Saturday, March 03, 2018

Oscar predictions, 2018

Sick Oscar graphic credit: Vulture. Guess the films represented!

Will win: The Shape of Water
Should win: Dunkirk
Should have been nominated: Coco
Even though Three Billboards... won the BAFTA and the Golden Globe over The Shape of Water, it's a film that has almost as many detractors as it does admirers.

The same was true of La La Land last year (positioning Ryan Gosling as the white saviour of jazz is… messy), which won pretty much every precursor under the sun, yet, in one of the greatest Oscar moments in history, still lost Best Picture to Moonlight. (*James Franco in The Disaster Artist-style laugh*)

Under the preferential ballot, I just can't see 3BB's questionable racial posturing getting much love. The Shape of Water, which on the surface is about a woman bonking a fishman, but really encourages love and tolerance, is much less contestable in its morals than 3BB, and thus, I see it triumphing.

My personal choice would be Dunkirk, which, bar the occasional tech award, has been frozen out in the precursors. The closest thing Dunkirk is getting to winning one of the main Oscars is if someone gets the Sound and Best Actor envelopes mixed up.

(Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are presenting Best Picture again this year, so one can but hope for another envelope fiasco!)
Insanely sick Oscar graphic credit: Olly Gibbs.

Will: Guillermo del Toro
Should: Christopher Nolan
Deserved to get nominated: Sean Baker, The Florida Project

They can just carve GdT's name on the statue now; he's won the Golden Globe, DGA and the BAFTA. He's a lovely guy and made one of my 25 favourite films of all time (Pan's Labyrinth), so I can't be too mad. But his steamrollering awards season is harsh on Chris Nolan, who imbued Dunkirk with visceral energy, and made an original, gripping story and immersive cinema-going experience out of a well-traversed war movie set-up.

Cool stat: Del Toro's impending triumph on Sunday means this will be the fourth time in five years Best Director has gone to a Mexican Director!

Will win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Should win: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Deserved to be nominated: Jacob Tremblay, Wonder

I genuinely loved Danny K, DDL (British men called Daniel have talent... Unless they're football journalists for The Guardian) and Timmy's performances, but the stage is set for Gary Oldman to win for his portrayal as Winston Churchill.

Chalamet and Kaluuya are ingéndudes with very bright futures, who will have plenty of opportunities to win in the future and DDL and Denzel Washington already have multiple Oscars apiece. With the Golden Globe, SAG, Critics’ Choice Award and BAFTA already won, this is Oldman’s to lose.

Will win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards…
Should win: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Deserved to be nominated: Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread

Just as with Oldman, McDormand won the four big televised precursors. Furthermore, in this current #TimesUp climate, a bolshie woman who won’t take crap from moron men resonates particularly well with voters.

As strong as she was, Frances completely decimating the competition seems a tad unfair on Sally Hawkins and Saoirse Ronan. Especially Sally, who had a harder job than Frances (not being able to use voice – the most curcial tool in an actor’s arsenal), yet she made Eliza feel so fleshed-out and lived in. Neither she nor the fish-man in The Shape of Water talked to each other, yet Hawkins beautifully sold their romance; no easy feat.

I would have liked to see the honours be shared more equally, say, Sally winning the BAFTA, Saoirse winning the SAG, and Frances winning the Oscar. That would have been more reflective of the quality of their performances, which were all top-notch.

Still, Frances McDormand is light years ahead of Margot Robbie in I, Tonya, who did little more than don a bad wig and faff about on the ice rink. Oscar-begging 101, there.

In place of Margot Robbie, I would have nominated Florence Pugh for her unrepentant cruelty in Lady Macbeth, although the micro-budget of that film sadly precluded awards campaigning, so that was never going to happen.

In terms of performances that stood a chance, Vicky Krieps was Daniel Day-Lewis’ equal in Phantom Thread. Watching her discover, then wield her power over him was nothing short of delicious.

This week, my favourite person, Jennifer Lawrence shaded Phantom Thread, saying she could only get through the first three minutes ofit. Methinks she should have given it a bit more attention, because Krieps in Phantom Thread gave a more believable, layered performance than anything she’s ever done. #ByeFelicia

Supporting Actor
Will win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards…
Should win: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Deserved to be nominated: Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name

I love Sam Rockwell. He’s one of the best dancers in film and his performances have been quietly going under the radar for years. He also seems unusually modest for a Hollyweird celebrity, referring to himself as a ‘journeyman actor’ in his BAFTA speech.

