Skip to main content

I knew I would screw this show up, I really did. I promise I’ll never come back.

Oscar Winners 2017


So, after an almighty faux-pas in the final furlong, is there anything much to say about the actual winners? Mostly, they illustrate the wrestling match between the salve of political/social conscience and self-congratulation I was droning on about in my predictions piece, something Harvey Scissorhands also recognised when it came to discussing how Shakespeare in Love trumped Saving Private Ryan (besides the former being the better film, that is); Hollywood can – usually – be relied upon to upvote their own artistic validation. But not this year.

La La Land had to make do with the most wins (six), in an evening when the Academy was otherwise choosing to emphasise how alert and awake to serious matters it was, such is its tumult over Trumpton. Never let it be said they’re content to sit back and fiddle while their cosy idyll burns. Why, they recognised African Americans several times (Best Picture, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay), so they can forget about having been made to feel guilty again for at least a couple more years (Phew!) They recognised crises abroad (Best Documentary Short) and at home (Best Documentary Feature) and protested the Presidential travel ban (Best Foreign Language Film). And, just to show they’re forgiving, in the Polanski/Allen move of the evening, they gave Mel’s movie two technical statuettes. Boy, will they all have slept soundly last night!

Jimmy Kimmel? He seems to have gone down okay, coasting on his late-night talk show routine. Since he bigged up Letterman’s berated Oscars turn a few days back, Im reluctant to be too hard on him. As for my all-important track record: 14 out of 24, so I’m maintaining my rigorously mediocre standards.

Best Picture
Winner: Moonlight (Dede Gardner, Adele Romanski, Jeremy Keiner)
I guessed: La La Land

Did the best picture win? Does it ever? I’ll wisely reserve judgement until I’ve caught the lot, but right now, Manchester by the Sea leads out of the five I’ve seen, and that’s even with me not much liking Casey Affleck. Moonlight’s win, besides the gnawing feeling among voters that they should possibly, maybe, be seen to stand for something, may also be a symptom of an increasingly prevalent condition, as blanket coverage becomes ever more suffocating and fatigue with the hot favourite sets in. The old backlash problem. One might see that in Spotlight’s prize last year. Oscar, being the last and most prestigious of the awards ceremonies, is also damned by being the resultantly least surprising, oft times. That’s what they need mix-ups to spice things up. Of course, Moonlight could also simply just be the Best Picture.

Best Director
Winner: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
I guessed: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

So Chazelle, like his characters, got the big success he strived for. But at what price, Damien?

Best Actor
Winner: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
I guessed: Denzel Washington (Fences)

There’s no doubt Affleck’s performance in Manchester by the Sea is Oscar-worthy; I can say that as one who has never been particularly won over by the guy. Although, I do greatly admire his beard. Not as top drawer as Dev Patel’s but something to be proud of nonetheless. Affleck had been the one to bet on, of course, before Denzel’s SAG win. Casey’s skeletons in the closet failed to dent his chances, so he can probably look forward to them resurfacing again in a few years, more resoundingly. Then he’ll fall from grace, then be redeemed by voters once more.

Best Actress
Winner: Emma Stone (La La Land)
I guessed: Emma Stone (La La Land)

She also won Best Picture.

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
I guessed: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

I suspect Ali wouldn’t have bagged it if he’d been up against Sunny Pawar rather than Dev Patel, but Moonlight’s trio of statuettes puts in good company with last year’s victor (an even more modest two).

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Viola Davis (Fences)
I guessed: Viola Davis (Fences)

The most predictable win of the evening? I don’t think anyone had even a glimmer of a doubt on this one.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight)
I guessed: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight)

Another that was mostly probable. The win highlights that Hidden Figures left the awards empty-handed, which like Lion, was looking not unlikely.

Best Original Screenplay
Winner: Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
I guessed: La La Land

Is this that Titanic thing, slightly, of the emotional ride disguising that the actual writing isn’t that amazing? Not that I want to denigrate La La Land by comparing it to Titanic, although I just did. I rooted for Lonergan on this, and for someone who languished in limbo for about a decade, it must be extra gratifying to have a comeback so well received.

Best Animated Feature
Winner: Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Clark Spencer)
I guessed: Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Clark Spencer)

A shame Kubo and the Two Strings didn’t get any joy on the night, but Zootopia’s a great movie.

Best Documentary Feature
Winner: O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman, Caroline Waterlow)
I guessed: O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman, Caroline Waterlow)

100% on Rotten Tomatoes can’t be wrong.

