This year’s Oscars is expected to be toned to a post-Weinstein, #MeToo era; and while officially the academy has told actors to dress ‘fun’ to ‘celebrate films, not the cultural movement’, we can still expect many to come in black. For the 5th year running the Oscars will be hosted at the Dolby theatre, and for the second year by Jimmy Kimmel (who’ll never quite live up to Ellen DeGeneres).
If you’re like me, you print out a list of all the nominations as soon as they come out and make it your mission to watch as many as possible. It’s not as though I believe the Oscars is a collection of the best films of the year, far from it: if anything, it’s a collection of the films with the most expensive PR teams. But that, in and of itself, is a source of great excitement: a chance for a great celebration of film industry opulence.
That said, the Oscars are not without their critics… Can this 90 year old tradition really survive the modern world? Oscar winners are taking away bags worth $100,000, bearing gold facemasks, diamond necklaces (apparently sourced ethically, the Oscars felt they needed to specifically stipulate the word ethically… Ethic-ally), and luxury trips around the world. Last year it was noticed by a commentator that, during the ceremony, more advertisements were played for tv shows than movies… In fact, last year acted as a seismic wake up call with #OscarsSoWhite trending on twitter. Accordingly, this year sees a record nomination of black artists.
I may be a dying breed, but I enjoy the Oscars, and so here are my thoughts about some of the notable categories. I am going to focus mostly on the categories I find the most interesting (which also happen to be the most important!), and towards the end list some of my predictions for the smaller categories (call it a matter of pride).
Never before in the nominations have I genuinely felt so many films in this category deserve to win. ‘Dunkirk’ was a narrative and cinematographic marvel that captured the audience, especially if you saw it in the cinema. The reception at the British Academy Awards and Screen Actors Guild suggests “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has a good shot at winning, and rightly so. ‘Darkest Hour’ and ‘The Post’ are truly epic drama history films, which capture beautifully humanity in history.
A film I wasn’t particularly impressed by was Guadignino’s “Call Me by Your Name”: although this may seem controversial, I just found it very… boring. I’m not saying it was terrible, I just felt in comparison to the other nominated films it wasn’t as good. While it is a beautiful coming of age story, capturing a relationship romantically evolving at a well-tempered, balanced pace, I simply felt it was best to leave well-tempered films to the likes of Yorgos Lanthimos or A24 productions.
What should win: “Lady Bird”
This is easily my favourite film in the entire category. If you’re a fan of Malloy you might know of his musical number Starchild (if you are not, listen to it), it was as if the song was written for Lady Bird. This coming of age film is exquisitely hilarious, witty, smart, and emotional. It captures the childish lures of teenage narcissism, with a charm brough by Saoirse Ronan’s character that maintains a warm likeability. Ultimately she is a small-town girl born to be better, afraid to be detained by mediocrity. Aren’t we all…
What I think will win: “Get Out” or “Shape of Water”
A note about “Shape of Water”: don’t let the comically looking ‘fish-man’ turn you away, this is an incredible film. It’s an eccentric, unique retelling of the typical fairytale-monster-falls-in-love-with-human story, with a pastiche of the ‘1950’s Small French Town, Piaf La Vie En Rose, dancing in the cobbled streets’. Lest we ignore how well it was received at the Guild.
“Get Out”, on the other hand, is a social critique with a smart, impactful, shocking, and even funny manner. It has often been referred to as the ‘most important film of the year’, and it certainly could not have come out at a more important time.
With the risk of being cynical, the reason I believe these films may be chosen is because while all the films are exceptional, the Oscar voters might consider the social climate of a 2018 world. Perhaps, subconsciously, I can imagine that a film commenting on modern day discrimination, or a film about 2 social outcasts (one a mute and one a monster) finding solidarity together, might be seen as favourable.
Snub: “The Florida Project”
I really felt this film deserved more recognition in the categories, especially best picture. The film, about a social class on the brink of homelessness forced to live in motels, is fiercely critical of the system which ostracises them. And yet, it is done though the vibrant, colourful, energetic, and even optimistic eyes of children who use their imagination and childishness to navigate and enjoy ‘poverty’. This shockingly realistic dichotomy creates the almost perfect film, were it nominated I would have wanted it to win.
Best actor category:
What I want to win: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
What I think will win: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Despite my personal dislike of the general over-glorification of Winston Churchill in history (wars are won by more than one person, and this one happened to be a racist bigot), I enjoyed Oldman’s portrayal. Moreover, I enjoyed the balance between public successes and personal insecurities, more than any other portrayal of Churchill this one showed less a god and more a vulnerable man.
