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Behold The 2018 Oscar Nominations, And Embrace The Most Unpredictable Oscar Race In Years

For the first time in recent memory, I have no idea what will win Best Picture. And that’s good!

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If you spend as much time reading about film on the internet as I do (which, come on, you do), you would know just how much time and attention is spent on predicting the Oscars every year. Deserved or not, they are a big deal in the field, both within the industry and in covering the industry, and much is made ever Fall season in trying to predict them. Usually, it’s an easy thing — the Best Picture frontrunner arrives months in advance, and tends to dominate all the other awards (PGA, WGA, SAG, Golden Globes, etc.) in its lead up to winning the big prize.

But, last year, something change. The Oscar frontrunner, La La Land, failed to win the big prize (and did so in a pretty memorable way, in fact.) Instead, underdog Moonlight won, which was as shocking as it was deserved (even for someone like me, who had La La Land as his number one film of 2016 — that film didn’t need any more awards to secure its legacy.) But giving Moonlight the big prize proved that the new Oscars (which underwent a massive membership change a few years ago after #OscarsSoWhite) would be far less predictable than in the past. And this year’s Oscar season has certainly proved that to be true.

It’s been a wild one for sure, with so much division amongst the big awards and critics circles in who gets the big prize. The Golden Globes gave Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri its Best Picture prize…but being the Golden Globes, gave its OTHER Best Picture prize to Lady Bird, an equally worthy contender. The Producers Guild gave its Top Prize to The Shape of Water, who also has a chance simply due to Guillermo del Toro’s Directing win at the Globes. And then there’s Get Out, which is the clear audience favorite.

In recent weeks Three Billboards has gained momentum as a frontrunner, but I don’t think its lead over the others is as substantial as you might think. The film has its fair share of (I would argue unfair) backlash, and it’s very likely that it could end up the La La Land of this year’s Oscar race. But if it becomes La La Land, what the hell becomes Moonlight? I literally have no idea, which more than anything speaks to how strong a year it has been for film. Pretty much all the nominees (announced earlier today) are deserving of the big prizes, and though some categories are easier to predict than others, I think we’ll still be in for some surprises come Oscar night. Which, by all means, I approve of. Unpredictability can be fun, no?

But, for now, at least the nominations are set in stone. Below is the complete list of 2018 Oscar nominations, alongside some commentary for the bigger awards:


Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Commentary: Come on Academy, you have 10 available slots! You couldn’t have thrown The Big Sick or The Florida Project in there? I don’t know why they unofficially decided nine nominees was the way to go (it’s been that way for a few years now), but it bugs the crap out of me. Go big or go home, Oscars!


BEST DIRECTOR:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out

Commentary: No complaints here! Nice to see Paul Thomas Anderson squeeze in for the Phantom Thread, though it did take down Spielberg’s spot for The Post. Only so much room, unfortunately. And nice to see the Oscars correct the Golden Globes egregious mistake and give Greta Gerwig her due for Lady Bird.


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.

Commentary: Washington clearly subbed in for James Franco here — otherwise, I can’t see how something as forgettable as Roman J. Israel, Esq. could land an Oscar nom. Should have been Jake Gyllenhaal for Stronger, IMO.

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

Commentary: This was the most locked category for a while now, with no real surprises here. But all five are fantastic, so no complaints here.


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

COMMENTARY: Excited about Richard Jenkins getting in (he’s incredible in The Shape of Water), but disappointed that Michael Stuhlbarg couldn’t get SOMETHING. And though it was the longest of long shots, Patrick Stewart REALLY deserved a nom for Logan, in a perfect and just world.


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

COMMENTARY: A few surprises here, including Mary J. Blige in Mudbound, Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread (which overall performed much better than I thought it would at the awards), and Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water. All deserving I suppose, although it sucks that it pushed Helen Hunt out of the race. She was so damn good in The Big Sick.

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay):

Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Logan
Molly’s Game
Mudbound

Commentary: Overall, a solid list. It was kind of a light year for Adapted Screenplay (surprisingly), but some good stuff here. LOVED Logan scoring a nod, because at least it got SOMETHING. Shame Blade Runner 2049 couldn’t shove in here too, though.


Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Commentary: No beef here with any of these. And at least The Big Sick got a screenplay nod, even though it was pushed out of Best Picture. :/


Best Animated Feature:

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

Commentary: THE BOSS BABY?? THE FREAKING BOSS BABY? Shameful, Academy, especially because The Lego Batman Movie absolutely deserved the nod. What is with the Oscars and their hatred of the Lego movie franchise? They must be a MegaBlocks organization.

