning. You would think that he’s a newcomer right? Not someone who’s been perhaps the most influential, successful, and ambitious director of the past decade. It’s insane that it’s taken this long, but congratulations to him.
  4. PTA and Phantom Thread love-Paul Thomas Anderson has long been my vote for best director working. Sadly, that rarely translates to an Oscar for Best Director (reference Kubrick, Hitchcock, Powell). I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see him even nominated for his latest film, Phantom Thread, which wound up with a number of nominations. Yay. It’s important to note, however, that he has no chance of winning.
  5. The exes-This one is none of my business, but it intrigues me nonetheless. Gary Oldman and Leslie Manville are both nominated for performing Oscars. Gary Oldman in Best Actor for The Darkest Hour and Leslie Manville in Best Supporting Actress for Phantom Thread. The two were formerly married, and I wonder how often that’s happened in Oscar history. I remember Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron in 2009, but that’s the only one that comes to mind.
  6. Meryl Streep-Yes, another year, another Meryl Streep nomination. Frankly, I’m sick of it.
  7. The three amigos- In the past five years, the winners for Best Director have been Alejandro Inarritu (twice), Alfonso Cuaron, last year’s Damien Chazelle, and all indications point to Guillermo Del Toro this year. The significance? A Mexican director will have won it four of the last five years. Viva La Mexico.
  8. Genre love and auteur appreciation-The Shape of Water and Get Out are basking in Oscar love this morning. That’s a monster movie and a horror film getting extremely rare consideration. Historically, The Silence of the Lambs and the Exorcist are the only horror films that I can think of to get Best Picture noms. Maybe Rosemary’s Baby. Outside of that, I’ve been happy with how the Oscars is increasingly recognizing original directors and films rather than reward the perfectly boring Oscar bait movies. Birdman a few years ago. Moonlight last year. The Shape of Water and Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri this year. Good trend.

-Walter Howard-

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