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Oscars 2018: The leadup and the rundown on the 90th annual Academy Awards

The Oscar is the biggest prize in Hollywood, and the Academy Awards ceremony is Hollywood’s annual opportunity to get dressed up, tout projects, support causes, and hope the host won’t puncture the fun with endless “This is so long and boring, why are we here?” jokes. This year, the awards will be given out on March 4th, and once again, they’ll be shadowed by controversy: not just the diversity struggle highlighted by the #OscarsSoWhite movement, but the lingering effects of the Harvey Weinstein scandals and the seemingly endless sex-abuse stories that followed. Comedian and talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel will once again be hosting, and if other recent award shows are any indication, there will probably be some serious political messaging mixed in with the “I’d like to thank…” speeches and the musical performances. Follow The Verge’s coverage here for news, play-by-play on the 90th Academy Awards ceremony, and thoughts on the winners and losers.

  • Shannon Liao

    Mar 6, 2018

    Shannon Liao

    At this year’s Oscars, diverse forces agitated for change

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Show
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Last night at the 90th annual Academy Awards, Best Actress award-winner Frances McDormand used her acceptance speech to champion inclusion riders, obscure contract clauses that actors could put in their contracts requiring the demographics of the cast and crew to meet certain diversity goals. She explained backstage that after 35 years in the industry, she had only learned about inclusion clauses last week, but believes they could be a game-changer for an industry that has often been criticized for its lack of diversity. “It changes now,” she said. “And I think the inclusion rider will have something to do with that.”

    McDormand’s speech was one of the more radical moments in an evening full of other milestones, where Jordan Peele became the first black winner in the Best Original Screenplay category for Get Out, and Rachel Morrison was the first female nominee for cinematography. But her backstage comments also highlighted how much further the film industry still has to go. As activist and #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign put it in her Oscars morning-after analysis with CNN, “We have some record nominations this year for the black community, but the fact that we are still talking about firsts in 2018 means there’s a lot more that needs to be done in our community as well.”

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  • The man who stole Frances McDormand’s Oscar streamed it to Facebook

    Frances McDormand should have taken home the Oscar for Best Actress last night — literally because she did, in fact, win the category. Instead, her award was swiped off her table during the Governors Ball celebration after the ceremonies. Variety reports that Terry Bryant, 47, was arrested and charged with grand theft shortly after posting a Facebook video of himself drinking and galavanting around with the giant gold statue. Subtle.

    “My team got this tonight,” Bryant says in the video, which is still available on Facebook thanks to the merciful internet gods. “This is mine. We got it tonight, baby.” Bryant then smooches the statue several times before yelling “Who wants to tell me congratulations?” While people swarm in to touch the stolen award — which Bryant repeatedly says he got “for music” — he can be heard asking people where the parties are happening.

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  • Mar 5, 2018

    Angela Chen

    A cost-benefit analysis says a Jet Ski won’t shorten Oscar speeches

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Backstage
    Photo by Matt Sayles / A.M.P.A.S via Getty Images

    It’s an Academy Award tradition for hosts, participants, and viewers alike to complain that the awards ceremony is too long. At the 90th annual Oscars ceremony on Sunday night, host Jimmy Kimmel made a joke out of the long-running complaint, dangling the prospect of an $18,000 Jet Ski as a prize for the winner who gave the shortest acceptance speech. It was a charming gag, but if the Academy is serious about shortening the speeches, a Jet Ski isn’t going to do it. It’s just not valuable enough.

    The Jet Ski did find a home with Phantom Thread costume designer Mark Bridges. And offering a prize as an incentive is a better approach than the wrap-it-up music that cuts winners off in the middle of their big moment. We haven’t measured the speeches — but if they were any shorter on average this year, the difference was negligible. That’s because there are multiple competing incentives when it comes to how long or short an Oscars acceptance speech is, and one cool green Jet Ski cannot overpower the rush of a career-defining victory in front of millions of eyes.

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  • Tasha Robinson

    Mar 5, 2018

    Tasha Robinson

    The 2018 Oscars’ running Jet Ski gag was pure genius

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Show
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    After a contentious year in Hollywood — the year of the Harvey Weinstein accusations and the seemingly endless accusations that followed, the year of #MeToo and Time’s Up — it was inevitable that the 2018 Oscars would be somewhat political. And they were, with both grave, serious commentary on diversity and inclusion in Hollywood, and copious derisive jokes aimed at Mel Gibson, “white people with clipboards,” and Donald Trump.

    But the real star of the night was a green Jet Ski, awarded at the end of the evening to Phantom Thread costume designer Mark Bridges to commemorate the fact that his acceptance speech was the shortest one of the night.

