From the Archives: My Oscar Hopes and Predictions

From the Archives: My Oscar Hopes and Predictions

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.

Originally posted on Cinema76.

As part of our continuing Oscar coverage here at Cinedelphia, I wanted to do a quick rundown of the biggest categories (sorry, Hair & Maekup) to give you my hopes, predictions, and snubs for this year’s ceremony. While there are a few films that I lament the absence of, this might be the first time in history that none of the nominations made me scoff. Yeah, I’d happily trade Darkest Hour for The Florida Project in the Best Picture race, but given the fact that neither would be likely to win anyway within this spread, it’s hard to feel passionate about it. I should note that it is IMPOSSIBLE to come up with a formula for accurately predicting the whims of the Oscar voters, so my methodology is based almost solely in gut instinct. I should also note that the term “snubs” feels loaded. It’s not. Most of the snubs I list come with a complete understanding of why they weren’t nominated. My taste doesn’t always align with the Academy, and these snubs are included as representations of it. Here goes…

Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick

– Get Out

– Lady Bird

 The Shape of Water

– Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My pick: Get Out. This is THE movie of 2017, and although it does suffer from a few garden variety “first time filmmaker” issues, it’s pretty damn perfect otherwise, and it all comes down to a truly brilliant script. So many movies of this type are better relegated to Black Mirror or Twilight Zone length, but Jordan Peele has justified feature length with a powerful combination of smarts, humor, and a lived-in commentary on race relations in present day America. It’s an essential film with an essential script.

My prediction: The Big Sick. I haven’t seen this one yet, but I hear the script is just phenomenal. I will be checking it out soon.

Snubs: Phantom ThreadOkja

Best Adapted Screenplay

– Call Me By Your Name

– The Disaster Artist

– Logan

– Molly’s Game

– Mudbound

My pick: Logan. This final Wolverine film doesn’t just send off the greatest rebranding in superhero cinema history with style, but does so in a way that cleverly eliminates anything bad about the franchise leading up to it (the rest were just comic books! Ha!). It’s a solid vehicle that puts humanity back into a franchise that has fallen victim to “brand management” style filmmaking, while also serving up precisely what we’ve been begging of the franchise for almost two decades. And I cried and cried and cried. It’s incredible.

My prediction: Call Me By Your Name. I have a feeling that this excellent film is not going to bring home as many awards as everyone expects, but it’s a shoo-in for this category. This hip reboot of the Merchant Ivory Extended Cinematic Universe is a joy, and much of that is owed to the tone implied on the page.

Snubs: ItT2: Trainspotting (I think that counts?)

Best Cinematography

– Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins

– Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel

– Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema

– Mudbound, Rachel Morrison

– The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen

My pick: Roger Deakins! There’s no arguing that, in a career of masterful work, this is his best. In fact, I’d say it’s a high point for the craft itself. Even if you hate this movie (and you’d be very, very wrong to do so), there’s no denying how beautiful it looks.

My prediction: DEAKINS!!!!!

Snubs: The Florida Project – Alexis Zabe, A Cure for Wellness – Bojan Bazelli

Best Supporting Actor

– Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

– Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

– Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

– Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

– Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World

My pick: Richard Jenkins. Those of you who know me know that my love for The Shape of Water runs deep. Those who remember my short-lived #ConsiderChicory campaign honoring Richard Jenkins’ unbelievable work in Bone Tomahawk know that I will drive to the Academy offices and demand at gunpoint that he be given a lifetime achievement award in the case that he doesn’t receive an Oscar soon. His heart is undoubtedly huge and you can see it in its entirety in The Shape of Water.

My prediction: Christopher Plummer. Because what better way for the Academy to silently join #MeToo without actually having to do anything?

Snubs: Sir Patrick Stewart – Logan, Jake Gyllenhaal – Okja, Benny Safdie – Good Time, Bob Odenkirk – The Post, Michael Stuhlbarg – The Shape of Water, Barry Keoghan – The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Lakieth Stanfield – Get Out\

Best Supporting Actress

– Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

– Allison Janney, I, Tonya

– Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

– Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

– Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

My pick: Mary J. Blige. This flick isn’t getting nearly as much love or recognition as it should. It’s a strong, ambitious film from an exciting filmmaker, but the strongest piece of the puzzle is Mary J. Blige. There’s nothing showy about her performance, nor anything outright explosive. It’s a realistic, deeply nuanced piece from somebody I’d never expect to have such skill as an actress. If I didn’t recognize her face, I’d have thought the filmmakers used a time machine to get a real person from the era for the film. She’s incredible.

