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The Surprises and Snubs of the 2018 Oscar Nominations

What was honored, what wasn’t, and why it matters.
Mary J Blige Mudbound
By  · Published on January 23rd, 2018

Oscar nomination morning always comes with jubilation and sorrow. Jubilation for those who have been nominated for the tremendous work they’ve done. Sorrow for the individuals who failed to garner recognition.

This year, the Academy continued to make positive strides towards a diverse selection of nominees. The Best Director category, for instance, consists of a black filmmaker, a woman filmmaker, and a Latino filmmaker alongside two white men. And four of the Best Director contenders are first-time nominees for that award (two of those four were previously nominated in other categories). As for the veteran fifth director, in a surprise twist DGA Award nominee Martin McDonagh was replaced by the Academy with Paul Thomas Anderson.

There were a lot other surprises this morning, too, some of them positive and some of them disappointing snubs. Below we highlight the big shockers as well as some of the most significant records broken and achievements attained and other trivia regarding the contenders for the 90the Academy Awards.


The movement towards inclusion was a big win for everyone involved with the Oscars. After many years of receiving social media outrage from #OscarsSoWhite, the Academy was much more aware of the great work that came from all contributors of Hollywood. The nominees included Jordan Peele for Best Director, Octavia Spencer and Mary J. Blige for Best Supporting Actress, Denzel Washington and Daniel Kaluuya for Best Actor, and Get Out for Best Picture.

Phantom Thread was the biggest surprise in terms of its number of nominations. Not only did Anderson earn a nod for directing but the film was named for Best Picture, Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis, for his final screen role), Best Supporting Actress (Lesley Manville), Best Original Score (Jonny Greenwood), and Costume Design (Mark Bridges). Who imagined the film would garner six nominations given the lack of attention it’s gotten from other awards?

It may not have been a surprise that Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water did well — but it’s impressive just how well it did. Thirteen nominations is an incredible number that includes those honorees that weren’t safe bets, like Spencer and the original screenplay by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. The achievement doesn’t mean The Shape of Water will win Best Picture (La La Land had 14 nods last year, and we remember how that went), but it does mean del Toro’s monsters connected with the Academy in a big way.

After all the hoopla surrounding All the Money in the World, as well as the money thrown at the last-minute quick-save reshoots, director Ridley Scott and Sony must be overjoyed about the nomination for Christopher Plummer. The actor came into the project late, to replace the disgraced Kevin Spacey, and performed his role with a fast turnaround. For his effort, he scored a third Oscar nomination for his portrayal of J. Paul Getty.

One of the biggest surprises was a nomination for the X-Men spin-off Logan for Best Adapted Screenplay. Perhaps we should have expected it to be recognized, as it was also nominated for a WGA Award, but no superhero comic book movie has ever achieved this honor before, even though four of them (DeadpoolGuardians of the GalaxyThe Dark Knight, and 1978’s Superman: The Movie) previously earned WGA nods. (note: Pixar’s The Incredibles is a superhero movie that was nominated in the original screenplay category, while American Splendor and Ghost World are non-superhero comic book movies that were nominated fo Best Adapted Screenplay.) It’s also just great to see the work of James Mangold (with co-writers Scott Frank and Michael Green) get some kind of recognition from the Academy. But it’s a particular win for the genre. Logan is considered one of the greatest superhero films of all-time, and this shows that with quality comes appreciation.


The Post Ensemble

The Post managed nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress — Meryl Streep received her 21st nod, extending her record — but showing in just two categories has to be thought of as a disappointment. Steven Spielberg didn’t even garner a nomination for his work as director. The Post is the sort of timely and topical film the Academy usually goes head over heels for. Also, especially in a weak year for the Best Actor race, Tom Hanks seemed a shoo-in for his performance as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee — he could have been the second person honored for the real life role, after Jason Robards received a Best Supporting Actor nod (and won the Oscar) 41 years ago for All the President’s Men.

Hanks wasn’t only actor to miss out on an expected Best Actor nomination. James Franco was once thought to be a frontrunner for his portrayal of filmmaker Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, and that was even before his Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice wins and Screen Actors Guild nomination. Everything changed when five women told the Los Angeles Times about inappropriate behavior Franco committed on multiple occasions. That clearly had an influence on Oscar voters, and he missed the cut this time. The Disaster Artist, also once thought a possibility for Best Picture, did manage a Best Adapted Screenplay slot for writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.

The Best Actress race, meanwhile, was stacked this year. Perhaps the only nomination that was lackluster was Streep’s, again. Even though she is superb in The Post, there were many other deserving contenders: Michelle Williams for All the Money in the World, Vicky Krieps for Phantom Thread, Jessica Chastain for Molly’s Game, Dame Judi Dench for Victoria & Abdul, and yes, even Jennifer Lawrence in mother! This year, the category could’ve included 10 actresses and still missed a few worthy women.

