written by Kelsey Duchesne

Junk Drawer

Why the 2018 Oscar Nominations are Iconic

We have some pop culture pros over here at Icon HQ, so the morning of Oscar nominations was destined to be filled with enthusiastic chatter and lively debate. While we all may have our personal favorites in the running, our team pulled together our favorite nominations and milestones, and surprise: they all center around the strong performances and talent of the female nominees.  

This year’s female performances and nominations held significant weight. Four months after the sexual assault and wage gap revelations following the New York Times Harvey Weinstein investigation and subsequent #MeToo movement, strong female representation in film and entertainment feels more important than ever.

Without further ado, here are our top 5 Oscar nomination delights:

Every Nominated Supporting Actress is Over 40

Yup, every single supporting actress nominee is over the age of 40 this year, and that’s a big deal. According to a study that Time Magazine conducted in 2015, the average actress hits their professional peak by age 30 (thirty!) while the average actor reaches their peak by 46. Not only is the 16 year gap infuriating, but it demonstrates how older women's stories are told significantly less on screen. Heads up, Hollywood: women don’t stop being compelling after the age of 30.

This year, the best Supporting Actress Nominees characters range from a Government facility employee who helps a mysterious sea creature escape death (played by an always pitch-perfect Octavia Spencer) to an aggressive yet loving mother letting go of her college-bound daughter (Laurie Metcalf, leading us all to tearfully call our mothers after viewing.)  All of the nominees play developed, complex, interesting characters, and hurrah, they are all over the age of 30.

3 Out of the 5 Best Actress Nominees are Over 40, Too

In fact, two of them are over 60! America’s favorite (and most nominated) actress Meryl Streep has been nominated for The Post, while Frances McDormand was nominated for the critic favorite 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Both of these women are playing strong, fierce women, determined to make their voices heard. Nominee Sally Hawkins character in The Shape of Water has a similar goal...but quite literally. She is rarely listened to based on her gender and class, but does not have a voice because she has been mute since birth. While Hawkins never verbally speaks in the film, her words and actions create a dynamic and daring heroine who is finally seen for who she truly is.

Rachel Morrison is the First Female Cinematographer Nominee

Yup, you read that right. Rachel Morrison is the only woman to have ever been nominated for best cinematography in a film. Morrison has been nominated for Mudbound, a film directed and co-written by Dee Reyes (based on a book by Hilary Jordan), that centers around two families in Mississippi post World War II, with carefully developed themes of race and mental health. “It’s a huge honor. I hope that it’s the first of many,” Morrison told Entertainment Weekly. “If it serves as nothing else, I hope it inspires more women to get behind the camera and become cinematographers.” Here, here.

Greta Gerwig is the 5th Woman in History to be Nominated for Best Director

Greta Gerwig was nominated for Best Director for her (first!) film Lady Bird, which she also wrote. The film centers around the experience of a daughter preparing to leave home while her mother learns to let go. It’s a humorous and poignant look into the complex relationship between two women at different stages in their lives, and has been celebrated as one of the year’s best films. Gerwig is the 5th woman to be nominated for this award, following Lina Wertmuller (Seven Beauties), Jane Campion (The Piano), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) and Kathryn Bigelow, who won the award in 2010 for the Hurt Locker. When asked about her thoughts on the significance of this nomination, Gerwig told Entertainment Weekly (through happy tears), “I remember when Sofia Coppola was nominated and how much that meant to me. I remember when Kathryn Bigelow won and what that felt like, and I feel like those women are the reason I was able to do this. When I think about it — and I think about women of all ages — I hope that they look at this and they think, ‘I’m going to go make my movie.'”

 A Fantastic Woman is Nominated for Best Foreign Film

A Fantastic Woman is a Chilean drama starring Daniela Vega. It follows the story of a transgender woman, Marina, after her partner Orlando passed away on her birthday. Although Marina and Orlando were in love and in a serious relationship, his family and the doctors dismiss and harass her, while she was  investigated for involvement in his murder. Marina attempting to grieve for her loved one while being harassed proves to be a devastating and moving story to watch, beautifully played by Vega, who is trans.

Vega spoke to Out Magazine about the role, highlighting parallels between herself and the character Marina. “[The director, Sebastián Lelio] said, ‘I wrote a film for you, and I want you to be the leading lady. I’m absolutely sure you can do it.’ So I accepted. And here I am.”

This nomination is exciting because not only does it tell a poignant story about a woman's grief and injustice she faces because of her identity, but it also tells a story about a trans woman who is actually being played by a trans woman, which isn't always the norm (hi, Jared Leto.)

*~Who are your top Oscar picks? Leave them in the comments below!~*

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