Oscar Thoughts


I actually haven’t seen that many movies this year – no Girl’s Trip (this year’s Bridesmaid, no Melissa McCarthy-ish surprise nomination though), no Green Days by the River (that’s a 2017 Caribbean film based on a work of classic Caribbean literature)– so why do I care? Because I love movies…and award shows. And I have opinions…here they are in response to (and in order of) the announcements above.

Production Design
dunkirk
I actually like Dunkirk for this one, though the buzz suggests Shape of Water has this on lock. I haven’t seen Shape of Water, though; so, Dunkirk. Which I liked, though miffed that the Commonwealth troops were omitted as they typically are from World War 2 films (five million + Commonwealth citizens, including some from the then British West Indies, enlisted during World War 2; they saw action in the Pacific theatre, in Africa, and in Europe; and roughly 1000 Indian soldiers specifically were involved in the events re-told in Dunkirk, though whitewashed from the screen).

Cinematography
Hmmm I’d say Dunkirk again for the same reason as above. It was a visual and sonic more so than a character driven film, and it did what it did well. But, yeah, Shape of Water (based on the buzz and everything I’ve read) will probably get this one too. Netflix isn’t showing Mudbound in my jurisdiction, yet, so I’m kinda mad about that one because I would like to pull an Issa Rae giphy

Sidebar – I like the little introductory vignettes they did for the announcement, and great to see Andy Serkis (of Lord of the Rings, and anything with motion capture) and Tiffany Haddish (funny and a survivor, and The Last Black Unicorn per her book title) announcing the nominees.
phantom_thread
Costume Design
I haven’t seen any of these but I did see the trailer for Phantom Thread when I went to watch Justice League…and it’ll probably get this right? Phantom Thread, not Justice League. Next year, Black Panther, amiritie? tWIjOYWDv-0l

Sound Editing and Sound Mixing
Yep, I’m putting these together because I can’t tell them apart…and I’ll be rooting for…Dunkirk…not because it’s one of the few nominees I’ve seen (lol, at Haddish’s “I gotta see this Dunkirk, it seems like a lot of people like it”), but because I think a lot of the tension in the film is created with the way it uses sound and silence.

Animated Short Film
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So, Kobe Bryant wrote a poem when he was retiring from the NBA and is now an Oscar nominee because of it…I’m not mad…really, I’m not. Dear Basketball.

Live Action Short Film
Respect to the nominees. But, pass.

Original Score
I’m probably doing that lazy thing Academy voters do by voting for a name that’s familiar and a franchise that I like but John Williams’ Star Wars: the Last Jedi. And I haven’t even seen this latest entry in my favourite space opera series yet. Good thing my vote doesn’t count. But have you read some of those honest ballot articles the Hollywood Reporter usually runs? Based on those, some actual Academy members’ votes shouldn’t count either.

Visual Effects
war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes1Hmmm I haven’t seen War for the Planet of the Apes (shout out Andy Serkis) but I have seen the two earlier installments in this series and what they’ve been able to do in terms of infusing life and human emotions in to the apes in the one before this one was nothing short of amazing. So, not having seen any of the entries, I would say this, though I hear good things about The Shape of Water and given that it’s the year’s most nominated film, it’ll probably win. And this does look kind of magical. Changes vote to Shape of Water.tmg-facebook_social

Film Editing
Man, I don’t know. A friend of mine has raved (several times) about Baby Driver but I also saw Bill Maher rant about how it was just another men driving fast cars movie and the last one of those I sorta liked was Gone in 60 Seconds (and that certainly wasn’t about to win any Oscars). Eenie Meenie Minie Moe? The Shape of Water it is.

Sidebar – Is it me or should Wonder Woman have been in one of those categories?

Makeup and Hairstyling
I suppose Darkest Hour will get this though I’m inclined to agree with the blogger who asked why didn’t they cast someone more Churchillean.

