In Brief

JR, van Gogh, The Square, and the Streep Among 2018 Oscar Nominees

The films vying for Academy Awards this year include the Swedish art world satire The Square, a hand-painted animated film about Vincent van Gogh, and an irreverent documentary by Agnès Varda and JR.

Meryl Streep in <em>The Post</em> (courtesy 20th Century Fox)
Meryl Streep in The Post (courtesy 20th Century Fox)

It isn’t an Oscar nominee list if Meryl Streep isn’t on it. Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar nominees for the 90th annual awards, which Jimmy Kimmel will host in Los Angeles on March 4, and with a slot in the Actress in a Leading Role category for her role in The Post, Streep has now been nominated 21 times. Aside from a few missing titles here and there, these nominees were to be expected given the hoopla surrounding them.

Most readily apparent from the nominations, and what has been the case for several years now, is that films by indie distributors streak the list. A24, whose Moonlight won Best Picture last year, has a total of seven nominations across the 24 categories, so too does Netflix. Cohen Media Group has two and Grasshopper Films and MUBI both have one.

A scene from <em>Get Out</em> (courtesy Universal Pictures)
A scene from Get Out (courtesy Universal Pictures)

Despite its predictability, the list features a few welcome and much appreciated inclusions. Jordan Peele’s Get Out is one of those rare horror films that get a Best Picture nomination. And it’s a shock to see Phantom Thread, a good Paul Thomas Anderson film, get so many nominations (Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Costume Design), one of which is most assuredly crucial: Best Score. Jonny Greenwood’s swirling, haunting music is integral to Phantom Thread, providing the emotional undercurrent to the social and romantic jousting between Alma (Vicky Krieps) and Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis).

A scene from The Shape of Water, featuring Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins (courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures)
A scene from The Shape of Water, featuring Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins (courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures)

A few surprises, all of them unpleasant, are on the list. For Dunkirk, another one of Hans Zimmer’s overwhelming, overbearing, and overdone scores gets a nod — his eleventh. The Shape of Water undeservedly racks up 13 nominations. Playing both the arthritic Nova Scotian artist Maude Lewis in Maudie and a mute janitor in Guillermo del Toro’s film, Hawkins was gunning for an Oscar nomination when clearly her best, most reserved and restrained performance is in Paddington 2. (Released in the UK last year and in the US this month, alas it didn’t make the cut. Here’s hoping for a nomination next year though.)

It boggles the mind why Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has gotten so much acclaim. With half-formed ideas and an unearned ambiguous ending, this cruel-for-the-sake-of-cruelty film is sorely in need of a second or third draft. Carter Burwell’s score is a retread of Carol (2015) and a patchwork of orchestral and country music that saps whatever mood Three Billboards is trying to sustain. Nominated for Supporting Actor, Woody Harrelson’s performance in Martin McDonagh’s film is a diluted combination of the ones that he played in The Edge of Seventeen (2017) and No Country for Old Men (2007). Perhaps the biggest shock of all is seeing Christopher Plummer on the list in the Supporting Actor category for All the Money in the World. Good on Ridley Scott for replacing Kevin Spacey, re-shooting his scenes with Plummer at the last minute, but he phones it in as tightwad angry old J. Paul Getty.

Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty in <em>All the Money in the World</em> (courtesy TriStar Pictures)
Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World (courtesy TriStar Pictures)

As usual, a few Oscar-worthy films slipped through the cracks this year. Frederick Wiseman’s three-hour Ex Libris: The New York Public Library didn’t make the cut. Then again, none of the great documentarians films are ever nominated. (Wiseman did receive a 2016 Academy Honorary Award that acknowledged his existence and importance in the film industry.) No nominations for Noah Baumbach’s caustic and most mature work yet, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), which contains standout performances by Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel, as well as punchy and punch-line inducing editing by Jennifer Lame. Good Time, The Lost City of Z, The Unknown Girl, and A Quiet Passion — all worthy of the Oscars, all snubbed.

A scene from <em>The Square</em>, a Magnolia Pictures release (courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)
A scene from The Square, a Magnolia Pictures release (courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

A smattering of art and art-related films wound up on the final list. Having already snagged the lofty Palme d’Or, Ruben Östlund’s The Square — a skewering of art, the art world, and the cultural elite — is a frontrunner for Best Foreign Language Film. Marketed as the first fully painted feature-length film, Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s Loving Vincent is a conventional retelling of Vincent van Gogh’s death, but with its ever-shifting palette and gleaming colors, looks nothing like the other entries (which were made using CGI and cell animation) in the Animated Feature category. And then there’s Agnès Varda (who received one of those Academy Honorary awards last year) and JR’s Faces Places, which is up for a Best Documentary Oscar. “Academy Award nominee JR” just rolls off the tongue for the polished and hip art darling. Faces Places is partly a travelogue and partly a free-ranging essay on mortality. Bittersweet, light, and airy — it’s the perfect Varda film to nab an Oscar.

JR and Agnès Varda in JR’s photo booth van (courtesy Cohen Media Group)
JR and Agnès Varda in JR’s photo booth van. Their film, Faces Places is nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar. (courtesy Cohen Media Group)

Here is the full list of 2018 Oscar nominations:

Best Picture

Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Actor in a Leading Role

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. 

Actress in a Leading Role

 Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Street, The Post

Actor in a Supporting Role

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

Actress in a Supporting Role

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Director

 Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro

Animated Feature

 The Boss Baby, Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
The Breadwinner, Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
Coco, Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
Ferdinand, Carlos Saldanha
Loving Vincent, Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart

Animated Short

 “Dear Basketball,” Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant
“Garden Party,” Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon
“Lou,” Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
“Negative Space,” Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
“Revolting Rhymes,” Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer

Adapted Screenplay

Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Original Screenplay

The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound, Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water, Dan Lausten

Best Documentary Feature

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
Faces Places, JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda
Icarus, Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
Last Men in Aleppo, Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen
Strong Island, Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes

Best Documentary Short Subject

 “Edith+Eddie,” Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405,” Frank Stiefel
“Heroin(e),” Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon
“Knife Skills,” Thomas Lennon
“Traffic Stop,” Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

Best Live Action Short Film

 “DeKalb Elementary,” Reed Van Dyk
“The Eleven O’Clock,” Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
“My Nephew Emmett,” Kevin Wilson Jr.
“The Silent Child,” Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton
“Watu Wote/All of Us,” Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen

Best Foreign Language Film 

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
Loveless (Russia)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)

Film Editing

Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
Dunkirk, Lee Smith
I, Tonya, Tatiana S. Riegel
The Shape of Water, Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jon Gregory

Sound Editing

Baby Driver, Julian Slater
Blade Runner 2049, Mark Mangini, Theo Green
Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King
The Shape of Water, Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

Sound Mixing

Baby Driver, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
Blade Runner 2049, Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
Dunkirk, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
The Shape of Water, Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
Star Wars: The Last Jedi,
Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

Production Design

Beauty and the Beast, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049, Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
Darkest Hour, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Dunkirk, Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water, Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

Original Score

 Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell

Original Song

 “Mighty River” from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Makeup and Hair

Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
Victoria and Abdul, Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
Wonder, Arjen Tuiten

Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast, Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour, Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water, Luis Sequeira
Victoria and Abdul, Consolata Boyle

Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island, Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

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