Best Cinematography:

Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Mudbound
The Shape of Water

COMMENTARY: YEAH, GO DEAKINS. FINALLY GIVE THIS MAN AN OSCAR FOR THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FILM OF 2017, ACADEMY. C’MOOOOOOON.


Best Film Editing:

Baby Driver
Dunkirk
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Commentary: Sweet to see Baby Driver here, because man is the editing in that film wonderful. But this is Dunkirk’s Oscar to lose, and I would argue deserves the prize with its hands tied behind its back.


Best Visual Effects:

Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Commentary: Oh man, I am so torn on this one between Blade Runner 2049 and War for the Planet of the Apes. Both look absolutely amazing, but my gut says the Academy will give it to Blade Runner. We will see, though.

Best Original Score:

Dunkirk
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Commentary: Overall a great assortment of scores. I would have loved for Giacchino to get something for his incredible work in War for the Planet of the Apes, but other than that can’t complain. The fact all of them conceivably have a chance to win is telling.


And here’s the rest of the categories, which I have no particular comments on.

Best Foreign Language Film:

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult, Ziad Doueiri (Lebanon)
Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev (Russia)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)

Best Documentary Feature:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Icarus
Strong Island
Last Men in Aleppo

Best Production Design:

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water

Best Costume Design:

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul

Best Make-Up and Hairstyling:

Darkest Hour
Victoria and Abdul
Wonder

Best Original Song:

“Mighty River,” Mudbound
“Mystery of Love,” Call Me By Your Name
“Remember Me,” Coco
“Stand Up for Something,” Marshall
“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman

Best Sound Mixing:

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Sound Editing:

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Short Film (Live-Action):

Dekalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us

Best Short Film (Animated):

Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Lou
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

Edith+Eddie
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Heroin(e)
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

The 90th Annual Academy Awards airs on ABC on March 4.


Also published on Medium.

Matthew Legarreta is the Editor and Owner of Freshly Popped Culture. A big ol' ball of movie, TV, and video game loving flesh, Matthew has been writing about pop culture for nearly a decade. Matthew also loves writing about himself in the third person, because it makes him feel important (or something.)

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Marvel Is Playing The Hype Game Beautifully With The #ThanosDemandsYourSilence Infinity War Letter

Is #ThanosDemandsYourSilence a sincere request, or just a cog in the marketing strategy for the biggest film of the summer? It’s both, and that’s part of the fun.

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You wouldn’t think there would be much that Marvel had to do in order to get butts in seats for Avengers: Infinity War. It’s the culmination of everything that Marvel has been building up to in the last decade and, with the brand standing as the unarguable king of all modern franchises, convincing general audiences to give a damn about that is far from a challenging task. Infinity War would make a billion with ZERO marketing…but the Hollywood machine does what the Hollywood machine does, which means that we are going to be inundated with trailers, TV spots, posters, product tie-ins, interviews, clever social media posts that go “viral,” and literally dozens of other forms of publicity as the film prepares for its grand debut at the end of the month.

But as my Introduction to Public Relations course I took in college taught me, journalism is dying and the only way to possibly make a living with the degree is by selling out to the corporations around you and taking in that sweet, sweet public relations coin however way you can. No, wait, the other thing, sorry. What I meant to write was that any public relations plan needs a simple mission statement, and the marketing for a film is no different. So when the marketing powers that be began brainstorming just what they wanted to accomplish with the advertising blitz for the film, what exactly was their approach? Well, the last few months of PR makes that pretty damn clear, at least from my perspective.

With Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel isn’t just trying to sell a blockbuster superhero movie — they are trying to sell THE blockbuster superhero movie. Through every trailer, every new piece of information revealed, and, yes, even every post to social media, Marvel and Disney are setting up Infinity War to be the mother of all event movies. You know that whole “culmination of everything” spiel I wrote about in the first paragraph? The only reason I’m seeing Infinity War like that is because Marvel WANTS me to see Infinity War like that, and have built up a pretty effective public relations campaign to do just that.

