2018 Oscar Nominees Deserving, James Franco Still Problematic

Nominations for the 90th annual Academy Awards were announced Jan. 23 via a live stream. Comedian-actress Tiffany Haddish and renowned actor Andy Serkis were joined by Academy President John Bailey to announce the lucky few who had been nominated for this year’s ceremony.

“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro’s ode to sci-fi fantasies of years past, garnered the most nominations of the year with an astonishing 13 nominations, including that of Best Picture. The film, which follows a mute custodian (Sally Hawkins) falling in love with an imprisoned humanoid-amphibian creature (Doug Jones), picked up a nomination for Hawkins in the lead actress category, as well as nominations for Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer in the supporting actor and supporting actress categories, respectively.

“Lady Bird,” the stunning solo directorial debut of Greta Gerwig, walked away with five nominations, including those of Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf’s stunning portrayals of a daughter and mother constantly at odds with one another earned them nominations in the lead actress and supporting actress categories, respectively.

Other films that received significant recognition from the Academy include Martin McDonagh’s searing and dark revenge drama “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” an early 2017 horror flick about racism and abuse of power. Both films earned a spot for Best Picture, rounding out the nominees with “Call Me by Your Name,” “Darkest Hour,” “Dunkirk,” “Lady Bird,” “Phantom Thread,” “The Post” and “The Shape of Water.”

The films nominated for Best Picture this year tackle a surprising range of topics and give voices to many groups of often silent people. “Call Me by Your Name” examines a fledgling romance between two young men. “Ladybird’s” outspoken and confident central character is a breath of fresh air in terms of characterization. “The Post” depicts a woman earning her place as a leader in journalism amid attacks that still plague female journalists to this day.

Not so surprisingly snubbed by the Academy was James Franco, whose meta-comedy about one of the worst films in Hollywood history, “The Disaster Artist,” was an early favorite in nearly every eligible category. Amid sexual harassment allegations, however, Franco’s performance and directorial work were not recognized for this year’s ceremony. The film did earn a nomination in the Adapted Screenplay category, though.

Because cases of sexual misconduct are receiving more attention in Hollywood, the shutout is not shocking. Many Oscar voters believe that the awards ceremony should solely honor the art of filmmaking and not be influenced by social politics. This view has become all the more problematic, in light of the increasing number of individuals who have come forth to accuse men like Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Many of these men use the Academy Awards as a sort of safety net, saying that their high status in Hollywood could never be damaged. Weinstein’s status was damaged, however, and so it seems Franco’s. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth that just last year, known sexual abuser Casey Affleck walked away with the Best Actor trophy.

Despite the slight controversy, this year’s ceremony is sure to be a knockout. Let’s just hope that no envelope mix-up happens again this year to ruin the fun (or make it even more fun, your choice).

The 90th Annual Academy Awards will air March 4.

Photo from thedrum.com.


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