Guillermo del Toro’s Cold War fairy tale The Shape of Water led all comers Tuesday morning when the nominees were announced for the 90th Academy Awards. In addition to Best Picture, the film garnered 12 other nods, including Director, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay, as well as a host of crafts nominations.
The story of the morning, however, is Greta Gerwig, who became just the fifth woman ever nominated for Best Director for her work on the magnificent Lady Bird. Gerwig, who is also nominated for original screenplay, joins del Toro, Jordan Peele for Get Out, Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk, and Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread, which also was a surprise nominee for Best Picture. Speaking of making history, Peele is just fifth black director ever nominated, and he also earned nods for his screenplay and as a producer on the Best Picture-nominated Get Out.
The biggest snub is Martin McDonagh missing out on a Director nod for Three Billboards ouside Ebbing, Missouri, which showed strength elsewhere, including with nominations for Picture, Actress (Frances McDormand), Original Screenplay, and two Supporting Actor nods (Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson). McDonagh is the sole screenwriter and a nominated producer, so he was not left out of the proceedings entirely, but it is a surprising miss for the presumed Best Picture frontrunner.
In addition to The Shape of Water, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, Get Out, and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, the nine-strong Best Picture lineup includes Dunkirk, Darkest Hour, The Post, and Call Me By Your Name.
Nolan’s World War II epic came in a distant second behind The Shape of Water in the nominations count with eight, including Editing, Original Score, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Cinematography. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri was third with seven nominations, picking up recognition for Editing and Original Score, in addition to the above-the-line categories.
In Cinematography, Rachel Morrison made history as the first woman to be nominated for her work on the spectacular Mudbound, breaking a long and frankly shameful streak of all-male nominees in the category. Darkest Hour, The Shape of Water, and Blade Runner 2049 were also recognized for their lensing.
The love for Anderson’s crazed romance Phantom Thread probably was the biggest shock of the morning, and its six nominations are tied with Darkest Hour for fourth-most. Joining producer-director PTA are Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor and Lesley Manville for Best Supporting Actress. Radiohead guitarist and frequent Anderson collaborator Johnny Greenwoord earned his first nomination for Original Score, and Mark Bridges was nominated for Costume Design, which if he hadn’t been, the category should just pack up and go home, so good on the Academy.
Joining Day-Lewis in the Best Actor lineup are frontrunner Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), and Academy favorite Denzel Washington, earning his eighth career acting nomination (six lead, two supporting) for Roman J. Israel, Esq.
For Best Actress, joining McDormand are Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and extending her own record with a 21st nomination, Meryl Streep for The Post.
Steven Spielberg’s newspaper drama, which looked on paper like a strong contender, wound up the weakest of the Best Picture nominees, pulling in just two nods for the top category and Streep, as Tom Hanks was left on the outside looking in. John Williams also missed for his score for The Post but extended his record with a nomination for scoring Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Lady Bird came away with five nominations, all in above-the-line categories. Get Out nabbed four nominations but was a surprising snub in Best Editing. Call Me By Your Name also garnered four nods, including Best Original Song for Sufjan Stevens’ “The Mysteries of Love,” though Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg were shut out of the Best Supporting Actor category.
Instead the Supporting Actor nominees are Rockwell and Harrelson for Three Billboards, Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project, Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water, and Christopher Plummer for All the Money in the World. For Supporting Actress, the nominees are Allison Janney for I, Tonya, Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird, Mary J. Blige for Mudbound, Octavia Spencer for The Shape of Water, and Manville. Blige is a double nominee, also earning recognition for co-writing the original song “Mighty River” from Mudbound.
Overall, it was a morning light on surprises and heavy on frontrunners and Academy favorites. McDonagh missing out on Best Director puts a dent in the Best Picture hopes of Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, but it opens the door for a race that will come down to the wire with del Toro’s nominations leader The Shape of Water and the crowd-pleasing Lady Bird the most likely beneficiaries.
I was pleased with four nominations for Mudbound, though I would have liked to see it in the Best Picture lineup, and Dee Rees, nominated for Adapted Screenplay, certainly should be in contention for Best Director. I am over the moon for Angès Varda and JR getting a Documentary nod for Faces Places, which might not have a shot at the win against some of the heavy hitters in the category but its nomination is my favorite of the year. Similarly, it’s good to see Steve James finally back in the Documentary lineup with Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. He has been shut out too long.
In Foreign Language Film, I was sad to see Foxtrot and In the Fade miss out, though I am happy to root for Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless and Ruben Östlund’s The Square, particularly after Östlund missed out a couple years ago for his masterful Force Majuere.
I wish I, Tonya had gotten more play overall. Its acting nominations and Editing nod are all well deserved, but it is unfortunate the Academy missed the chance to recognize it in the Best Picture lineup, as well as for its stellar costumes and hair and makeup.
So there you have it. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri stumbles. The Shape of Water soars. The race is wide open, and due to the Winter Olympics, we have an extended window in which to analyze and guess at what might happen. We will have our answers come March 4.