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi)
I guessed: The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi)

A second Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for Farhadi.

Best Cinematography
Winner: Linus Sandgren (La La Land)
I guessed: Linus Sandgren (La La Land)

Yeah, it looked jolly nice. I preferred Arrival, mind.

Best Costume Design
Winner: Colleen Atwood (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
I guessed: La La Land

Empire wuz right. Always bet on Atwood.

Best Documentary Short
Winner: The White Helmets (Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara)
I guessed: Joe’s Violin

A deserved win about neutral, unarmed volunteers, or a PR piece in support of a group with ties to terrorism?  

Best Film Editing
Winner: John Gilbert (Hacksaw Ridge)
I guessed: La La Land

Mel truly comes in from the cold. Hopefully he didn’t have a drink to celebrate.

Best Make-up and Hairstyling
Winner: Giorgio Gregorini (Suicide Squad)
I guessed: Star Trek Beyond

I mean, what? I guess it takes a true artiste to design intentionally bad-looking hair and make-up.

Best Original Score
Winner: Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)
I guessed: Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)

A fait accompli.

Best Original Song
Winner: City of Stars (La La Land)
I guessed: City of Stars (La La Land)

Yeah, tis a good wee ditty.

Production Design
Winner: David Wasco (La La Land)
I guessed: David Wasco (La La Land)

Hail, Caesar! was robbed!

Best Animated Short
Winner: Piper (Alan Barillaro, Marco Sondheimer)
I guessed: Piper (Alan Barillaro, Marco Sondheimer)

Well done, Pixar! You were desperately short of Best Animated Short Oscars, after all.

Best Live Action Short
Winner: Sing (Kristof Deak, Anna Udvardy)
I guessed: Silent Nights

No relation to the animation.

Best Sound Editing
Winner: Sylvian Bellemare (Arrival)
I guessed: La La Land

Nice for Arrival to win something.

Best Sound Mixing
Winner: Kevin O'Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace (Hacksaw Ridge)
I guessed: La La Land

Mel! Even more indirectly loved!

Visual Effects
Winner: Robert Legato, Dan Lemmon, Adam Valdez, Andrew R Jones (The Jungle Book)
I guessed: The Jungle Book


Great effects, so-so movie.

Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

No matter how innocent you are, or how hard you try, they’ll find you guilty.

The Wrong Man (1956) (SPOILERS) I hate to say it, but old Truffaut called it right on this one. More often than not showing obeisance to the might of Hitchcock during his career-spanning interview, the French critic turned director was surprisingly blunt when it came to The Wrong Man . He told Hitch “ your style, which has found its perfection in the fiction area, happens to be in total conflict with the aesthetics of the documentary and that contradiction is apparent throughout the picture ”. There’s also another, connected issue with this, one Hitch acknowledged: too much fidelity to the true story upon which the film is based.

He’s so persistent! He always gets his man.

Speed (1994) (SPOILERS) It must have been a couple of decades since I last viewed Speed all the way through, so it’s pleasing to confirm that it holds up. Sure, Jan de Bont’s debut as a director can’t compete with the work of John McTiernan, for whom he acted as cinematographer and who recommended de Bont when he passed on the picture, but he nevertheless does a more than competent work. Which makes his later turkeys all the more tragic. And Keanu and Sandra Bullock display the kind of effortless chemistry you can’t put a price tag on. And then there’s Dennis Hopper, having a great old sober-but-still-looning time.

How would Horatio Alger have handled this situation?

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) (SPOILERS) Gilliam’s last great movie – The Zero Theorem (2013) is definitely underrated, but I don’t think it’s that underrated – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas could easily have been too much. At times it is, but in such instances, intentionally so. The combination of a visual stylist and Hunter S Thompson’s embellished, propulsive turn of phrase turns out, for the most part, to be a cosmically aligned affair, embracing the anarchic abandon of Raoul Duke and Doctor Gonzo’s Las Vegas debauch while contriving to pull back at crucial junctures in order to engender a perspective on all this hedonism. Would Alex Cox, who exited stage left, making way for the Python, have produced something interesting? I suspect, ironically, he would have diluted Thompson in favour of whatever commentary preoccupied him at the time (indeed, Johnny Depp said as much: “ Cox had this great material to work with and he took it and he added his own stuff to it ”). Plus

But everything is wonderful. We are in Paris.

