Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Thoughts on the 2018 Oscar Nominations

The Oscar nominations came out yesterday, and, in part because I post on an ‘Oscar Buzz’ Facebook group where the prize for correctly predicting as many categories as possible was a Dunkirk DVD, I actually put some welly into thinking through my predictions this year, rather than some really counter-logical guesses I made last year, purely because I hoped they’d happen (Taraji P. Henson for Best Actress, and Lucas Hedges’ scowling in Manchester by the Sea to not get nominated, etc).

There wasn’t a snub that riled me as much this year as last year when Amy Adams got overlooked for Arrival (yes, I'm still mad). What’s more, of the Best Picture nominees that I’ve seen, none irked me as much as Manchester by the Sea and Blah Blah Bland did, so, whilst there were films I disagreed to getting nominated on principle (like I, Tonya), overall, I really can’t complain! 🎬

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

How I did: 8/9.

The only one I didn’t predict was Darkest Hour, mainly because it didn’t get nominated at the Golden Globes and SAGs for anything other than Gary Oldman. It did make Best Picture in BAFTA’s truncated 5-film line-up, but I erroneously assumed that was a pity nomination due to American awards bodies failing to nominate it. I realise now that for it to make the 5 film shortlist at BAFTA meant some people would have placed Darkest Hour 3rd or 4th in their personal ballots, which could have been what tipped it.

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.”

How I did: 5/5.

Not to brag, but I actually out-predicted the Oscar Guru himself, Nathaniel, on this. (Nathaniel thought Franco would sneak in).

I just read the political climate, #TimesUp and #MeToo. Hollyweird are trying to re-invent themselves as a place free of sexism and leery creepy guys (ha!), and, as disingenuous as that is, it would have been horrifically bad optics to nominate James Franco (accused of sexual misconduct by five women). The allegations about Franco dropped just after his Golden Globes win on the 7th January. Oscar voting closed on the 12th, so in this case, James Franco has no-one but himself to blame. If he wanted his second Oscar nomination, he shouldn’t have pressured girls into sex acts with him when they didn’t want to. (Aziz Ansari, is that you?)

Franco missing out when he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy means he follows Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s lead. ATJ won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor last year, but was ignored at the Oscars, who went for his Nocturnal Animals co-star Michael Shannon instead.

The chief beneficiary of James Franco's alleged coercive behaviour is Denzel Washington, who’s film Roman J. Israel, Esq. got really tepid reviews from critics. So tepid, in fact, that after his Golden Globe nomination, Denzel basically gave up campaigning because he didn’t think it was going anywhere.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the Academy giving Denzel another Oscar nomination for by far the most poorly-received of the films he’s been nominated for is partly them grovelling for awarding Casey Affleck (another man riddled with allegations of sexual misconduct) over him last year for Fences, when he was visibly pissed that he lost.

Daniel Day-Lewis’ nomination for his self-proclaimed last acting role, his sixth in Best Leading Actor, means that every time he’s been nominated, the director that directed him also got nominated for Best Director, and the Film he acted in got nominated for Film. The power of the DDL, yo!

Timothée Chalamet becomes the third youngest actor to receive an Oscar nomination in Actor in a Leading Role, and Daniel Kaluuya, the twentieth youngest, at 28. To give you an indication of the age-imbalance between Oscar nominations in Best Actor and Best Actress, Emma Stone won last year when she was the same age as Kaluuya is now, for dancing really badly and wailing terribly in Blah Blah Bland. Stone isn’t even one of the top 50 youngest actresses to be nominated in Best Actress!

Kaluuya, who was absolutely incredible in Get Out, joins Dev Patel as a fellow alumni of British TV show Skins to gain an Oscar nomination. Very well deserved.

British men called Daniel have talent, ya see. Unless they're football writers for The Guardian.

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”

How I did: 5/5.

Never doubt the Meryl. She stole Amy Adams’ Oscar nomination last year, and, she just seems to be the go-to person to nominate if the Academy aren’t inspired enough to try to think outside the box for a fifth nominee.

