Oscars not so white and not so Israeli

The Oscars ceremony is set for March 4.

By
January 24, 2018 21:58
4 minute read.
‘The Shape of Water,’ directed by Guillermo del Toro (pictured), led the nominations with 13.

‘The Shape of Water,’ directed by Guillermo del Toro (pictured), led the nominations with 13.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Academy Award nominations were announced Tuesday at an event in Los Angeles, and the results likely pleased those who spearheaded the #Oscarssowhite campaign in recent years, which protested the lack of nominees of color and of women in the writing and directing categories.

Three of the nine Best Picture nominees, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, were directed by women, blacks and Latinos. Del Toro’s The Shape of Water led the nominations with 13. The other Best Picture nominees were Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name, Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, Steven Spielberg’s The Post and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

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Two offbeat indie films by first-time directors both did well. Actress Greta Gerwig went behind the camera to direct Lady Bird, the story of a headstrong teen and her difficult relationship with her mother, which received five nominations, including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Gerwig. Jordan Peele’s political and darkly comic horror film, Get Out, received four nominations, including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Peele.

For those hoping 2018 was the year Israel would win its first Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film Category, today’s announcement was disappointing, because Samuel Maoz’s controversial film Foxtrot, which was on the short list for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, did not receive a nomination, although many had been predicting it would be one of the final five. Israeli films have been nominated in this category 10 times without a win.

The nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film category were A Fantastic Woman, directed by Sebastián Lelio, of Chile; The Insult, by Ziad Doueiri, of Lebanon; Loveless by Andrey Zvyagintsev, from Russia; On Body and Soul, by Ildikó Enyedi, from Hungary; and The Square by Ruben Östlund of Sweden.

It’s possible that the voters felt that there was only room for one controversial film from the Middle East, and that spot went to Doueiri’s The Insult, which tells the story of a dispute between a Christian and a Muslim in Beirut that escalates.

Some had hoped that Wonder Woman, which stars Israeli actress Gal Gadot, would score an Oscar nod in the Best Picture or Best Actress categories, but the action film, which was one of the year’s highest-earning movies, did not receive any nominations.

In this year of #MeToo and #Time’sUp, Frances McDormand looks to be the favorite in the Best Actress category, for her portrayal of a strong, grieving mother trying to avenge her daughter’s death in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. McDormand won a Golden Globe for this film, as well as the lion’s share of the critics’ awards. The other actresses nominated in this category were Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water, Meryl Streep for The Post, Margot Robbie for I, Tonya and Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird.

Two actors of color, Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out and Denzel Washington for Roman J. Israel, Esq., received Best Actor nominations. The other nominees were the favorite, Gary Oldman, for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, Daniel Day-Lewis for Phantom Thread and newcomer Timothée Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name.

Call Me By Your Name was the one major nominee with a Jewish theme. The film, which received four nominations, tells the story of a romance between two Jewish men, a precocious 17-year-old and his father’s research assistant, during a summer in Italy.

In the Best Supporting Actress category, two African American women, Octavia Spencer for The Shape of Water and Mary J. Blige for Mudbound, received nominations. The other nominees in this category were the favorite Allison Janney for her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s domineering mother in I, Tonya; Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird; and Lesley Manville for Phantom Thread.

In the Best Supporting Actor category, the most unusual nomination was for Christopher Plummer as the cold-hearted billionaire J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World. Plummer shot his scenes after the film was completed, because the actor who originally had his part, Kevin Spacey, was dropped from the film after he was accused of sexual harassment by several men and boys. In some scenes, Plummer’s face was digitally superimposed on footage that had already been shot with Spacey.

The others nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category were Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project.

Those looking for diversity among the nominees will be pleased to note that the Pakistani-born standup comic and actor Kumail Nanjiani was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for The Big Sick, with his co-writer and wife, Emily V. Gordon. And in a strange footnote to movie history, Tommy Wiseau’s infamously bad movie The Room became the inspiration for James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, which got nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Oscars ceremony is set for March 4.


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