Close-Up Film’s Oscar Round-Up
So, the Oscar nominations are in and, as widely anticipated, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water has emerged as the front runner. Garnering 13 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, he falls one short of joining the elite league of just three films in Oscar history – All About Eve (1950), Titanic (1997) and last year’s La La Land – nominated in 14 categories as had been widely predicted, but could be on course to join Titanic, Ben-Hur (1959) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) in securing the Oscar in 11 of those categories. After all, in this game it’s about the winning, not the taking part!
The closest rival to The Shape of Water is Christopher Nolan’s epic WWII drama, Dunkirk, with eight nominations, followed closely by the Golden Globe-winning Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, with seven nominations. The smart money is on Billboard’s Frances McDormand to take home the Best Actress award.
Completing the Best Picture category are The Darkest Hour, director Joe Wright’s nail-biting biopic of Winston Churchill’s attempt to rally the nation and repel the Nazi aggression in Europe; political thriller The Post; the glamourous world of high fashion in 1950s London in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread; Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age tale Lady Bird, and romantic drama Call me by Your Name, from Luca Guadagnino. And joining all these is Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Although widely tipped for an Oscar nomination, Oscar doesn’t tend to favour horror films, even one as intelligent and ground-breaking as this, so this is a welcome addition to the roster.
Get Out also earns a Best Lead Actor nomination for Black British actor Daniel Kaluuya, in what is generally a good year for the Brits. Gary Oldman and Daniel Day-Lewis both get nods for Darkest Hour and Phantom Thread respectively, but Denzel Washington could swipe it from under their noses with Roman J. Israel, Esq, and then there’s Call Me By Your Name’s Timothée Chalamet, as Oscar does love to surprise.
Taking on the mighty McDormand in the Lead Actress category, Sally Hawkins must surely be in with a chance for The Weight of Water, but there are plenty of plaundits for Margot Robbie’s turn in the skating biopic I, Tonya, not to mention Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird. And they all have one Meryl Streep to contend with in The Post.
The Best Supporting Actor has its strongest line-up for years with five first class character actors: Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project (which has, by and large, been overlooked), Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The always excellent Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water, and Sam Rockwell, also for Three Billboards. Could, however, the Oscar go to Christopher Plummer who was quickly shot and edited into All the Money in the World, a pointed show of disapproval to Kevin Spacey, who was just as quickly edited out?
Always a quirky one, British hopes are pinned on Lesley Manville for Phantom Thread, but there’s strong competition from Alison Janney in I, Tonya and Lady Bird’s Laurie Metcalf. Remember how Oscar loves to surprise? Well, it could pull one here with Mary J. Blige’s performance in Mudslide, another film that was predicted to do better for nominations. However, with The Shape of Water, Octavia Spencer has to be the one to beat in this category.
The Best Director category is peopled by indie and arthouse favourites lead, of course, by Guillermo del Toro. Brit Christopher Nolan is in there too, but will the Academy look favourably on the Brits saving the day with Dunkirk? However, it’s good to see Paul Thomas Anderson back in the game with Phantom Thread, and then there’s Jordan Peele with a well-deserved nomination for Get Out. And how about one for the ladies? Gerta Gerwig complete the illustrious quintet with Lady Bird.
Whatever surprises Oscar brings, we don’t think any can beat the announcement of last year’s winner of best Picture!
The 90th Academy Awards take place on 4th March with Jimmy Kimmel hosting.