Now the dust has settled after the recent nominations, which films are likely to be rewarded by The Academy?
Thursday 8 February 2018
by REUBEN MUIR
At the end of last year, many news outlets were saying this was sure to be an unpredictable awards season, especially when compared to last year when LA LA LAND (2016) and MOONLIGHT (2016) had made themselves clear frontrunners. But by now it is clear what way most of the awards are swinging. THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017) leads with 13 nominations, closely followed by DUNKIRK (2017) with eight and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (2017) with seven. DUNKIRK was considered the original frontrunner for awards season back in the summer but unfortunately seems to be losing traction recently. It will surely dominate the technical awards and potentially the Best Director award. But it does seem to have become a two-horse race between THE SHAPE OF WATER and THREE BILLBOARDS, with the former being an unusual frontrunner. The Oscars have rarely favoured fantasy, especially a fairy-tale love story, and the latter being very prescient with the #MeToo movement but has been subject to some controversy over its racial politics.
It would not be the Oscars without some surprises. Paul Thomas Anderson’s PHANTOM THREAD (2017) had received little attention outside of Daniel Day Lewis’s performance but has racked up six Oscar nominations including a Best Director and Best Picture nomination. While it is unlikely to unseat any of the already predicted winners, this does raise the profile of a film that has mostly flown under the radar. Another surprise was the underperformance of THE POST (2017), a film that Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks reportedly rushed into production as they felt it was a story that needed to be told now. The film looked like it would dominate the awards season. But after receiving no nominations at the BAFTAS it has only received two Oscar nominations: Streep for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and Best Picture. So despite the anti-Trump message, it has failed to connect with voters. Other films that received little to no nominations were WONDER WOMAN (2017), THE FLORIDA PROJECT (2017), MOLLY'S GAME (2017) and THE BIG SICK (2017).
However, the key thing that stands out is diversity. The #MeToo movement exploded at the end of last year and heightened the call for gender equality across the film industry. It delighted many when Greta Gerwig became only the fifth female Best Director nominee for her coming-of-age drama LADY BIRD (2017), following Lina Wertmüller for SEVEN BEAUTIES (1977), Jane Campion for THE PIANO (1994), Sofia Coppola for LOST IN TRANSLATION (2004) and a win for Kathryn Bigelow for THE HURT LOCKER (2010). Other key milestones were that Rachel Morrison became the first woman to ever be nominated in the category of Best Cinematography for the film MUDBOUND (2017) and Jordan Peele became the fifth black Best Director nominee for GET OUT (2017), following John Singleton for BOYZ N THE HOOD (1991), Lee Daniels for PRECIOUS (2009), Steve McQueen for 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013) and Barry Jenkins for MOONLIGHT (2016).
It is no surprise that politics has once again taken centre stage at the Oscars. Women-fronted films like LADY BIRD, THE SHAPE OF WATER, THREE BILLBOARDS and I, TONYA (2017) stand out this year, as do films focusing on race like GET OUT and MUDBOUND. Now begins the month of anticipation until we witness who is crowned on Oscar night. While many of the winners already seem clear, the Oscars would not be complete without some surprises on the night.