Links for the two test week

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It’s been such a week so I’m just going to throw some links on here and run. Seriously, right from vacation into double killer exams.  When it feel like a long week and it’s only Tuesday you know you’re in trouble.

But I bought my flight home, wheee!

  • A children’s book to teach about the huge and overwhelming emotional spectrum. Hooray for raising emotionally literate and empathetic children.
  • It’s Luckyscent’s 15 year anniversary- and they’re welcoming some cool store exclusives!
  • This instagram account makes beautiful patterns from everyday objects. One step up from freakebana?
  • My favorite Oscar speeches!- Guillermo del Toro and Frances McDormand (I just watched the latter again (for the fourth time? Still so powerful. #InclusionRider).
  • I shared an essay about Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon a week or two ago- and he seems pretty charming in person. And he has a cute belly.
  • Wait, are they going to make a film from Chekhov’s The Seagull? Because that would be amazing. Also, how many films is Saoirse Ronan in this year? Also Annette Bening.
  • Heartwarming story of the week: A tiny little girl transfixed by the National Portrait Gallery’s portrait of Michelle Obama meets her idol.
  • My favorite, sent to me by my college roommate (whose birthday was yesterday, Happy Birthday, Lily!)- the largest ever analysis of film dialogue by gender. It reminds me of how my Mom has stopped watching films exclusively about white men (she made a recent exception for Call Me By Your Name) and now finds that most films she watches are about black men. The lack of substantial female roles in the film industry is really astonishing.
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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.

Best Films I Watched Over Break

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We’re on the roll again which means a more sparse posting schedule. So here’s an easy list based entirely on fact and doesn’t require the energy of me forming subjective opinions.

The sad thing: I have kept so well abreast of new releases this year that there was nothing novel to watch on the plane. So I watched Moana again (I cried) and then fell asleep watching Dunkirk. Because the struggles of the RAF are so relaxing.

Without further ado

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
    Bien sur.
  • Saving Mr. Banks
    The irascible creator of Mary Poppins battles with the demons of her past and Walt Disney’s obsession with animated penguins. Just excellent.
  • The Shape of Water
    Beautiful and atmospheric GdT film that didn’t live up to my unreasonably high expectations but was still sublime.  Beautiful soundtrack, beautiful acting, beautiful images.
  • Undertow/Contracorriente
    I’ve written about this already on my list of my favorite films of 2017, here.
  • A Man Called Ove
    And this would have been on the list (probably) except that I saw it in January. It’s a heartbreaking Danish film about an old man determined to follow his late wife to the grave but whose suicide plans keep being interrupted by noisy neighbors, people in need of help, and a stubborn stray cat.  It gave me feelings deep in my chest.

The takeaway: Irascible adults are the butter on my toast at the moment (Ove, Luke Skywalker, PL Travers). Fittingly, I’m starting on Three Billboards now, featuring the always eloquently irascible Frances McDormand.

Last Friday in America: 9/8

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Fuck, that’s scary.

Lots of links, though! Continue reading “Last Friday in America: 9/8”