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The biggest surprises from the 90th Oscar nominations


Exactly one week ago, the Academy Award nominations were announced, and of course, it wasn’t completely what anyone expected. That always happens, with much discussion ensuing. As such, today we’re going to be taking a look at just those surprises. There were a bunch, for sure, though for the purposes of this article I’m only choosing six to write a bit about. They range from absolutely shocking to mildly surprising, but many were predictions that at least yours truly did not make in advance of the big announcement. It’s par for the Oscar course, but still, it’s worth getting into a bit, which is exactly what we’ll be doing.

Here now are a half dozen surprises that the 90th Oscar nominations revealed to us last Tuesday:


Phantom Thread scores in Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress – No one quite expected voters to embrace Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest quite as much as they did. Seemingly poised to just be nominated in Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score, it went above and beyond. Lesley Manville scored in Best Supporting Actress, Paul Thomas Anderson shocked in Best Director (but not in Best Original Screenplay, though more on that in a few days), and an unlikely Best Picture nomination came through. Of all the films to over perform last Tuesday, this was the one to surprise the most.


Darkest Hour cracks the Best Picture lineup – After falling behind much of the season, this Winston Churchill biopic managed to score a nomination in the big category at the 11th hour. On paper, the movie makes total sense as a nominee, but the precursors had all but buried it. Shame on me for ignoring the buzz I heard from voters that it was going to do better than expected. If you look at my last few prediction updates, I had it progressively on the rise, but just not high enough, it seems!


Logan becomes the first comic book movie to get a Best Adapted Screenplay citation – It was bound to eventually happen, especially after The Dark Knight came so close to Best Picture. That it was Logan isn’t a surprise, quality wise, but that it actually happened is what surprised. When in doubt, don’t ignore what the Writers Guild likes, it seems. One of the longer shot predictions that I actually made, this is one to bask in the reflected glory of, just a tad…


Christopher Nolan isn’t snubbed in Best Director this time – After years of just falling short, Christopher Nolan finally is a Best Director nominee. Again, on paper, there’s no doubt this should have happened, and he’s almost certainly the number two in this category, but when you get burned enough predicting him, some can get gun shy. Still, Nolan scored and depending on what the Directors Guild announces, is locked in a battle for the actual win. For Nolan, that’s a major step forward, in terms of his appreciation within the Academy.


I, Tonya manages a Best Film Editing nomination – Despite coming up empty in Best Picture, this small biopic still managed to snag a nomination in a category that doesn’t often go for that sort of thing. The editing is tremendous and worthy of not just a nomination for contention for the win, though that’s unlikely. As such, its inclusion is what’s celebratory and surprising. Voters ignored I, Tonya far too much, but they remembered it here, thankfully. The snubs up and down the line did not extend to this category.


There’s again nine nominees for Best Picture – At this point, this is now the new normal. Still, this was a bit of a surprise to some. To be sure, the days of ten and five are gone, so it’s likely always going to be eight or nine, with seven an outside chance as well. It’s a weird number, and personally I’d prefer the straight ten to come back, but as it stands, nine is what to expect going forward, unless something surprise on its own happens…


Stay tuned for an article on the snubs from the nominations very soon!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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