back to top
TVAndMovies

The 14 Biggest Surprises In The Oscar Nominations This Year

Lots of love for Phantom Thread, but not much love for The Post — and nothing for James Franco.

Posted on

1. Only two nominations for The Post

20th Century Fox

You would think a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks — a movie that earned each of these Hollywood heavyweights some of their best reviews in years, and one that was made specifically to speak to our pressing times — would be a can’t-miss, major Oscar movie. And yet The Post ended up with only two nominations: Best Picture, and Best Actress in a Leading Role for Streep. Nothing for Spielberg, or Hanks, or the film’s screenplay, score, editing, production design, or costumes.

Granted, Best Picture and Best Actress in a Leading Role are huge nominations, but given that Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks alone had been nominated for the Oscars a whopping 41 times between them, with eight total wins, expectations for this movie were enormously high.

Perhaps Academy voters felt they’d been honored enough. Perhaps they believed The Post’s depiction of a true story of intrepid journalists speaking truth to power didn’t measure up to the similar approach of recent Best Picture winner Spotlight. Perhaps the film’s last-minute appearance in the awards season landscape meant too many voters had already fixed on their favorites. Whatever the reasons, the movie has become a textbook example of how can’t-miss Oscar movies can and do miss, all the time. —Adam B. Vary

2. No supporting actor nominations for Call Me by Your Name

Sony Pictures Classics

Timothée Chalamet’s nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Call Me by Your Name likely never would have happened had Armie Hammer not delivered a nuanced and delicate performance as the other half of their summer-in-Italy romance. Meanwhile, Michael Stuhlbarg — who has a smaller role as Chalamet’s academic father — delivered easily one of the most stunning and sob-inducing movie speeches of 2017, the kind of performance that audiences will be remembering fondly (and damply) for years. But the major heat for this film, which started with its debut at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, fizzled away after a tiny theatrical release in November that only expanded nationwide last weekend. Along with Chalamet, the film did still earn nominations for Best Picture, Writing (Adapted Screenplay), and Music (Original Song). But these two actors deserved to join them. —A.B.V.

3. No nominations for The Big Sick for Best Picture or Holly Hunter for Actress in a Supporting Role

Lionsgate

What a win for Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon to get that Writing (Original Screenplay) nomination for adapting their real-life love story. While some might attribute the lack of a Best Picture nomination to the Academy’s aversion to comedy, Holly Hunter has consistently been among the actors filling up best supporting actress slots this awards season for her portrayal of Emily’s mother. Only today did she lose steam to actors like Lesley Manville and Mary J. Blige, who are in projects with more than two nominations. —Marcus Jones

Advertisement

4. Tiffany Haddish did not get an Oscar nomination for Girls Trip

Michele K. Short

There’d been awardsy rumblings in Haddish’s favor for the past few months, given her Best Supporting Actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle, and the parallels between her outrageously funny breakout performance in Girls Trip and Melissa McCarthy’s in 2011’s Bridesmaids, which earned McCarthy the rare Oscar nod for a purely comedic performance.

How rare? Consider that over the last 20 years and 400 acting nominations, just five actors — or 1.25% percent — have earned nods for purely comedic roles. (Along with McCarthy, they are best actor nominee Johnny Depp for 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, best supporting actor nominee Robert Downey Jr. for 2008’s Tropic Thunder, best actress nominee Diane Keaton for 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give, and best supporting actress nominee Joan Cusack for 1997’s In & Out.)

That Haddish did not join their exceedingly exclusive company is definitely a disappointment, but it was always going to be a long shot. So let’s all just watch her NYFCC acceptance speech, and marvel at what might have been. —A.B.V.

5. James Franco was not nominated for best actor for The Disaster Artist, after his recent sexual misconduct accusations

Justina Mintz

Speaking of comedic turns not getting nominated, in the run-up to today’s nomination announcement, Franco was getting a great deal of awards attention for his gonzo performance in The Disaster Artist as the even more gonzo actor-writer-producer-director Tommy Wiseau, the mastermind behind one of the best worst movies ever, The Room. Franco had been nominated for the SAG Award, and won the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical. An Oscar nod was well within sight.

