by Chris Connor
2018 Oscars represented one of the strongest fields of the 2010s.
While much has been made of the progress made by the 2021 crop of Oscar nominations, let us not forget that there was much dismay at some of the nominees in both 2019 and 2020. 2019 especially saw controversial films Green Book, Vice and Bohemian Rhapsody competing for the coveted Best Picture statuette against more acclaimed films Roma, BlacKklansman and A Star Is Born.
2018’s ceremony by way of comparison offed a diverse and incredibly eclectic mix of Best Picture nominees and certainly one of the highest quality in recent years. This is the year we saw Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic Dunkirk competing against Jordan Peele’s breakout Horror satire Get Out and Great Gerwig’s solo debut, the stunning coming of age film Lady Bird. Also in the mix was Steven Spielberg’s The Post tackling the Washington Post’s investigation into the US Government covering up information Vietnam War. The breadth of topics addressed and high quality nature of the films is perhaps a result of the Academy increasing the number of Best Picture nominees to a maximum of 10 and while this is certainly not a guarantee of good films across the board it certainly seems to have been a factor in 2018.
This year much as the two years that have followed, proved to be an incredibly close one and following Bafta wins for Martin Mcdonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, it ultimately came down to Three Billboards and Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape Of Water. Ultimately Del Toro would take home the Best Picture and Best Director awards while Three Billboards won heavily in the acting categories.
What set this year apart from some of the other Best Picture nominee fields of the 2010s is the sheer breadth of topics covered from Call Me By Your Name tackling queer romance the Daniel Day Lewis led period drama Phantom Thread . The outlier perhaps is Darkest Hour which felt far more like a traditional Awards season film with its focus on a historic war time figure in this instance of course Winston Churchill.
The 2018 nomination season wasn’t without controversies of its own but these feel slight in comparison to those that have dogged the 2019 and 20 seasons and perhaps also the 2017 ceremony with Casey Affleck taking home the Best Actor award and controversy with La La Land infamously being given the Best Picture award when that had in fact gone to Moonlight.
Perhaps one of the biggest strengths of the 2018 season was the number of high quality directors that were offset against one another, both with established names like Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan competing against directors new to Awards seasons like Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele. The quality level was not just in the Best Picture field with Coco and Loving Vincent leading the Animated Feature category, both phenomenal achievements in their own regard. Hugh Jackman’s swan-song as Wolverine, Logan also predated Black Panther’s Best Picture nomination a year laterwith a nomination for Adapted Screenplay a rare feat for a superhero film.