Actress in a Supporting Role
RootsMary J. Blige! This isn’t just about what Issa Rae said…but come on, from singing back up for Father MC at Uptown to (and I’m just calling albums I own now) My Life to Waiting to Exhale (Not Gon’ Cry) to the live album The Tour to Mary to No More Drama to The Breakthrough to all this drama with her leech-X this past year, I’m rooting for Mary, dawg. I know the sure money’s on Allison Janney who’s cleaned up all the early awards for what seems to be a role you can sink your teeth in to or, if there’s an upset, Laurie Metcalf (whom I do like) but Mary J. Blige, the Queen of HipHop Soul 71mfdwBQKeL__SL1280_is an Academy Award nominated actress. Come on, now.

My girl, Octavia Spencer is in this category, too. And given that Monique’s battle with Netflix (and the fact that Wanda Sykes was offered even less than her, like way less) has pay disparity where it intersects with gender and race, trending, I have to mention what Octavia said at Sundance. During a panel, she broke in to tears talking about how Jessica Chastain linked them in negotiations to secure Octavia a comparable deal to hers for their next film – you’ll remember that they co-starred in The Help and were both nominated for that one as well. She got five times her usual asking price. I’m glad that Chastain, some missteps aside, continues to walk the talk as a good ally but low-key peeved that she has that kind of leverage and Octavia doesn’t and that she should have to use it for an Academy Award winning (The Help), Academy Award nominated (Hidden Figures) actress who should have had at least one other nomination (just on the strength of that scene where she has to go identify the body of her son, killed by police in Fruitvale Station). I mean, Hollywood, come on, put some “respeck” on Octavia’s name. Monique isn’t lying, the system is rigged.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Woody Harrelson is good in everything he’s in (yes, including Zombieland) and Sam Rockwell is way underrated. I wouldn’t mind either of these.

Foreign Language Film
No Angelina Jolie shade here…but First They Killed My Father is the only foreign language film I’ve really been hearing about…beginning with the disturbing reports about how the kids were auditioned (which as I read it sounded emotionally manipulative) to her Golden Globe nomination to her being one of the directors in this year’s Hollywood Reporter roundtablethr_director_rt_171112_am_thr_horizontal_group_0074_splash…I guess this is a case of don’t believe the hype? Was it snubbed or was it just not that good…I’ll never know. Okay so a little bit of shade. Sad that I haven’t really seen or heard about any of the other nominees though. Abstain.

Documentary Short
Haven’t seen any of these.

Documentary Feature
Nor these.

Original Song
Mary J. Blige, duh. Although to be honest none of these songs are wowing me – though they all have a distinct sound, and Stand Up for Something by Andra Day and Common from Marshall though cliché did get my toe tapping and had that anthemic quality. Maybe I need to see them in the contexts of their films. I can see the Hollywood types going for the old Hollywood musical feel of This is Me from the Greatest Showman though – it’s got the drama and poppy sing-a-long quality of a Broadway standard.

Animated Feature Film
The mention of Boss Baby here has me second guessing if this was the one my friend recommended and not Baby Driver…anyway, the only animated feature I’ve seen this year is the Lego Batman movie which, like the first Lego movie, was snubbed – yes, snubbed. I liked Lego Batman not as much as the Lego Movie (everything is awesome!) but yeah robingif.gif
So, of the actual nominees, I must say I’ve heard about all of them (Ferdinand, Coco) except the Breadwinner, and Coco is the one that killed the box office right? So that’s probably the favourite. As a Vincent Van Gogh fan though and as someone who has followed the making of Loving Vincent and the use of his art and artistic style in the making of the film (I think the making of it is so cool – read more about it here) , and since the Academy doesn’t get what an achievement it is to animate two dimensional lego pieces in to fully formed characters in a script at once snarky and charming, Vincent has my vote. The artist does have a track record of inspiring beautiful art, remember this Don Mclean classic track

Adapted Screenplay
Logan (why Logan and not Wonder Woman though? hmmm). Because it’s about time the snobbery against super hero films (Deadpool last year anyone?) ended. or Mudbound. Because of the Issa Rae-ness of it all and it’s a chance for Dee Rees (who is on record speaking on the trials of being a black filmmaker in Hollywood, of getting  financing for your film, of getting a distribution deal for your film, even after being Sundance’s darling) because it’s a shot at an Academy Award for her after being left out of the director’s category. Molly’s Game will probably get it though (right?) because Aaron Sorkin (though I haven’t seen the film which stars Jessica Chastain and co-stars Idris Elba – sold!) is a good writer with a distinctive (love it or hate it) style.