But the week following his Golden Globe win — and the week Academy members began voting on nominations — Franco faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, which first gained traction on Twitter the night of the Globes. Franco addressed those allegations on multiple late-night talk shows later that week — until the Los Angeles Times published a more in-depth report on allegations of sexually inappropriate or coercive behavior against him.

In a way, the lack of a nomination here is a relief for Franco, who now won’t have to face the daunting, monthlong gauntlet of campaign events, nominee luncheons, and the ceremony itself. But really, it’s the Academy that dodged a major bullet here. It would have been bad enough that Franco would’ve been nominated during an unprecedented period of awareness of and activism about sexual wrongdoing in Hollywood. But it also would’ve been the same category in which last year’s winner was Casey Affleck, who was dogged by two allegations of sexual misconduct from his past for the entire awards season. —A.B.V.

6. Christopher Plummer actually got an Oscar nod for replacing Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World

TriStar Pictures

Let’s just be clear here: The 88-year-old Plummer earned an Oscar nomination for a role that was played by Kevin Spacey until almost three months ago. The accolade is yet another astonishing consequence of the reckoning over sexual misconduct that has hit Hollywood since October.

A quick recap: Spacey shot his role in the film, as oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, earlier in 2017, alongside costars Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg. But after BuzzFeed News reported actor Anthony Rapp's allegation that Spacey had made a sexual advance toward him when he was 14, director Ridley Scott decided the next day that he wanted to replace Spacey. They quickly cast Plummer, as Scott recently explained to KCRW's The Business. Over the ensuing days, Spacey weathered several more accusations of sexual misconduct, which only bolstered Scott's resolve to replace the actor.

After announcing his decision on Nov. 8, Scott managed to reshoot 22 scenes in All the Money in the World with Plummer over just nine days, an unprecedented — and seemingly impossible — achievement. And now Plummer is an Oscar nominee! What a crazy year! And it’s only January! —A.B.V.

7. Only one nomination for The Florida Project

A24

Prior to Moonlight, it would’ve been a lot harder for people to believe in recognition for a film as small as The Florida Project. Of course, the one actor from the film who is the closest thing to a household name got a supporting actor nomination (Willem Dafoe, the only hope against a Three Billboards win in that category), but for a film that many critics said was among the year's best to only get one award nomination is a bit of a surprise. Looks like life imitated art and Halley and Moonee never stood a chance against splashier and more expensive Oscar films, like Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour. —M.J.

Advertisement

8. A lot of love for Phantom Thread, including nominations for Best Picture, Directing, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Focus Features

Out of his eight total career Academy Award nominations, Paul Thomas Anderson has been nominated for best screenplay four times. Phantom Thread was late to the Oscar race, not screening until late November, so it felt like a screenplay nomination was the film’s only prospect. Of course, the opposite has occurred, with the film trading an original screenplay nomination for contention in three more major categories. The film that Phantom Thread likely knocked out for Best Picture and best supporting actress nominations was The Big Sick, a big contender at the SAG and Critics’ Choice Awards. In the best directing category, the coveted fifth spot was a much more even battlefield with more pundits predicting directors like Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name), Sean Baker (The Florida Project), or Steven Spielberg (The Post) to take the spot, but Paul Thomas Anderson, with his second nomination for best director, is a welcome surprise. —M.J.

9. Mudbound’s Rachel Morrison is the first woman ever — EVER! — nominated for best cinematography

Netflix

The Academy Awards have been around for 90 years, and still Rachel Morrison is the first woman to ever be NOMINATED for best cinematography. This is not coming from lack of female talent, though. Films that have recently been recognized by the Academy like Hidden Figures, Fences, and Creed all had female cinematographers (Mandy Walker, Charlotte Bruus Christensen, and Maryse Alberti, respectively). However, as of today, less than 7% of the American Society of Cinematographers' members are women. New Academy President John Bailey must be especially happy with Morrison’s nomination, given how he comes from the cinematography branch and has been fielding many questions as to whether the Academy can continue to diversify under the governance of a older white man. —M.J.

