Snubs, surprises in the nominations
By LINDSEY BAHR
AP Film Writer
It is a mathematical impossibility for a group of Oscar nominations to please everyone, but this year came pretty close with meaningful love for “Get Out,” ‘’Lady Bird” and “Phantom Thread,” and the history-making nomination of “Mudbound” director of photography Rachel Morrison, who became the first woman to ever be nominated for cinematography.
Still, there were some significant surprises and even a few outright snubs:
NO WONDER WOMAN: It was a good day for women, generally speaking, with the first ever nomination for a female cinematographer (Rachel Morrison for “Mudbound”) and Greta Gerwig becoming the fifth woman in history to get a best director nomination (for “Lady Bird”), but the love stopped short of one of the most populist female-driven projects of the year: “Wonder Woman.” The Patty Jenkins-directed blockbuster received zero nominations, even in a year that was surprisingly friendly to big budget hits (such as “Logan” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”)
DENZEL BREAKS THROUGH: You’d be forgiven if you weren’t aware there was a Denzel Washington film out this year. Dan Gilroy’s criminal court thriller “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” came and went without much fanfare, to middling reviews and box office. Washington’s performance as the activist lawyer was the one bright spot for many critics (although the New York Times said the film “doesn’t serve” him). Still, Washington has hardly been at the forefront of the awards race this year, especially when compared with, say Tom Hanks, who wasn’t nominated for playing Ben Bradlee in “The Post” (and hasn’t been nominated in 17 years). Washington also perhaps took the spot from James Franco for “The Disaster Artist.” This is Washington’s sixth lead actor nomination (he’s won twice).
NETFLIX NARRATIVE: The streaming service has gambled big in the past few years with would-be Oscar nominees, but found their first successful nondocumentary contender in a film it acquired at the Sundance Film Festival – Dee Rees’ American odyssey “Mudbound,” about two families, one black, and one white, in the post-WWII South. “Mudbound” was nominated for best adapted screenplay, best supporting actress (Mary J. Blige), best original song and best cinematography. For some, it’s been a question of whether the film academy had an anti-Netflix bias. Whatever the case was before, though, the times might be changing.
‘PHANTOM’ SURGE: Paul Thomas Anderson’s moody period piece is a favorite among hardcore cinephiles, but many were surprised Tuesday when Anderson was nominated for best director over both Steven Spielberg (“The Post”) and Martin McDonagh (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”). Anderson, an eight-time Oscar nominee (now twice for directing), didn’t even get a Director’s Guild or a Producer’s Guild nomination for “Phantom Thread.”
CURSE IS BROKEN: Snubs were almost becoming a way of life for documentary filmmaker Steve James who time and time again churns out excellent work to not much film Academy recognition. His “Hoop Dreams” was infamously only nominated for editing and then his sure bet, the Roger Ebert documentary “Life Itself,” was also passed over. This year, James finally got nominated for “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” about the family-owned community bank that was the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges following the 2008 subprime mortgage collapse.
BET PAYS OFF: By now, everyone knows how Ridley Scott replaced Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World” just six weeks before the film was set to hit theaters. That choice that was officially validated in the best possible way for the film – a supporting Oscar nomination for Plummer (his third).
DIVERSITY GETS A BOOST: The Oscars are not so white anymore, but one group that remains marginalized is Latino actors, who have not gotten an Oscar nomination since 2012. In fact, only three have won in the past 20 years (Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Benicio Del Toro). This year, Salma Hayek had the best shot for her role in the dark satire “Beatriz at Dinner.”
‘JANE’ GETS CUT OUT: Three days after Brett Morgen’s highly acclaimed Jane Goodall documentary “Jane” picked up the Producers Guild Award in the documentary category, the film academy left it on the cutting room floor.
THE BABY CEO: They can’t take it back. A film that has a 52 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes – “The Boss Baby,” in which Alec Baldwin voices a pint-sized, suit-wearing CEO – has been nominated for best animated feature.