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First-time directors and Oscar nominees Jordan Peele ("Get Out") and Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird").
First-time directors and Oscar nominees Jordan Peele ("Get Out") and Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird"). (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Recently, "Shape of Water" star Sally Hawkins listened as Guillermo del Toro, the movie's writer-director, described the plot of the lush, romantic fantasy, which revolves around a mute female janitor in a 1960s government lab.

Punctuating his explanation that a woman drives the entire story, Hawkins waited a beat and then said:

"It's about time."

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  • Analysis

Los Angeles Times film critics Kenneth Turan and Justin Chang discuss the 2018 Academy Award nominations they were glad to see and where they felt the academy fell short.

Los Angeles Times film critics Kenneth Turan and Justin Chang discuss the 2018 Academy Award nominations they were glad to see and where they felt the Academy fell short.
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Jordan Peele on the red carpet for the 49th NAACP Image Awards.
Jordan Peele on the red carpet for the 49th NAACP Image Awards. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

If you look back in history, some of the greatest films of all time were genre films that really had something to say about where we are in the world. And 'Get Out' is a reflection of a really dark time in our country.

When Jordan Peele got the news that the biggest gamble of his career had just earned four major Academy Award nominations, including best picture, best director and best original screenplay, he got on the phone with his "Get Out" star, Daniel Kaluuya — and broke down in tears.

"It was very emotional," said Peele, the comedian-turned-director who made his directorial debut with the race-themed social thriller, made for a modest $4.5 million, about a young African American man (Kaluuya) who goes to meet his white girlfriend's family only to find himself trapped in a sinister nightmare.

"Whenever I talk to him about this stuff, I just break down," Peele said Tuesday morning. "We both went from knowing we were taking this huge risk and that we could very well be hated for the risk, to being here and getting the acknowledgment of our peers — peers who, by the way, we didn't even feel like we could call our peers a year ago."

Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya stars in "Get Out."
Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya stars in "Get Out." (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

"Get Out" star Daniel Kaluuya was elated and bursting with infectious energy Tuesday after learning of his Oscar nomination for actor in a leading role and the movie's nods for director, original screenplay and best picture.

"I know you've got to be professional, but this is funny, you have to enjoy it with me!" the Brit exclaimed to The Times. "Like, joyous vibrations."

The recognition, he said, is an achievement like a master's degree: "You've given your flippin' all to something and someone says, 'Well done.' Especially coming from where I'm from. This is mental."

  • Analysis
Cinematographer Rachel Morrison ("Mudbound"), actress Daniela Vega ("A Fantastic Woman") and Yance Ford ("Strong Island").
Cinematographer Rachel Morrison ("Mudbound"), actress Daniela Vega ("A Fantastic Woman") and Yance Ford ("Strong Island"). (Netflix; Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times; Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

When the dust settled Tuesday morning after announcement of this year's Oscar nominees, it was clear that Academy Awards voters had diversity and inclusion on their minds. Among the nominees are Pakistani American Kumail Nanjiani for "The Big Sick" (who wrote the original screenplay nominee with wife Emily V. Gordon, inspired by their courtship), "Mudbound" actress Mary J. Blige (in the supporting actress and original song categories, the latter of which she shares with Raphael Saadiq) and three directors — Jordan Peele ("Get Out"), Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird") and Guillermo del Toro ("The Shape of Water") — who don't fit their category's historically white male template.

Making history, however, are the foreign film "A Fantastic Woman" and feature documentary "Strong Island," projects with transgender voices, making it quite possible that the work of an openly trans person could earn one of the industry's top prizes in March. "Mudbound" cinematographer Rachel Morrison also made history as the first woman nominated in the category.

"Seeing two out transgender people [represented] in this year's Oscar nominees is a big step forward toward more inclusive and diverse content in Hollywood," said Nick Adams, GLAAD's director of transgender media and representation, in a statement to The Times.

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  • Nominee reactions
"Get Out" director Jordan Peele says, "The sunken place is this metaphor for the system that is suppressing the freedom of black people."

I left my dream of being a director behind long ago, and I think that was because, while I have a great respect for film, I didn't really believe there was a place for very many black directors.

From his days spoofing President Obama on the Comedy Central sketch series “Key & Peele” to writing and directing one of the most talked about movies of 2017 — the smash horror/social satire hybrid “Get Out” — Jordan Peele seems to have his finger on the pulse of America. 

And now he has three Oscar nominations to prove it (becoming only the third person in history to earn nominations for best picture, director and screenplay for his directorial debut). The Times spoke with Peele on Oscar nominations morning to catch up and discuss the enduring appeal of “Get Out.”

Congratulations! How are you feeling right now?

  • Analysis
A scene from "Coco."
A scene from "Coco." (Disney/Pixar)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences changed its rules this year for the animated feature category, opening up the nominations to the entire membership. Whereas that could have tilted the field away from the indie and foreign "Davids" and toward the massively marketed major-studio "Goliaths," the five nominees announced Tuesday represent what has become the category's hallmark mix of giants and kids with slings.

Together, Disney's "Coco" and Fox's "The Boss Baby" and "Ferdinand" have grossed in the neighborhood of $1.4 billion worldwide and each enjoyed domestic distribution to more than 3,200 domestic venues. "Loving Vincent," released in the U.S. by Good Deed Entertainment, has quietly grossed over $6.5 million while never playing in more than 218 theatres. GKids release "The Breadwinner" has a domestic gross under a quarter-million dollars, and has not expanded beyond 43 theaters.

That doesn't mean the smaller films didn't have global ambitions, or the larger ones didn't tell personal stories.

  • Analysis
Director Greta Gerwig, right, and Saoirse Ronan on the set of "Lady Bird."
Director Greta Gerwig, right, and Saoirse Ronan on the set of "Lady Bird." (Merie Wallace / A24)

I dreamed a dream of Oscar on Monday night. Not of winning one, nothing so presumptuous as that. My dream was that I'd completely slept through the nomination announcements. That scared me so much I immediately woke up and got to the TV on time. True story.

I had Oscar anxiety not only because these awards have meant a lot to me since childhood but because I was intensely curious about the results. This was supposed to be the most up in the air Oscar race in years, and I wanted to know how, no pun intended, things would shape up.

For though we live in an age awash with awards prognosticators and websites that claim to chart who is up and who is down on an almost daily basis, nothing predicts the Oscars like the Oscars, and no amount of reading Golden Globes and SAG tea leaves can give you a clear idea of what those voters will do.

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  • Nominee reactions
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Allison Janney’s morning did not proceed as scheduled.

The seven-time Emmy winner has made quite a run through awards season, earning Golden GlobeScreen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice awards for her supporting actress turn in “I, Tonya.”

Still, Janney was taking nothing for granted and planned an early bedtime Monday night with an alarm set for well after the Oscar nominations were announced.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville in "Phantom Thread."
Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville in "Phantom Thread." (Laurie Sparham / Focus Features)

Sorry, everyone. Those loud noises you heard around 5:30 this morning were almost certainly my shouts of delight and surprise at learning that "Phantom Thread" — generally perceived to be an awards-season also-ran — had received an unexpected but richly deserved haul of six Academy Award nominations.

Paul Thomas Anderson's 1950s London chamber drama was expected to receive at least three of those six, for Jonny Greenwood's score, Mark Bridges' costumes and Daniel Day-Lewis' lead performance as a petulantly exacting couturier named Reynolds Woodcock.

Far fewer industry observers were predicting the film to factor into the highly competitive races for best picture, director and supporting actress, where Lesley Manville received a nomination for her magnificently icy turn as Woodcock's sister and business partner.