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  • Shannon Liao

    Mar 5, 2018

    Shannon Liao

    Frances McDormand champions ‘inclusion riders’ during her Best Actress speech

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Show
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Frances McDormand won the 2018 Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. During her acceptance speech, she set her Oscar statuette down on the floor beside her, then commanded all the other women nominees in the room to stand up in solidarity.

    “If I could have all the women stand up with me in this moment,” she said, waving them to their feet. “Look around, everybody, look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell, and we all have projects we need to finance.”

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Mar 5, 2018

    Bryan Bishop

    Guillermo del Toro wins Best Director and Best Picture Oscar for The Shape of Water

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Show
    Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

    Sunday night at the 90th annual Academy Awards, Guillermo del Toro’s swoony merman fantasy The Shape of Water took home the awards for Directing and Best Picture. Previously in the evening, the film also won for Original Score and Production Design. The film’s four wins came out of a slate of 13 overall nominations.

    In his Directing acceptance speech, the Mexico-born filmmaker followed the lead of many other winners, immediately pivoting to issues of diversity and inclusion. “I am an immigrant,” he said, name-checking Salma Hayek, Gael García Bernal, and several other Mexican artists who were present in the room. “And in the last 25 years, I’ve been living in a country all of our own. Part of it is here, part of it is in Europe, part of it is everywhere. Because I think the greatest thing that art does, and that our industry does, is erase the lines in the sand when the world tells us to make them deeper.”

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  • Shannon Liao

    Mar 5, 2018

    Shannon Liao

    Netflix’s House of Cards season 6 will focus on Claire Underwood’s rule

    During the Academy Awards, Netflix aired a teaser for the sixth and final season of House of Cards. It’s going to be the first season since lead actor Kevin Spacey, who played conniving politician Frank Underwood, got booted from the show by Netflix following sexual assault allegations.

    In the teaser, Robin Wright’s character Claire Underwood is the one in command, sitting behind the desk her husband once occupied in the Oval Office. With a confident smile, she says, “We’re just getting started.” Netflix’s tagline reads, “Hail to the Chief.”

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Mar 5, 2018

    Bryan Bishop

    Roger Deakins wins Cinematography Oscar for Blade Runner 2049

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Show
    Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

    Roger A. Deakins has long been considered one of the best cinematographers in the world, but while he’s being nominated for 13 Oscars, he had yet to win. That changed Sunday night when Deakins won for Achievement in Cinematography for his work on Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049.

    Deakins’ work was up against a number of truly visually arresting films, including the luxuriant photography in The Shape of Water, Hoyte van Hoytema’s visceral IMAX work in Dunkirk, and the atmospheric work of Darkest Hour. Also nominated in the category was Rachel Morrison, for the bleak visuals of Netflix’s film Mudbound. Morrison is the trailblazing cinematographer who was the first woman to be nominated in the category in all of Oscar history.

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  • Tasha Robinson

    Mar 5, 2018

    Tasha Robinson

    Get Out wins the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Show
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    In an emotional acceptance speech at the 2018 Oscars, writer-director Jordan Peele said he nearly stopped scripting his debut feature, Get Out, 20 times, because he thought it was an impossible film to write, and he wouldn’t be able to get it made even if he did write it. The film, which won Best Original Screenplay, is a racially charged horror story about a black photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) meeting his white girlfriend’s family and uncovering an eerie plot. It’s Peele’s first writing and directing project, and it makes him the first black winner in the category, and only the fourth nominated, after John Singleton, Spike Lee, and Suzanne de Passe.

    Peele’s speech was a quick, emotional retelling of how he wrote the script, followed by a list of thank-yous that included “my mother, who taught me to love even in the face of hate,” and every audience member who “shouted out in the theater.” Offstage, Peele was a little less formal.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Mar 5, 2018

    Bryan Bishop

    Blade Runner 2049 wins the Oscar for Best Visual Effects

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Show
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 was a visual feast of a film, and on Sunday night, it took home the Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects. Visual effects supervisors John Nelson, Paul Lambert, and Richard R. Hoover, plus special effects supervisor Gerd Nefzer, all took the stage to accept the award.

    The film was up against a powerhouse lineup of films, including Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Kong: Skull Island, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and War for the Planet of the Apes. The Blade Runner sequel was nominated for five Academy Awards going into the evening’s ceremonies, though they were entirely in technical categories: in addition to visual effects, it was nominated for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, Production Design, and Cinematography. The film lost the first three awards over the course of the night to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, respectively. At the time of the Visual Effects win, the Cinematography award was still outstanding, though the film has been largely favored in the category, particularly because it would be the first win for legendary director of photography Roger Deakins, who has been nominated in the category 13 previous times without a win.

