Christopher Nolan finally receives his first Oscar nomination for Best Director for his 2017 film, Dunkirk. Nolan is an ambitious and influential director in Hollywood, shepherding movies such as The Dark Knight trilogy and Interstellar, which has earned him enough clout in the industry, especially at Warner Bros. Pictures, in which he can now produce virtually any film he wants and still contractually receive final cut rights. That doesn’t happen often. And he leveraged that professional relationship to make Dunkirk.
The 2017 film retells the story of Operation Dynamo during WWII, which was a large-scale evacuation of nearly 400,000 Allied forces in June 1940 from Dunkirk, France. Nolan’s film tells the story of that exodus from the three perspectives: land, air, and sea, spread across three periods of time. The land portion took one week; the sea, one day; the air, one hour. But in the end, all three timelines intersect. It’s an impressive feat and one that the Academy has recognized.
Related: 2018 Oscar Nominations Revealed
The nominations for the 90th annual Academy Awards (Oscars) were revealed this morning. Dunkirk earned the second-most nominations (8) of the ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and more. But what’s most surprising is that Nolan himself was nominated for Best Director; that award has eluded him since the start of his career.
Even though Nolan has produced memorable films such as Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and Inception, among others, some of which are regarded as gold standards in their respective genres, he’s never actually won a major industry award. In fact, he hasn’t received too many nominations at the Oscars. Aside from Dunkirk, the only instances in which the Academy has nominated him was for Memento in 2002 (Best Original Screenplay) and for Inception in 2011 (Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay). What’s interesting is that, despite Inception being nominated for Best Picture (and tying for the most wins that year), Nolan wasn’t nominated for Best Director for the movie. Typically, a film receives both nominations, not just one; and if a movie wins in one category, it usually wins in both.
Still, even though he didn’t receive many nominations in the past, Nolan and the Oscars go way back. Because of him – or, more accurately, his film – there are 10 Best Picture nominations in the first place. Although The Dark Knight was the highest-rated film of 2008, it was snubbed for Best Picture at the 2009 Oscars. An outcry from the public and industry professionals led the Academy to up the number of Best Picture nominees from five to 10 the following year, and it’s remained that way ever since. Whether or not Nolan wins for Dunkirk, he can take pride in the Academy finally recognizing him.
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