This is my favourite Saoirse Ronan Red Carpet look of all-time!

Queen of Ireland Saoirse Ronan becomes the second youngest actress to receive three Oscar nominations. The youngest was Jennifer Lawrence, which in itself illustrates how pointless these awards are, because Saoirse is in a completely different league to JLaw in terms of acting.

But the good news is, with Harvey Weinstein’s decline, Hollywood doesn't feel obligated to pretend to find Jennifer Lawrence talented any more, and have started to reveal how they really feel about her, with her well-deserved Razzie nomination for mother!

Lawrence in mother! and Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes were two performances that, months before the nominations and blind to the quality of the film, people thought on paper would have been in the bag nominations for these two insufferable ingénues (both who stole their Oscars from far more deserving French actresses, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Huppert, respectively). But Hollyweird has a new ingénue du jour, Margot Robbie, and Lawrence and Stone have rightly been Bye Felicia’d.

Lawrence and Stone have been peddling this fake PR friendship, clearly hoping to springboard off each other’s fame for another Oscar nomination. That backfired and then some (enjoy your Razzie nom Jlaw 👻), and now they can quit pretending they’re pals.

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”

How I did: 4/5.

I did let my heart dominate my head on this one. I refused to entertain the thought that Michael Stuhlbarg wouldn’t get nominated for Call Me By Your Name, because he was just magic in it and exuded paternal understanding. That monologue gave me chills! In doing so, I ignored the patterns: Woody Harrelson received a BAFTA and Screen Actor Guild nomination, and Three Billboards won the SAG for Best Ensemble, so they were probably keen to nominate more than just Sam Rockwell in this category.

Just like Mr. Perlman’s son in Call Me By Your Name, I, usually so sure of myself, was led astray by romance. To quote Stuhlbarg’s stunning monologue...

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

How I did: 4/5.

So my slightly daring guess of Lesley Manville paid off. I’m so glad – she’s well underrated, my personal pick for Best Actress in 2010, and apparently nails it as Daniel Day-Lewis’ characters steely sister. She's Gary Oldman's ex-wife, so that will make Oscar night fun!

Manville’s nomination does make me sad for Paul Dano, who supported DDL in another Paul Thomas Anderson film, There Will Be Blood. Day-Lewis gave one of the most mesmerising performances of all-time in There Will Be Blood, but part of the reason he was so good was because Dano played the antagonist and sparring partner so well. It was a shame Dano didn’t get any recognition, apart from a paltry BAFTA nomination, for it.

My hunch that Octavia Spencer would get shut out for playing a character who is a variation of those that she played in Hidden Figures and The Help, was wrong, and Hong Chau is the casualty. I love Octavia Spencer and she lights up the screen in pretty much everything she’s in, but I am very disappointed for Chau, because Hollyweird historically rarely acknowledges Asian actresses. On top of that, when there is an Asian role, they usually let Emma Stone or Scarlett Johansson play them. So yeah, Hollyweird has a long way to go with representation of Asians in cinema.

With her second nomination in a row after Hidden Figures, Octavia Spencer, Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep make it three back-to-back nominations from the 2017 Oscars. The last time there were three back-to-back nominees were Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in 2013-2014. This year is more impressive, tho, because Spencer, Washington and Streep are re-nominated in exactly the same categories!

BBFC nerdery – all ten performances in the supporting acting categories all came in 15-rated films! Last year, there wasn’t a single acting category where all the performances got the same BBFC rating, yet now we have two!

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

How I did: 4/5.

Martin McDonagh not getting nominated for Three Billboards came as a bit of a surprise, but I’m all for it; his direction in that film was nothing special – it was McDormand, Rockwell and the general sense of tragedy that made the film sing.

So, so happy for Christopher Nolan, Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig! Jordan Peele becomes only the third director (after Warren Beatty, yep, that’s the dude who said La La Land won Best Picture last year because he was too vain to wear his glasses and James L. Brooks) to earn nominations in Picture, Direction and Writing for his directorial debut.

