I nearly got them all.
But this year – as they often do – the Academy went with nine Best Picture nominations instead of the allowed maximum of 10 and that meant The Florida Project missed out (even though I think it’s a lot stronger a film than The Post).
I also didn’t reckon Darkest Hour would make it, which was a bit silly really given how much love it got for all its craft, and for Gary Oldman.
But I got pretty close with 8 right and now it’s a case of working out who will take the prize.
I know The Shape of Water leads with 13 nominations, I still can’t see where the wins are going to come from, unless Guillermo del Toro takes Best Director for getting through such a singular, cinephile vision – for me, it’s too silly, too fantasy and I can’t love it.
Three Billboards seems a favourite to me, though Martin McDonagh missing out on Best Director is a surprise – but you nominate nine Best Pics, you’re going to piss off someone. And they had to put Greta Gerwig in there for Lady Bird.
I’m a big fan of Phantom Thread and am thrilled it got a surprising six nominations – it’s exquisite and Day-Lewis is just brilliant in it, maybe better than ever although it’s a more muted performance than some he’s given (you couldn’t go much bigger than There Will Be Blood or Gangs of New York, after all). I think it’s just masterful in all ways and Vicky Krieps is very unlucky not to get recognised for her performance opposite him – I’m glad Lesley Manville did for playing the sister, though, not that her pinched, controlling Cyril would smile much about it…
But even so I see this as this year’s race: Three Billboards v Lady Bird, and because McDonagh’s script is so deliberately offensive and funny but also divisive (it’s a film about division, after all), I think it will meet with opponents over the next six weeks.
Lady Bird is a charmer, its depths very subtle and its humour very winning. I’ve seen it a couple of times now and I can’t really tell you what it’s about or what happens, because I just don’t find it very memorable, despite the loveliness of the writing and the performances and the sensitive direction. But in this year of female celebration, I think it’s the one that will go all the way and triumph at the finale.
Elsewhere, great for Mudbound to get some nods, particularly for cinematographer Rachel Morrisson smashing that glass ceiling for the first time in 90 years.
There’s great news for Agnes Varda with her wonderful doc Faces and Places (Visages Villages), I’m delighted for Margot Robbie in I, Tonya, for amazing double nominee Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer on Production Design, and I’m thrilled for Daniel Kaluuya’s nomination, too.
I could do without the Christopher Plummer nom, which I think is a nod for whitewashing out Kevin Spacey and is the Academy tacitly approving such a reaction to moral lassitude, however unproven. And nobody went to see that film anyway, so it wasn’t really worth it, if you ask me, though the Plummer nomination might put a bit of cash in the coffers. John Paul Getty would like that, after all.
So, a good, interesting set of nominations, and a lot more legs left in the race. It’s not a vintage year at all and I don’t feel any of these films is a masterpiece at all (Phantom Thread is the closest). But it’s far from a done deal and I expect many more twists – even plucky Dunkirk isn’t out of it yet.
But it’s Lady Bird for me, and I suspect few would argue with that.