My prediction: Laurie Metcalf. While I did love Lady Bird, I find it to be a bit overrated. I’m alone on this for sure, but I’m not alone in saying that Metcalf is stellar. She’s another one like Richard Jenkins in that she is so rarely recognized for her skills despite being an all-time great performer. She’s not my first pick, but I will dance a celebratory jig when she wins.

Snubs: Carrie Coon – The Post, Nicole Kidman – The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Sylvia Hoeks – Blade Runner 2049, Kirsten Dunst – The Beguiled, Oona Airola – The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, Betty Gabriel – Get Out

Best 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.

My pick: Daniel Kaluuya. The difference between theater acting and stage acting, in my estimation, comes down to the face. While theater actors must always consider the back row and size their performance accordingly, film actors have to consider more minute choices, given that the camera is often right in the thick of things. Note: I am not saying one style is superior — I, for one, can do neither with any sort of authority. What I’m saying is that Get Out is a movie that requires multiple viewings in order to parse out all of the densely packed details. One of the best places to find said details is in Kaluuya’s face. This is a man who is utilizing the medium to its fullest extent in what, at a surface level, could be mistaken as a subdued performance.

My prediction: Gary Oldman. Why? Because it’s “his turn.” Good movie, solid performance, but this is on the lower end of Oldman’s capacity as an actor, in my opinion. No new ground being traversed.

Snubs: Robert Pattinson – Good Time, Colin Farrell – The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Jason Mitchell – Mudbound, Ethan Embry – The Devil’s Candy, Arnaud Valois – BPM, Vince Vaughn – Brawl in Cell Block 99.

Best 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

My pick: Sally Hawkins. Her performance made me cry sooooooo hard, and she did it without saying a word. She plays such a lovable character who is extremely easy to root for, but brings a realism to the role that few would have even thought to do amidst a largely fantastical film. She’s a real woman. She asserts herself without a voice. She masturbates, but isn’t sexualized. She’s quirky without being just a bag of quirks. Within the bounds of plot she’s purely entertaining, but when we pull the lens back to see the thematics of the film, her behaviors say everything even though she says nothing. Elisa Esposito is THE hero of 2017 cinema, and she deserves this honor more than anyone.

My prediction: I think this will indeed end up going to Hawkins, but I wouldn’t be surprised if literally anyone else on this list won. This is always a tough category to predict.

Snubs:  Vicky Krieps – Phantom Thread, Eili Harboe – Thelma, Brooklynn Prince – The Florida Project, Florence Pugh – Lady Macbeth, Rooney Mara – A Ghost Story, Kristen Stewart – Personal Shopper

Best Director:

– Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

– Jordan Peele, Get Out

– Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

– Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

– Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

My pick: Christopher Nolan. The official title of this award is “Best Achievement in Directing,” and with that in mind, I think Nolan fits the bill best. Dude strapped giant IMAX cameras to reconstructed WWII planes and boats, while remaining at the forefront of the film preservation and theatrical exhibition movement. I’m admittedly also rooting for Anderson, what with him being my favorite filmmaker and all, but that is mostly just bias. Although Phantom Thread is indeed a masterpiece.

My prediction: Guillermo del Toro. Just a gut reaction on this one, but I’ll take it if it happens!

Snubs: Julia Ducournau – Raw, Denis Villeneuve – Blade Runner 2049, Josh Safdie & Benny Safdie – Good Time, Edgar Wright – Baby Driver, Darren Aronofsky – mother!, Sean Baker – The Florida Project, Dee Rees – Mudbound, Ruben Östlund – The Square 

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

My pick: The Shape of Water. The lessons put forth in the movie are so timely, so essential, and put forth in such a delectably moving way, that it is, in my opinion, the best film on this list. And since it’s a monster movie, it’s a representative success for genre film as well. This is the purest vision to come from the brain of one of our most idiosyncratic filmmakers, and it spoke to me in a ways that his preceding body of work always failed to do (although it’s come close). It’s the best movie in this list, bar none.

My prediction: Get Out. As I said before, there is no denying that this is THE movie of 2017. It’s both timely AND a crowd pleaser. While I personally think Peele’s masterpiece is still pending, his opening is as strong as any. This too would be a representative success for genre films, and could also shake up the way studios schedule releases with awards in mind (it came out in February).

Snubs: RawBlade Runner 2049OkjaGood TimeBPMThe Florida Projectmother!

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