Oscar Noms 2018: 7 Facts and Takeaways that aren’t Complaints

Two of the last three years I’ve enjoyed writing this little Oscar nomination response column as a counter to the many snub-related post out there that rant and ramble, fixated on who should’ve been recognized for their work. I’m more interested in Academy trends and the way the cultural narrative shapes the Oscars, which is the well-educated liberal’s Super Bowl. So here are some facts and observations that you can just casually drop while watching the 90th Academy Awards on March 4.


“The Shape of Water” is only the 13th film to earn 13 Oscar nominations, but is it even the Best Picture favorite?

Usually, the film with the most Oscar nominations takes home the top prize. Of the 12 previous films to earn 13 nominations, only five have not won Best Picture. The only thing that must be said after that fact: “La La Land” had 14 nominations last year. We all know what happened there.

There’s a tremendous divide between Best Picture and the rest of the Oscar categories since the voting rules for Best Picture are so different than other categories. This is something i plan to get into in an upcoming blog post, but for now, know that the reason “Shape of Water” has so many nominations is due to four acting nominations and its many technical category nods. It reminds me a lot of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a visually top-notch drama with 13 noms that couldn’t compete with “Slumdog Millionaire” when it was all said in done. To be fair, “Slumdog” had 10 nominations and “TSOW’s” nearest competitor has eight (“Dunkirk,” also riding its technical nominations).

Maybe I’m remembering how Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” got an Oscar ripped out from under it, but this is not the film everyone’s talking about this year. Should it be favored? Perhaps, but don’t assume this competition is over.


The Academy appears to have solved its diversity problem. For now.

Last year, the first year following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy announced efforts to change that. Unsurprisingly, a record six black actors were nominated in 2017, three Best Picture nominees featured black casts and even three documentaries tackled black issues. Even the first black cinematographer received a nomination. This year isn’t quite that way, but four black actors are among the 20 nominees, a black director and woman director, seven non-white male writers and the first woman cinematographer.

At the same time, as The New York Times points out, after two years of trying to improve diversity in the Academy membership, voters remain 72 percent male and 87 percent white. What would happen if the films and filmmakers of the moment were not diverse?


The impact of “Me Too” had a palpable effect on this year’s nominees

Without a doubt, the Me Too movement was going to play a big role in this year’s Oscars. The Weinstein scandal and subsequent movement was a watershed moment in Hollywood and anyone whose name has been mired by accusations of assault or misconduct of any kind has seen no leniency. Both James Franco and Aziz Ansari, whose allegations are either unsubstantiated or not about assault per se, both didn’t attend the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Franco, who was nominated for a Golden Globe and SAG Award for “The Disaster Artist” and seemed to be a lock, did not make the Best Actor list here.

The Weinstein Company was also known for being a powerhouse when it came to getting Academy recognition for its films and stars. Since the 2009 Oscars, the Weinsteins only went one year (until this year, obviously) without a Best Picture nominee on their distribution portfolio. Their involvement in “Wind River” absolutely killed that movie’s chances of an award season run. Ironically, the film was about sexual violence against women.


Young, new voices are getting recognized

If you’d asked me in February, I would’ve told you”Get Out” seemed to be great movie and an important movie, but I would’ve dismissed the likelihood of it holding up nearly a year to earn more than a Best Screenplay nomination. A genre film? And from a debut filmmaker? Yet Jordan Peele became the third filmmaker to earn a Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay nod for his debut feature. Greta Gerwig was also nominated for feature debut and screenplay. Not to mention, Damien Chazelle became the youngest Best Director winner ever last year. The white gentleman’s club that has been the Best Director category is starting to lose its ground.


Streaming services take another step in infiltrating the Oscars

We’ve yet to see the first Netflix Best Picture nominee, but we’re not far off. If Netflix had been smart enough to follow Amazon Studios’ lead last year with “Manchester by the Sea” and put “Mudbound” in theaters too, perhaps it would’ve received more than four Oscar nominations, but that’s still a lot for a film without a theatrical release. The infiltration began when Netflix won a Best Documentary Short Oscar last year and got some other nominations (which it did again this year). The more of a foothold Netflix and Amazon can get in these competitions, the more legitimacy to the streaming platform, and the more award-worthy filmmakers will take a chance on it.


Timothée Chalamet is the youngest Best Actor nominee since 1943

There’s always been a wide age gap between Best Actor and Best Actress, with the former being older and the latter being younger. At 22, Chalamet is the third youngest nominee ever in this category and the first since Mickey Rooney in 1943. He also played a role in “Lady Bird” alongside Saoirse Ronan, who joins Jennifer Lawrence as the fastest (in terms of age) to reach three Oscar nominations (“Lady Bird,” “Brooklyn” and “Atonement”). Lawrence did it faster, but not by much. With Daniel Kaluuya and Margot Robbie both under 30, young talent was taken seriously this year. Can one of them upset the veteran favorites in their category?


Christopher Plummer is now the oldest actor to be nominated … for a role he shot three months ago

After becoming the oldest person to win an Oscar when he won Best Supporting Actor for “Beginners” at age 82, Plummer got really selfish this year and decided he had to be the oldest actor, man or woman, to ever be nominated for an Oscar. The 88-year-old also had to prove he could do it two months before the release date of the film, as he was asked at the last second to re-shoot Kevin Spacey’s scenes in “All the Money in the World.” His nomination is an incredible feat. Just goes to show you can peak in your 80s. I can’t wait.


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