‘The Shape of Water,’ ‘Dunkirk’ and ‘Three Billboards’ Top 2018 Oscar Nominations

To celebrate 90-years as an institution, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will attempt to portray its most diverse ceremony yet. Jimmy Kimmel will serve as host while leading films aim to take home the coveted golden statuette in their respective categories on March 4. “The Shape of Water” leads all with a staggering 13 total nominations including Lead Actress, Supporting Actors, Supporting Actress and Best Director.

The Guillermo del Toro-directed fantasy-drama is also up for the most prestigious award of the night, Best Picture. Alongside a slew of diverse films such as the subdued WWII epic “Dunkirk,” darkly comedic crime drama “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” romantic LGBT drama “Call Me by Your Name” and Jordan Peele’s horror debut “Get Out.” Also included in the category are the films “Phantom Thread,” “Darkest Hour,” “The Post,” and “Lady Bird.”

Greta Gerwig made history as being the first woman to receive a nomination for Best Director for a debut film (“Lady Bird”). Gerwig’s film also received nods for Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Laurie Metcalf), Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan) and the big one, Best Picture. “Lady Bird” not only comes from the perspective of a woman, but tells the coming-of-age story of young women themselves. If she comes away with Best Director, Gerwig’s name will go down in history as only the second woman to win the award in the 90-years of the Oscars.

Filling in the category of Best Director are a slew of male nominees including Jordan Peele for his directorial debut in “Get Out,” Christopher Nolan for “Dunkirk,” Paul Thomas Anderson for his fashion drama “Phantom Thread” and Guillermo del Toro for his stand out film “The Shape of Water.”

Among both the Best Picture and Best Director nominees are the films lead actors including the young Timotheé Chalamet for “Call Me by Your Name,” Daniel Day-Lewis for “Phantom Thread,” Daniel Kaluuya for his breakout role in “Get Out,” as well as Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman for “Roman J. Israel, Esq” and “Darkest Hour,” respectively.

In the female category of Best Actress, Sally Hawkins is a front runner for her part in this year’s leading film “The Shape of Water.” While Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”) and staple Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep (“The Post”) round out the group.

The Best Supporting role categories include notable nominees Christopher Plummer (“All the Money in the World”) who took over accused predator Kevin Spacey’s part after he was promptly removed from the role only six weeks before the film’s release. The veteran actor will compete against “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” actors Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, as well as Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”) and Richard Jenkins (“The Shape of Water”).

Mary J. Blige is up for her supporting role in “Mudbound,” marking this he first time an African-American woman has received two nods in the same year, as she is also up for Best Song for her contribution to the “Mudbound” soundtrack, “Mighty River.” Up against Blige is Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”), who has previously won Best Supporting Actress for “The Help” and received another nomination in the same category for last year for “Hidden Figures.” No matter what happens Oscar night, Spencer has made history as the first African-American woman to receive multiple nominations after a win. Rounding out this category is frontrunner Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), Metcalf, and surprise nominee Lesley Manville (“Phantom Thread”).

Many of 2017’s blockbusters did find a place among the crowded field, though primarily in the areas of technical achievement – “Blade Runner: 2049” for Best Cinematography, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” for Best Sound Editing and “Kong: Skull Island” for Best Visual Effects.

As is the case every year, there were some notable snubs. With multiple African-American nominees, the #OscarsSoWhite tag is no longer applicable; however, Asian and Latino actors are still being shut out, this year’s most notable omission being Hong Chau, who received both Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Awards nominations for her role as a Vietnamese refugee in “Downsizing.” Also missing is “The Disaster Artist” star and director James Franco, who already won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of eccentric filmmaker Tommy Wiseau. Recent sexual misconduct allegations against Franco were most likely a factor here. “The Disaster Artist” only garnered one nomination (Best Adapted Screenplay). Similarly, “The Big Sick” was only recognized for its screenplay, with Holly Hunter and the rest of the cast failing to score acting nominations.

The 2018 Oscars will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA March 4 and air live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.