Denzel Washington Franco’s omission left room for two-time winner Washington to pick up his eighth nomination for Roman J. Israel, Esq., a film that was, um, not widely loved! And sure, you can grumble about the Academy going for its standbys (see also: Meryl Streep’s Best Actress nomination for The Post), but to this viewer, here’s what’s great about this nomination: it should go to the best performances, not just the best performances in the best movies. The film in question is kinda lousy, but Washington is terrific in it – it’s a marvelously eccentric piece of work, well out of his usual wheelhouse, and worthy of celebration.
Michael Stuhlbarg and Armie Hammer Christopher Plummer picked up a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his eleventh-hour sub-in performance in All the Money in the World, and he’s very good in it – the only good thing in the movie, frankly – but it feels like a nomination less for his acting work than for the particulars of the achievement. And it really stings when neither of the brilliant Supporting Actor possibilities for Call Me By Your Name were acknowledged. Sure, Plummer is tough and nasty, but I can’t remember a single great moment in that performance, and I can’t get Stuhlbarg’s monologue out of my head. (And the fact that he was also great in The Shape of Water and The Post makes the Stuhlbarg shut-out all the more irritating.)
Holly Hunter and The Florida Project We’ve spent plenty of time singing the praises of Miss Hunter, who looked like the best bet for a major nomination for The Big Sick . Instead, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani picked up an Original Screenplay nomination for the movie version of their Meet Cute, which is wonderful, and Hunter’s already got an Oscar, so maybe it’s all fine. More disappointing was the near-shutout of Sean Baker’s heartbreaking Florida Project, which only picked up one nomination, for Best Supporting Actor (which Willem Dafoe will probably lose to Sam Rockwell).
The Boss Baby Sure, its just Best Animated Feature, and yes, it will almost definitely lose to Coco. But to nominate this garbage while ignoring The LEGO Batman Movie is a goddamn crime.
The documentary features This year’s slate of nominees (Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Faces Places, Icarus, Last Men in Aleppo, and Strong Island) isn’t bad, by any means; they’re all fine, and a couple are actually quite good. But considering what an extraordinary year it was for non-fiction, this is hardly the cream of the crop. The year’s best doc, The Work, wasn’t even on the shortlist (ditto In Transit, The Reagan Show, Nobody Speak, and several other terrific docs); and then most of the best films on the shortlist (LA 92, Ex Libris, Jane, Long Strange Trip, and One of Us) didn’t make the cut. Ah well, at least they didn’t nominate An Inconvenient Sequel.
The full list of nominees is here; they’ll hand out the Oscars on Sunday, March 4.