2018 Oscar Nominations: Biggest Shocks and Surprises

With the announcement of the Academy Awards nominations (read the full list of nominees here), there always comes upsets and surprises. Films or actors are nominated who many don't think should have been, or films or actors are not nominated who many believe should have been. With other awards such as the SAGs or PGAs, you can get a sense beforehand of which movies will be nominated for an Oscar. However, there are always a few that feel like they're coming completely out of left field. This year, most of the nominations were what we were expecting. Sure, movies I personally liked more such as Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, and Detroit didn't take the top nominations I felt they deserved, but there weren't many monumental surprises we didn't see coming. However, there are a couple of ones that I feel are worth mentioning, whether it's because I was surprised that it happened or surprised that it didn't happen. These shocks and surprises are ranked in order of the nominations themselves, not based on the degree of how I personally feel about the particular nomination, or lackthereof. 

I, Tonya Not Nominated for Best Picture

I was surprised by just how much I loved I, Tonya. It was thrilling, entertaining, and surprisingly hilarious, packed with a lot of emotion as well. It was kind of the total package. You can read our review for the film here. While I was expecting Margot Robbie and Allison Janney to be nominated, I also thought that it would be nominated for Best Picture, and it wasn't. The strength of I, Tonya comes from its effectiveness as a film as a whole. It fires on all cylinders, and while you can single out Robbie and Janney's performances, it is actually very well-rounded. But in order for someone to say that something should have been nominated for a particular award, that person has to also say what it should have replaced, or else it's simply an empty notion. The easy answer for me is to say Dunkirk, but that's just because I am not a fan of the movie. So since I'm biased to that film, I'll say I, Tonya should have been nominated over Darkest Hour. I love that movie, but I think I, Tonya is a better film. Darkest Hour is great, but it's consumed and led by Gary Oldman's brilliant performance. I, Tonya, however, is far more well-rounded, and it doesn't rely on a single performance to propel it. 

Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) Nominated for Best Lead Actor

While he was nominated for a SAG award, I didn't think Daniel Kaluuya would be nominated for Best Lead Actor at the Oscars. And frankly, I don't think he deserves the nomination. Get Out is a great movie, and I'm happy that it was nominated for Best Picture, and that Jordan Peele was nominated for Best Director. And while Kaluuya is great in the movie, I just don't think he gives an Oscar-worthy performance. Tom Hanks in The Post, James Franco in The Disaster Artist, and Hugh Jackman in Logan are a few actors I would have substituted in for Kaluuya, as I thought their performances were far more transformative and were overall stronger than his. This isn't me saying Kaluuya did a poor job at all; I thought he was really good in the movie. It's just that I didn't think he gave a performance worthy of an Oscar nomination, and I was surprised to see his name pop up. You can read our review for Get Out here

Denzel Washington (Roman J. Isral, Esq.) Nominated for Best Lead Actor

Probably more so than Daniel Kaluuya, I was surprised to see Denzel Washington be nominated for Roman J. Israel, Esq. When everyone was discussing the potential Oscar nominees, Washington's name never came up. You had your Gary Oldmans and your Daniel Day-Lewises, but Washington's name didn't really pop up until he got a Golden Globe nomination. But the Globes aren't serious awards. They're fun to watch and they're certainly entertaining, but the awards themselves don't mean shit. So I didn't think too much of Washington's nomination. Since they have both drama and comedy divisions, it seemed like they just needed to fill out the drama category more, and thus Washington was nominated. However, he ended up nabbing one of the spots for Best Lead Actor at the Oscars. I haven't seen Roman J. Israel, Esq., so I can't comment on whether or not Washington deserved the nomination. Knowing how good of an actor Washington is, I'm sure he gave a hell of a performance. But from my perspective, I'm surprised he actually got nominated. 

James Franco (The Disaster Artist) Not Nominated for Best Lead Actor

Someone who I was expecting to get nominated for Best Lead Actor was James Franco for his work on The Disaster Artist. He was brilliant as Tommy Wiseau, and he probably turned in the performance of his career. My Best Lead Actor predictions had Franco in there, but he was absent from the list when the nominations were announced. Many will assume this is because of the sexual misconduct allegations that recently surfaced against Franco, which could certainly be a factor. However, to the best of my understanding, the nominations were voted for before the allegations arose, so it doesn't seem likely that they would have affected the voting. No, Franco didn't get the nomination because the Academy didn't think he gave one of the top five performances of the year. That is their opinion, but I disagree. While I am certainly turned off from Franco because of the allegations, you can't deny just how remarkable his performance was. I would certainly bump off Daniel Kaluuya to give Franco the spot, because that's how good I found Franco to be. I can understand why he didn't get it; it was a stacked year for the Best Lead Actor category. But if the Oscars were up to me, he would be in there. You can read our review for The Disaster Artist here

Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name) Not Nominated for Best Supporting Actor

