Commentary

Thrills and spills of Oscar nominations

The campaigns against sexual harassment appear to have influenced voting patterns

Coming into the race, it seemed that two films, horror-tinged romance The Shape Of Water and drama-comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, were the ones to beat in this year's Oscar nominations.

But as actor Tiffany Haddish and actor-director Andy Serkis closed up the nominations show on Tuesday night (Singapore time), the hype about Three Billboards' unimpeachable status turns out to have been fake news.

Also, the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns against sexual harassment appear to have exerted some influence in voting patterns - one actor thought to have a shot has been shut out, following allegations of misconduct from several women during the voting period.

The Shape Of Water (opens on Monday in Singapore) dominated the lists, handily beating Three Billboards.

The human-monster interspecies love story grabbed 13 nominations, among them Best Picture, Best Director for Guillermo del Toro and Best Actress for Sally Hawkins.

The nods cover the spectrum, from acting (Octavia Spencer, Best Supporting Actress) to technical categories (Sound Editing and Production Design)

War drama Dunkirk garnered a surprisingly high number of nominations and comes next with eight nominations.

But as is usually the case for director Christopher Nolan, the categories tend to be for work behind the camera (Film Editing, Sound Editing and Cinematography) than in front of it, though he did secure a Best Picture nomination and Best Director nod, his fifth. He has never won.

  • The nominees

  • Best Picture

    • Call Me By Your Name

    • Darkest Hour

    • Dunkirk

    • Get Out

    • Lady Bird

    • Phantom Thread

    • The Post

    • The Shape Of Water

    • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


    Best Director

    • Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

    • Jordan Peele (Get Out)

    • Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)

    • Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)

    • Guillermo del Toro (The Shape Of Water)


    Best Actor

    • Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)

    • Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)

    • Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)

    • Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

    • Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)


    Best Actress

    • Sally Hawkins (The Shape Of Water)

    • Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

    • Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)

    • Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)

    • Meryl Streep (The Post)


    Best Supporting Actor

    • Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)

    • Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

    • Richard Jenkins (The Shape Of Water)

    • Christopher Plummer (All The Money In The World)

    • Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)


    Best Supporting Actress

    • Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)

    • Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

    • Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread)

    • Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

    • Octavia Spencer (The Shape Of Water)


    Best Foreign Language Film

    • A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

    • The Insult (Lebanon)

    • Loveless (Russia)

    • On Body And Soul (Hungary)

    • The Square (Sweden)

Then comes Three Billboards with seven nominations, including Best Picture. Its lead actress, Frances McDormand, is the favourite to win the Best Actress prize on Oscar night.

Her performance as an angry, grieving mother is a standout compared with the other nominees, whose roles have not called for the range that McDormand's part demanded.

Meryl Streep's publisher Katharine Graham in The Post lacks the liveliness that Oscar voters demand, while other contenders Saoirse Ronan (coming-of-age drama Lady Bird) and Margot Robbie (the biopic of disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, I, Tonya) look to be too new in the business to deserve an award.

So, it looks like it will be a toss-up between McDormand, who has one Oscar for Supporting Actress in crime drama Fargo (1996) and British actress Sally Hawkins, nominated previously for Supporting Actress for the Woody Allen comedy, Blue Jasmine (2013).

Absent from the Best Actor line-up is James Franco, who was getting heat for his part as a weird, inept wannabe actor in the comedy, The Disaster Artist.

During the voting period last year, women came forward to speak of sexual harassment at his hands and the publicity might have hurt his campaign.

That left the fifth slot open for Denzel Washington, for his role in the little-talked about crime thriller, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

His victory in the Best Actor category is a long shot - Gary Oldman's Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour or Daniel Day-Lewis' genius dressmaker in Phantom Thread are the ones to beat - but for the producers of the little-known Roman, the #TimesUp campaign has proved unexpectedly useful.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2018, with the headline ' Thrills and spills of Oscar nominations'. Print Edition | Subscribe