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'Shape Of Water,' 'Dunkirk' And 'Three Billboards' Lead Oscar Nominations

The 2018 Oscar nominations had enough freshness and enough room for new voices that they didn't feel rote.
Christopher Polk
Getty Images
The 2018 Oscar nominations had enough freshness and enough room for new voices that they didn't feel rote.

Updated at 11:09 a.m. ET

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning by a dapper, genial Andy Serkis and the always-intoxicating Tiffany Haddish.

Serkis became famous for motion-capture performances in films like The Lord Of The Ringsfilms and the new take on Planet Of The Apes. Haddish hit big in Girls Tripthis year and has earned countless admirers for being joyfully herself at every opportunity.

And while the nominees they announced weren't exactly unexpected given what we already knew – big showings for The Shape Of Water, Dunkirkand Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — they had enough freshness and enough room for new voices that they didn't feel rote. Agree or disagree, they didn't simply represent a full list of the films and the performances that sounded the most "Oscars-y" from the directors and writers who had been nominated before.

For best picture, sure, two World War II dramas ( Dunkirkand Darkest Hour) seem pretty obvious, and The Postis a Steven Spielberg period piece. Guillermo del Toro making a beautiful fable like The Shape Of Wateris in an Oscars sweet spot, as is Paul Thomas Anderson's luscious but chilly Phantom Threadand Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Call Me By Your Name, a gentle love story with a James Ivory screenplay, is not too much of a reach.

But first-time feature director Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird, a talky coming-of-age film with as much comedy in its DNA as drama? Jordan Peele's searing horror-comedy Get Out? Neither of those necessarily felt genetically engineered to win Oscars, to compete for best picture or to bring new directors and new actors to the very tip-top of the ceremony where Hollywood, more than anything, tells a story about what it thinks it is.

Gerwig and Peele join del Toro, Anderson and Christopher Nolan (who directed Dunkirk) in the best director race, making it a fresher category than usual. Daniel Kaluuya, whose single traumatized tear became the image of Get Out, seemed at one point in recent months like he might be slipping out of the best actor category, but then he slipped right back in — albeit in a tough race against Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name, Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread and Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq.

But no first, no for-real first, feels quite as big as Rachel Morrison's nomination for cinematography for Mudbound. Hard as it is to believe, no woman has ever been nominated in the category before. Directed by Dee Rees, Mudbounddid well for itself all around on nomination day: Its screenplay was nominated, as were an original song and supporting actress work by Mary J. Blige.

Even more than usual, films not nominated for Best Picture wiggled into the screenplay categories: The Disaster Artist, Molly's Game, Mudboundand Loganfor adapted screenplay, and The Big Sick for original screenplay. In the end, there are 10 screenplay nominations and nine best picture nominations, but only five overlap.

People will take exception to what was nominated, and especially what wasn't: It would have been lovely to see more affection for Sean Baker's beautiful The Florida Project, which earned only a nod for its most famous actor, Willem Dafoe. It would have been nice to see more nominees from Get Out, which runs on several terrific performances besides Kaluuya's.

Power in Hollywood doesn't just shift; it must be shifted. If it is to support more new voices, and more kinds of voices, it must hand them power. Oscar nominations don't really "matter" in the sense that the best films are often not nominated. But whether they should or not, nominations give people juice for a certain period of time; they raise profiles. They attract attention. And by honoring people like Peele and Gerwig and Kaluuya and Morrison, the Oscar nominations found some new recipients for the power that putting the distinction "Academy Award nominee" after one's name confers.

Complete list of nominees:

Best picture

Call Me By Your Name

Darkest Hour


Get Out

Lady Bird

Phantom Thread

The Post

The Shape Of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Christopher Nolan ( Dunkirk)

Jordan Peele ( Get Out)

Greta Gerwig ( Lady Bird)

Paul Thomas Anderson ( Phantom Thread)

Guillermo Del Toro ( The Shape Of Water)

Actress in a leading role

Sally Hawkins ( The Shape Of Water)

Frances McDormand ( Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Margot Robbie ( I, Tonya)

Saoirse Ronan ( Lady Bird)

Meryl Streep ( The Post)

