By Liam Lacey, Kim Hughes, Karen Gordon, Jim Slotek and Bonnie Laufer
The nominations are in for the 90th annual Academy Awards (handed out on March 4), with many expected inclusions (Dunkirk, The Shape of Water), some surprises (who knew Netflix original Mudbound was even eligible?), and of course, notable omissions (see below). The intrepid Original-Cin team offers up their choices of most deserving nominees... and who wuz robbed.
Most Deserving: A few here, happily: Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project, a palpably heartfelt performance in a film brimming over with broken souls. It was also nice (if unexpected) to see comedian Kumail Nanjiani's rom-com The Big Sick snare an original screenplay nod. And I am simply overjoyed that Laurie Metcalf was recognized for Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. Saoirse Ronan was the heart of the movie (and got a best actress nod) but Metcalf was its propeller.
Who Wuz Robbed: Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. How is it that someone who marshalled three Oscar-nominated performances — best actress for Frances McDormand and best supporting actor for both Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson, all completely deserved — in a film also nominated for best picture AND best original screenplay (which McDonagh wrote, by the way) was shut out for directing? Cruelly and stupidly, that’s how. It also would have been nice to see wee Brooklynn Prince nominated for her mesmerizing work in The Florida Project. Maybe her Oscar is on the horizon. Finally, did anyone see Denzel Washington's lead actor for Roman J. Israel, Esq. incoming? (*Sound of jaw hitting floor*). Residual #oscarssowhite guilt? Just saying...
Who Wuz Robbed: James Franco, from hero to zero in two weeks. While he was making his best actor acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, Ally Sheedy tweeted “James Franco just won. Please never ask me why I left the film/TV business.” Immediately several women tweeted ostensible first-hand anecdotes about sexual inappropriateness by Franco. Tuesday, he didn’t even make the list.
Whatever career damage karma demands, Franco’s fate marks the clear line between the person and the art. His performance as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist was the best work of his life. And had he been nominated, it would’ve been the second best performance up there (after Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour).
Most Deserving (or maybe just a happy surprise): Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Actor. Let’s be honest. All The Money In The World is not a good enough movie to have received Oscar attention had it not become a lightning rod for #metoo. But the happy fall-out is that people rediscovered what a consummate pro Plummer is, stepping in to save the movie with a miracle reshoot schedule that might have killed a younger man.
Hollywood is clearly grateful and showed it with a nomination that definitely wouldn’t have gone to Kevin Spacey, even if his reputation hadn’t been torched. And I’m grateful that, Plummer being closer to the actual age of his character, J. Paul Getty, I didn’t have to sit through an entire movie looking at Spacey’s face troweled on with latex.
Who Wuz Robbed: The Florida Project should have made the Best Picture list. It’s a beautifully made, deeply affecting, but very small film. For me its omission underlines one of my constant problems with the Oscars, that it has yet to fully grapple with American independent cinema. I love Hollywood movies like crazy, but some of the most beautiful experiences you can have at a theatre are in the realm of the indies, like A Ghost Story, Certain Women and Personal Shopper. But movies that are smaller, and more intimate are often rolled over by movies with bigger production values. I’d like to see Oscars add an Independent category. (Oh... what a smashing idea, Karen - KH)
Most Deserving: Paul Thomas Anderson’s complex and beautiful Phantom Thread came out so late in the year last year that it wasn’t fully represented in the other awards shows. I am thrilled to see it nominated in so many Oscar categories, including Best Picture, and am especially happy to see Paul Thomas Anderson nominated for Best Director. I’m also excited to see The Shape of Water, and Guillermo del Toro get a ton of nominations. It’s a whimsical movie with much more depth than is immediately evident. And, of course, I’m thrilled for the largely Toronto crew.
Most Deserving: Guillermo Del Toro for finally being recognized for the true, passionate filmmaker he is and always has been. The man lives and breathes his art and to garner 13 nominations for his masterpiece, The Shape of Water (including best director and best picture) is something that is a long time coming. I'm also tipping my hat to Gary Oldman for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, which follows his early days as the British Prime Minister. His performance is sublime and the makeup is so brilliant that it is almost impossible to figure out Oldman is underneath it. He's the clear front-runner for Best Actor having already won a Golden Globe, Critic's Choice and SAG Award.
Who Wuz Robbed: I have to go with Kim Hughes on this one. Martin McDonagh not being recognized with a Best Director nomination for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is insane! When three of his actors are noted for best performances, it seems a bit out of whack that the man who got the best out of them isn't noted for it.
In the Best Supporting Actor/Actress category — all the YOUNG child actors who gave us heart-wrenching performances this year: Jacob Tremblay for his brave portrayal of a boy with Treacher Collins Syndrome (facial deformities) in Wonder. He is the heart and soul of that movie. The fabulous seven-year-old Brooklynn Prince who guided us through The Florida Project as Moonee, a precocious young girl living with her mother (newcomer Bria Vinaite) at a low-cost motel near Disney World. Plus, Millicent Simmons, the 14-year-old deaf actress who made her beautiful and unforgettable break-out performance as Rose, a 12-year-old deaf girl living in 1927 New Jersey, who runs away from home and wanders through New York’s Museum of Natural History in Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck.
Most Deserving: While the recognition for Get Out wasn’t a surprise, I was glad to see Jordan Peele's debut film land a solid four nominations, an endorsement of an entertaining, smart film that cleverly played with audience expectations and spoke to race issues without sanctimony or sentimentality. I was also pleased to see recognition for Lesley Manville's best supporting actress performance as the bossy sister of Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread, in a performance ripe with precisely controlled menace. Manville, now 61 — who has been acting since her teens in England onstage and screen — is one of the greats, up there with Maggie Smith and Judi Dench.
Who Wuz Robbed: While recognizing the American orientation of the Academy's mandate, I was disappointed transgender Chilean actress Daniela Vega didn't land a best actress nomination for her exceptional turn in the drama A Fantastic Woman. And, in overlooking Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip, the Academy missed acknowledging the Hollywood break-out comedy performance of the year. What she did with a banana and grapefruit easily surpassed the peach-abuse scene in Call Me By Your Name. Also, it’s a shame that The Post made things look too easy. You might argue Steven Spielberg's assurance as a director is nothing new and didn’t deserve attention but The Post was also shut out in the craft areas. I thought, for example, it was far more deftly edited than I, Tonya, The Shape of Water or Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, all of which got nominations.