10. Logan is the first live-action superhero movie nominated for best adapted screenplay

20th Century Fox

Superhero movies may have dominated the box office over the past 10 years, but they’ve been almost entirely overlooked in the major Oscar categories (save for Heath Ledger’s posthumous best supporting actor win for The Dark Knight). So this nomination — the first time a live-action superhero movie has ever been honored for its screenplay — is a watershed moment for the genre, especially in a category that often serves as a way to honor artistically daring films that aren’t nominated for Best Picture. And for Hollywood, it should be a reminder that unconventional approaches to conventional genres — in Logan’s case, an R-rated, moody Western about the twilight of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) — can pay off at the box office and score an invite to the Kodak Theater. —A.B.V.

11. No Foreign Language Film nomination for In the Fade

Magnolia Pictures

This intense drama, Germany’s submission for this category, was one of the most acclaimed foreign films of 2017, thanks largely to Diane Kruger’s wrenching performance as a woman convinced her Turkish husband was murdered by a white supremacist terrorist attack. There was even a brief moment when Kruger was an outside contender for best actress. Instead, this film ended up with zero nominations. ‘Tis a shame! —A.B.V.

Advertisement

12. No nomination for the wildly popular animated short In a Heartbeat

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

This adorable animated short film debuted on YouTube in late July, and instantly went viral, racking up over 33.9 million views to date on the strength of its tear-inducing story of a schoolboy nursing a terrifying crush on a male classmate. It made the Academy’s shortlist for the Short Film (Animated) category, but, alas, its quietly groundbreaking story of young same-sex love apparently didn’t tug at enough heartstrings to earn a nod. At least you get to watch it right now. Go do it! —A.B.V.

13. No nominations at all for Wonder Woman

Warner Bros. Pictures

Wonder Woman came out earlier in the year and much of what the film was lauded for was also featured in other movies; for Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Logan offers an edgier take on the superhero genre. For Directing and Best Picture, the “there can only be one” honor went to Greta Gerwig and Lady Bird, leaving Patty Jenkins on the sidelines. Even in the technical categories, Wonder Woman faced tough competition from two space operas from Disney. Still, Wonder Woman was one of the year's most-talked-about films and it's a surprise it was completely overlooked. For now, Suicide Squad will continue to be the DC Cinematic Universe’s lone Oscar nomination and win. —M.J.

14. The Best Picture category is still too close to call

Fox Searchlight Pictures, A24, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures

For most of 2017, the awards season field was unusually — and blissfully — wide open, with no one film, nor even two or three films, staking claims as the Ones to Beat (as had been the case in previous years with La La Land, The Revenant, Boyhood, and Birdman). Then Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri began winning some major awards, especially the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture — Drama, and the SAG Award for best ensemble, making it a putative frontrunner. But the film’s director, Martin McDonagh, didn’t earn a Directing nomination, commonly thought as a prerequisite for a Best Picture win (although 2012’s Argo managed it without a nod for director Ben Affleck).

Meanwhile, The Shape of Water, which won the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards, is the biggest nominee this year, with 13 nods. For a long time, that was a good indicator of a films chances for Best Picture, but The Artist, Argo, 12 Years a Slave, Spotlight, and Moonlight all managed to win Best Picture over their respective year’s top nominated films. Which still gives films like Get Out, Lady Bird, and even Dunkirk a real fighting chance at winning the top prize. Once more, we get to enjoy not knowing who is going to win! Bliss! —A.B.V.

UPDATE

This post has been updated to reflect the most recent membership figures for the American Society of Cinematographers.

Adam B. Vary is a senior film reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Adam B. Vary at adam.vary@buzzfeed.com.

Marcus Jones is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Marcus Jones at marcus.jones@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.