Oscars 2018: Understanding Christopher Nolan’s repeated Best Director snubs and why Dunkirk made the cut

Christopher Nolan will remember the 2018 Academy Awards for the rest of his life.It was after all, the time that he finally managed to break into one of the most prestigious clubs of the award season — a nomination for the Best Director category at the Oscars — for the first time in his illustrious career.It was his visually ingenious war film Dunkirk that finally bagged him a nomination, even though he has delivered critically and commercially acclaimed films like Inception and Interstellar in the past.It comes as a surprise then, that not only was Nolan nominated for Best Director, but Dunkirk was also nominated for Best Picture considering — 1) The film’s minimal dialogue, lack of authentic story line (it was after all pretty much a retelling of the historic Dunkirk evacuation of 1940), 2) The fact that the Academy does not usually take notice of movies that are primarily pioneers in technical fields (only giving them nominations in technical categories as consolation prizes i.e. Interstellar), or 3) Keeping Nolan’s complicated relationship (and frequent backlash) with the Academy in mind.

Nolan’s repeated Oscar snubs (Inception, Interstellar, The Dark Knight) are considered to be in line with those of cinematically hailed stalwarts like Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick, the former of which never won an Academy Award even after making films like Psycho, Dial M for Murder, Notorious, Rear Window, Spellbound and Shadow of a Doubt (save for one lifetime achievement prize in 1968) and the latter who raked up a sum total of one Academy Award (1968) in his entire career, that too for his contribution to visual effects (2001: A Space Odyssey).So what was it about Dunkirk that finally compelled the Academy to acknowledge Nolan’s directorial prowess?

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