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Today's Oscar Nominations Prove the Academy Can Still Surprise Us - in a Good Way

Today's Oscar Nominations Prove the Academy Can Still Surprise Us - in a Good Way
From TIME - January 23, 2018

The 2018 awards season started out wide open. Way back in December, even as initial screenings of The Post had some ready to call the whole thing early, there were still a number of contenders, any one of which felt like a viable indie David to Steven Spielbergs Goliath. Then came Januarys awards ceremoniesGolden Globes, Critics Choice, Screen Actors Guildand the dominance of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri had prognosticators asking, Steven who?

All of that happened before the nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were even announced. When they were, early Tuesday morning, the final act of the 2018 awards season began to come into focus. Although theres still a ways to go before the Oscars air on March 4 final ballots arent due until Feb. 27, later than usual thanks to the Winter Olympicsheres what the 2018 Oscar nominations tell us about how this years awards are shaping up.

MORE: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises of the 2018 Oscar Nominations

The movies expected to lead the pack did, in fact, lead the pack

The Shape of Water received the most Oscar nominations, with 13. Dunkirk followed with eight, while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri continued its streak with seven. (While some might have expected Three Billboards to come out on top, The Shape of Waters dominance across technical categories gave it the edge, and Dunkirk performed strongly across those fields, as well.) Based on how Three Billboards has fared throughout awards season thus far, especially in the acting categories, its dominance isnt surprising. But moviegoers enthusiasm for fellow Best Picture nominees like Get Out, Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name and The Post makes Three Billboards continued reign, especially in light of the controversy surrounding it, a bit of a head-scratcher. The Shape of Water looks like its squarely back in the running, but the narratives going to have to majorly shift if Three Billboards is to be dethroned before the first Sunday in March. Campaigners have their work cut out for them.

But the Academy proved it still has the capacity to surprise us

Get Out was released nearly a year ago in February 2017. Its genre, horror, is rarely recognized with glitzy mainstream awards. But the movies four nominations Tuesday morning proved that a socially relevant movie that manages to stay in the conversation months after its release can make a notable dent among the pack.

Similarly, Mudbound was positioned as Netflixs major Oscar play for 2017, but its November release made a rather small splash during the first part of awards season. When the nominations were announced, however, Dee Rees historical epic received four nods, including two for Mary J. Blige, for Supporting Actress and Original Song. Mudbound and Get Out, both of which were written and directed by black filmmakers, are evidence that the Academy, especially with its newly diversified ranks, can see beyond convention every now and again.

Women are finally getting some recognition behind the camera

When Rachel Morrison was nominated for Best Cinematography for Mudbound on Tuesday morning, she became the first woman ever nominated in that category in the Academy Awards 90-year history. While its disappointing that its taken this long, her breakthrough is not exactly surprising, given that women comprise only 5% of Hollywood cinematographers.

Womens stories are increasingly seen as worthy of big awards

#oscarssowhite remains in the rearview mirror, but theres more work to be done

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