After the Oscar nominations are announced, the usual chatter is about snubs. Probably the biggest perceived snub this year ties in with the biggest news story this year from Hollywood: sexual harassment. So it is somehow fitting that James Franco, who recently won a Golden Globe for Best Actor (in a Comedy or Musical) for The Disaster Artist was left out of the Oscar party after he had to deal with accusations of impropriety.
Of course, some may have just not thought he deserved it. But the assumption is that he was punished for his misdeeds. In an ideal world, the artist is separated from his faults, but I think the Academy must have breathed a sigh of relief that his possible nomination won’t be a story for the next six weeks. Casey Affleck, who won despite settling lawsuits for sexual harassment, wouldn’t have won this year. He might not have been nominated. The tradition is to have last year’s winners present this year’s Oscars (to the opposite gender), but Affleck may not even be invited to do so.
It is presumed, with no shred of evidence, that Denzel Washington got Franco’s spot for Roman J. Israel, Esq. Washington is now in rarefied air, as this is eighth nomination for acting. Only Jack Nicholson, Laurence Olivier, Spencer Tracy, and Paul Newman have more. But Meryl Streep is in the stratosphere, breaking her own record and notching her 21st nomination for The Post (the first film she’s been nominated for that was also nominated for Best Picture since Out of Africa in 1985). I wonder if Streep can even name all the pictures she’s been nominated for. Surely even she might forget One True Thing or Music from the Heart. In the ionosphere is composer John Williams, who after his nomination for Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, now has more nominations than any other living person, with 51.
Some other tidbits: Mary J. Blige becomes the first person nominated for an acting Oscar (Best Supporting Actress for Mudbound) and Best Song in the same year. Timothy Chalamet, at 22, becomes the third youngest to be nominated for Best Actor (only Jackie Cooper, 9. and Mickey Rooney. 19, were younger).
There is some diversity this year, so the OscarsSoWhite hashtag won’t be around. In the Best Director category is a black man (Jordan Peele) and a woman (Greta Gerwig). There’s also a Latino (Guillermo Del Toro). Peele and Gerwig are the fifth nominations for blacks and women, respectively (there has never been a black woman nominated in this category). It took 90 years, but there is finally a nomination for a woman in the Best Cinematography category, Rachel Morrison for Mudbound. On the other hand, Wonder Woman was completely skunked (Logan becomes the first comic-book film to get a Best Screenplay nomination, something Wonder Woman was expected to do by many).
In the Best Supporting Actor category, we have a nomination for Christopher Plummer for All the Money in the World. Plummer, who is already the oldest person to win an acting Oscar, is now the oldest to be nominated (breaking Gloria Stuart’s record). This is also the role that was played by Kevin Spacey, until his career was brought down by sexual harassment charges, and Plummer replaced him, shooting scenes over nine days only two months ago.
In the category of “when will I get nominated or when will I win,” Roger Deakins gets his 14th nomination for Best Cinematography for Blade Runner 2049. Will his futility end this year? I hope so, but in technical categories, only the film is mentioned on the ballot, not the name. If people don’t know he’s the cinematographer, he won’t get sympathy votes. Finally getting a nomination in the Best Documentary Feature category is Steve James, who was famously snubbed for Hoop Dreams, this time getting in with Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. The weirdest nomination is for basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, for the animated short Dear Basketball. If he wins, would he be the tallest winner ever (he’s 6′ 6”)?
I think we’ve got a bead on who will win the four acting Oscars, but the biggest mystery is Best Picture. As with the last two years, the winner of the award will still be a matter of suspense until the opening of the envelope. Two years ago, Spotlight only one other award before winning Best Picture, and of course last year Moonlight won in the famous envelope snafu. I expect something like that this year, along with a comedy bit surrounding the last envelope (will Jimmy Kimmel come out to make sure it’s the right envelope? Maybe Matt Damon could present it).