If it's an honor just to be nominated, then sometimes, maybe, it's an honor just to almost be nominated. Such will have to be the case for Armie Hammer, Tiffany Haddish and I, Tonya, among others, who were not among the nominees announced for the 90th annual Academy Awards on Tuesday. Considering this year's race has been more unpredictable than any in recent memory, it is no surprise that we're left with plenty of snubs and surprises to analyze.
(The biggest surprise? All those Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri nominations were worth it just to hear presenter Tiffany Haddish say "Missoura.")
A 10th Best Picture Nominee: On paper, it makes sense for the Academy to have some wiggle room on nominating up to 10 films for Best Picture, but not being required to nominate 10 if that year's offerings aren't up to snuff. But this year's nine-movie field is inane, considering there were at least 10 movies, if not more, that should have filled that tenth slot: The Florida Project. I, Tonya or Mudbound, which earned a number of nominations in other categories but failed to score here. If it weren't on Netflix, would the Academy have deemed it worthy?
Call Me by Your Name's Supporting Actors: Poor Armie Hammer! Call Me by Your Name, which made it into the Best Picture race and earned a Best Actor nomination for Timothée Chalamet, simply would not have worked without Hammer. Then there's Michael Stuhlbarg, who lost some momentum early on, but delivers the most-talked about moment of the movie. (More talked about, even, than the peach scene!)
Which begs at least one question: Would Christopher Plummer have been nominated had he been in the original cast of All the Money in the World, without the plum politics of replacing another actor in miraculous eleventh hour reshoots? Not to disparage Plummer's nomination by any means, but it's a good narrative, and the Academy pays attention to that.
The LEGO Batman Movie: Not that it ultimately matters too much, seeing as Coco is a lock to win Best Animated Feature. (As Disney and Pixar movies have done all but a handful of times.) I'm just having a hard time wrapping my mind around Academy Award Nominee Boss Baby.
Tiffany Haddish: Sure, there are more surprising Best Supporting Actress exclusions -- like Holly Hunter (The Big Sick) and Hong Chau (Downsizing), displaced by Phantom Thread's Lesley Manville -- and I had pretty much given up any hope that Haddish would land that Melissa McCarthy slot, anyway. But then she was announced as the nominations presenter and a little bit of hope flourished within me that maybe it could happen. Could you imagine a better moment than Tiffany Haddish hearing her name called, live on air? (Plus, y'know, she was funny as f**k in Girls Trip.)
(One additional note on Best Supporting Actress to segue into surprises: Mary J. Blige is not only the first person ever nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song in the same year, but the first actor Oscar-nominated for a film directed by a woman of color, Mudbound's Dee Rees.)
Phantom Thread: If you'll allow me to pat myself on the back here, I did predict that Phantom Thread would end up as a Best Picture contender. It's just so...Best Picture-y. And a nomination for Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, in his final film, was all but guaranteed. But the movie, which flew quietly under the radar for much of awards season, cleaned up with six total nominations, including Manville in Best Supporting Actress, Jonny Greenwood for Best Original Score and, perhaps most surprising of all, Paul Thomas Anderson for Best Director, beating out Steven Spielberg and Martin McDonagh. (The latter is the bigger snub, seeing as Three Billboards is the frontrunner for Best Picture.)
Denzel Washington: This one shouldn't be as big of a surprise as it is, seeing as Washington landed the Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination for his performance in Roman J. Israel, Esq. Yet, the little-seen movie had far less heat surrounding it than, say, The Post, which got the Best Picture nomination and a record 21st nomination for co-star Meryl Streep, but left Tom Hanks in the cold. Or The Disaster Artist, which was expected to earn James Franco a Best Actor nomination, until recent allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior sunk that ship.
Logan: When Hugh Jackman's final X-Men movie hit theaters, it arrived with some early Oscar-y buzz -- the same sort of hype that swirled around Wonder Woman before ultimately leading nowhere. Except Logan did score one nomination, with Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green recognized for Best Adapted Screenplay. It marks the first time a superhero movie, whose presence is usually seen in the technical fields, has been nominated for its screenplay. (Excluding Brad Bird's Original Screenplay nomination for The Incredibles.) Not even The Dark Knight, the most prestige of the superhero movies, managed it.
(For Logan, it will be an honor just to be nominated situation, as James Ivory is considered the clear and undisputed frontrunner of the Best Adapted Screenplay field, for Call Me by Your Name. At 89, he's also now the oldest Oscar nominee ever.)
The Big Sick: Kumail Nanjiani's based on a very true story rom-com may have missed out on some of the races I thought it'd find nominations -- like, Best Picture or, at the very least, Hunter for Best Supporting Actress -- but The Big Sick was recognized for Original Screenplay, with a nomination for Nanjiani and co-writer Emily V. Gordon. Not bad for their first feature.
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