My Oscars Predictions as Promised

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And yes, I know that I also promised links posts on Friday an I do indeed have links, but they will need to be saved for another moment.

Why?

I finally saw Phantom Thread last night. Damn son, that was stunning.
And I just finished an abominable test today (the studying for which was preventing me from posting, so now I’m ready to unload some writing and knowledge and thoughts of a non-links variety).
So let’s talk Oscars predictions.
If you lose any money betting on this I am not accountable.

I’m only going to go into the big categories because even I can’t pretend I’m qualified to discuss best original screenplay or cinematography.
Like last year (at least I think I did it this way last year- it’s been so long!) I’m going to point out which film I think is the likely winner and which film I personally think should win.

Let’s do it.

Best Picture:
“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

This was really difficult for me and if I could have chosen CMBYN, Three Billboards (Panels of Vengeance, here in France), and Dunkirk, I would have. Actually I had all three highlighted in blue until a few minutes ago, when I surprised myself by picking CMBYN rather than Three Billboards, which I was thinking would be my top pick. Maybe my mind will change tomorrow, but right now I’m really feeling CMBYN, looking back on my experiences watching all of these. Why CMBYN? The beauty, the atmosphere, the tender love, the heartbreak. Why Three Billboards? Because it’s powerful and kick ass and true but bizarre. Why Dunkirk? I love a good war film, I love Nolan, and this is honestly both at their best. The timeline and story intersections were beautifully done and the humanity of it all was devastating. And you have to love the ‘solidarity’ moments, which dad has trained me to love in films (and to look over to see if he’s crying- we watched Dunkirk together in the theaters, he was.)
And why Shape of Water? Let’s do process of elimination first.  CMBYN is obviously going to turn off conservative voters (but they’re okay with fish god bestiality (tune in to my upcoming links post for more on that)) and missed nominations in a few key categories (notably Best Supporting Actor). Darkest Hour was a long, dull, plodding film (I didn’t finish, I’m surmising from the first fifteen minutes and reviews that I’ve read/watched). Dunkirk: No acting or screenplay nominations, came out a while ago, not a lot of buzz. Get Out, like CMBYN, is probably a bit to political to pull through. I was excited to see it was even nominated and would be kind of shocked if it won Best Picture. Lady Bird could potentially win (it and CMBYN are my backup choices for actual Best Picture winner) but I haven’t heard as much about it recently, while the hype for Shape of Water seems to be only picking up.  Phantom Thread and The Post don’t have many nominations in other categories- it seems the nomination in these cases is the reward. And Three Billboards, while one of my favorites, has created a lot of controversy re: the redemption of a certain racist cop character (I didn’t have trouble with the way it was done but can see why some might).
What does The Shape of Water have on its side?  It has some Hollywood self-promotion- which the Academy loves- in terms of throwbacks to silent films, musicals, old creature features (of course), and the film industry as a whole (the heroine lives above a cinema).

Lead Actor:
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

I mean, obviously the Oscar will go to Gary Oldman in a fastest acting his fastest ass off as a curmudgeonly Winston Churchill.  He’s an actor the Academy wants to reward for previous work. He’s in a period drama about WWII. He’s acting aggressively. Physical transformation.
Were I a one-woman Academy, the Oscar would certainly be in the hands of Timothy Chalamet. And not just because I think he’s adorable and dreamy.  His work in CMBYN is just fantastic. I can’t say so much about it beyond “watch the film”.

Lead Actress:
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Frances McDormand delivers a powerful performance as the lead in Three Billboards and I think she absolutely deserves this win- and it’s even more likely if we accept my poems that Three Billboards is unlikely to win Best Picture. Additionally, she’s been coming out on top in the awards ceremonies leading up to the Oscars.
Could go to Soirse or Sally Hawkins, I find wins by Margot Robbie or Meryl Streep unlikely.

