It is that time of year again, as the film awards season is in full throttle, soon to be closed out by the milestone 90th Academy Awards. This year’s Academy Awards are significant not just because it is the ceremony’s 90th year, but also due to a slate of nominees that are arguably the most diverse in its history.
The Academy continues its efforts to better recognise female filmmakers, nominating Greta Gerwig in writing and directing categories for her work on critical darling Lady Bird, while Rachel Morrison’s efforts in Mudbound has garnered the first ever nomination for a woman in the Best Cinematography category…which in 90 years is quite astonishing.
While on the topic of first-time nominations, James Mangold’s Logan was released last year to critical acclaim, labelled a game changer for the superhero genre, and now its screenplay has been recognised as such. The film has been nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, in turn becoming the first ever live action superhero film to do so (even The Dark Knight was overlooked here).
There have also been some significant nominations for Canadians this year. Most notable is Christopher Plummer’s role as J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World. While he may not be the favourite to win, it is still great to see a veteran actor like Plummer gaining further recognition for his strong work.
However, this coveted role was originally played by Kevin Spacey, who himself was considered a shoe-in for the Best Supporting Actor nomination prior to awards season. However, in light of the numerous accusations of sexual misconduct laid against him, the unprecedented decision was made to reshoot Getty’s scenes mere weeks before its release, with Plummer, who was Scott’s original first choice, recasted in the role. The rest is now history, much like Spacey’s career.
Another notable nomination is for animated The Breadwinner, a Canadian coproduction directed by Irish filmmaker Nora Twomey, who shares her nomination with Anthony Leo. It is wonderful to see such a progressive film with an alternative approach to animated cinema earning a nomination this year, though much like Plummer, this film is not likely to take home the statue, as the Academy has shown a certain bias towards Disney and/or Pixar films over the years, and thus Coco should be considered the leading contender here.
The standout film of the entire list of nominees, however, is Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which was shot in and around Toronto, with a large crew of Canadian filmmakers having worked on the film. Del Toro’s wondrous cinematic achievement has earned itself the most nominations of the night with 13, which is 1 shy of the record shared by La La Land, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, and Ben-Hur. Multiple nominations on this scale strongly suggests that the title should win big on the night, yet let us not forget that Moonlight nabbed the Best Picture award over La La Land, so there is sure to be some degree of contentious drama on the night.
Whatever the case, this year is thankfully light on snubs. Some might have expected a nod for Denis Villeneuve’s virtuosic direction in Blade Runner 2049, but fellow Canadian and production designer Dennis Gassner has at least been nominated for his impressive work on the film. All we can do now is eagerly await the results!