Friday, March 02, 2018

OSCARS 2018 PREDICTIONS: THREE BILLBOARDS WILL WIN BEST PICTURE


Sometimes I think that the whole #OscarsSoWhite movement might have actually done a disservice to rewarding true excellence in filmmaking. When the movement rolled out two years ago, there was an overwhelming number of people of color among the nominees the next year. If I was one of them, I would just enjoy the recognition without questioning it of course, as any of them should. However, at some level I would wonder if it was recognition that was given only because of my skin color, taking someone else’s place in the list, which would’ve been just too white with that person still on it. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing. Just to be clear, I don't think Viola Davis' win for Fences last year would even come close to those nominated performances that would or should be questioned. 

Of course, that being said, it’s never a bad idea to keep adding diversity to the members of the academy, whose opinions lead the above mentioned recognition that filmmakers, performers, writers, musicians, artists and technicians get.

While on true merit and quality, I've been wondering lately why films and performances can't just be rewarded for their excellence, and for that not to be impacted by the real socio-political scenario. While appreciation is warranted for films that are socially and politically relevant, I still believe that their social relevance shouldn't minimize or take away from movies that may not be as relevant, but are more superior works of cinema. In theory, films should be judged and voted for based on how they are, and not for how they fit into society. Yet, that doesn't happen in practice. But, that's a debate for another time. 


Coming to this year’s nominees, I have to say that the movies contending for best picture haven’t been all that impressive in my opinion. Despite the strong themes that some of them have, and despite how good they are, only about three or four really are of a ‘best picture’ standard I feel. I think this is a year when they could’ve stuck to five best picture nominees. Anyway...let's get on with it.

MAIN AWARDS

Best Motion 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

Should win: The Post – Yes, I’m going complete left-of-center with this one, but am I really? If you think about it, it’s a political drama, it tackles conflicts related to freedom for speech, it’s relevant as it depicts a war between the free press and a bullying administration, and it shows how a woman in power is made to feel. If all of that isn’t relevant today, then what is! The Post was the complete package for me, as Spielberg, Streep and Hanks did wonders with it. And it was exciting to watch, right till the very last frame, which left me with goosebumps.

Will win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, since it’s topically relevant more than anything. To me, it was a very good film, but not ‘best picture’ material. But the whole film community is all about the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement right now, and that has dominated the entire awards season, so I definitely think we’ll see that in the best picture win as well. Besides, it’s even won most of the other major equivalent awards already.

Achievement In Direction
Dunkirk – Christopher Nolan
Get Out – Jordan Peele
Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread – Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water – Guillermo Del Toro

Should win: Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk…Not just for the scale and magnitude of his task while directing, but because of the restraint he showed in executing the action sequences, Nolan deserves to win. It could have easily been an over-the-top, indulgent war film, but he controlled it with dignity, yet making us feel the tension and keeping us on the edge of our seats.

Will win: Guillermo Del Toro did a fine job with The Shape Of Water, and he will deserve this win, regardless.

Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role
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

Should win: Frances McDormand was outstanding as the crass woman who would do anything from kicking school kids in their groins to burning down a police station to make her point. And she deserves to win.

Will win: Frances McDormand’s powerful turn as Mildred will earn her her second Oscar.

Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role
Timoth̩e Chalamet РCall Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington – Roman J Israel, Esq

Should win: Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill…there are performances that win because of the restraint, and then there are powerhouse performances that command your attention. This was the latter, and it brought out the irritability that Churchill was known for.

Will win: Gary Oldman, of course! Besides being fantastic, he has little competition this year. No one’s strong enough. In my opinion, Chalamet’s the closest, but still at least a mile away.

Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role
Mary J Blige – Mudbound
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

Should win: Allison Janney—she nailed the part of the mom who pushed her kid and did what it took to make her daughter succeed. It was like seeing her as Bonnie Plunket—her two-time Emmy-winning role in MOM—but a darker, more intense version.

Will win: Allison Janney will become an Oscar winner this year.

Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role
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

Should win: Richard Jenkins—he showed restraint in portraying the pain and loneliness of a homosexual man in the 1960s, bringing to life a silent, yet impactful sub-plot in the movie, hence lending it nuance and breathing space.

Will win: Sam Rockwell—the popular favorite—has won almost every other major award for this, and will most likely walk away with his first Oscar too.

Adapted Screenplay
Call Me By Your Name – screenplay by James Ivory
The Disaster Artist – screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H Weber
Logan – screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; story by James Mangold
Molly's Game – written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound – screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Should win: Molly’s Game…I was split between Call Me and Molly; however, Molly won for me. It was engaging, even for someone like me who knows nothing about poker. And it played out a non-linear narrative with perfection.

