Published in Epigram on the 25th January 2018
For the past few years in particular, the Academy Awards has been embroiled in political controversy because of a lack of diversity. Every year, the glitz and glamour emphasised the systematic bias towards white men in the film industry. Finally, with the Oscar nominations announced on the 23rd January, the industry has provided the opportunities to talented women and people of colour and will - thankfully - reward their successes at this iconic event.
Best Leading Actress
Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
Meryl Streep (The Post)
Throughout Epigram’s coverage of awards season, the leading actress nominees (Sally Hawkins, Frances McDormand, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep) have been the shining light and their roles, and subsequent performances, represent a shift to more developed female roles this past year alongside the universal praise of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. The five choices for the award were the standouts, and only Jessica Chastain and Annette Bening, after their respective roles in Molly’s Game and Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, will be disappointed knowing any previous year their work would be contenders for the title.
Best Leading Actor
Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Denzel Washington Jr. (Roman J. Israel Esq.)
There were two surprise nominations in the Leading Actor category which epitomises the change in consideration from the Academy. Daniel Kaluuya and Denzel Washington Jr. sneak in ahead of James Franco and traditional frontrunner, Tom Hanks. The overall critical and commercial success of Get Out is a gamechanger, and the its inclusion in the ceremony will draw new interest from the general public. Heralded from the 2017 Sundance Film Festival (worth tracking the ongoing 2018 festival), the film is difficult to categorise, directly addresses the casual racism of the bourgeois society, in particular, and is an original concept from the mind of Jordan Peele. The celebration of the film, Kaluuya, and both Peele’s writing and directing a year on from its premiere is a sign of the lasting legacy Get Out will have.
Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049)
Bruno Delbonnel (The Darkest Hour)
Hoyte van Hoytema (Dunkirk)
Rachel Morrison (Mudbound)
Dan Laustsen (The Shape of Water)
And, while the topic is legacy, Rachel Morrison, the cinematographer of Netflix epic Mudbound, is now the first woman ever to be nominated for the award. Considering the outrage over the inequality in film for actresses and female directors, it is remarkable how the ignorance of cinematography has lasted. Morrison is talented, has a growing portfolio including Fruitvale Station (2013), Cake (2014), and soon to be Black Panther (2018), and has broken through this lesser known glass ceiling.
The recognition of Mudbound is part of a wider diversity beyond the obvious race and gender. It is the first non-documentary work produced by streaming pioneers Netflix to receive nominations at the Oscars. Mary J. Blige also becomes the first person to receive songwriting and acting nominations in the same year.
Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread)
Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)
Competing with Blige for the Supporting Actress gong is yet another surprise, Lesley Manville. Any fellow Bristol students who saw Manville grace the Bristol Old Vic stage in Long Day’s Journey Into Night in 2016 will know what a genuine performer she is. On the night I saw the play, she outshone the legendary Jeremy Irons and also won an Olivier award in 2014 for her role in Ibsen’s Ghosts. However, an infrequent performer on screen, she was not expected to feature at the Academy Awards this year, with a lower key role than her theatrical successes.
Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)
Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
Elsewhere, romantic comedy The Big Sick picked up an original screenplay nod, and of course the multi-talented Greta Gerwig will make headlines for kicking down the door to enter the boy’s club that is the Best Director category, becoming only the fifth woman to do so. The frontrunners on all fronts are The Shape of Water, with 13 nominations, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, with 7 nominations, and Dunkirk, with 8 nominations. Barring any further surprises, they - and Gary Oldman - will be the main winners on the night. However, the shunning of household names such as the aforementioned Franco and Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and more for a new, different cohort of voices was necessary for the continued relevance of film awards in a society growing in awareness.
Best Supporting Actor
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)
Best Adapted Screenplay
James Ivory (Call Me By Your Name)
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (The Disaster Artist)
Scott Frank, James Mangold, & Michael Green (Logan)
Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game)
Virgil Williams & Dee Rees (Mudbound)
Best Original Screenplay
Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick)
Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor (The Shape of Water)
Michael McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)