While I have not personally seen Call Me By Your Name yet, the amount of buzz it has gotten at film festivals and awards circuits is undeniable. So much so that I thought Armie Hammer was a sure lock for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. However, he didn't end up getting the nomination. I can't vouch for whether or not he should have been nominated, as I haven't seen the film yet, but it seems like, from all the other awards shows, that Hammer has been overlooked. Looking at the current nominees, I think Woody Harrelson could have been bumped. I thought he was great in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but I didn't personally think he gave an Oscar-worthy performance. No, Sam Rockwell acted circles around him in that film, and absolutely deserved the nomination he got. So even though I haven't seen Hammer's performance, I'm prepared to say that Harrelson could have been bumped out in order to make room for Hammer. It just seems, from all the other buzz Call Me By Your Name has gotten, and from all the other Oscar nominations the movie got, that Armie Hammer should have been included as well. 

Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread) Nominated for Best Director

Most of the people nominated for Best Director were the ones who we were expecting, from Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water to Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird. However, Paul Thomas Anderson for his work on Phantom Thread wasn't one we were anticipating. It's not a pick that comes completely out of the blue; I always thought Anderson had an outside chance of being nominated. But when you look at who wasn't nominated, such as Steven Spielberg for The Post or the person I'll talk about next or the highly unlikely but absolutely deserving Edgar Wright for Baby Driver, it seems strange that Anderson got the spot instead of them. I haven't seen Phantom Thread yet, so I can't exactly comment on his work and whether or not he deserved to be nominated, but with him being absent from the lists of nominees for a lot of the other award shows, it seems strange that he got it here above the other aforementioned directors. Again, I can't say whether or not he deserved it, but from looking at the other directors and previous award shows, it seems strange Paul Thomas Anderson nabbed the nomination. 

Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) Not Nominated for Best Director

While it wasn't personally one of my favorites of the year (I still liked it a great deal, but not enough to crack my top ten. You can read our review here), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has become an Oscars favorite. And it's looking like it could walk away with the Best Picture trophy. Three actors from the movie were nominated, being Frances McDormand for Best Lead Actress, and Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting Actor, and two of them will most probably win. The screenplay was even nominated for Best Original Screenplay, and has a strong chance of winning. And yet, the writer/director himself, Martin McDonagh, wasn't nominated for Best Director. That seems backwards to me. He directed three actors to getting Oscar nominations, he wrote an Oscar nominated screenplay, and his effort resulted in a film nominated for Best Picture, and he's not recognized for that? It just doesn't sit right. In my eyes, Three Billboards was good, but not good enough to sweep the Oscars as it has. But most other people see it as one of the top best films of the year. If you're willing to recognize it for all of those other aspects, all of which are the director's responsibility, then why wouldn't you recognize the director himself? 

The LEGO Batman Movie Not Nominated for Best Animated Feature

I remember clear as day the morning in 2015 when the 2014 Oscar nominations were announced, and The LEGO Movie was not nominated for Best Animated Feature. It had been the front-runner to win, and it wasn't even nominated. People were outraged, because it was easily one of the five best animated movies of that year, if not the best. And now LEGO has been snubbed once again, with The LEGO Batman Movie having not been nominated this year. This wouldn't bother me as much if movies like The Boss Baby and Ferdinand hadn't been nominated in its place. What kind of backwards, fucked-up world do we live in where The Boss Baby is nominated for Best Animated Feature over The LEGO Batman Movie? It's ridiculous! The LEGO Batman Movie is actually a really great movie. It's a fun spoof of the Batman character, done lovingly by clear Batman fanatics. You can read our full review here. If this was a super strong year for animated movies, then I would understand its absence. But when you have The Boss Baby and Ferdinand getting spots above it, then it really makes you scratch your head and wonder what the hell they were thinking. 

The Shape of Water Not Nominated for Best Hair and Makeup

The Shape of Water did some serious damage at the Academy Awards this year, taking in 13 nominations, the most of any other film this year. However, there was one more obvious one is should have gotten as well: Best Hair and Makeup. And it seems like one that The Shape of Water would get in a heartbeat. The work done on the Amphibious Man (Doug Jones) is remarkable. Not just in terms of the design, but also how lifelike and real he comes across. Jones also has a great amount of mobility in his suit. And most of the creature's screen time is done with practical effects. There are only a handful of times when he is created via CGI. The Amphibious Man alone should have been enough to get the film a nomination for Best Hair and Makeup. Wonder was nominated instead, and while I haven't seen the movie, I can assume it was nominated for the prosthetics work on Jacob Tremblay's face. Just from the trailers, I can tell that the work done on the Amphibious Man in The Shape of Water is far more intricate and impressive that the work done on Jacob Tremblay in Wonder. So, anyways, that was something that really took me by surprise. You can read our review for The Shape of Water here

What do you think? What were some nominations that shocked or surprised you? Was anyone nominated that you didn't think should have been? Or vice versa? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Written by: Nathanael Moln├ír
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