Any other year, I would be fully behind him getting an Oscar, so it’s quite bittersweet that he’ll be winning on Sunday for that cartoon of a dense racist cop in Three Billboards.

For my money, I would have given it to Willem Dafoe, who played a grizzled motel manager in The Florida Project. He was a relatable character, one who had to balance sympathising and caring for all the children resident at the motel, but he can’t be too soft on them either, or else they and their parents take liberties.

Such was the subtle gravitas of Dafoe’s performance that because we view the kids under his protective gaze, they’re not the shrieking tykes that they might have come across as otherwise.

Dafoe is The Florida Project’s solitary Oscar nomination, and 3BB is one of the Best Picture frontrunners, so, despite Dafoe having overdue status, Rockwell easily takes this. I won’t grumble too much. Rockwell and McDormand sparkled together, sharing an edgy, unconventional chemistry, and if that racism apologism movie has to win anything, I’d rather it was for the acting.

In case you were wondering about vote-splitting, by the way (Woody Harrelson is also nominated in this category for 3BB), that won't change things for Sam Rockwell. Studios are fine with campaigning for multiple actors in supporting categories (Warner Brothers submitted five actors in this field for Dunkirk, which was their fatal flaw: they should have focused on just one), it's Lead where they are notoriously averse to having two actors from the same film for (which led to Rooney Mara falling out with Harvey Weinstein, because he forced her to go supporting against her will. Not the first time Harvey Weinstein's forced a woman into doing something, amirite?)

In recent years alone, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo were both nominated for supporting actress for The Fighter, with Leo winning, and Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer (nominated again this year for The Shape of Water) nominated for The Help, with Spencer winning. Tomorrow will be another such case of two co-stars being nominated in the same supporting category, and one beating the other.

In terms of snubs, Michael Stuhlbarg was a godsend in Call Me By Your Name. You really got the sense that precocious Elio (Tim Tam’s character) was well-loved by his bohemian parents, and much of that came from the paternal warmth from Stuhlbarg. And his monologue was one of the best-delivered in history, full of understanding and wisdom, and spoken so well, in Stuhlbarg's soothing tones.

Barry Keoghan was also notable in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The high-concept of the film meant that the actors could not have so much as even the trace of a tongue in cheek, and nobody delivered the absurd dialogue of that film with a straighter face than the odd-looking Dunkirk actor, as the boy who rains tragedy down on Colin Farrell’s family.

Supporting Actress
Will win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Should win: Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Deserved to be nominated: Beanie Feldstein, Lady Bird

I watched I, Tonya on Monday and I really didn’t get the hype about Janney’s performance as Tonya Harding’s abusive mother, LaVona. Janney is a great actress, but she was pure pantomime villain in this film.

Compare that to 2010’s victor in this category, Mo’Nique as the mother from hell in Precious. She was a monster, but in her crucial scenes, she gave a window into her character’s (admittedly very warped) justification for why she treated her daughter so badly. LaVona has no such layers; she just barks insults at Margot Robbie for the film’s entire running time. It’s uncomfortable to watch and not a particularly demanding role.

My choice would be Lesley Manville as Reynolds Woodcock’s steely sister and business partner. Her Cyril can destroy you without so much as looking up from her tea, and she’s all the more compelling for it.

By the way, Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney have all won all four of the televised precursors: the Golden Globes, Critics' Choice, SAG and BAFTAs. So they're pretty much dead certs to win the acting prizes this year.

(Uninspired, but at least it's not Casey Affleck or Emma Stone winning everything. Oscar season last year was tough, man).

Original Screenplay
Will win: Get Out
Should win:  Get Out
Deserved to be nominated: Dunkirk

So, I’ve looked over the Oscar predictions on a few other sites, and they all seem to be predicting  Get Out to win for Original Screenplay over 3BB, arguing that if 3BB wins for McDormand and Rockwell, the Academy will want to acknowledge the zeitgeist pick, Get Out, somewhere.

I’m all for that, although I’m not sure I buy it –  Get Out’s message, that white liberals can be racist too, might have been a little too direct in its honesty for the Academy, who prefer their depictions of racism to present white people in a more favourable light.

But, because a 3BB win in this category would be horrendous, I’mma go ahead and cross my fingers and predict  Get Out win regardless. (Earlier, when analysing the scripts, I predicted 3BB to win.)

Adapted Screenplay
Will win: Call Me By Your Name
Should win: The Disaster Artist
Deserved to get nominated: Wonder

Call Me By Your Name had some nice lines, such as when Elio reflects, 'I know everything and nothing’, not to mention Michael’s superlative monologue, but, as a collective unit, the dialogue didn’t sing out to me in the way Moonlight and Brokeback Mountain, two other gay films which have triumphed in this category, did.

