Oscar nominations 2018: The many firsts among this year's group of nominees

The 2018 Academy Award nominations were revealed this morning, with Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water leading the pack with 13. That impressive haul was only one shy of the all-time record (held by Titanic, All About Eve, and La La Land), and, in fact, its failure to enter into a historic three-way tie with those predecessors was more than a bit shocking, given that the film wasn’t nominated in what should have been its slam-dunk category: visual effects. Nonetheless, there were many pioneering developments from today’s announcement, proving that even at the age of 90, the show remains capable of breaking ground in new and surprising ways. Herewith, a rundown of today’s Oscar nomination firsts.

Rachel Morrison: First Female Best Cinematography Nominee
For her superb work shooting Dee Rees’s Mudbound, Rachel Morrison became the first female director of photography ever to receive a Best Cinematography nomination.

Greta Gerwig: First Woman to Be Nominated for Directing Debut
Lady Bird helmer Greta Gerwig is only the fifth woman to ever receive a Best Director nomination, following Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties), Jane Campion (The Piano), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation), and Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker). However, Gerwig is the first ever to be included in that category for her behind-the-camera debut.

Greta Gerwig (right) directs Saoirse Ronan in <i>Lady Bird</i>. (Photo: A24)
Greta Gerwig (right) directs Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird. (Photo: A24)

Christopher Nolan: First Best Director Nomination
This side of Steven Spielberg, there’s no more illustrious blockbuster filmmaker working today than Christopher Nolan and yet, despite the accolades for Memento, his Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar, he has only just earned his first Best Directing nod today, for Dunkirk.

Best Directors Are All Best Writers
For the first time in the Academy’s history, all five Best Director nominees Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Jordan Peele (Get Out), and Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread) also wrote (or co-wrote) their own screenplays, making this the Year of the Writer-Director.

Meryl Streep: First Best Actress Nomination in a Best Picture Nominee in 32 Years
Meryl Streep upped her record-extending Academy Award nomination tally to 21 with today’s nod for The Post which was the first time she has competed for Oscar gold for a performance in a Best Picture-contending film since 1985’s Out of Africa.

Meryl Streep in <em>The Post</em>. (Niko Tavernise/20th Century Fox vía AP)
Meryl Streep in The Post. (Niko Tavernise/20th Century Fox vía AP)

Dee Rees: First Female African-American Adapted Screenplay Nominee
Writer-director Dee Rees was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Mudbound the second time an African-American woman has ever been recognized in a writing category (Suzanne de Passe was nominated for Best Original Screenplay in 1973 for Lady Sings the Blues), and the first time for an adapted work.

Mary J Blige’s Two Nomination Records
Mary J. Blige had a historic morning courtesy of the Academy, becoming the first actress to be nominated for a movie directed by an African-American woman as well as the first person ever to receive nominations for both acting and Best Original Song (“Mighty River”).

Mary J. Blige in <i>Mudbound</i>. (Photo: Netflix)
Mary J. Blige in Mudbound. (Photo: Netflix)

Octavia Spencer’s Multiple Post-Win Nods
Last year, Octavia Spencer became the first African-American woman to receive a nomination (for Hidden Figures) after having already won a gold statuette (for 2011’s The Help). Her current Best Supporting Actress nod for The Shape of Water thus makes her the first African-American woman to receive multiple post-Oscar-triumph nominations.

Agnes Varda: Oscar’s Oldest Nominee, Period
French New Wave pioneer Agnes Varda became the Oscars’ all-time oldest nominee when, at age 89, she was recognized for her documentary Faces Places. Meanwhile, the 89-year-old James Ivory, who received a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for Call Me by Your Name, missed out on that distinction by eight days.

Christopher Plummer: Oscar’s Oldest Acting Nominee
Christopher Plummer won an Oscar for 2012’s Beginners, and he received his third nomination today for his replacing-Kevin-Spacey-at-the-last-minute work in All the Money in the World making him, at age 88, the oldest acting nominee ever (the prior record holder, Titanic’s Gloria Stuart, was 87).

First-Time Acting Nominees
And then, of course, there were the many actors and actresses who received their very first Oscar nominations a list that today includes Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name) Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread), and Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird).

The Oscars will air March 4 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC.

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