I don’t know what type of Oscar nominations I prefer: a list of predictable winners, or names and films that are constantly in a status shift. Judging by all of the different winners in recent award ceremonies, it’s clear the 90th annual Oscars fall in the latter category. But, again, I’m stumped over if I actually enjoy this much variety.
The silver lining to this collection of nominees is that they come from satisfying crowd-pleasers. Even with the recent criticism of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (controversy that I’m still trying to understand), each film nominated for Best Picture has been raved about by critics and audiences alike. The list also adds additional leverage to filmmaking first-timers who have proven themselves to be measured up to experienced film directors like Paul Thomas Anderson, Guillermo del Toro and Christopher Nolan. This is a beneficial and healthy list of nominees that movie goers have been waiting for. It’s a nice surprise!
Surprises are great and there’s nothing wrong with ambitious dark horses, but too many will drive you mad when you’re involved in Oscar pools. This recent awards race has been a rollercoaster with frontrunners hitting hurdles and then earning back their clout with critic circles. That’s what happened with the aforementioned Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. After winning TIFF’s coveted audience award (an award that has helped earn traction with past Oscar darlings), it seemed the film slipped to the back burner as Greta Gerwig earned acclaim for her directorial debut in Lady Bird and del Toro’s high-concept fantasy The Shape of Water charmed audiences across the globe. Multiple wins at the Golden Globe Awards helped put Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy/drama back on the map.
However, as other people lock in their predictions on Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water being a big winner at the Oscars, I also agree with the love for del Toro’s unique fantasy/romance. Considering how much steam The Shape of Water has picked up in wider releases, it’s certainly on its way to be a big threat. It’s an incredible movie that’s been hailed by two of our own critics (Trevor and Nick).
At the end of the day, a list of shoo-ins could not provoke a stream of consciousness like this. For the sake of discussion alone, perhaps a night of surprises isn’t that bad after all.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie