Mary J. Blige’s inclusion in awards season conversations is surely a surprise — not because the Queen of Hip Hop Soul’s performance in “Mudbound” is anything less than stellar, but who would’ve expected that the “Rock of Ages” and “I Can Do Bad All by Myself” actress would turn out a deeply emotional and dramatic rendering? But Tuesday morning, Blige became a double Oscar nominee, for her supporting role in Dee Rees’ Jim Crow-era epic and for the original song “Mighty River” with Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson.
“It feels really good to be recognized, with all these nominations, because it shows that someone recognizes my hard work and the dedication and the time and how serious I’m taking this craft,” Blige said in an interview with The Times. “That means a lot because I never wanted to take this lightly, [and] I didn’t want people to look at me like I didn’t take it seriously — because you have the Queen Latifahs and the Tarajis [P. Henson] and the Angela Bassetts and the Viola Davises, who worked really hard to pave the way for us. I really want them to be proud of me as well.”
“Mudbound” follows two soldiers — one black, one white — who’ve returned to small-town Mississippi following World War II to discover that their ideas about race have been dramatically altered, although those of the people around them have not. Their families are connected by land with the Jacksons, black sharecroppers, claiming an ancestral connection to the soil they till while the McAllans have just recently purchased the farm. Blige plays Florence, the matriarch of the Jackson clan, opposite an ensemble cast that includes Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke and Jonathan Banks.
After taking home Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice awards this season, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" star Frances McDormand could be closing in on the Oscar.
The actress, 60, won her first Academy Award more than 20 years ago for her role as the pregnant police chief in the Coen brothers’ black comedy "Fargo" and currently stands one Grammy shy of EGOT status. This year, she’s nominated in the lead actress category for her portrayal of a bereaved mother in director and screenwriter Martin McDonagh’s best picture-nominated film.
In an interview with The Times on Tuesday morning, McDonagh called McDormand "probably the best actor of her generation."
Greta Gerwig became only the fifth woman in Oscars history to be nominated for best director on Tuesday, and she also picked up a nomination for best original screenplay for “Lady Bird.”
The meaning of that best director nomination is not lost on Gerwig, who recalled her feelings when Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win an Oscar for best director for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010.
I remember crying and feeling so excited and feeling like she did it and there she is and so much more feels possible. And I hope that girls or women who want to be filmmakers look at this, and they feel like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go make my movie.’
Geographically, the five nominated titles in the foreign language film category stretch from the discos of Santiago, Chile ("A Fantastic Woman") to the outskirts of Moscow ("Loveless") with stops in Lebanon ("The Insult"), Hungary ("On Body and Soul") and Sweden ("The Square"). The tales — from some of the world's most insightful and idiosyncratic directors — include a modern-day fable of love, a hate born from war and an unreconciled past, and a satirical skewering of a well-heeled, ego-driven art world that often falls short in its espousals of human empathy.
“Dunkirk” producer Emma Thomas is a bit superstitious, she said Tuesday morning, so she didn’t set her alarm to hear the Oscar nominations in real time. Besides, with four kids, their place is busy enough in the morning even on an ordinary day.
Then, she said, “I looked at my phone and it was just going crazy .... I have to say it was a wonderful way to wake up.”
No doubt: The World War II movie that hit big at the summer box office garnered eight nominations, including the first directing nod for Thomas’ husband, Christopher Nolan, and a best picture nomination for both of them.
The day they were nominated for a Golden Globe for the song “Remember Me” in the Pixar animated film “Coco,” husband and wife Robert Lopez and Kristen-Anderson Lopez had to put down their terminally ill 11-month-old kitten, Finn McCool.
So on Tuesday, when the couple earned an Oscar nomination in the original song category, were their plans for their family of four any more festive?
“We have to take everyone for flu shots,” Anderson-Lopez said.
Though she wasn’t able to break into the highly competitive directing category, Dee Rees still managed to make history Tuesday.
Rees, who directed Netflix’s “Mudbound,” earned an Oscar nomination for her work adapting the film’s script alongside Virgil Williams. That makes Rees the first black woman to be nominated in for adapted screenplay category.
Suzanne de Passe was the first black woman nominated for an original screenplay Oscar in 1973, for co-writing “Lady Sings the Blues.”
I am absolutely thrilled to have received this nomination by the academy. It was quite unexpected but incredibly gratifying. Everything has happened so quickly of late that I am still a trifled stunned but excited by it all.
Christopher Plummer, supporting actor nominee
“All the Money in the World” star Christopher Plummer, the veteran actor who at the last minute stepped into the role of billionaire J. Paul Getty when Kevin Spacey was dropped from the completed film amid sexual misconduct allegations, is the oldest acting Oscar nominee to date.
The 88-year-old also remains the oldest acting winner, having won an Academy Award in 2011 at the age of 82 for his supporting role in “Beginners.”
See the complete list of 2018 Oscar nominees here.