As each nominee is read off, it feels like opening another gift from under the cinematic tree, and as expected, there are some you asked for and a few surprises.
It'll still be a month or so before I reveal my final Oscar predictions, but I have a few thoughts on the nominations.
It's clear the Academy's recent bad press regarding diversity has cleared the way for some evolution in the process. The #OscarSoWhite backlash led to a significant overhaul of Academy membership, adding a more diverse pool weighing in on who would be walking the red carpet.
This is a good thing. For too long, minorities have lacked opportunity and subsequent validation of their work, relegated to the sidelines as old white people basked in the glory of cinematic accolades.
But that said, while diversity seems to be trending in the right direction in Hollywood, there is still a lot to do to balance the playing field. As all of the minority nominees this year are deserving of praise, let's not fool ourselves thinking the Academy as a whole didn't breathe a sigh of relief that there was a noteworthy, diverse talent pool from which to cull from this year. It's sad, but don't think for a second that some of the votes were cast in an attempt to deflect negative press.
It's going to take some time for colorblindness to take root in an establishment so entrenched in a non-diverse bubble. Hopefully, as the Academy evolves into a younger, more diverse body, minorities in film will be looked upon solely for their quality of work, and not as simply a box to be checked by a nervous establishment.
Call Me By Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
No major surprises here. These are the films that have been jockeying for position throughout most of the awards season.
Most Significant - Get Out...being nominated here is significant, as the horror genre is not typically one the Academy favors. The social themes and cultural impact of the film is a sign that the Academy is waking up.
Get Lost - The Post...This is a good film, but it's riding the coattails of the A-listers surrounding it. It feels tailor made for awards season, but to date, hasn't made any splash.
The One That Got Away - The Florida Project...Director Sean Baker's sophomore effort is a poignant look at hope in the face of hopelessness. It's both heartbreaking and uplifting.
Frances McDormund, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Meryl Streep, The Post
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Saorsie Ronan, Lady Bird
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Again, nothing really shocking happened here. The Academy had an opportunity to think a little bit outside the box, but didn't take the shot...leading me to this...
Get Lost - Meryl Streep... Seriously? Forget #OscarsSoWhite. It should be called #OscarsSoStreep. Meryl Streep is one of the world's finest actresses, but it's beyond ridiculous that she gets nominated for basically every role, every year. It can't be THAT hard to sort through enough films to find one worthy of a top five nomination...leading me to this...
The One That Got Away - Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread... I'd say going toe to toe against Daniel Day Lewis for better than two hours is a significant achievement. Krieps is Lewis's equal throughout, and the fact Meryl Streep was glad-handed another nomination over the far superior turn from Krieps just pisses me off.
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
After speculating whether James Franco would hear his name called this morning, it seems his extracurricular activities were his undoing. I actually expected to see him here, thinking the majority of ballots had been cast prior to the allegations of his sexual misdeeds. Franco's portrayal of eccentric filmmaker Tommy Wisseau was surreal, but he was rightfully pushed aside, which leads me to this...
Most Significant - Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out... Kaluuya's nomination here likely comes courtesy of James Franco's alleged sexual misdeeds, but he is worthy of acclaim for his role in Get Out.
Get Lost - Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.... Did anyone even see this film? Denzel is like Meryl Streep lite, getting nominations based mostly on who he is. He's a safe pick, even when his performance is nothing exceptional.
The One That Got Away - Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger... Gyllenhaal was ALL in as Boston Marathon survivor Jeff Bauman. I think it stands as his best work, emotional and powerful.
Alison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
Lesley Manville was one of the biggest surprises of the day. She's flown under the radar for most of the awards season, but here she rides the wave of love unexpectedly bestowed upon Phantom Thread.
Most Significant - Mary J. Blige, Mudbound... This nomination is significant mostly as a coming out party for Netflix as a legitimate Oscar player, which brings me to this...
Get Lost - Mary J. Blige, Mudbound... Man, I hate to be that guy, but Blige's turn here didn't resonate with me on a level that said Oscar worthy. She does nothing to hurt the film, but never stands out in any meaningful way, say in the way Naomie Harris did in last year's Moonlight. That's my opinion; your mileage may vary.
The One That Got Away - Bria Vinaite, The Florida Project... Instagram model Vinaite, with no formal acting training to fall back on, is fantastic as the young mother who manages to survive by making all of the wrong choices for her and her young daughter. She had no right to be this good in the role.
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
A lot of people were expecting to see Armie Hammer get some love for his role in Call Me By Your Name, but Woody Harrelson picks up the nomination instead. The remaining field was mostly expected.
Get Lost - Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri... Look, Harrelson is fine here, but he isn't even in the same discussion as his co-stars, McDormund and Rockwell, who are playing on another level.
The One That Got Away - John Boyega, Detroit... Kathryn Bigelow's telling of the race riots in 1967 Detroit was largely forgotten, and panned in some circles for having a white woman tell the story of a decidedly Black experience. But Boyega is the heart and soul of the film, forced to play both sides of a very thin coin in the tensest of situations.
Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Most Significant - Jordan Peele, Get Out... Peele is the fifth African American nominated for Best Director in the 90 year history of the Oscars. None of them have won.
Most Significant, Part 2 - Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird... Gerwig is the fifth woman nominated for Best Director in the 90 year history of the Oscars. Only Kathryn Bigelow has won.
Get Lost - No one. All nominees are worthy of the acclaim.
The One That Got Away - Sean Baker, The Florida Project... Baker is a voice to be reckoned with in the coming years. The Florida Project (if you couldn't tell my love for it already), is such a powerful glimpse into the seedy, poverty ridden class of people living right in the shadows of Walt Disney World.
All of the 2018 Oscar nominations can be found here.