Supporting Actor:
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

This is I think the most difficult category to call.  There are significant reasons why the Academy might go for any one of these nominees. Willem Dafoe is a great actor representing a powerful project largely regarded as one of the more significant snubs. He’s never won before and he definitely seems like a man who could be an Oscar winner.  Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are both excellent in Three Billboards but are likely to split the vote.  Harrelson gets less screen time but Rockwell plays the character at the center of most of the controversy affecting the film. I don’t know that Academy voters are going to want to be the one to suggest rewarding the ‘racist cop with a heart of gold’ role. Richard Jenkins is touching and sensitive in The Shape of Water, which leads in terms of number of nominations. All the Money in the World hasn’t been getting much positive press, but Christopher Plummer was called in last minute to replace Spacey after his ignominious fall from grace, and it’s quite possible the Academy will want to reward that. Two weeks for filming a significant part in an already completed film is no mean feat.

Supporting Actress:
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

First I just want to say that all of these options are fantastic and there is no possible way to be displeased with any outcome.  Least likely to win is Octavia Spencer, simply because her role was less significant than the others and so has been getting less of a push and less attention.  Mudbound also hasn’t gotten much publicity (perhaps because it comes from the house of Netflix?) but Blige was potentially the best part of the film.  Lesley Manville is rather the dark horse and though her work in Phantom Thread is fantastic, I don’t think she’s likely to steal the award away from the two favorites- Janney and Metcalf.  Janney has been coming out on top more often than not and her portrayal involves more strenuous/exuberant acting. And on a personal level I liked I, Tonya more than Lady Bird.

Director:
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

It was a bit of a heartbreaker for me personally to choose between Nolan and del Toro.  Neither have Oscars and both have significant bodies of beautiful work that deserve to be rewarded.  In the end I think the Academy is more likely to give it to del Toro, who seems to be their darling this season.  I prefer Nolan. Apart from my issues with The Shape of Water, I think Dunkirk was a beautifully planned and beautifully realized tour de force.

Animated Feature:
“The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
“The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

Coco will and should win.

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Thoughts on the Oscar Noms

Thank you, Variety.com for the easy copy-paste job. I think I wrote these out by hand when I did this post last year and I remember it being kind of exasperating.
Also different from last year: This is only thought son the nominations, no predictions- yet.

Best Picture:
“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Overwhelming emotion: excitement at seeing Get Out on this list. It’s really rare for horror/genre films to be recognized, and this film- a social criticism/horror by a black director and starring a black actor- is at once a daring departure from form for the academy but also the most Oscar-baity of horror films they could possibly choose (not a bad thing, just a recognition of the self-consciously politically charged /significant/ nature of the film and the symbolism-charged details).  I’m not one of those people who feels that other genre films (like The Last Jedi, Wonder Woman, or Logan) should be on this list. The only film on this list that I haven’t seen at this point is Phantom Thread, but I’m really looking forward to that experience. Because fashion, Daniel Day-Lewis, and tense romance.  I don’t necessarily think Darkest Hour and The Post deserve their spots on here.  Both include some capital A Acting by academy favorites, so their you go.  Courtesy nominations, IMO.  The Post was serviceable. The Darkest Hour was kind of bland, excepting Gary Oldman’s athletic emoting and fat suit wearing channeling of Winston Churchill (did that sound snide? It was supposed to).  I don’t think there are any real snubs, but I’m surprised I, Tonya didn’t make it on. Given that the academy favors biopics, the interesting (and successful) choices re: fourth-wall breaking, and the recognition of the two main actresses in best actress and best supporting actress categories.  The Big Sick I guess could have been on here. I feel a bit take it or leave it though, so I wouldn’t call either of those a snub. Or you could throw in Mudbound.

Lead Actor:
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”
Same as last paragraph, I continue to have not seen Phantom Thread, but generally nominating DDL is a safe bet in my book (his success rate is higher for me than Meryl Streep’s) but I’ve also not seen Roman J. Israel, Esq. I don’t really plan to either. I’ve heard that it’s a not very good movie elevated by an excellent performance from Denzel Washington.  But given that DW (Haha, Arthur flashback) isn’t really my cup of tea, all the more reason to skip it.  Do I feel like James Franco was snubbed? Nah.

Lead Actress:
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”
This is all pretty good with me, although yes, I do stand by Meryl Streep’s being either a courtesy nomination or further evidence for her deal with the devil. (No, I’m not a Trumpian who thinks she’s over-rated. She’s amazing. But The Post is over-serious. And I feel like the tide may be turning away from the self-aggrandizing film, the aggressively act-y actor, etc.