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  • Tasha Robinson

    Mar 5, 2018

    Tasha Robinson

    Coco wins Best Animated Feature at the Oscars

    SPECTACULAR ENCOUNTER – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) takes an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead in search of his idol. He finds that Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt) just might be an even bigger star than he was in the Land of the Living. Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. Tickets are on sale now at Fandango and Atom. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
    SPECTACULAR ENCOUNTER – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) takes an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead in search of his idol. He finds that Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt) just might be an even bigger star than he was in the Land of the Living. Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. Tickets are on sale now at Fandango and Atom. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
    Image: Disney / Pixar

    A lot of the 2018 Academy Award races have been hotly contested, but Best Animated Feature hasn’t been high on the debate list. As expected, Pixar Animation Studios’ Coco won the category, beating out the animated Vincent van Gogh biographical drama Loving Vincent, the passionate drama The Breadwinner, the gentle bull kids’ comedy Ferdinand, and the scheming baby comedy Boss Baby.

    Coco is Pixar’s 19th feature film, and the second film it released in 2017, after the tepidly received Cars 3, which didn’t earn a nomination. The win makes director Lee Unkrich only the fourth person to win twice in the Best Animated Feature category since its creation in 2002. All three of the previous two-time winners are also Pixar directors: Andrew Stanton (for Finding Nemo and WALL-E), Brad Bird (for The Incredibles and Ratatouille), and Pete Docter (for Up and Inside Out).

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  • Shannon Liao

    Mar 5, 2018

    Shannon Liao

    Allison Janney wins Best Supporting Actress Oscar for I, Tonya

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Show
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Allison Janney took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in I, Tonya. Janney played Tonya Harding’s abusive mother LaVona, who bullies her relentlessly throughout the film, while still providing comedic relief. Janney’s dry, snappy performance was heavily praised by critics. She beat out others in the category, including Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread, Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird, Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water, and Mary J. Blige in Mudbound.

    Janney began her acceptance speech with a joke: “I did it all by myself.” It got a significant laugh, but she quickly added, “Nothing further from the truth.” She thanked her castmates and even the squawking, ear-biting bird who became her humorous foil in the film.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Mar 5, 2018

    Bryan Bishop

    Phantom Thread’s Oscar-winning costume designer on how to tell stories with couture

    Photo by Laurie Sparham / Focus Features

    There’s a common theme among the films that were nominated for Best Costume Design at this year’s Academy Awards. You won’t find any superhero costumes or exotic space opera designs. Instead, movies like Beauty and the Beast, The Darkest Hour, and The Shape of Water focus on traditional period designs, using the art of costuming to establish their highly specific worlds and offer insight into their characters.

    In the case of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, which took home the award Sunday evening, the creative challenge goes a step further. The story of the strange relationship between couture designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his latest young muse Alma (Vicky Krieps), Phantom Thread is set in the world of 1950s London fashion itself, with the movie lingering over the way garments are designed, draped, fitted, and sewn. But it’s also a movie where the inner life of its lead character is expressed through the dresses he designs, giving costume designer Mark Bridges the opportunity to not just create beautiful garments, but to contribute to shaping Woodcock’s character through his creations. I sat down with Bridges to talk about his work with Paul Thomas Anderson, the inspirations behind the film’s designs and characters, and how pulling off the film’s lush looks required leaving modern approaches behind and embracing the techniques the characters would have used themselves.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Mar 5, 2018

    Bryan Bishop

    Sam Rockwell wins Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Show
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    The 90th annual Academy Awards kicked off with the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, and Sam Rockwell took home the award for his work as a corrupt police officer in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It was the first win of the evening for the film, which came into the show with a total of seven nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress for star Frances McDormand.

    The Best Actor category was in many ways a showcase for Three Billboards, with both Rockwell and co-star Woody Harrelson nominated for their work in the film. Richard Jenkins’ performance in the Guillermo del Toro film The Shape of Water was also nominated, as was Christopher Plummer for his performance — as a last-minute Kevin Spacey replacement, no less — in All the Money in the World. But Willem Dafoe’s nomination for The Florida Project was the most idiosyncratic nomination in the category. Sean Baker’s film was widely considered to be an awards favorite after its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, but the film lost momentum as awards season progressed, and it ended with only the single nomination for Dafoe’s work.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Mar 5, 2018

    Bryan Bishop

    Oscars 2018: the complete list of award winners

    90th Annual Academy Awards - Show
    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Hollywood’s awards season hit its apex Sunday evening with the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony. From the moment the nominations were announced in January, this year’s awards were poised to be a battle between Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy The Shape of Water, Christopher Nolan’s wartime epic Dunkirk, and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. In the end, The Shape of Water emerged victorious, winning a total of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro, and awards for both original score and production design.

