On March 4, winners will be crowned at the 90th Academy Awards. But before the red carpet is rolled out and envelopes are opened, we’ve got inside intel on the nominees. Below, read about the contenders for Best Picture, and be sure to check out the nominees for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director.

Call Me By Your Name

Directed By: Luca Guadagnino
Total Nominations: 4
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg

We often look to movies as a template for how to love, and this year there was no better map to the deepest places of the heart than Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name. “It’s a testament to the idea that life and cinema go hand-in-hand,” the Italian filmmaker says of the queer ballad, which examines the passionate summerlong romance between a teen (Timothée Chalamet) and an older man (Armie Hammer) with intimacy in harmony with eroticism — a coupling that speaks beyond the confines of sexuality. “It’s about craving, tenderness, lust, love, loss, and grief,” Hammer says. “The bricks and mortar of who we are as people: This celebrates that.” That’s amore. — Joey Nolfi

Darkest Hour

Directed By: Joe Wright
Total Nominations: 6
Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn

Director Joe Wright’s World War II drama tracks an eventful few weeks in the life of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman), who finds himself leading a beleaguered country against the Nazi war machine. “In that critical period, he became prime minister, he saved Britain, and he wrote three of the greatest speeches ever,” says screenwriter Anthony McCarten. “That was a story just begging to be told.” In hindsight, Britain’s ultimate victory may appear set in stone, but Darkest Hour shows just how close things came to going another way, especially because formidable political forces within Churchill’s own government — personified by Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane) — pressured him to strike a deal with Hitler. “To a British schoolboy, as I was, [Churchill] is this kind of icon,” Wright says. “He’s untouchable. The point for me of this movie was to bring him down from that plinth and to meet him eye-to-eye as a fellow human being.” — Clark Collis


Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Total Nominations: 8
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance

When Christopher Nolan began research for his World War II epic, it was the firsthand accounts of some of the nearly 400,000 cornered Allied soldiers that stuck with him, and that inspiration is woven into every second of the film. Dunkirk is a war movie without the comforts of context. There’s no map room or a true-life figure who has to survive. The characters and audience are on equal footing, clueless and experiencing the extemporized evacuation as a tightening noose on land, sea, and air. “I fixed on the idea of trying to be very, very true to a series or a combination of fixed points of view, so that we would really see what the soldiers would see on the beach and experience what they experienced,” Nolan says. Because of that perspective — and Hans Zimmer’s unnerving score — the tension threatens to rise infinitely, until a stunning climax when the characters’ survival feels like our own. — Kevin P. Sullivan

Get Out

Directed By: Jordan Peele
Total Nominations: 4
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener

With his directorial debut, Jordan Peele created a horror movie that did more than scare audiences. It scared them with its intent. The idea sprang from the sketch comedian’s desire for a national dialogue, one he felt we needed but weren’t having. “There’s all sorts of difficult notions to get over in order to have a substantial discussion about race—guilt, pain, horror,” Peele says. “My hope was that we could get to some substantial conversations about race through talking about the movie. The fact that there’s only one protagonist eliminates that notion of coming from two different places, at least a little bit.” And that experience, a black man’s increasingly paranoid weekend with his white girlfriend’s suburban family, is one audiences have come to know well. By watching Get Out, the white viewer is forced to identify with a set of fears — heightened though they may be — that a portion of the population understands all too well. — Kevin P. Sullivan

Lady Bird

Directed By: Greta Gerwig
Total Nominations: 5
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein

Since fall festival audiences got the first glimpse of Lady Bird, the buzz around Greta Gerwig’s vivid, warm, and comical coming-of-age story has turned into a roar. Saoirse Ronan plays the titular teen, who is restless, curious, and yearning as one can only be when suffering from the conviction that a more exciting life is happening somewhere else. Her rebellious push-and-pull with her anxious mother (Laurie Metcalf) should be achingly familiar. “We’ve all gone through every piece of this movie,” Metcalf says. “I think Greta has created this universal movie that’s so incredibly relatable to every age group.” Gerwig is quick to credit her cast and crew: “It’s really been the very best experience I can think of.” — Sara Vilkomerson

Phantom Thread

Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Total Nominations: 6
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville

In There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis explored the psychic and emotional weight that comes with building something ugly. For their reunion, they traded Daniel Plainview’s oceans of oil for Reynolds Woodcock’s creations of beauty. Anderson began with a story in need of characters, and eventually he hit on the fashion world of 1950s London. “I just made a movie [Inherent Vice] with all of these dirty hippies with facial hair and stuff,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Oh, God, let’s do something with fancy people.’ It’s nice to be around people properly dressed.” But more than that, Phantom Thread unravels what people in relationships ask of each other, what we give, and what we take — all told with a style that’s haunting, cinematic, and — of course — gorgeous. — Kevin P. Sullivan

The Post

Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Total Nominations: 2
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk

Who owns the news you’re reading? Who is protecting your right to read it? These are the central questions raised decades ago when newspapers went head-to-head with the Nixon White House over the so-called Pentagon Papers, a leaked report exposing America’s losing strategy in the war in Vietnam. If this true-life tale from 1971, starring Meryl Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as editor Ben Bradlee, seems distressingly contemporary, that was part of the idea of its breakneck production last year. “I read it in February, and as soon as I was done with it, I said, ‘Shoot, I want to do this!'” Hanks says. Director Steven Spielberg thinks the inspiration should be obvious to anyone who has followed the news this year. “I reacted to the script with a great deal of enlightened frustration, based on living in the current climate,” the filmmaker says. History has another lesson, though. There is no stopping the truth. — Anthony Breznican

The Shape of Water

Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Total Nominations: 13
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins

Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is a lot of things. It’s a 1950s monster movie. A Cold War espionage thriller. A romance. An ode to cinema. But the Pan’s Labyrinth auteur considers The Shape of Water his “French movie,” even if the closest his Baltimore-set film comes to the banks of the Seine is Alexandre Desplat’s warm, accordion-tinged score and maybe some buttery pastry. Look closer and you’ll see where del Toro mined some whimsy from Jacques Demy’s far-out 1970 fairy tale Donkey Skin as a source of inspiration, and the entire story of Elisa and her unlikely new love — an amphibious creature from the Amazon — is injected with a joie de vivre that evokes Paris in the spring: romantic and full of possibility. “You never know who you’re going to fall in love with,” del Toro says. “You can fall in love with the most inadequately acceptable person in the universe. The wrong age, the political persuasion you hate the most. We are constantly Capulets falling in love with Montagues. The shape of love is the shape of water.” And true to the adage that gave the film its title, The Shape of Water proves that a story can take an infinite number of forms. Who would have ever guessed that one of the most beloved movies of the year involves a mute cleaning lady falling for a cinematic cousin of the Creature From the Black Lagoon? And yet here we are. — Kevin P. Sullivan

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Directed By: Martin McDonagh
Total Nominations: 7
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell

Three Billboards is a haunting tale of a mother’s rage and quest for justice fueled by a (literal) scorched-earth intensity. After her daughter’s rape and murder goes unsolved for months, Mildred (a galvanizing Frances McDormand) rents three blunt, bold roadside ads to shame the local police, including Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), for failing to find the killer. “It does feel like it’s tapping into some kind of zeitgeist because it’s such a strong female character in the lead of the film who doesn’t take any s— from any of the men in the film and is carrying on a battle where she will not back down,” says writer-director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), who penned the role for McDormand. “That’s a great kind of character to be putting out in these Harvey Weinstein kind of days: a female protagonist who you don’t have to defend.” She does that, to say the least, all by herself. — Tim Stack

Oscars 2018
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