Academy Graduates

Academy Graduates

The Oscar nominations were announced this week, with the usual surprises and snubs. The marathon popularity contest that is the Academy Awards has had various frontrunners over the last few months. Christopher Nolan’s WW2 Dunkirk seemed a shoo-in at one point; Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has gained traction with its Golden Globe win; and now Guillermo Del Toro’s Cold War-set fantasy-romance The Shape of Water has claimed the most nominations, with 13.

All three films could snatch Best Picture, but whose to say voters won’t be swayed by Greta Gerwig’s charming coming-of-age picture Lady Bird in a year when female voices have been so strongly heard, on screen and off? This year’s race feels open and – for once – important. The usual self-congratulatory backslapping must take a backseat, with host Jimmy Kimmel left to evaluate a watershed moment when victims of abuse in Hollywood have rightly taken a stand.

Of the British contenders, Gary Oldman is surely set to walk away with Best Actor for his Winston Churchill portrayal in Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour (which did better than expected, with six nods in total, including Best Picture). Daniel Kaluuya received the first nomination of his career for horror-satire Get Out. And Sally Hawkins may yet prove to be a dark horse for her mute cleaner in The Shape of Water, besting clear favourite, Frances McDormand, for her vengeful mother in Three Billboards.

Surprises (pleasant ones) included the six nods for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, his exquisite 1950s-set gothic romance about a fashion designer and his muse. Daniel Day-Lewis’ reputedly last performance was recognised in the Best Actor category, but more out-there nominations included his British co-star Lesley Manville and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, winning his first Oscar nod for Best Musical Score. Eight-time nominee Anderson picked up nods for Best Director (his second in that category) and Best Picture.

Other nominations to be celebrated include the wonderful Loving Vincent scoring a nod in the Best Animated Feature category; it probably won’t topple Pixar’s Coco, but it’s a beautiful film. It was pleasing to see Logan nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay; the final appearance by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, the film far outstrips the other X-Men films, turning a cartoon tale of mutants into a profound meditation about ageing and legacy.

Steven Spielberg can justifiably be a little miffed; his excellent Pentagon Papers drama The Post is one of the nine competing for Best Picture and the ever-imperious Meryl Streep collected her 21st nomination – a staggering achievement in itself. But the film gained no other recognition. Another snub, though less surprising, was James Franco, whose warmly-received Globe-winning turn as flop director Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist was shut out after allegations surrounding Franco’s private life surfaced.

The 90th Academy Awards takes place on 4 March. For more information: www.oscars.org/oscars

Credits:
1. Still from Get Out.