Is Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water the film to beat at this year's Academy Awards? With 13 nominations heading into the 2018 Oscars, it certainly seems like del Toro's romantic fantasy is a frontrunner. But a lot of nominations does not a winner make. (Just ask La La Land.) This awards season has been unpredictable from the jump, so it's only appropriate that the nominees for this year's big show would be full of delightful surprises and maddening snubs.
Let's take a look at a few of the biggest:
SNUB: Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your NameSony Pictures Classics
What a waste. Michael Stuhlbarg delivered one of the performances of the year in Luca Guadagnino's splendid queer drama Call Me By Your Name. As precocious young Elio's perceptive father, the emotional impact of his performance hinges on a beautiful monologue about unbridled love and acceptance that's so poignant, and so memorable, it's left audiences and critics in tears. But apparently not the Academy. Instead, Stuhlbarg and his costar Armie Hammer most likely split the vote, which resulted in a noticeable CMBYN shutout in the supporting actor category.
Of course Stuhlbarg's snub is even more egregious when you factor in that he's featured in three of this year's Best Picture nominees (Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, and The Post).
SURPRISE: The Academy loves Paul Thomas AndersonFocus Features
How fucking chic is this? Heading into today's Oscar nominations, there seemed to be a lack of interest in Paul Thomas Anderson's dark, arthouse comedy Phantom Thread. It's not that the film wasn't well received by critics — it was — but no one seemed to be talking about it. Well, except for the Academy, I guess. Not only did PTA score a Best Director nomination, but star Daniel Day-Lewis also landed a Best Actor nomination for his "final" onscreen performance ahead of his reported retirement. But most surprisingly? His sparring partner Lesley Manville was nominated for her scene-stealing supporting performance.
SNUB: Mudbound for Best Picture, Dee Rees for Best DirectorNetflix
Dee Rees's disquieting indie drama Mudbound did score four Oscar nominations, including a well-deserved nod for supporting actress Mary J. Blige and history-making noms for cinematographer Rachel Morrison and Best Adapted Screenplay. (Rees is the first black woman ever to be nominated in that category.) But the film was ultimately overlooked for Best Picture and Best Director, which is a shame because an emerging filmmaker like Rees deserves to be nominated alongside the likes of Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele. Rees's cinematic tale of two families — one black, one white — living on the same land in 1940s America isn't just good storytelling; it's vital.
SURPRISE: Logan finally gets his due20th Century Fox
A posthumous nomination for the celebrated X-Man. (Sorry, spoilers.) One of this year's biggest Oscar surprises was Logan's nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. It's the kind of unexpected nod that brings a smile to your face. The superhero movie was bleaker than the average popcorn flick, but it also spoke to an uncertain, scary time that mirrored our own volatile political climate. Not to mention, it was a poignant send-off for franchise star Hugh Jackman.
SNUB: Wonder WomanWarner Bros.
Should Patty Jenkins' record-breaking Wonder Woman have been nominated for Best Picture? Probably not. But I will forever be upset that Suicide Squad has one Oscar and Wonder Woman has none. That's just insane.
SURPRISE: James Franco failed to land a nom for The Disaster ArtistA24
A few weeks ago, James Franco was a clear shoo-in for a Best Actor nomination for his transformative performance in The Disaster Artist, a film he also directed. After all, he won the Golden Globe. But then, just days before the Oscar voting period closed, accusations of sexual misconduct against the actor-director were made public — and Franco's chances went up in flames. While some might call this a snub, I think of it more as a surprise that the Academy is taking a stand against the toxic boys club behavior that's permeated the industry for decades.
That's not to say the Academy has been completely absolved of guilt. Last year, Casey Affleck won the Oscar for Best Actor, despite several sexual harassment allegations against him. And this year's frontrunner, Gary Oldman, has his own dark past.
SNUB: No love for Pennywise the Dancing ClownWarner Bros.
Are you trying to tell me that Judi Dench pulled off a more terrifying transformation in Victoria & Abdul than Bill Skarsgård did for It? JUST LOOK AT THIS CREEPY MURDER CLOWN. In fact, this hair and makeup team managed to accomplish the unthinkable: They turned Bill Skarsgård — a very tall, very Swedish, gorgeous specimen of a man — into a hideous clown. If that doesn't deserve an Oscar, then what does?
SURPRISE: The Boss Baby rulesDreamworks
Apparently, The Boss Baby is a legitimate movie. Who knew. But I find it hard to believe that The Boss Baby has the same surprisingly emotional resonance as Chris McKay's The Lego Batman Movie.
SURPRISE: Christopher Plummer gets all the supporting nominations in the worldTriStar Pictures
All the Money In the World's sole nomination for supporting actor Christopher Plummer feels like a statement. Plummer replaced Kevin Spacey last November after a string of sexual assault allegations against the actor were made public. In a highly unprecedented move, Plummer came onboard and filmed his scenes in a matter of days — all while the clock was ticking down on the film's December release. Not only did director Ridley Scott make his deadline, but Plummer also scored an Oscar nomination out of a few days work. Actors, take note: If you engage in predatory behavior, you can — and will — be replaced.
SNUB: The Florida Project for Best PictureA24
It's a shame that Sean Baker's The Florida Project was overlooked in the major categories. Aside from its one nom for supporting actor Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project didn't get much love from the Academy, despite its powerful, evocative story and charming lead actress, 7-year-old Brooklynn Prince. Maybe Moonie's story wasn't as flashy as The Post or as universal as Lady Bird, but it was important. And now it feels destined to be forgotten, not unlike its young heroine.
SURPRISE: The entire Best Director categoryA24
This year, the Academy made way for exciting newcomers like Gerwig (Lady Bird) and Peele (Get Out), two writer-directors who both share the distinct honor of being nominated for Best Director for their solo directorial debuts. Acclaimed director Christopher Nolan is also a first-time nominee in the category for his historical epic Dunkirk, which is honestly just as hard to believe as the fact that this is also del Toro's first Best Director nomination. PTA is the only repeat nominee in the category, and if you don't find that thrilling then you're not paying attention. It's also a bit of a shock that Anderson squeezed into the category at all; Three Billboards helmer Martin McDonagh seemed like a safe bet — until the backlash started.
To be honest, this is one of those rare categories where everyone is so deserving and so likable that I honestly don't care who wins.