Original Screenplay
For me, this is one of the tightest races. I like everything I’ve heard, read, or seen about The Big Sick (Kumil Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, the husband and wife writing team who mined their life for inspiration, are delightful and their story is …wow, plus Holly Hunter and Anupam Kher – fan of their past work)DUPX32PU8AEf_YD and can’t wait to see it though I will have to given that I live behind God’s back and it’s tres indie. Get Out is easily my best film of the year just good storytelling (the foreshadowing, the tension and pacing, the character and plot development) and layers of meaning (symbolism, social commentary, challenging comfortable narratives), but also genre re-defining and genre defying actually, and both of the moment (Oscars so White, Black Lives Matter, diversity, post-racial lies) and classic (enduring, and the kind of film you need to see again and again to see it all). It’s just good and surprising, the latter not being something you can say often these days – and for the millionth time not or not just a horror film. P.s. I should’ve known that Get Out writer-director-producer Jordan Peele was the one behind the unsettling darker notes in the Key and Peele sketches because get out!https___blogs-images_forbes_com_scottmendelson_files_2017_02_MV5BMTUxMjEzNzE1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDYwNjUzMTI@__V1_SX1777_CR001777998_AL_-1200x675Is Ladybird the Juno of this year because I was kind of meh on Juno after all the hype when I finally got to see it…but good to see another woman and a woman-centred story in the mix. The Shape of Water or Three Billboards will probably get it though. Get out is my choice though and I’m going to be low key mad if they keep inviting Jordan Peele to the party and sending him home empty-handed (it’s the Colour Purple and India Arie all over again).

Actor in a Leading Role
Sidebar – I’ve seen some commentary about this so let me just say – you all goin need to back up offa my girl Tiffany. For the folks upset at her for messing up and mispronouncing names, I have one thing to say…actually six things: Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo, Mahershala Ali…and, oh yes, Moonlight. – end Sidebar.

Okay, I saw Daniel Kaluuya (from Get Out) and Timothee Chalamet (from Call me by Your Name) in one of those Actor on Actor Variety Talks, and I just love them both and wish all good things for them, especially since Chalamet didn’t go all Kate Winslet quadrupling down on working with alleged sex offender Woody Allen. I’m not feeling the Gary Oldman as Churchill thing – I saw the trailer for the Darkest Hour and it’s just seems too showy of a performance for me; that “never surrender” speech is actually one of my favourite speeches (so I’ve listened to it a few times in my life) and something about the delivery just feels over the top Oscar-baity to me. But he’ll probably win because the Academy likes period pieces and prestige films and he is a favourite (not one of mine but in general) and is on a winning streak with no road bumps in sight unless some of the things he’s said and done in the past come back to bite him as it has others this awards season. Weird to say this but Denzel (much as we love him) feels like an also-ran here…and oh yeah should have won for Malcolm X back in the day and probably Fences last year. He is also a favourite though but everything I’ve heard suggests J. Roman Israel Esq. isn’t the one. Loved me some Daniel Day Lewis back in the In the Name of My Father, Age of Innocence days but I don’t know…if anyone could upset Oldman though it’d be DDL.

Actress in a Leading Role
If anyone will upset Frances McDormand whom I’ve loved since Fargo, it’ll probably be Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, right? McDormand seems like a sure thing after the Globes and SAGS though.three-billboards

Director
I’m guessing Guiellermo Del Toro will get it. This is a good category, like any of these could reasonably take it but The Shape of Water seems to have the buzz and after listening to Del Toro and how he approaches his art in the Hollywood Reporter roundtable, I’m not hating. I’ve liked Nolan since Inception but Dunkirk doesn’t seem to have the momentum. Besides you know I want Jordan Peele to win right?
Film Title: Get Out
Best Picture
What’s my criteria – artistic achievement, relevancy, creativity-experimentation-surprise, enduring appeal, entertainment value, and that hodgepodge of presentation (performances, storytelling, etc. etc.). My pick – you already know this – is Get Out. But I’d be surprised if it won. Surprise me, Hollywood.

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