Which makes the latest bit of big publicity for the film rather inspiring, at least compared to the deluge of behind the scenes interview quotes from the producers, actors talking the film up on Access Hollywood, and the like. Posted on Twitter earlier today by The Russo Brothers (a.k.a the directors of this massive beast) was an open letter to all Marvel fans about spoiler content when it comes to the launch of the film. If you haven’t yet, check it out for yourself below:

Essentially, the brunt of the letter is this: don’t spoil the film if you happen to see it early (looking at you, fellow bloggers), because that’s not a cool thing to do. But the subtext of the letter in my mind (and what makes it such clever publicity overall) is that Infinity War is a movie that shouldn’t be spoiled to begin with. That the events of the picture are so huge and groundbreaking and game-changing for the MCU that the directors have to write a letter about it, making sure people know the release of the film is huge and groundbreaking and game-changing (it’s a marketer’s job to be repetitious. Their job! Their job is to be repetitious!) And even adding a little fun to the proceedings (a Marvel trademark!) is the hashtag “#ThanosDemandsYourSilence,” which of course has been trending all day, since Marvel/Disney know exactly what they are doing here. Hell, they even got Tom Holland involved in the mix, who as Marvel’s Resident Young Person™ has a big social media presence, and is quick to poke fun at himself in a way that delights all, causes retweets, increases brand awareness, etc.

Now, let me make things clear: while I believe this to 100% be publicity for the film, I don’t necessarily think it’s not a sincere gesture from The Russo Brothers. Of course they don’t want their movie spoiled before most get to see it, and I’m sure there is a lot of big events in the film they would rather people keep their lips shut on for the foreseeable future. But the #ThanosDemandsYourSilence thing is, more importantly, another way for Marvel to build up the grand event nature of the film, not just to get people to see the film, but to feel like they have to see the film as soon as humanly possible. Pushing the film up and making it a near simultaneous global release was one big aspect of that strategy (“Now everyone in the world can feel like they are the first ones to see it, and can experience the film free of spoilers!”), and this letter is just the icing on that publicity cake.

But I want to stress that I’m not railing against this letter — it’s a fun way to build up hype for the opening weekend, and it only does more to increase my personal anticipation for the film’s release. Which, once again, was the entire point. So purely on that level…game gotta respect game here. Bravo Marvel.

…Now give me Inifinity War, plz.


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Disney Celebrates International Women’s Day By Giving Its Favorite Man, Jon Favreau, A Live-Action Star Wars TV Show

Deserved or not…THE OPTICS, DISNEY. THE OPTICS!!

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It’s no big secret that Disney is going in gung-ho on bringing new people into the Star Wars franchise. In the last year, we have seen over half a dozen people be given new movies and projects set within the series, as Lucasfilm slowly starts to build up what the future of this franchise will be following next year’s Star Wars: Episode IX. But while I say “people”, I probably should be more clear — white men. Disney has given the keys to the franchise solely to a bunch of middle-aged, white men.

Is this in and of itself some type of hiring sin? Eh, no, not really. And I don’t even blame Disney/Lucasfilm entirely for the situation — it’s clear that Kennedy and her cohorts are running scared a bit here, with a string of high profile, low experience collaborators causing headaches behind the scenes (Josh Trank, Gareth Edwards, and Lord & Miller.) For that reason, they have been turning to experienced “sure things” to take the reigns of Star Wars, namely in the form of J.J. Abrams (who already did it in The Force Awakens!) Rian Johnson (who already did it in The Last Jedi!), Stephen Daldry (a prestige journeyman with twenty years of experience!), and Weiss/Benioff (they show-ran the most complicated series ever made, THEY ARE PROS!) And you know what the paradox is here? All the filmmakers with decades of experience and a reputation of being professionals are almost entirely — you guessed it! — white dudes.

Enter Jon Favreau. Disney is clearly a fan of the man ever since he gave them the first Iron Man (which in and of itself was a bit of a risky decision to give to him at the time…but I digress), and has worked with him again on massive hits like The Jungle Book and future GARGANTUAN hit The Lion King. They appear to like him, he appears to like them, and there are billions of dollars that prove the relationship works. So now Favreau is being given a pretty big role in Disney’s current crown jewel franchise — Star Wars.

Not the Star Wars project you might think, though. Rather than diving head first into the crowded realm of future Star Wars movies (occupied by at least one more saga film, two competing trilogies, and a whole bunch of individual “story” films), Favreau will apparently be helming the previously announced live-action TV series on Disney’s forthcoming streaming service. This was announced just earlier today on StarWars.com, alongside the expected statement from Kathleen Kennedy:

“I couldn’t be more excited about Jon coming on board to produce and write for the new direct-to-consumer platform. Jon brings the perfect mix of producing and writing talent, combined with a fluency in the Star Wars universe. This series will allow Jon the chance to work with a diverse group of writers and directors and give Lucasfilm the opportunity to build a robust talent base.”

And the expected outburst of excitement from Favreau:

“If you told me at 11 years old that I would be getting to tell stories in the Star Wars universe, I wouldn’t have believed you. I can’t wait to embark upon this exciting adventure.”