Supporting Actor:
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
I didn’t very much like The Florida Project, finding its naturalistic depiction of poverty and essential child neglect a little too close to home and also too boring. But Willem Dafoe did do good work in it, so there’s that. But I wouldn’t necessarily have him in here.  I would also take out Christopher Plummer for All the Money in the World (cup of salt, it’s a film I haven’t seen), but I guess it is a fair remuneration for his jumping in for a heavy shooting schedule to replace Kevin Spacey’s scenes in a very limited space of time. So go you CP (sorry for all the abbreviations, I’m guiltily taking a break from studying and feel like I should hurry). I don’t feel like Armie Hammer was snubbed for Call Me By Your Name. He was good but I also found his character to be an annoying, condescending, egotistical pedant who could have been remarkably well-played by any number of guys I knew at Yale.  It’s a shame Michael Stuhlbarg couldn’t have been nominated for any of the three impressive supporting roles he had this year (in The Shape of Water, The Post, and Call Me By Your Name).  None of them was a HUGE standout, but I feel like he deserves kind of recognition for all-around hard work in a Hufflepuff kind of way. Go you, MS! I would maybe have put in Michael Shannon for his work in The Shape of Water as the the villainous, sinister, and really creepy Richard Strickland. Free the Michaels.

Supporting Actress:
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”
YESSS, MJB, I see you! Mudbound was pretty good and her work in it was excellent. In a largely overlooked film, I’m glad she was one of the few aspects recognized. I didn’t manage to see Phantom Thread since I started writing this post, so let’s keep that in mind as we continue. We’ve got three mom figures of varying degrees of good mom-ness (None as good as my Mom, obviously), and I’d like to put into the running a third mom-figure, which I think may be the most significant snub of this year’s Oscar race. Holly Hunter in The Big Sick. Watch this scene and then if you disagree you can fight me. I’ve heard some say that Tiffany Haddish shook have been nominated for her role in Girls Trip. Can’t weigh in because I very much do not enjoy raunchy comedies.

Director:
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro
I find it kind of hard to believe that this is Christopher Nolan’s first nomination for Best Director (because honestly he should have gotten one for The Dark Knight but it’s a genre film so…). Excited to see Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig on here, both for their directorial debuts. And The Shape of Water may have had some troubling underlying issues, but I’m happy to see GdT on this list, as he continues to be a favorite of mine. Spielberg wasn’t nominated for The Post which is a (in my book welcome) surprise.

Animated Feature:
“The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
“The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman
I’ll say the obvious, which is that this is Coco’s to lose.  I haven’t seen any of the others with the exception of Loving Vincent, which was gorgeous but also annoying, poorly thought out, and kind of induced some motion sickness. I’m debating whether I should watch Boss Baby. 1) It looks like it might be good in a terrible kind of way. 2) I feel like I should maybe see it high. 3) The title reminds me of Donald Trump.
I remember reading the Breadwinner/Parvana’s Journey in fifth grade, so that’s going on my ‘to watch’ list. I’m pissed that they took another of my favorite simple children’s books and turned it into an overloaded film (throwback to The Lorax), but can we also recognize that Kate McKinnon’s (unnecessary and additional) goat character actually… looks a whole lot like Kate McKinnon? This sin’t meant to offend. We all have a little goat in us and Kate McKinnon is all around a gorgeous and hysterical woman/person.
I wish Your Name was on here. Such a beautiful anime film, but it’s not included because, though it was released in the US in 2017, it’s actual release date was in 2016. Do check it out. It’s lovely and I cried and I don’t cry often. At films.

