2018 Oscar nomination surprises: Voters are head over heels for ‘Phantom Thread,’ Denzel Washington

Though they usually unfold as expected, the Oscar nominations always throw in a curveball or two that few see coming. That was the case with Tuesday’s slate for the 90th Academy Awards — and they were some welcomed inclusions for the most part. Here are the biggest surprises in the latest Oscar field.

Best Picture:Phantom Thread
It was the usual suspects in the Best Picture lineup save for one. Instead of “The Big Sick” or “I, Tonya” (more like “Bye, Tonya,” right? Too soon?”), “Phantom Thread” made the cut. Academy voters went gaga for Paul Thomas Anderson’s sartorial drama, giving it six nominations, tied with “Darkest Hour” and just behind “The Shape of Water” (13), “Dunkirk” (eight) and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (seven).

SEE 2018 Oscar nominations: Full list of Academy Awards nominees in all 24 categories

Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Phantom Thread”
Arguably the most shocking of “Phantom Thread”’s nominations came in Best Director. Paul Thomas Anderson received his second career nomination, 10 years after getting in for “There Will Be Blood,” over Martin McDonagh, who helmed Best Picture favorite “Three Billboards.” What does this mean for “Three Billboards”’ Best Picture chances? Only four times has a film won the top award without a directing nomination, most recently five years ago with “Argo” after Ben Affleck’s snub. But McDonagh is no Affleck and “Three Billboards” is no “Argo.” Anderson’s nomination also prevented an all first-time nominee directing lineup in 20 years.

Best Actor: Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”
We’ll never truly know if the sexual misconduct allegations cost James Franco (“The Disaster Artist”) a nomination or if it was just the comedic nature of the role the academy is notoriously averse to (we are very sad that though that Tommy Wiseau is not an Oscar-nominated role), but Franco’s loss is Denzel Washington’s gain. “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” has been DOA in all aspects save for the beloved two-time Oscar winner’s performance. Washington, who was chilling in the eighth (!) spot in our odds, now has eight nominations for acting (he also got a producing one last year for “Fences”), tying him with Al Pacino and Peter O’Toole. His and Daniel Kaluuya’s (“Get Out”) nominations make them the fourth pair of black nominees in Best Actor.

SEE 2018 Oscar nominations by movie: ‘The Shape of Water’ leads with 13 Academy Awards bids, but how many will it win?

Best Supporting Actress: Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
With Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) and Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”) stone-cold locks, there were three spots up for grabs between a handful of women, so we were rife for a surprise. That came via Lesley Manville, whose performance in “Phantom Thread” is now the 40th one to make the Oscar shortlist without a Golden Globe or Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.

Best Adapted Screenplay: “Logan”
The Best Adapted Screenplay category was atypically barren this year, with the fifth slot wide open. It ended up going to “Logan,” which had received Writers Guild and USC Scripter nominations, making it the first comic book movie to earn a screenplay nomination at the Oscars. The fact that “Logan” actively works against being a run-of-the-mill superhero movie surely worked in its favor.

Best Cinematography: Rachel Morrison, “Mudbound”
Yes, “Mudbound” was one of our five predicted Best Cinematography nominees, albeit in the fifth spot, but there was absolutely no guarantee that it would make the shortlist, given Netflix’s heretofore underperformance at the Oscars and the fact that the category was the only one never to feature a female nominee (outside of the male acting races, obviously). That all changed with Rachel Morrison’s historic nomination for her stunning lensing on the Dee Rees picture.

Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing matching 5-for-5
If you played it safe and predicted the same five — “Baby Driver,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Dunkirk,” “The Shape of Water” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” — congratulations! This is the first time both categories have matched since Best Sound Editing was standardized with five nominees 11 years ago.

Best Visual Effects: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Kong: Skull Island”
The branch went full popcorn blockbuster here by going with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Kong: Skull Island” instead of checking off Best Picture contenders “Dunkirk” and “The Shape of Water.” The result? This is one race with no Best Picture nominee.

PREDICT the Oscar winners now; change them until March 4

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on March 4. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our movie forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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