OSCAR NOMINATIONS EDITION
LESSON #1: THREE YEARS LATER, THE SHAME FROM #OSCARSSOWHITE IS WORKING— Led last year by Moonlight, Fences, Loving, and Hidden Figures, a boost of respect for minorities led to historic wins. This year, it’s Get Out and Mudbound. Behind the scenes, the Academy invited nearly eight hundred new members—39% of which are female and 30% non-white. That’s the bigger wake of change from #OscarsSoWhite that shows legitimate progress. Recently, a piece in The New Yorker posed the question of whether or not the #OscarsSoWhite era is over thanks in part to such gains. I don’t think so. The movement is working incrementally for black performers, but more can be done for Hispanic and Asian performers as well. Oh, and there’s that other new hashtag…
LESSON #2: THE #METOO MOVEMENT DESERVES TO ADD MORE SHAME AND CHANGE TO THE OSCARS— The state of respect and equality for women in the film industry has arguably needed the turnaround push it’s getting now from #MeToo movement longer than minorities have from #OscarsSoWhite. The writing and directing nominations for Greta Gerwig are excellent and the formal nod to Mudbound‘s cinematographer Rachel Morrison is historic as the first woman in that category, but, again, more could be done. I know I was rooting for Patty Jenkins and Wonder Woman to receive nomination honors. Like #OscarsSoWhite, let’s come back in 3-5 years and see where the industry is at after this cataclysmic year.
LESSON #3: DON’T BELIEVE THE GOLDEN GLOBE AND SCREEN ACTORS GUILD HYPE FOR THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI— The Shape of Water led all films with 13 nominations, one short of tying the record of 14 shared by All About Eve, Titanic, and La La Land. Dunkirk is a distant second with eight. In third, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has seven. That’s a great haul, but it’s missing one important one that makes it a genuine threat to win Best Picture. Its celebrated director, Martin McDonagh, was left out of the Best Director raise. Since the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, only four films have won Best Picture without a corresponding nomination for Best Director (Wings, Grand Hotel, Driving Miss Daisy, and Argo). I don’t like the film’s chances. Looking at the data on my 2018 Awards Tracker, Get Out has won more Best Picture awards than any other film this season, followed by Lady Bird and then The Shape of Water. You can virtually narrow the final vote to those three.
LESSON #4: COMEDY CONTINUES TO GET LITTLE RESPECT AT THE OSCARS— Lady Bird is carrying the flag for comedy at this year’s Oscars. Greta Gerwig’s film stands far above the subtle dark comedy within Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Get Out. In my opinion, there’s always room for more comedy representation at the biggest awards show of the year. The Big Sick received a lone nomination for Best Original Screenplay, but was ignored in the acting categories for Kumail Nanjiani, Holly Hunter, and Ray Romano.
LESSON #5. THE ACADEMY APPARENTLY DOESN’T PLAY WITH LEGOS— This lesson is one of two repeats from my Oscar nominations reaction post on Every Movie Has a Lesson because it fits perfectly here this week. A few years ago, the overwhelming Best Animated Feature frontrunner was The LEGO Movie and it was snubbed from being nominated in shocking fashion. The LEGO Batman Movie doesn’t have Coco-level pull, but, gosh darn, it’s better than Ferdinand and The Boss Baby. Expect one Alec Baldwin Trump joke and a tuxedoed stage appearance for WWE star John Cena as a presenter.
LESSON #6: NETFLIX HAS BROKEN THE GLASS CEILING WITH MUDBOUND— Here’s the final repeat. Dees Rees, Virgil Williams, and Mudbound have made Netflix a new and legitimate player for quality film. Their efforts mostly remain undiscovered treasure as the newfangled digital arthouse. For every high-profile Bright, there are five other films like Mudbound, First They Killed My Father, Our Souls at Night, Win it All, and War Machine. Mudbound deserves this love and Netflix is just getting started. Give it time and they have the money, talent draw, and ability to invade the Oscars the way they’ve already invaded the Emmy Awards for television.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud member and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.