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was the standout in the acting categories, earning Frances McDormand an Oscar for Best Actress, and Sam Rockwell an award for Best Supporting Actor. Gary Oldman’s lead performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour and Allison Janney’s supporting turn in I, Tonya rounded out the acting categories.

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  • Chaim Gartenberg

    Mar 4, 2018

    Chaim Gartenberg

    Oscars 2018: how to watch the Academy Awards online

    90th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon - Inside
    Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    The biggest night in Hollywood is finally here. It’s time for the 90th Academy Awards ceremony, aka the Oscars, the magical evening when the biggest names in show business sit down to see who got the industry’s biggest awards, and hope for some timely humor to break up the scripted award speeches and “This show is sooooo long” jokes.

    The Shape of Water leads the pack this year, with an impressive 13 nominations, including Best Picture, Guillermo del Toro for Directing, Sally Hawkins for Actress in a Leading Role, Richard Jenkins for Actor in a Supporting Role, and Octavia Spencer for Actress in a Supporting Role, among others. It might just be the film to beat this year.

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  • Shannon Liao

    Mar 2, 2018

    Shannon Liao

    Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Oscars ad has Issa Rae telling you to make something awkward

    Samsung just released its new Oscars-themed ad for the recently announced Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus phones. The ad was directed by Dee Rees, who teamed up with her DP from Mudbound, Rachel Morrison.

    The 60-second spot begins with two women deciding they want to make something using the phones, but they’re not sure where to start. A bunch of celebrities and influencers jump in to answer that question, often drawing from their own bodies of creative work.

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  • Daniel Joyaux

    Mar 2, 2018

    Daniel Joyaux

    How Rotten Tomatoes may have radically skewed the Oscars’ Best Picture race

    89th Annual Academy Awards - Backstage
    Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images

    For a certain class of Oscar viewers, the Best Original Screenplay category has always been the one to watch. That’s where the best films end up — the movies too smart or creative to be fully appreciated by the broader Academy, and certainly not widely accepted enough to get into the Best Picture race. It’s the category for movies that challenge traditional notions of filmmaking. In the 1950s, it was where arthouse icons like Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, and François Truffaut received their first nominations. In 1989, it was the category that recognized two huge game-changers of American cinema, Do the Right Thing and Sex, Lies, and Videotape. And in the 2000s, it became the refuge for the favorite films of a new generation of cinephiles — films like Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Pan’s Labyrinth.

    But these films are no longer getting segregated into the screenplay categories. Now, they’re Best Picture nominees, and even serious contenders for the award. Spike Jonze’s 1999 movie Being John Malkovich didn’t receive a Best Picture nomination, but his 2013 movie Her did. Wes Anderson didn’t get a Best Picture nomination for 2001’s The Royal Tenenbaums, but he did for 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. And Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 hit Boogie Nights wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, but his Phantom Thread is a nominee this year. These are all cases where young, disruptive directors have gradually become more accepted and familiar to the Academy over time. But their nominated films are just as wonderfully weird, uncompromisingly specific, and personal as the films that missed out a decade or more earlier. And their modern equivalents, first-time solo directors Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele, are starting their directorial careers with Best Picture nominations for their own idiosyncratic personal visions.

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  • Kaitlyn Tiffany

    Jan 23, 2018

    Kaitlyn Tiffany

    Oscar nominations 2018: Three Billboards vs. The Shape of Water

    Courtesy of TIFF

    The nominees for the 90th Academy Awards were announced early this morning by Girls Trip’s Tiffany Haddish and War for the Planet of the Apes’ Andy Serkis. The nominations hew pretty close to the expectations set by this month’s Golden Globes, with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri netting seven nominations (including Best Picture, Original Screenplay, and Actress in a Leading Role). The Shape of Water is the most-nominated film, with 13 nominations including Best Picture, Directing, Actress in a Leading Role, and a slew of technical and visual awards. Dunkirk is a close second with eight nods — largely in technical categories, but also Best Picture and Directing.

    Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird is nominated five times, and though she was notably passed over by the Golden Globes, she’s the fifth woman in the ceremony’s 90-year history to be nominated for the Directing Oscar. If she wins, she’ll be the second woman to do so. And Mudbound’s Rachel Morrison has already made history this morning as the first woman to ever be nominated in the Cinematography category.

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