What the 2018 Oscar Nominations Say About the Current State of Hollywood

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Published January 24, 2018
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The Montclarion
Official promotional image for the 90th Oscars. Photo courtesy of oscar.go.com

On Tuesday morning, Tiffany Haddish and Andy Serkis announced the nominations for the 2018 Oscars. In a year where the conversation is dominated by the “Me Too” movement, the nominees have highlighted more female and minority industry members.

For example, “Lady Bird” and “Get Out,” written and directed by Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele respectfully, have been nominated for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and Actress/Actor. Since the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, Gerwig is only the fifth female nominated for directing. Similarly, Peele is the fifth African-American nominee in directing and the fourth to be nominated within the past decade.

During the past few years, the voting block attempted to distance themselves from #OscarsSoWhite, and it looks like they are finally making progress. I found these films to be two of the year’s best as they not only tell stories about characters not often highlighted, but they are also both incredibly entertaining.

Rachel Morrison’s nomination for Best Cinematography for her work on “Mudbound” makes her the first woman to receive a cinematography nomination in the history of the Academy. This also marks the first time a narrative Netflix film has been nominated, underscoring the ongoing evolution of streaming services.

Four months ago, James Franco was a shoo-in for a nomination, if not a win, for Best Lead Actor for his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau in “The Disaster Artist.” Since accusations of sexual assault have began surfacing against him, he has mysteriously found himself snubbed. This solidifies “Times Up” as much more than a passing fad and suggests that Franco’s career is in serious jeopardy.

“Dunkirk” and “Darkest Hour” both show different perspectives to the same story of World War II Britain.“Dunkirk” looked at the perspectives of the stranded soldiers and the civilians saving them, while “Darkest Hour” focuses on the politics behind it and Churchill’s decision making. I suspect they will be cancelling each other out, but Nolan’s war movie could be a dark horse for Best Picture.

Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” shows Hollywood’s unsurprising stand against the Trump administration, yet it is unlikely to win, as the similarly journalism themed “Spotlight” won the top honor just two years ago. However, Meryl Streep’s seemingly evergreen nomination is always welcomed in my book as she gave a wonderful and subtle performance in the film.

Similarly, while “Call Me By Your Name” tells an intimate love story between two men, its core theme of a same-sex relationship may seem too similar to last year’s “Moonlight” to make a real impression with voters. While I do not necessarily find this fair, regardless of last year’s contenders, each film should stand on its own which is how the Academy operates.

Daniel Day Lewis’ alleged final performance in “Phantom Thread” has finally helped the film join the awards race after being seemingly forgotten.

The two front runners to win Best Picture are “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” With 13 nominations, “The Shape of Water” received the most nominations, and it has been labeled American Film Institute’s Film of the Year, which bodes well for its chances. I found it to be really well done, smartly written and visually stunning.

“Three Billboards” has also been collecting countless awards all season, and its luck may continue come Oscar Night. I think the fact that it is so timely and focuses on groups on the fringe of society is especially important and will likely resonate with awards voters, especially in 2018.

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