#OscarsSoWhite? Not anymore.
It’s about time.
The Academy Awards nominations were announced early Tuesday morning, with The Shape of Water leading the way with 13 nominations. Dunkirk scored eight and lead-up-awards-favorite Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri got seven.
RELATED: Oscar nominees
And unlike the previous two years, it wasn’t a white-out in the acting categories. Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.) were nominated for best actor; Mary J. Blige (Mudbound) and Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water) were nominated for best supporting actress.
No one is going to mistake the Academy for a touchstone for diversity (its members remain overwhelmingly white and male, despite strides taken in the last couple of years). But people of color were nominated in major categories, and women were represented in categories typically dominated by men.
Before you start complaining that all of this is driven by knee-jerk political correctness, two quick words:
See the movies.
No one who has gone to a theater this year can deny that Jordan Peele doesn’t deserve a best-director nomination for Get Out, truly one of the best movies of the year (and a best-picture nominee, to boot). Kaluuya’s performance carried the film; his nomination is well-deserved. (The movie got a best original screenplay nomination, as well.)
Nor can anyone who saw Lady Bird, the best film of the year, say with any conviction that Greta Gerwig doesn’t deserve a best-director nomination, too. (Lady Bird also got nominations for best picture and best original screenplay.)
Suddenly the most good-’ol-boy category of them all is one of the most diverse.
Again, to emphasize: These weren’t charity nominations, handouts to quiet quell liberal complaints. These are well-deserved recognitions for jobs really well done.
Will they win? Eh. Maybe. That’s for another day (there is a school of thought that Get Out might have a shot at best picture). But at least this year they’re in the mix.
Clearly there has been a shift in the Academy’s overall culture. Which is a good thing, since there has been a shift in the culture of the rest of the world, too. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, women finally have more of a voice, and they’re using it.
If there’s an argument to be made that politics came into play, it’s in the exclusion of James Franco in The Disaster Artist. Franco has been accused by five women of inappropriate sexual behavior (he has denied the accusations). He won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau in the film, which he also directed. But he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. (The allegations surfaced a few days before voting for nominations ended).
Certainly there is precedent — the Golden Globes are more of a party than an Oscar-prediction vehicle. Washington was something of a surprise, but remember: He is a two-time Oscar winner and a favorite of the Academy. So it’s not exactly a jaw-dropper.
Quibbles? I have a few.
Makes me 'Sick'
There can be up to 10 best-picture nominees. Like last year, the Academy chose to nominate only nine. Which means, for my money, The Big Sick got left out. Others complained about Mudbound not making the cut. There is a formula as to how many films get nominated, but seriously, if you have 10 spots and a really strong year, use them tall.
Diversity is a hot topic, obviously, and Wonder Woman was rightly hailed as a breakthrough in the superhero genre, with a strong woman as protagonist (and a woman directing). So how many nominations did it get? Zero. Don’t get me wrong — The first three-quarters of the movie were terrific, but it fell into genre clichés at the end. I’m not saying it was a best-picture nominee in waiting. But a total shut-out is a shock.
Michael Stuhlbarg gave a really good performance (The Shape of Water) and a really great one (Call Me By Your Name). (He was in The Post, too.) Typically a year like that gets recognition. Yet he didn’t get a best-supporting actor nomination. That’s a shame — he deserved the spot Woody Harrelson got for his performance in Three Billboards. (No knock against Woody; Stuhlbarg was just a lot better.) This is probably the biggest snub of all.
I complained earlier that The Big Sick got left out of the best-picture category. Let me repeat that complaint for the omission of The Florida Project. Yes, Willem Dafoe got a best-supporting-actor nomination, but this is a great film, one that deserves to be seen by more people — something a nomination would have done for it.
Reach Goodykoontz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: facebook.com/GoodyOnFilm. Twitter: @goodyk.