A friendly reminder: The awards season doesn’t need to be awful and it’s really only as unbearable as you chose to make it. Yes, it can certainly be annoying, but, if you look at it as awards given out by a group of 6,000-plus people (Academy Award members) who do not represent the entire world therefore not the objective be-all-end-all arbiters of taste, maybe you can realize the Oscars are not the definitive judges of what makes great art.
Then there’s a little thing like the aforementioned thing called taste. It’s subjective! Better yet, the Oscars can never negate what you think is the best movie of the year. If you think “Transformers: The Last Knight” was the best thing you saw in 2017, guess what? Then it is! To you! The Oscars are just how the cookie crumbles with voting from the Academy members who have their own biases, friends and leanings. Some of it is merit, some of it is popularity, some of it is politics. That’s life! Relax. As always, “deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it.”
OK, now that we got that out of our system, we’ve all got opinions, and as the awards season takes shape, as the tea leaves turn, you get a pretty strong picture of who will emerge as frontrunners, nominees and eventually, winners. As this year’s season came together, it became pretty clear that films like “Dunkirk,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “Lady Bird,” and “The Shape of Water” would be major Oscar contenders. But as always when it came time for the Oscar nominations, there snubs and surprises. Surefire nominees left out in the cold or films no one expected that sneak in making the cut.
So with that in mind, here’s the snubs and surprises of the 2018 Oscar nominations.
James Franco for Best Actor
Twitter is already ablaze with folks wondering why James Franco was considered an Oscar contender, and thus, thought to be snubbed for Best Actor for “The Disaster Artist.” Well, if you followed the awards season, there was plenty of heat for Franco for a slot (remember, he’s a previous nominee for “127 Hours“). It was always Franco, Denzel Washington and Jake Gyllenhaal battling it out for that fifth Best Actor slot, but the conventional wisdom was largely on Franco (Washington ultimately got in which is a minor but not huge surprise given he had a SAG nod and some support). Yes, the sexual assault allegations definitely hurt Franco and turned the tide (the news broke 48 hours before the Oscar nominations closed), but when your frontrunner misses out on the nomination most pundits, bookmakers and armchair Oscar fans predicted, then that, whether you like it or not, is a snub.
Martin McDonagh for Best Director
Despite a late in the game critical backlash, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has had a huge groundswell of support since it won the coveted People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. McDonagh and the film have been contenders ever since. When the DGA noms were revealed last week, the writer/director was among the nominees and everyone believed he would repeat at the Oscars. The Academy chose to go another way and decided to let Paul Thomas Anderson in instead. In all fairness, ‘Billboards’ is the least directed of all the contenders, and if you were going to remove anyone from the equation, McDonagh was the right choice.
Luca Guadagnino for Best Director
Beloved during the festival circuit by critics and fans, “Call Me By Your Name” was once thought as the surefire Oscar frontrunner in most of the major categories. For nearly all of the season, Luca Guadagnino appeared to be a lock for Best Director and many thought ‘CMBYN’ would be this year’s “Moonlight.” But the DGA noms rolled around and Guadagnino was curiously absent. Whatever thinking went into leaving him off the DGAs applied here and he missed out on what was largely seen as a lock. Or maybe people loved “Phantom Thread” more than anyone knew. There’s only so many slots in every category and our guess would be if there were an extra Best Director space, it would have gone to him.
Tom Hanks for Best Actor
The Academy membership is changing. Once old, white, male and averaging a huge percentage of voters older than 50, Oscar voters used to be incredibly conservative. But now the doors have been opened for more diverse and younger members, and they’re making their voice felt. Still, Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks and seemingly beloved by all and his performance in “The Post” is great. That said, Hanks has been in this position before, missing out on nominations for “Captain Phillips,” “Bridge of Spies” and “Sully.” In fact, Tom Hanks hasn’t been nominated for Best Actor in 17 years — the last time was for “Cast Away” in 2000.
Armie Hammer For Best Supporting Actor
It was a tough category to be sure, but given the heaps of praise that “Call Me By Your Name” received all year, Armie Hammer seemed a lock for his supporting performance in Luca Guadagnino’s universally-loved film. In fact, you could argue that the film is a two-hander with both performances complementing each other. If Timothée Chalamet scores a nomination, the wisdom says Hammer should too. But he was left on the outside and instead, the ‘Three Billboards’ team dominated the Best Supporting category.
“The Big Sick”
What was once a beloved Sundance comedy started to grow and grow in popularity all year until the Judd Apatow-produced and Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani-written movie seemed, somewhat unexpectedly, to be a major contender for a Best Picture nomination. Now, no one really thought it would likely win, but “The Big Sick” surged slowly throughout the year, riding that wave for a long time. Eventually though, “The Big Sick” scored just one nomination for Best Original Screenplay and everyone else, including Holly Hunter, who some thought had a strong shot at Best Supporting actress, were left out.
Hong Chau won a Best Supporting nomination from SAG and Paramount put all their FYC muscle behind her for her role in “Downsizing,” but the actress missed out. The very well received “The Lego Batman Movie” was shut out of the Best Animated category, “The Post” missed out on Best Screenplay, Netflix’s “Okja” failed to score an VFX nod and, in quite the shocker, “Foxtrot,” Israeli’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film — and what many thought might win — missed too. Germany’s Golden Globe-winning “In The Fade” also didn’t make the cut. And it’s a shame that a year with two strong African entries in the final shortlist of nine — “Felicite” and “The Wound” — neither managed to convert either to a nomination.