Get in!

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

How I did: 4/5.

I predicted The Lego Batman Movie instead of The Boss Baby, as did most reasonable people, I think! I don’t wanna shade a film that I haven’t seen, but judging from the trailers, The Boss Baby looks like the most derivative, unfunny sack of crap ever! This is a screenshot from the BBFCinsight for The Boss Baby. This got nominated for an Oscar, ladies and gentlemen.

But whatever, the Oscars gave Blah Blah Bland six Oscars so clearly our tastes don’t fully align.

Adapted Screenplay:
“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory

“The Disaster Artist,” Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
“Logan,” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
“Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin
“Mudbound,” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

How I did: 4/5.

I predicted Wonder instead of Logan, gar. I can’t be too mad, though – I really liked Wonder, but that was mainly due to Jacob Tremblay and Julia Roberts’ performances. I have no beef with Logan’s script getting recognised.

Original Screenplay:
“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh

How I did: 4/5.

Funnily enough, I only watched The Big Sick to help guide my predictions (when there’s a Dunkirk DVD at stake, one has to take the competition seriously). Had I not watched it, I would definitely have predicted it instead of Phantom Thread. How counter-productive!

I don’t think The Big Sick should be nominated in this category at all. The way every Pakistani woman in the film was presented as a 2D caricature with over-the-top accents was very tone-deaf to me. One woman had grown up in the States her whole life, like Nanjiani’s character, yet, she had a thick accent and he didn’t? 😶

I personally think The Big Sick would have been a much more potent film if it zoned in on what Nanjiani’s character loved about Zoe Kazan’s (and to be fair, there is a lot to love, she is very lovable. Paul Dano, you’ve done well!), without shitting all over south Asian women.

I know I’m not alone in this, and I’ll defer to these insightful pieces written by south Asian women  (1 and 2) about how infuriating it was to watch their own kind get thrown under the bus under The Big Sick. So yeah, not a fan of its writing at all. Kumail Nanjiani, you may have an Oscar nomination, but you’ve also totally marginalised all the women from your country on screen.

“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins
“Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema
“Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison
“The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen

How I did: 5/5.

Cinematography is fairly easy to predict, I feel. Congratulations to Rachel Morrison on becoming the first female cinematographer to get nominated!

Best Foreign Language Film:
“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)
“The Insult” (Lebanon)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“On Body and Soul (Hungary)
“The Square” (Sweden)

How I did: 3/5.

To be fair I don’t know what any of these films are about. I predicted In the Fade because it won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, but it wasn’t nominated. This same thing happened with Elle last year (although Elle didn’t even make the nine-film Best Foreign Film shortlist!)

Film Editing:
“Baby Driver,” Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
“Dunkirk,” Lee Smith
“I, Tonya,” Tatiana S. Riegel
“The Shape of Water,” Sidney Wolinsky
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Jon Gregory

How I did: 4/5.

I predicted Get Out instead of I, Tonya. Best Editing was announced quite early on in the nominations (and it is a weathervane for Best Picture, in that, films which don’t get nominated for their Editing rarely win Best Picture, bizarre, I know), and when I heard I, Tonya I was terrified it was gonna get nominated for Best Pic! Happily, that didn’t materialise.

Sound Editing:
“Baby Driver,” Julian Slater
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mark Mangini, Theo Green
“Dunkirk,” Alex Gibson, Richard King
“The Shape of Water,” Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

How I did: 4/5.

I’ve seen The Shape of Water, and apart from the sounds of the ripples of the waves, I didn’t really notice any standout Sound in it? Still better than nominating La La Land in this category for the sound of LA traffic, mind.

Sound Mixing:
“Baby Driver,” Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
“Dunkirk,” Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
“The Shape of Water,” Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

How I did: 3/5.

This is the first time since the two Sound categories have forked that the Mixing and Editing categories have completely matched, FYI. Also, the five films nominated here are exactly the same as the five nominated for Best Sound at the BAFTAs, which tells me they might as well just have an umbrella ‘Best Sound’ category after all, seeing as voters obviously can’t tell the nuances.