Actor in a leading role

Timothée Chalamet ( Call Me By Your Name)

Daniel Day-Lewis ( Phantom Thread)

Daniel Kaluuya ( Get Out)

Gary Oldman ( Darkest Hour)

Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)

Writing (original screenplay)

Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani ( The Big Sick)

Jordan Peele ( Get Out)

Greta Gerwig ( Lady Bird)

Screenplay by Guillermo Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor; story by Guillermo Del Toro ( The Shape Of Water)

Martin McDonagh ( Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Writing (adapted screenplay)

James Ivory ( Call Me By Your Name)

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ( The Disaster Artist)

Screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green; story by James Mangold ( Logan)

Aaron Sorkin ( Molly's Game)

Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees ( Mudbound)

Animated feature film

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner



Loving Vincent

Music (original song)

"Mighty River" by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson ( Mudbound)

"Mystery of Love" by Sufjan Stevens ( Call Me By Your Name)

"Remember Me" by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez ( Coco)

"Stand Up for Something" by Diane Warren and Lonnie R. Lynn (aka Common) ( Marshall)

"This is Me" by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul ( The Greatest Showman)

Documentary (feature)

Abacus: Small Enough To Jail

Faces Places


Last Men In Aleppo

Strong Island

Documentary (short subject)

Edith + Eddie

Heaven Is A Traffic Jam On The 405


Knife Skills

Traffic Stop

Foreign language film

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

The Insult(Lebanon)


On Body And Soul(Hungary)

The Square(Sweden)

Actor in a supporting role

Willem Dafoe ( The Florida Project)

Woody Harrelson ( Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Richard Jenkins ( The Shape Of Water)

Christopher Plummer ( All The Money In The World)

Sam Rockwell ( Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Actress in a supporting role

Mary J. Blige ( Mudbound)

Allison Janney ( I, Tonya)

Lesley Manville ( Phantom Thread)

Laurie Metcalf ( Lady Bird)

Octavia Spencer ( The Shape Of Water)

Makeup and hairstyling

Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick ( Darkest Hour)

Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard ( Victoria & Abdul)

Arjen Tuiten ( Wonder)

Film editing

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos ( Baby Driver)

Lee Smith ( Dunkirk)

Tatiana S. Riegel ( I, Tonya)

Sidney Wolinsky ( The Shape Of Water)

Jon Gregory ( Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Visual effects

John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover ( Blade Runner 2049)

Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick ( Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2)

Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus ( Kong: Skull Island)

Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould ( Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist ( War For The Planet Of The Apes)

Music (original score)

Hans Zimmer ( Dunkirk)

Jonny Greenwood ( Phantom Thread)

Alexandre Desplat ( The Shape Of Water)

John Williams ( Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

Carter Burwell ( Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Short film (live action)

DeKalb Elementary

The Eleven O'Clock

My Nephew Emmett

The Silent Child

Watu Wote/All Of Us

Short film (animated)

Dear Basketball

Garden Party


Negative Space

Revolting Rhymes

Sound mixing

Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis ( Baby Driver)

Ron Bartless, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth ( Blade Runner 2049)

Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker and Gary A. Rizzo ( Dunkirk)

Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern and Glen Gauthier ( The Shape Of Water)

David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson ( Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

Sound editing

Julian Slater (Baby Driver)

Mark Mangini and Theo Green ( Blade Runner 2049)

Richard King and Alex Gibson ( Dunkirk)

Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira ( The Shape Of Water)

Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce ( Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

Costume design

Jacqueline Durran ( Beauty And The Beast)

Jacqueline Durran ( Darkest Hour)

Mark Bridges ( Phantom Thread)

Luis Sequeira ( The Shape Of Water)

Consolata Boyle ( Victoria & Abdul)


Roger Deakins ( Blade Runner 2049)

Bruno Delbonnel ( Darkest Hour)

Hoyte Van Hoytema ( Dunkirk)

Rachel Morrison ( Mudbound)

Dan Lausten ( The Shape Of Water)

Production design

Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer ( Beauty And The Beast)

Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola ( Blade Runner 2049)

Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer ( Darkest Hour)

Nathan Crowley and Gary Fettis ( Dunkirk)

Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin ( The Shape Of Water)

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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.