Every awards season, fans and critics alike are shocked and surprised by the films that get overlooked by the Academy for that elusive Oscar nomination. The 2018 Oscar nominations, announced on January 23, are no different. Whether films were edged out by equally-talented competition or by the Academy’s own fickle judgement is up for debate; however, there are plenty that were.
One of the most notable snubs was James Franco for The Disaster Artist. Franco directed and starred in this comedy about the 2003 film, The Room, largely considered one of the worst movies ever made. The 2017-2018 awards season was very kind to Franco, with nominations for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards and his Golden Globe for Best Actor in a comedy or musical. The Academy nominated The Disaster Artist for Best Adapted Screenplay; however, Franco himself was overlooked by the Academy for his appearance as director and actor Tommy Wiseau. This snub is largely unsurprising, given the fact that a few days before the Oscars nominations were submitted, Franco was accused of multiple counts of sexual assault. Although critics are not surprised by the Academy’s choice, this snub certainly raises questions about how and when we can separate the artist and their actions from the art they produce.
There are some snubs that are genuinely surprising, including the Academy’s decision to bypass Martin McDonagh for Best Directing in his film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Critics are confident that McDonagh’s film could win Best Picture. The film is also nominated for Best Original Screenplay and the cast is nominated for many different awards, including Woody Harrelson for Best Supporting Actor. It seems a logical fallacy that a film could qualify for best film, implying excellent direction, without that director also being nominated; however, it seems that we must simply accept that the Academy moves in mysterious ways. McDonagh is not the only director snubbed for his work this season; awards veteran Stephen Spielberg has been completely sidestepped for his well-done and extremely timely film, The Post. It seems that Spielberg was left on the sidelines as the nominations went towards debut directors, Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele. We can assume that the film tycoon will survive the snub, having countless awards and nominations under his belt; however, Luca Guadagnino being overlooked for his direction of Call Me By Your Name may be more damaging as this would have been his first nomination. The Post and Call Me By Your Name were snubbed in a variety of other categories. The Post was overlooked for Best Original Screenplay, and its star, Tom Hanks, was overlooked for Best Actor for his impressive job as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. Hanks has generally been ignored by the Academy since his back-to-back awards for his roles in Forrest Gump and Philadelphia, however, critics are perplexed about why the screenplay went unrecognized. The Rolling Stone describes this snub as “a shame given how Liz Hannah and Josh Singer’s script turns shoeleather journalism and phone-call conversations into the stuff of first-rate drama.” Call Me By Your Name was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor, however along with McDonagh’s Best Director snub, the film was also overlooked for Best Supporting Actor, despite Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg’s fabulous and heart wrenching performances. Wonder Woman followed the pattern of the Academy overlooking superhero movies. Not only was Patty Jenkins’ film bypassed for Best Picture, but it was not nominated in a single category, including any visual effects or technical nominations. This blatant snub may perpetuate the stigma that the Academy is elitist and overlooks more mainstream films. This argument can be applied to the facts that both Holly Hunter (The Big Sick) and Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip) were overlooked for Best Supporting Actress. Despite the fantastic response to The Big Sick and its ability to navigate seamlessly between comedy, romance, and questions of race and immigrant acclimation in the 21st century, the indie hit was only nominated for Best Original Screenplay. We could spend page after page discussing the upcoming 2018 Oscar nominations and snubs (in fact we do, on page six and seven). We could shake our fists at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, however, instead it might be more productive to make some popcorn and sit back to review this year’s best films for ourselves (whether or not they made the elusive Academy cut).
Sources: Vulture, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, New York Times.