Production Design:
“Beauty and the Beast,” Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
“Blade Runner 2049,” Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
“Darkest Hour,” Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
“Dunkirk,” Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
“The Shape of Water,” Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

How I did: 4/5.

I underestimated Darkest Hour (predicted The Greatest Showman instead) and it may just cost me a Dunkirk DVD. FFS.

Original Score:
“Dunkirk,” Hans Zimmer
“Phantom Thread,” Jonny Greenwood
“The Shape of Water,” Alexandre Desplat
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” John Williams
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Carter Burwell

How I did: 2/5.

If my shot at the Dunkirk DVD hinged on my predictions, then, ironically, I lost any chances of it by over-predicting nominations for Hans Zimmer, the chap who composed Dunkirk

He also composed Blade Runner 2049, and I thought he’d feature twice here. My predictions were completely off, I predicted Coco, and this was also one of the categories where I thought Darkest Hour would actually show up, and it didn’t! FFS! (My rationale was that Dario Marianelli scored Joe Wright’s Atonement, which he won an Oscar for, so I thought they’d be receptive to him again).

I dropped the ball – and the Dunkirk DVD – in this category.

Carter Burwell - a composer who I greatly admire (his work in Carol is unforgettable) is a bit of an undeserved nominee in this category. I didn't even register any music in Three Billboards until the closing credits!

Original Song:
“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

How I did: 3/5.

Kicking myself for predicting the Zayn/Taylor Swift song ‘just for the jokes so that Zayn would get an Oscar nomination before Harry Styles’. When there’s a Harry Styles DVD at stake, I shouldn’t have been making prediction for the jokes.

The second biggest snub after Michael Stuhlbarg is ‘Evermore’ from Beauty and the Beast not featuring here. The film itself was ropey af, but there were two moments of excellence in it – the exuberant ‘Gaston’ performance, and Dan Stevens singing ‘Evermore’, which was written for this reboot and gives a rare window into the Beast’s tormented psyche. It was moving, swooning, musically pleasing – and totally snubbed.

Congratulations to Mary J. Blige, who makes Oscar history as the first person to receive nominations for acting and songwriting in the same year!

Makeup and Hair:
“Darkest Hour,” Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
“Victoria and Abdul,” Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
“Wonder,” Arjen Tuiten

How I did: 1/3.

FFS. Turns out lightening doesn’t strike twice with regards to make-up in David Ayer movies.

Costume Design:
“Beauty and the Beast,” Jacqueline Durran
“Darkest Hour,” Jacqueline Durran
“Phantom Thread,” Mark Bridges
“The Shape of Water,” Luis Sequeira
“Victoria and Abdul,” Consolata Boyle

How I did: 3/5.

I under-thought this category. I lazily slapped down I, Tonya because I saw others did, but had I engaged my brain, I should have realised that they’d probably nominate one of the two British wartime films for costumes. Dunkirk’s solider costumes were all quite samey-samey (although Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles did look gorgeous in them), so of course Darkest Hour would have gotten nominated! Goddamnit Emma!!!

What makes the Academy snubbing Beauty and the Beast's beautiful song even worse is that they nominated it in two categories it doesn't belong, Costume and Set Design. Both the costumes and the production design in that film was so uninspired (and the marquee item of clothing, Belle's yellow dress, looked like it came out of Primark). Once again, the Academy demonstrating that they don't know what they're doing!

Visual Effects:
“Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
“Kong: Skull Island,” Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,”  Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
“War for the Planet of the Apes,” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

How I did: 3/5.

Hmm, I predicted Dunkirk and The Shape of Water in this category because I assumed voters would lazily revert to two Best Picture nominees. They actually thought out of the box though, which is more than can be said for me!

Total: 73 / 102 = 71.6%
Would get a first in a UK uni. Why hasn’t someone started a degree called ‘Oscars’ yet?!

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