Oscar voters make their choices
NEW YORK — Guillermo del Toro’s lavish monster romance “The Shape of Water” fished out a leading 13 nominations, Greta Gerwig became just the fifth woman nominated for best director and “Mudbound” director of photography Rachel Morrison made history as the first woman nominated for best cinematography in nominations announced for the 90th annual Academy Awards.
Oscar voters put forward nine best- picture nominees: “The Shape of Water,” Martin McDonaugh’s rage- fueled comic drama “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Gerwig’s nuanced coming-of-age tale “Lady Bird,” Jordan Peele’s horror sensation “Get Out,” Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill drama “Darkest Hour,” Steven Spielberg’s timely newspaper drama “The Post,” Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic “Dunkirk,” Luca Guadagnino’s tender love story “Call Me By Your Name “and Paul Thomas Anderson’s twisted romance “Phantom Thread.”
“The Shape of Water” landed just shy of tying the record of 14 nominations by “All About Eve,” “Titanic” and “La La Land.” Del Toro’s dark fantasy — a Cold War era ode to outsiders about a mute cleaning lady and an amphibious creature — scored a wide array for nominations for its cast (Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer), del Toro’s directing, its sumptuous score (by Alexandre Desplat) and its technical craft.
Reached by phone in Los Angeles, del Toro said he would celebrate by working and eating an extra chicken sausage for breakfast. “That will be my indulgence for the day.”
The Mexican filmmaker said “The Shape of Water” has resonated because it explodes “the myth of ‘us and them.’”
“You realize that we are all, in some way or another, a bit of an outsider in different ways,” said del Toro. “Not fearing the other but embracing the other is the only way to go as a race. The urgency of that message of hope and emotion is what sustained the faith for roughly half a decade that the movie needed to be made.”
The cascading fallout of sexual harassment scandals throughout Hollywood put particular focus on the best director category, which for many is a symbol of gender inequality in the film in- dustry. Gerwig follows only Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow, the sole woman to win (for “The Hurt Locker”).
Also nominated f or best director was Peele. He becomes the fifth black filmmaker nominated for best director, and the third to helm a best- picture nominee, following Barry Jenkins last year for “Moonlight.” He’s also the third person to receive best picture, director and writing nods for his first feature film after Warren Beatty (“Heaven Can Wait”) and James L. Brooks (“Terms of Endearment”).
“What’s the opposite of the Sunken Place?” said Peele on Twitter.
Though all of the acting front-runners — Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards”), Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”), Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards”) — landed their expected nominations, there were surprises.
Denzel Washington (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”) was nominated for best actor, likely eclipsing James Franco (“Disaster Artist”). Franco was accused of sexual misconduct, which he denied, just days before Oscar voting closed. The category’s other nominees were a retiring veteran — Daniel Day-Lewis for what he’s said is his final performance (“Phantom Thread”) — and a pair of breakouts: Timothee Chalamet (“Call Me By Your Name”) and “Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”).
Christopher Plummer, who replaced Kevin Spacey in Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World,” also sneaked into the best supporting actor category. Added to the film in reshoots little more than a month before the film’s release, 88-year-old Plummer is the oldest acting nominee ever.