Snub: James Franco, “Disaster Artist”
I thought Franco’s Wiseau was certainly worthy of a nomination. However, if we are to consider that his sexual misconduct allegations surfaced around the time of the nominations, it is hard to imagine the Oscars willingly nominating him. Especially considering the #MeToo campaign is an undercurrent of this event. And, if not for that reason, I would say that it is also to do with the fact that historically the Oscars does not favour comedic roles or movies.
Best actress category:
Who I want to win: Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
I have a bit of a soft spot for Meryl Streep, and I personally think she should have won best actress every time she has been nominated – especially in 2006 when “The Devil Wears Prada” lost to “The Queen”. However, this time I will the win to Ronan. I could not be more in love with Ronan’s portrayal of a confident, slightly arrogant, yet entirely lovable character. Only Ronan could have pulled that off. And she did.
Who I think will win: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
This was perhaps a tough year for Ronan to be up for best Actress, considering McDormand’s role… As writer, Martin McDonagh said ‘If Frances McDormand had said no, we’d have been fucked.’ He’d said that he wanted someone for the role who could ‘play working class without sentimentalising or patronising it’ and once he started writing the character he wrote it in mind for McDormand. She was simply exceptional in the role and I have no doubt in my mind she will win.
Actor in supporting role
I’m sure by now everyone is familiar with the size of Ridley Scott’s… Chutzpah! Months into post production Kevin Spacey turned his movie toxic, so he replaced him with Christopher Plummer: requiring reshoots of every single scene, months into post production. Wow. And, yes, while it was incredible, it also became the entirety of the marketing campaign for the film, why? Because take away the scandal the film is ‘eh’… Unfortunately, so is Plummer’s role.
Who I want to win: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
An underrated actor who honestly needs more screen time in movies… While I loved this movie as a whole, I wholeheartedly believe Dafoe’s performance carried it up to a top tier film.
Who I think will win: Sam Rockwell, “Three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri”
Rockwell’s portrayal of a small town officer is nothing short of exceptional. I personally believe, however, that two nominations from the same film is a bit on the nose. As much as I enjoyed Woody Harrelson’s role, I don’t believe he compares to the others in this category.
Snub: Patrick Stewart, “Logan”
While I am shocked that this movie in general was snubbed by the Oscars (like most super hero genre films), especially considering it is perhaps the best movie to come out of Marvel Entertainment, I am especially shocked that Patrick Stewart’s touching portrayal of a person with Alzheimer’s was snubbed.
Actress in supporting role
Who I want to win: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Honourable mention goes to Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”. While I thought she was absolutely fantastic in this role, a perfect comedic break from the alluring film, perhaps I am still sore from her not winning for her role in “Hidden Figures” last year.
In any case, I thought the chemistry between Metcalf and Ronan was exceptional and perhaps the reason why this film was so great. For that reason, I think Metcalf is deserving of this award.
Who I think will win: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
“I, Tonya” was an astonishing retelling of a story that our parents would have lived through. What’s more, it tells the story almost sympathetically and empathetically, providing a new perspective. Janney’s performance is exceptional as the estranged mother and alludes realistically to their actual relationship, believably so…
Animated feature film
I want to win: “Loving Vincent”
I think will win: “Coco”
Snub: “Lego Batman”
This isn’t the first snub for the Lego series:the “Lego Movie” was also snubbed in years previous. I have no idea why, I don’t know if it is to do with the Oscar’s dislike of self-aware comedies that are introspective, but in any case if there is anyway to demonstrate how out of touch the Oscar voters are with the majority of movie-goers, this snub is the apex.
I want to win: “Lady Bird”
I think will win: “Dunkirk”
Snub: Martin McDonagh, “Three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri”
I want to win: “Dunkirk”
I think will win: “Dunkirk”
I want to win: “Beauty and the Beast”
I think will win: “Phantom Thread”
Music (original song)
I want to win: “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”
I think will win: “Remember Me” from “Coco”
I want to win: “Baby Driver”
I think will win: “Baby Driver”
Writing (original screenplay)
I want to win: “Three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri”
I think will win: “Get Out”
Of course, I haven’t covered every category, but I have covered the ones I found particularly interesting.
For me, the fun of the Oscars has come not only from predicting who will win out of the nominations, but also who was snubbed. I have always found conversations about the snubs to be as fun and interesting as the winners. I cannot wait for this weekend, and I hope everyone has printed out a ballot. Let’s see how many of my predictions turn out correct!