Nominees for the 90th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning, and three Philadelphians earned nods for their work in Hollywood in 2017.
Bala Cynwyd’s Kobe Bryant was nominated for best animated short film for the six-minute “Dear Basketball,” based on his 2016 retirement from professional basketball. Bryant wrote and narrated the film, which Glenn Keane directed. The Harvey Weinstein scandal and recent rise of the #MeToo movement has made Bryant’s nomination controversial: He was accused of sexual assault in 2003.
Ardmore native Benj Pasek and writing partner Justin Paul received a best original song nomination for “This Is Me” from the P.T. Barnum biopic The Greatest Showman. The movie, starring Hugh Jackman, has received dismal reviews and has been criticized for white-washing Barnum’s history, but it is a sleeper hit at the box office.
“Thank you so much to the Academy for recognizing ‘This Is Me’ with a nomination. We are honored to be included in such great company with our fellow nominees. We share this nomination with the amazingly talented creative team behind this movie,” Pasek said.
“A special thanks goes to the singularly talented Keala Settle, whose performance of this song elevates it in a way that we could only dream of. And to Hugh Jackman and Michael Gracey, thank you for taking a chance on us four years ago, before we had a film credit to our name, to help you bring your vision to life.”
The pair won a best original song Oscar for La La Land’s “City of Stars” last year and could be the first songwriters to win back-to-back awards in the category since 1992, according to awards season prediction site Gold Derby. (They also won a Tony last year for the musical smash Dear Evan Hansen, based on a student Pasek knew at his alma mater Friends Central).
A best adapted screenplay nomination went to Margate native Scott Neustadter, who cowrote the screenplay for The Disaster Artist with Michael H. Weber. Directed by and starring James Franco, the film is a biopic of Tommy Wiseau, director of 2003’s The Room, widely considered one of the worst films ever made.
“This is an incredible honor. We were inspired by the story of two friends who went after their dreams. Now the Academy has made our wildest dream come true,” Neustadter said. “We are grateful to everyone who made The Disaster Artist and thankful to those who supported us along the way.”
Neustadter also tweeted a picture of his bar mitzvah party favor, a T-shirt emblazoned with a headless Oscar that read, “I partied my head off at Scott’s bar mitzvah.” He tweeted, “Never let go of your dreams, kids!”
Never let go of your dreams, kids! pic.twitter.com/EffGgJIZ8m
— Scott Neustadter (@iamthepuma) January 23, 2018
One local snub? Steven Spielberg’s The Post, cowritten by Ambler native Josh Singer, received a nomination for best picture, but Singer did not get a nod for best original screenplay (don’t worry — he won for Spotlight in 2016). Singer rewrote the original screenplay by Liz Hannah and regularly contributed rewrites during production. The film follows journalists at the Washington Post in their effort to publish the Pentagon Papers in the early 1970s.
The awards will be broadcast on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood at 8 p.m. March 4. Jimmy Kimmel will host for the second consecutive year.