There is no shortage of Best Picture nominees this year, with nine titles making the cut. But, that being the case, there were still a few hopefuls that missed out. One is The Florida Project, which garnered a nomination for Willem Dafoe but missed in all other categories. Another, The Big Sick, was in the Best Picture conversation (as well as the Best Supporting Actress conversation for the overlooked Holly Hunter) yet the comedy only managed a Best Original Screenplay nod. Then there’s I, Tonya, which had been picking up steam right before nomination ballots were due. The Tonya Harding biopic apparently didn’t have enough support to get in over the other nominees, however — not that it’s nominations for Margot Robbie for Best Actress, Allison Janney for Best Supporting Actress Allison Janney, and Best Editing are any sort of letdown.

While Call Me by Your Name managed to take home four nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Song, its two presumed Best Supporting Actor contenders, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg, went unnamed this morning, perhaps having canceled each other out. No one will forget the amazing speech Stuhlbarg delivers at the end of the picture, or the connection Hammer and Best Actor nominee Timothee Chalamet display on screen, but neither of them will be a part of Oscar history.

Finally, there’s Wonder Woman. Before the superhero movie was released, it seemed like it could wind up being just another DC disaster. But director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot made believers out of everyone when the film was critically adored as well as phenomenal commercial success. No superhero title has ever been nominated for the big prize, but given this one’s domination of the zeitgeist last year there was even greater hope from fans than normal that this would be the year for the genre. Worst of all, Wonder Woman wasn’t even recognized at all, in any category.


Christopher Plummer All The Money In The World

Rachel Morrison became the first woman ever nominated for the achievement of Best Cinematography for her work shooting Mudbound.

Greta Gerwig became only the fifth woman nominated for the Best Director honor for her work helming Lady Bird. And for her first solo feature directorial effort to boot.

Jordan Peele, who is only the fifth black filmmaker to be nominated for Best Director for his work helming Get Out, is also recognized for his first feature. And he is only the third person in history to earn nominations in the Best Picture, Best Director, and one of the Best Screenplay categories with a debut (The other two were Warren Beatty for Heaven Can Wait and James L. Brooks for Terms of Endearment).

Get Out meanwhile joins only a handful of horror films nominated for Best Picture. The others were The Exorcist, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Sixth Sense. Only three other thrillers had the honor, Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion and Spellbound and George Cukor’s Gaslight. Additionally, Get Out is the first February release nominated for Best Pictures since 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, which also won the award.

Yance Ford, whose Strong Island is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, became the first openly transgender man and first openly transgender director ever nominated for an Oscar.

Agnes Varda, recognized for Best Documentary Feature with Faces Places, and James Ivory, who is up for Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writing Call Me By Your Name, jointly became the oldest Oscar nominees ever at age 89 — though Varda is the technical record holder by being just one week older than Ivory.

John Williams, who is 85, topped his own record for most nominations by a currently living person by earning his 51st nod with his score for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The only person to receive more nominations was Walt Disney, with 59.

Christopher Plummer, at the age of 88, became the oldest acting nominee ever. He already holds the record for the oldest acting winner ever for his supporting performance in Beginners at age 82.

Timothée Chalamet, at the age of 22, is the youngest Best Actor nominee since 1939, when 19-year-old Mickey Rooney was recognized for Babes in Arms.

Mary J. Blige is the first person to be nominated for Best Original Song and Best Supporting Actress in the same year.

Dee Rees is only the second black woman nominated for screenwriting, the first being Suzanne de Passe way back in 1973 for Lady Sings the Blues.

Meryl Streep extended her incredible record for most nominations received by an actor or actress ever, increasing the number to 21. The next best remain Katherine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson, each with 12.

Denzel Washington is now at eight nominations, putting him in a club with Marlon Brando, Peter O’Toole, Jack Lemmon, and Al Pacino. Only Paul Newman, Spencer Tracy, Laurence Olivier, and Jack Nicholson have more.

Octavia Spencer is now tied with Viola Davis for the record number of nominees received by a black actress, with her third. She and Washington also jointly became the first black actors to receive back-to-back nominations.

Kobe Bryant could sort of get an Oscar to go along with his NBA championships and other honors. He wrote and narrates Dear Basketball, which is up for Best Animated Short.

Logan, as mentioned above, is the first live-action superhero movie ever nominated for its screenplay (by James Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green, and is the first in the adapted screenplay category.

The Shape of Water, Lady Bird, The Post, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri all have a chance to be the first Best Picture winner to have a corresponding Best Actress nominee since Million Dollar Baby in 2004. Those respective actresses, Sally Hawkins, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep, and Frances McDormand, could also match the win, as did Million Dollar Baby‘s Hilary Swank.

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News Writer/Columnist for Film School Rejects. It’s the Pictures Co-host. Bylines Playboy, ZAM, Paste Magazine and more.