Putting aside the pure exhaustion I have to new Star Wars projects right now (TOO MANY), who the fucks idea was it to announce this news today of all days? It’s no big secret that the critical community at large (or Film Twitter, at the very least) has been giving Lucasfilm crap for their seeming dismissal of having more diverse voices behind the scenes. Warranted or not, the complaints about the lack of anyone but straight men being a creative force of the series is extremely prevalent. And if you’re facing backlash over not hiring women to do things…adding yet another man to your company on the damn day of appreciatiating woman just reads as a back slap at worse, and tone deaf at best. READ THE FUCKING ROOM, LUCASFILM.

Ignoring the exact date of the hiring, though, Favreau being announced for this is…fine, I guess. I am not nearly as enthusiastic on the guy’s filmography as some (or Disney, especially) seem to be, but his films are usually pretty good at least (unless they are Iron Man 2.) So this certainly isn’t the worst pick for a Star Wars project. That being said, choosing a guy with zero experience writing a TV series to write a TV series of this scale is a bit disappointing. There are plenty of fine, experienced showrunners out there — why give Jon Favreau, who has already cultivated success in his career a dozen times, yet another big project? Hiring Jon Favreau to do this Star Wars series is ignoring TV showrunners who are perhaps more suitable for the part, which puts his hiring as a “double whammy” of ignoring potentially better candidates, if you ask me.

Anyways, whatever — I’m just hoping that the next announcement of someone getting a Star Wars project is a little more unique, a little more interesting, and a little more diverse. Or, second option…don’t announce another Star Wars project for a while. I think we have plenty to mull around already, Lucasfilm.


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Why Marvel Moved Up The Avengers: Infinity War Release Date

It was a win-win-win-win decision for the company, really.

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The first weekend of May is considered the “start” of the summer movie season…but, in recent years, that has pretty much evolved to become the “Marvel movie” slot. Barring one exception in 2009 (the only year Marvel didn’t release a movie in the past decade), every year since 2007 has given us the release of a new film featuring a Marvel superhero in the first weekend of May. It’s become something of a tradition, one that wasn’t entirely surprising to see Marvel keep intact as it approached its tenth anniversary as a film studio. And with Avengers: Infinity War by far representing their largest and grandest project, the Marvel May slot seemed perfect for the film to have its grand debut. And for years, we’ve all been working off that assumption. Disney set a May 4, 2018 release date for the film some time ago, and there was no way they were going to change that.

Well, they just changed that.

But unlike most sudden release date changes, this one is A) minor and B) mostly a good thing. Instead of launching on May 4, Avengers: Infinity War will now hit theaters everywhere on April 27, abandoning the May month completely. Two months before the film’s release, it’s a bit of a shocking development, although Marvel had fun with it on Twitter, by way of (who else?) Robert Downey Jr.

Now obviously this was planned (Robert Downey Jr. didn’t just push Marvel to massively move the release date of its biggest film out of the blue — come on now), but what was the reasoning for Disney’s decision here? Well, a few things.

Number one? The film was already going to release on April 27 overseas, which is typical for a Marvel release (they almost always open internationally before coming to the States). So moving the release date for America only puts the film in line with the rest of the world, which is ultimately pretty smart: now Marvel and Disney can brag on April 30 about how the film made approximately $67 billion worldwide in its first weekend of release. It will look great, vanity wise.

And this also moves Infinity War away from Disney’s own Solo: A Star Wars Story, opening at the end of May. That’s not even to mention the recently moved Deadpool 2 on May 18, which was a surprisingly big threat to Infinity War’s legs. With a three week gap between the two, however, Infinity War is now in the clear in terms of maximum, immediate revenue (all that really matters in Hollywood in this day and age.)

And as for first-weekend competetion, neither weekend poised much of a threat: nothing was playing on May 4, sure, but the only thing on April 27 was a Paula Patton thriller entitled Traffik, a horror movie called Bad Samaritan starring David Tennant, and comedy I Feel Pretty from Amy Schumer. The latter film already moved back a week to April 20, and neither of the others will make much of a dent on pop culture, so Marvel had nothing to fear with placing Infinity War against them.

Finally, the move will also cut off the threat of spoilers reaching America before the majority of the country gets to see the film. That hasn’t been too much of a threat for other Marvel releases like Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok (both opened overseas a week earlier)…but Infinity War is different. It’s rumored to make some massive changes to the state of the MCU and the characters in it, and I’m sure Kevin Feige would prefer people witnessed such developments in the theater, rather than on Twitter.

Ultimately, there’s nothing all that fishy here about the move. It’s only a week, but it could end up helping the film quite a bit in the long run. And if it means we get to see this movie seven days earlier than expected, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will take this offering with little reservations.


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