The Oscar Nominations — Will Lady Bird soar and Shape of Water Sink?

Another list of Oscar nominees, and another story on me griping about it. I’ll start with the people reading the nominations. Nice to see Andy Serkis up there with Tiffany Haddish, but would it have killed her to learn how to pronounce ALL the names of the possible nominees? I thought after John Travolta butchered a name a few years ago, they’d all learn that it’s best to learn how to pronounce names. Now, on to the nominations….

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was okay, but cartoonish, unrealistic characters just killed it for me. It got seven nominations. Dunkirk, which bored me and my friend (a World War II buff), got eight nominations.

A whopping nine movies got nominated this year, and only one of them made my Top 10 list of the year — Lady Bird (two others almost made my list — The Post and Get Out). I want to know where movies on my list were: The Big Sick, Molly’s Game, Wind River, Last Flag Flying, and the most underrated movie of the year — Good Time (Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie deserved nominations as well). Perhaps Wind River didn’t get love because of the Harvey Weinstein connection, but that isn’t fair to the movie; and doesn’t anybody realize that Kobe Bryant, who settled a rape case, got an Oscar nomination this year? Oh, but we’re going to snub Wind River and James Franco, who deserved one for The Disaster Artist.

Other best picture nominees — Call Me by Your Name (overrated), Darkest Hour (boring), Get Out (good, but highly overrated), and Phantom Thread, which was just an awful movie. It’s amazing that it got so many nominations; although I have no problem with Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville getting nominations. As usual, they were brilliant.

Frances McDormand got her fourth nomination for Three Billboards, and she was terrific. I was actually really impressed with Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), as this was one of my favorite movies of the year.

Margot Robbie nailed Tonya Harding (and she was super nice to me at the Critics’ Choice awards). Meryl Streep showed a nice vulnerability in The Post (and really, don’t they have to nominate Streep no matter what the role?). Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning lady in The Shape of Water was tremendous (despite the movie being overrated, and cliched). Yet I would’ve loved to see Sally Hawkins, and her terrific co-star Ethan Hawke, get a little love for Maudie, one of the little scene gems of this year.

For the men, it’s hard for me not to root for Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. I met him at CinemaCon in Vegas and he was nice. I talked to him again at the Critics’ Choice Awards, where I handed him one of my cigars and said, “Let’s celebrate your win tonight with one of these.” He pointed and winked at me.

Timothee Chalamet was terrific in Call Me by Your Name, and was also good in a smaller role in Lady Bird. He’s young though (the youngest nominee in this category in 75 years)… so I won’t be rooting for him to win. He’ll get other opportunities. Daniel Kaluuya was okay in Get Out, but I would’ve liked to see him or Denzel left out (Washington just because Roman J. Israel was a mess of a movie), and Franco in one of those slots. And certainly Jeremy Renner deserved consideration for Wind River.

With Kaluuya, Washington, Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), Octavia Spencer, and Jordan Peele — nobody is going to hashtag “Oscars so white.” As thrilled as I am for Peele getting that nomination — did Octavia Spencer really deserve the nomination for her sassy, cliched role in The Shape of Water? Love her in everything she’s in (and Hidden Figures made my Top 10 the year it came out), but that role didn’t deserve a nomination.

Since Hollywood types always want something to rally behind, it’s doubtful they’ll complain about the women not getting any love. People are saying Wonder Woman got snubbed, but…it was just an average superhero picture. Spider-man: Homecoming was way better.  And hey — the first female cinematographer ever ( Rachel Morrison for Mudbound) got a nomination, as well as Greta Gerwig, directing her first movie (Lady Bird).

The list of directors nominated baffled me. Even though I was lukewarm on Shape of Water, it’s nice that Guillermo del Toro got a nomination. I love his love of film, and it was beautifully shot. But Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson didn’t deserve it this year.

For actors in a supporting role, I’m really rooting for Willem Dafoe. He was so amazing in The Florida Project, which was actually a movie I didn’t like, despite his performance. Woody Harrelson basically plays a character he’s done before in Three Billboards. Richard Jenkins is solid in Shape of Water, but he’s had much better roles (go find The Visitor). Sam Rockwell, who just won the SAG award, is one of the best actors working today. Yet his character in Three Billboards is over-the-top and cartoonish. Christopher Plummer, the oldest actor ever nominated (at 88) is playing the type of role he’s also done before. It’s a nice slap in the face to Kevin Spacey that he got the nomination for All the Money in the World. Please…give the Oscar to Dafoe.

The actresses in a support role is tough for me. Mary J. Blige was good in Mudbound, although I’m tempted to use the cliche “It’s an honor just to be nominated.”

Manville was one of the only things making Phantom Thread watchable. Octavia Spencer in Shape of Water was a nothing of a role. I seriously want this to be a tie between the two best performances of the year — Allison Janney as the mom from hell in I, Tonya….and Laurie Metcalf as the mom from hell in Lady Bird.

For the adapted screenplay, I’d be happy with Molly’s Game (more brilliance from Aaron Sorkin) or The Disaster Artist winning. The other nominee that didn’t get any other nominations — Logan.

But when it comes to writing, they better damn well give it to The Big Sick in the original screenplay category. They denied Holly Hunter a nomination, as well as a few other things this movie deserved. It’s one of the best of the year (I can almost guarantee Three Billboards will win the award, though).

It was a weak year for animated films, but three that I loved got nominated — The Boss Baby, Coco, and the least seen of the bunch and the most interesting in terms of how it was made — Loving Vincent (The Bread Winner and Ferdinand were the other nominees).

The documentary nominees left out Jane, which surprised the hell out of me.

With musical scores…John Williams got nominated for the latest Star Wars. One of my favorite trivia questions is asking who Williams lost the Oscar to for his Close Encounters score in 1977. It was to himself — for the score of the first Star Wars.

Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead guitarist) did a great job with Phantom Thread (I still hate his score for Anderson’s There Will Be Blood).

Carter Burwell always does terrific work, as he did for Three Billboards.

I hate to admit I don’t remember how Alexandre Desplat sounded in the Shape of Water.

The one I didn’t like was the usually reliable Hans Zimmer for Dunkirk. It was so….loud and distracting (which is what I think they wanted, but annoying nonetheless).

I won’t get into all the other categories, since most people don’t care about them. I will say this, though. If the Academy isn’t going to show any love to Wind River because of Weinstein, why does Baby Driver get love for some of the editing categories? It had Kevin Spacey in it. I mean…All the Money in the World spent all the money to edit Spacey out. Yet Baby Driver, which starred Spacey, gets a pass?

Among other snubs, Jake Gyllenhaal gave an interesting performance in Stronger, and he always does different roles.

Michael Stuhlbarg — the best thing in Call Me By Your Name.

The two most frustrating were Annette Bening for Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. It was an amazing performance, and the movie was one of the best of the year. The only reason it didn’t make my Top 10 list is that I didn’t see it until after January 1st.

The other frustrating snub, and it’s a shame I may be the only critic saying this — Good Time. It deserved a screenplay nomination, acting nominations, and directing. Do yourself a favor and seek this movie out. You’ll be glad you did.