Oscar race

Oscars 2018: ‘The Shape of Water’ leads with 13 nominations, ‘Dunkirk’ bags eight

No major surprises or upsets except a surprising Oscar nod for the comic book adaptation ‘Logan’.

Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy romance The Shape of Water bagged 13 Oscar nominations while Christopher Nolan’s world War II drama Dunkirk followed with eight nods on Tuesday. The ceremony for the 90th edition, organised by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, will be held in Los Angeles on March 4.

History was made in the name of Mudbound cinematographer Rachel Morrison, who became the first woman to be nominated for a Best Cinematography award in the history of the awards.

The dark horse Get Out, the horror comedy directed by Jordan Peele, received four nominations, while James Mangold’s Logan, in no way a front-runner in the awards season, got an Oscar nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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The Shape of Water.

Nine films are in contention for Best Picture. Apart from Dunkirk, The Shape of Water and Get Out, the nominees are Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, Steven Spielberg’s The Post, Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name and Greta Garwig’s Ladybird.

Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, universally lauded by critics but a damp squib at the box office, received five nominations in the technical categories: Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects and Production Design.

The Beguiled, which got Sofia Coppola a Best Director win at the Cannes Film Festival last year, was ignored at the Academy Awards after a no-show at the Golden Globes. Patty Jenkins’s blockbuster Wonder Woman did not receive a single nomination, unlike other special effects-driven franchise films of the year such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, War for the Planet of the Apes and Logan.

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Blade Runner 2049.

Greta Garwig, however, was vindicated with a Best Director nomination after being overlooked by the Golden Globes. She will be competing with Christopher Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro, Paul Thomas Anderson and Jordan Peele.

Awards season favourites Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name), Gary Oldman (who has already the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour) and Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread) have all been nominated for Best Actor. Joining them are Denzel Washington for Roman J Israel Esq and Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out.

The Best Actress nominations offered no surprises. Meryl Streep received her 21st Academy Award nomination for her role as The Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham in The Post. She will be competing with Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Saoirse Ronan (Ladybird), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) and Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).

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The Post.

McDormand aside, the two other principal actors from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri also received Oscar nods – both Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water), Christopher Plummer (All The Money In The World) and Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project) are the other nominees.

Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer got nominated for Best Supporting Actress for The Shape of Water. Alison Janney, having already won a Golden Globe for I, Tonya, has also received a nomination in the same category. The other nominees are Laurie Metcalf (Ladybird), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) and Mary J Bilge (Mudbound).

The nominations for Best Original Score echoed the Golden Globes list, with one difference: John Williams (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) in place of his own work for The Post. The other nominees are Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk), Jonny Greenwood (Phantom Thread), Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water) and Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).
Stand Up For Something from Marshall was a surprise entry in the Best Original Song category. It will be competing with Mystery of Love (Call Me By Your Name), Remember Me (Coco), This Is Me (The Greatest Showman) and Mighty River (Mudbound).

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel will host the awards ceremony for a second consecutive year. He is the only person in the history of the Oscars after Billy Crystal (1997 and 1998) to be the host two years in a row.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.