In fact, it’s probably the inconsistent script (and Armie Hammer’s rather stilted performance) why Call Me By Your Name, for all its tasty shots of a certain twink topless and fondling himself with a fruit, only gets an 8/10 from me, rather than Moonlight and Brokeback Mountain, which are both in my top 70.

My choice for the win would be The Disaster Artist’s laugh-a-minute script, essaying the nightmare that was working with Tommy Wiseau on the shooting of The Room. In addition to entertaining the audience, it was also a celebration of Greg and Tommy’s friendship, and, whilst presenting Wiseau’s many quirks, still imbued him with humanity, rather than a one-dimensional object of ridicule.

Also, the ‘ohai, Mark!’ scene. Goddamn hilarious!

Original Score
Will win: The Shape of Water
Should win: Dunkirk
Deserved to be nominated: Coco

Read more about my analysis of the Oscar-nominated film music here. Hans Zimmer is a freaking magician and Dunkirk is some of his best work. It was bad enough him losing to Alexandre Desplat in 2015 (when Interstellar's score >>> Grand Budapest Hotel's), but for the German to lose to the Frenchman again, when his work is so much better... bah!

Production Design
Will win: The Shape of Water
Should win: Dunkirk

Will win: Dunkirk
Should win: Dunkirk

As with Get Out to take Original Screenplay, I’m predicting rather optimistically here, given BAFTA inexplicably gave this damn award to the tryhard getaway driver film with Kevin Spacey. I would have thought BAFTA would be immune to the gimmicky editing tricks employed in Baby Driver, but there’s no accounting for taste, especially with BAFTA these days.

Dunkirk did win the Editor’s Guild for Best Editing in a Drama, whilst I, Tonya won for Best Editing in a Comedy (thus, beating Baby Driver), so delusion or not, I’m gonna stick with Dunkirk here.

Plus Baby Driver has Kevin Spacey. I know Spacey didn't edit the film, but surely that alone has to taint the film’s prospects of winning a tech award which has, historically, been quite closely correlated with Best Picture nominees?

Look at the way British twink is holding onto his ears here. That attests to Dunkirk's superior Sound design, amirite?

Sound Mixing: Dunkirk
Sound Editing: Dunkirk

I toyed with predicting Dunkirk for one of these categories and Blade Runner 2049 for the other, but, knowing me, whichever one I predicted Dunkirk for, it would win the other category. So to ensure I get at least one prediction right, I’m predicting Dunkirk for both, ahah.

BAFTA have just one ‘Best Sound’ category instead of two, which Dunkirk won, so I’m hoping those booming canons, water ripples and fighter jet noises all help this film bring home some bacon. And the panic-inducing tick-tick-ticking of Hans Zimmer's majestic score. Still can't believe he's not winning Score. Hella mad.

Original Song: ‘Remember Me’, Coco.

Again, optimistic. ‘This is Me’ from The Greatest Showman is currently third in the charts and it won the Golden Globe for Best Song. But it’s from the songwriters of La La Land who already won just a year ago. I hope the Academy let someone else have a go, especially as ‘Remember Me’ is so gorgeous and poignant in its deceptive simplicity, and ‘This is Me’ is so, so, so trite.

Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049

This is Roger Deakins’ 14th nomination. He’s never won for any of his thirteenth previous nominations. That narrative, the mega-budget of Blade Runner 2049 and the fact that the Academy will want to reward it somewhere, and the fact that BR2049 won both the BAFTA and Cinematographer’s Guild for Best Cinematography, mean the stage is set for Deakins to finally stake his win!

Costume Design: Phantom Thread
Hair and makeup: Darkest Hour
Animated Film: Coco
Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049

Foreign film: A Fantastic Woman
Documentary: Icarus
Documentary short: Heroin(e)
Short film: DeKalb Elementary 
Animated short: Negative Space

Documentary, short films, animated shorts, are all copied from other prognosticators. I haven't seen any of these films so I'm going to defer to their judgement. 
Please sir, can I have some more Oscars?

Sigh, Dunkirk is going to leave the Oscars with just three tech awards, if it's lucky. For such a masterpiece and pioneering achievement, it really deserves more, especially for Nolan.

On the flipside, I actually like The Shape of Water and enjoyed Three Billboards (with reservations), which is more than I can say for La La Land. So at least this year won't be as intolerable as last year.

And Dunkirk may not win Best Picture, but it will win the trophy that matters - film with the most babes in, 2017.

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