Other thoughts:

  • Big Sick I think should have been recognized more, in general. Even if I wasn’t the biggest fan. Maybe it will win for Best Original Screenplay, which I didn’t include on this list. But that’s also a pretty stacked category featuring other favorites of the year.  Maybe it will be recognized since it wasn’t anywhere else.
  • Phantom thread hasn’t been getting much awards buzz but it landed quite a few nominations regardless. I’ll be interested to see how it does.
  • Most importantly, the field of Oscar contenders is notably much more diverse than last year (Remember #OscarsSoWhite?). And much more diverse than the borderline (if not straight up) offensive Golden Globes nominations this year. (Natalie Portman is still my spirit animal).
  • Martin McDonagh, who directed Three Billboards, was left out as Best Director, despite all the buzz the film is getting and the recognition it’s receiving in the other important categories.
  • Should The Lego Batman Movie have gotten a nomination for Best Animated? Don’t know, haven’t seen.
  • Jordan Peele is the fifth African-American nominated for best director. Greta Gerwig is the fifth woman nominated for best director.
  • Timothee Chalamet, nominated for Best Actor in Call Me By Your Name, also had a fairy significant role in Lady Bird. You know who else was in Lady Bird? Lucas Hedges, who was the irritating teen boy in last year’s Manchester by the Sea.
  • Daniel Kaluuya is British. He has a British accent. He joins my list of stealth Brits.
  • Sufjan Stevens has been nominated for Best Original Song for “Mystery of Love” (he also contributed “Visions of Gideon”). He almost contributed a song to I, Tonya as well.
  • Mud bound’s Rachel Morrison is the first female cinematographer EVER to be nominated for an Oscar.
  • Christopher Plummer is the oldest nominee for acting ever, at 88. At 22, Timothee Chalamet is the youngest in about 80 years. I.e., since Christopher Plummer was 8.
  • Meryl Streep just broke her own record for most Oscar nominations.
  • Hostiles got essentially no nominations. I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve heard it’s very good, despite the lack of buzz.

Early Look: Top 5 Films of 2017

Some of my favorite film critics are putting out their lists of ‘top 5 (or 10) films of 2017’ and I don’t want to be left out.  However, the difference between me and them is that they get early screenings to everything, and so have actually seen the big 2017 films that I have yet to see (especially the Oscar-bait ones that cluster toward the end of December).

But I’ve been thinking back on what I’ve seen so far, and it’s definitely enough to make a top five, plus honorable mentions, plus shout outs to films I’m excited to see but that I haven’t had time to see, am saving for later, or that haven’t come out yet.

In an order that indefinitely particular:

  1. Baby Driver
  2. Dunkirk
  3. It
  4. Wind River
  5. Ingrid Goes West

Honorable Mentions: Coco, The Shape of Water, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Not yet seen: Lady Bird, The Post, I Tonya, Phantom Thread, Call Me By Your Name, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Hostiles, The Disaster Artist, Loving Vincent, The Square, Only the Brave, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Mudbound, Good Time, Lucky, and many many more.

Late Links 9/16: Let’s do this thing!

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Hi! Let’s do a quick rundown on my personal life since last Friday links post. I’ve moved to France.

That was shorter than I expected it to be. Continue reading “Late Links 9/16: Let’s do this thing!”

2017 Films I’m Looking Forward To

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I saw The Big Sick the day before yesterday! It was pretty good but not as excellent as I was hoping it would be. It’s hard to get a romcom right- I mean it’s hard to make an intelligent romcom.  Without spoilers, a few of the things I found lacking: a number of the best jokes were used in the trailer, and I found myself wishing I hadn’t seen the trailer so I could appreciate the film more.  Kind of says something negative re: rewatchability.
Also, the movie, despite being a romantic comedy, is too much about the male main character, Kumail Nanjiani. Given that the female protagonist is in a coma for the majority of the film (not a spoiler; that’s the premise), it’s an easy hole to fall into. But even when Emily’s parents (Holly Hunter!) show up to stand in for her, the film still leans into being a coming of age story for Kumail Nanjiani (which, he did do a lot to make this film happen, so I can see how it focuses on his experience).  The romantic plot line and family merging took a backseat to his personal development, to the extent that Emily’s coma feels more like a plot device to trigger Kumail’s transformation, rather than the premise of the film.  And even though she’s based on a real person, Zoe Kazan’s Emily  (through no fault of Zoe Kazan’s, who had to spend most of the film being  coma patient) comes across as more manic-pixie-dreamgirl. Probably as a result of the script more than anything else.
But it was a good movie. It was funny and quick, even if it was not as insightful or deep as I was hoping it would be. Continue reading “2017 Films I’m Looking Forward To”