The march towards awards season officially begins with the announcement of the 2018 Golden Globe nominations. Here's our analysis of the awards that are often seen as the precursor to possible Oscar success.
The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro's shimmeringly beautiful fantasy romance (released here on 16th February 2018) explores the relationship between mute 1960s janitor Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and a humanoid amphibian creature (Doug Jones). The movie clearly cast a spell over Globes votes, leading the pack with seven nods including Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress (for Hawkins), Best Supporting Actor (Richard Jenkins), Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer) and Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat).
With the exception of his lauded, Oscar-winning, Spanish Civil War fantasy hybrid Pan's Labyrinth, del Toro's movies have been routinely overlooked in awards circles, although he continues to command critical and popular acclaim with the likes of Hellboy, Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak. Clearly the emotional impact, visual majesty and rich performances of The Shape of Water struck a profound chord with voters – that it's also received near-unanimous critical raves can't hurt either.
Steven Spielberg's engrossing drama doesn't hit these shores until 19th January 2018, but the announcement of its six Golden Globe nominations will surely ramp up anticipation.
The movie pairs dynamite duo Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep together for the first time, retelling the Washington Post's battle to publish the incriminating Pentagon Papers, documents that incriminated the US government in lies over the Vietnam war.
Spielberg has long been famed for his skill in conveying complex historical and political information to a mass audience, as the likes of Schindler's List, Munich and Bridge of Spies have proved. The Post looks set to continue this trend: Spielberg's latest has been garlanded with a Best Picture nomination in the drama category, in addition to further nods for Best Director, Best Actor (Hanks), Best Actress (Streep), Best Screenplay and Best Original Score (John Williams).
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
A movie that we have to wait until 12th January 2018 for, Martin McDonagh's coal-black comedy-drama has been steadily gathering critical momentum over the last six months.
Transplanting McDonagh's wonderfully nasty humour from his Oscar-winning In Bruges to America's heartland, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has been hailed for mixing many complex elements together. Centrally the movie hinges on a career-best Frances McDormand as the incensed mother who rents out the three billboards of the title, and her aim to humiliate and expose the local police force who failed to catch her daughter's killer.
At the same time it's also a damning indictment of small-town American mentality and law enforcement, and the movie is equalled with The Post at six Golden Globe nominations. This breaks down as Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress (McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell, who excels as an incompetent, racist policeman) and Best Original Score (Carter Burwell, a regular collaborator with the Coen brothers on the likes of Fargo and Barton Fink).
Greta Gerwig's sensitive and immaculately observed coming-of-age drama has broken records by scoring a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, from an impressive 196 reviews. It doesn't reach here until 16th February 2018, but there's plenty to get excited about.
Gerwig's directorial debut, the movie is set in 2002 and chronicles the tormented adolescence of the eponymous Lady Bird (a typically superb Saoirse Ronan), most notably the complex, difficult relationship she shares with her mother (Laurie Metcalf).
Lady Bird's glowing critical response has now been matched in its Golden Globes recognition, having scored four nominations: Best Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Actress (Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Metcalf) and Best Screenplay (Gerwig). But where's the latter's Best Director nomination? On that note...
Surprisingly, indie darling Greta Gerwig didn't land a Best Director nomination – what's a filmmaker to do when 100% on Rotten Tomatoes isn't enough? And, in typical Golden Globes fashion, the controversy doesn't stop there.
Despite delivering the year's finest horror movie, Get Out, a hot button combination of horror, comedy and race-related topicality, Jordan Peele is notably absent from the Best Director line-up. Add to this the movie's controversial inclusion in the Best Picture – Musical or Comedy category and there's more than enough conversation to go around. (Nice to see that star Daniel Kaluuya did get recognised for Best Actor, even if it was also in the Musical or Comedy category).
Other surprise exclusions: nothing for Wonder Woman, including director Patty Jenkins. Given there was so much positivity surrounding Jenkins' triumphant DC superhero blockbuster, widely regarded as the best in the DC Extended Universe so far, her absence becomes all the more galling.
Also, critically acclaimed comedy The Big Sick, written by and starring Kumail Nanjiani and sensitively based on the relationship he shares with co-writer wife Emily V. Gordon, was completely shut out.
And finally, Denis Villeneuve's all-encompassing sequel Blade Runner 2049 has been left out completely, although with the Oscars' equal weighting towards technical categories like Best Cinematography, we can expect the movie to do well there.
It's terrific to see Christopher Nolan landing both Best Picture and Best Director nods for his terrifyingly immersive World War II drama, Dunkirk. Big screen spectacle rarely got more overwhelming this year, although he's up against tough competition in the Drama category.
It was expected that Gary Oldman would be nominated for his performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, given he's being tipped as an Oscar frontrunner. (The film is out on 12th January 2018.) But he's got competition from the younger Timothee Chalamet who stunned as tormented Elio in sublime romantic drama Call Me By Your Name, itself the recipient of Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (Armie Hammer) nods.
And it wouldn't be an awards ceremony without an appearance from Daniel Day-Lewis: the veteran method actor has been recognised for his latest (and reportedly final) screen appearance in Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread. It's released on 2nd February 2018.
Given the critical plaudits that have greeted his turn as infamously bad filmmaker Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, it's pleasing to note that James Franco has landed a Best Actor – Comedy or Musical nomination.
Willem Dafoe scored a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his moving, empathetic turn in Sean Baker's The Florida Project, Coco (out on 19th January 2018) lands Pixar yet another Best Animation nomination, and Margot Robbie rides a wave of critical success to grab a Best Actress nomination for I, Tonya, in which she plays disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding. The movie arrives on 20th February 2018.
How delightful it is to see Ansel Elgort getting recognised in Best Musical or Comedy for his charismatic, finger-snapping turn as a music-loving getaway driver in Edgar Wright's terrific Baby Driver. Also, it's nice to see Steve Carell nominated for the otherwise-overlooked Battle of the Sexes. And upcoming Hugh Jackman period epic The Greatest Showman grabbed nods for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical and Best Song.
Elsewhere, Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World (released on 5th January) escapes its Kevin Spacey casting controversy to emerge with nominations for Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams) and, most intriguingly, Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Actor. Given the latter only recently replaced Spacey during the movie's last-minute reshoots, he has set a new record in terms of how quickly an actor can get nominated after completing filming.