Will win: Call Me By Your Name was beautiful, poignant, and it deals with everything the liberal media and film community loves. The academy’s probably still trying to redeem itself from what everyone considers one of their biggest blundersawarding Crash over Brokeback Mountain in 2006. They did redeem themselves a little by giving the movie with a gay theme, Moonlight, best picture last year over La La Land. This year, since Call Me isn’t going to win picture, it’ll at least win for screenplay.

Original Screenplay
The Big Sick – written by Emily V Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out – written by Jordan Peele
Lady Bird – written by Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water – screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; story by Guillermo del Toro
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – written by Martin McDonagh

Should win: Lady Bird, for the simplicity in its narrative…Despite that, it got us to see the complexities of the titular character and her complicated relationships, especially her equation with her mother.

Will win: Get Out is going to win this as its only Oscar for the night, but it will win at least this. It is socially relevant and has to get some recognition.


ANIMATION, MUSIC, DESIGN, AND TECHNICAL AWARDS

Best Animated Feature
Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

This one is going to Coco, hands down. It’s the popular favorite and the Academy rarely ever surprises us in this category.

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

This will be the only one Blade Runner 2049 will win on Sunday.

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

The Shape Of Water and Three Billboards may as well have not been in this category. It’s between the other three. Twirls, axel jumps and intercutting depth shots might make this I, Tonya’s. Or pace, chase and rapid action could make this Baby Driver’s, but I think the Academy will award the same aspects of Dunkirk’s film editing instead. This will be among the few technical awards it’ll win as consolation for not winning for direction or best picture.  

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

Gunshots, explosions, flying aircraft, ocean sounds, screams and splashes, and everything else, sound wise, made Dunkirk such an exciting ride. This one belongs to King and Gibson.

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

This one could go to Baby Driver, because of the impactful audio mixing of music and effects, but I suspect this will be one of those years when both the sound awards go to the same film.

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

There’s no doubt that The Shape Of Water deserves this one. Alexandre Desplat scored it so beautifully. It was haunting, serene, and more anything, distinctive. It aptly represented the mystery of the creature which later turns into affection and passion. It’s one of the best scores I’ve heard in years.  

Original Song
‘Mighty River’ – Mudbound (Mary J Blige, Raphael Saadiq & Taura Stinson)
‘The Mystery of Love’ – Call Me By Your Name (Sufjan Stevens)
‘Remember Me’ – Coco (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)
‘Stand Up for Something’ – Marshall (Common & Diane Warren)
‘This Is Me’ – The Greatest Showman (Benji Pasek & Justin Paul)

I think this should go to ‘The mystery of love’, but the Academy hasn’t awarded such light, reflective melodies in the recent past (remember ‘Lost stars’ from Begin Again?). Up next should be the uplifting ‘This is me’, which won the Golden Globe, but I suspect they’ll go all popular, and give it to the song from Coco.  

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

To me it would be between Victoria and Abdulfor recreating Queen Victoria’s signature styleand Phantom Threadfor its masterful and sublime take on high-fashion and couture of 1950s London. I think it’ll be the latter.

Make-Up And Hairstyling
Darkest Hour – Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski & Lucy Sibbick
Victoria and Abdul – Daniel Phillips & Lou Sheppard
Wonder – Arjen Tuiten

Darkest Hour, without a doubt! They made Gary Oldman look nothing like himself, and incredibly close to the real late Sir Winston Churchill, and the Academy loves when people are made to look like other real-life people with prosthetics. Not too long ago, the Academy awarded a similar makeover of a performer to look like another iconic British prime minister—Meryl Streep as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady (2011)

Production Design
Beauty and the Beast – production design by Sarah Greenwood; set decoration by Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049 – production design by Dennis Gassner; set decoration by Alessandra Querzola
Darkest Hour – production design by Sarah Greenwood; set decoration by Katie Spencer
Dunkirk – production design by Nathan Crowley; set decoration by Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water – production design by Paul Denham Austerberry; set decoration by Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin

This one is going to The Shape Of Water, for its impeccable creation of not just the research facility, but even the apartments, corridors, and the setup for the climax.

Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049 - John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert & Richard R Hoover
Guardian 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, Neal Scanlan & Chris Corbould
War for Planet of the Apes - Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon & Joel Whist

None of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies have won this before, but there seems to be an overwhelming majority in its favor, so let’s go with it.
  
DOCUMENTARY, SHORT, AND FOREIGN-LANGUAGE AWARDS

And for the rest of the categories, these are just guesses, since I haven’t seen any of the below films nominated.

Best Documentary Feature
Abacus
Faces Places
Icarus
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Animated Short
Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Lou
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Live Action Short
DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O'Clock
My Nephew Emmet
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us

Documentary Short
Edith + Eddie
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Heroin(e)
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

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

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