Over the past two years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has sent invitations to approximately 1,400 new members, hoping to diversify the mostly male and overwhelmingly white organization. With the 2018 Oscar nominations, we finally saw the effect of these new additions.
Younger voters helped push indie films such as "Get Out" and "Ladybird" while seasoned Academy members favored stalwarts like "Dunkirk" and "Darkest Hour."
This year's nominations also held many triumphs for women and people of color. Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig both garnered directing nominations while Rachel Morrison became the first woman nominated as a cinematographer, for her work on "Mudbound."
The Frame's host John Horn caught up with Vulture's Kyle Buchanan and Variety's Amy Nicholson to talk about this year's snubs, triumphs and surprises.
WHAT WERE THIS YEAR'S NOTABLE SNUBS?
Amy: I feel like "The Florida Project" is the big hole this year. I was really hoping that film would've gotten a ton more nominations across the board: cinematography, direction — everything. I think that Sean Baker is one of the best filmmakers working right now and the absence of it in every category, except for supporting actor... I feel like in 10 years we're going to look back on this as a big mistake.
Kyle: Well, I loved "Battle of the Sexes" but it just seemed to come-and-go when it was released early in September. As for "Wonder Woman," that was genuinely one of my favorite movies of the year. Why didn't it get nominated for best picture? I think because its [technical achievements] were not superlative enough. If you're going to make it into the best picture lineup and you are a tentpole action blockbuster, you need to be a lock in visual effects, you need to be a lock in production design and costumes — like "Mad Max: Fury Road" did. And "Wonder Woman" just didn't have those advantages. If you couldn't get nominated anywhere else, are you going to get nominated for best picture? It's awfully rare.
WHY NO JAMES FRANCO NOMINATION?
Kyle: I think it's pretty obvious. The accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced with just a few days left to vote. There's no doubt in my mind that they had an effect on his candidacy. The best actor field was very thin this year, for Denzel [Washington] to get in says a lot of things beyond the fact that Franco took a hit. It says that they still love Denzel, they'll want to nominate him for anything. It says that so many people voted at the last minute. And it says that even though "The Post" did make it into picture and actress [categories], they didn't [choose] Tom Hanks for best actor.
WHAT ARE THE LESS-NOTABLE SNUBS?
Amy: I wish Bria Vinaite had made it in as the mom from "The Florida Project." This is an unknown actress, just discovered off of Instagram and had an amazing screen presence. I think she's doing a lot more acting than anybody realizes. I look forward to seeing her in the future.
WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE SCREENPLAY CATEGORIES?
Amy: I'm glad to see "Disaster Artist" in here. The book is fantastic and I thought they did such a good job figuring out how to stream the timelines together and make this a story about creativity and getting the people to come together to get something done even though it's a little bit ridiculous. "Molly's Game" is in there, and I thought that film was a lot stronger than anyone gave it credit for. I'm a little sad [Jessica] Chastain didn't make it [in the actress category].
WHAT WERE YOU MOST SURPRISED BY?
Kyle: The most notable of the screenplay nominations was in the adapted [category], which, again, wasn't the strongest field we've ever had. But "Logan" made it in. That's Hugh Jackman's final "Wolverine" film. It's very rare that a comic book movie gets nominated in screenplay. The only one that ever has, as far as I know, is "The Incredibles" in original screenplay. For an actual live-action Marvel film to get nominated in adapted screenplay, that's another one of the walls that's fallen today.
WHAT MADE YOU HAPPY?
Kyle: I think it's a really good crop of nominees. You know we always say, if the Oscars represent the industry, well then what does it mean? And I think there are encouraging signs this year, in part, because the Academy has been taking steps to broaden itself, diversify its ranks. And I think we've seen a lot of those picks reflected this year, not only in the fact that there's good taste reflected in the nominations, but in the fact that we have a lot of new records to tout. Rachel Morrison getting nominated for cinematography for "Mudbound" — that's the first time in the 90-year history of the Academy Awards a woman has gotten that. And it's no small thing either that "Mudbound," while it didn't make it into [best] picture and director [categories], did make it into categories that Netflix has never penetrated before, like supporting actress for Mary J. Blige and best song.
Amy: That nomination for Mary J. Blige makes me incredibly happy. She is so great in that film. She channels all of these emotions without saying anything. I feel like it's this almost psychic performance where you’re reading her mind the entire time.