Cold War (2018) (SPOILERS) Pawel Pawlikowski’s elliptical tale – you can’t discuss Cold War without saying “elliptical” at least once – of frustrated love charts a course that almost seems to be a caricature of a certain brand of self-congratulatorily tragic European cinema. It was, it seems “ loosely inspired ” by his parents (I suspect I see where the looseness comes in), but there’s a sense of calculation to the progression of this love story against an inescapable political backdrop that rather diminishes it.

To survive a war, you gotta become war.

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) (SPOILERS?) I’d like to say it’s mystifying that a film so bereft of merit as Rambo: First Blood Part II could have finished up the second biggest hit of 1985. It wouldn’t be as bad if it was, at minimum, a solid action movie, rather than an interminable bore. But the movie struck a chord somewhere, somehow. As much as the most successful picture of that year, Back to the Future , could be seen to suggest moviegoers do actually have really good taste, Rambo rather sends a message about how extensively regressive themes were embedding themselves in Reaganite, conservative ‘80s cinema (to be fair, this is something one can also read into Back to the Future ), be those ones of ill-conceived nostalgia or simple-minded jingoism, notional superiority and might. The difference between Stallone and Arnie movies starts right here; self-awareness. Audiences may have watched R ambo in the same way they would a Schwarzenegger picture, but I’m

What do they do, sing madrigals?

The Singing Detective (2003) Icon’s remake of the 1986 BBC serial, from a screenplay by Dennis Potter himself. The Singing Detective fares less well than Icon’s later adaptation of Edge of Darkness , even though it’s probably more faithful to Potter’s original. Perhaps the fault lies in the compression of six episodes into a feature running a quarter of that time, but the noir fantasy and childhood flashbacks fail to engage, and if the hospital reality scans better, it too suffers eventually.

One final thing I have to do, and then I’ll be free of the past.

Vertigo (1958) (SPOILERS) I’ll readily admit my Hitchcock tastes broadly tend to reflect the “consensus”, but Vertigo is one where I break ranks. To a degree. Not that I think it’s in any way a bad film, but I respect it rather than truly rate it. Certainly, I can’t get on board with Sight & Sound enthroning it as the best film ever made (in its 2012’s critics poll). That said, from a technical point of view, it is probably Hitch’s peak moment. And in that regard, certainly counts as one of his few colour pictures that can be placed alongside his black and white ones. It’s also clearly a personal undertaking, a medley of his voyeuristic obsessions (based on D’entre les morts by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac).

The game is rigged, and it does not reward people who play by the rules.

Hustlers (2019) (SPOILERS) Sold as a female Goodfellas – to the extent that the producers had Scorsese in mind – this strippers-and-crime tale is actually a big, glossy puff piece, closer to Todd Phillips as fashioned by Lorene Scarfia. There are some attractive performances in Hustlers, notably from Constance Wu, but for all its “progressive” women work male objectification to their advantage posturing, it’s incredibly traditional and conservative deep down.

You were a few blocks away? What’d you see it with, a telescope?

The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) (SPOILERS) John Carpenter’s first serial-killer screenplay to get made, The Eyes of Laura Mars came out nearly three months before Halloween. You know, the movie that made the director’s name. And then some. He wasn’t best pleased with the results of The Eyes of Laura Mars, which ended up co-credited to David Zelag Goodman ( Straw Dogs , Logan’s Run ) as part of an attempt by producer Jon Peters to manufacture a star vehicle for then-belle Barbra Streisand: “ The original script was very good, I thought. But it got shat upon ”. Which isn’t sour grapes on Carpenter’s part. The finished movie bears ready evidence of such tampering, not least in the reveal of the killer (different in Carpenter’s conception). Its best features are the so-uncleanly-you-can-taste-it 70s New York milieu and the guest cast, but even as an early example of the sub-genre, it’s burdened by all the failings inherit with this kind of fare.

He is a brigand and a lout. Pay him no serious mention.

The Wind and the Lion (1975) (SPOILERS) John Milius called his second feature a boy’s-own adventure, on the basis of the not-so-terrified responses of one of those kidnapped by Sean Connery’s Arab Raisuli. Really, he could have been referring to himself, in all his cigar-chomping, gun-toting reactionary glory, dreaming of the days of real heroes. The Wind and the Lion rather had its thunder stolen by Jaws on release, and it’s easy to see why. As polished as the picture is, and simultaneously broad-stroke and self-aware in its politics, it’s very definitely a throwback to the pictures of yesteryear. Only without the finger-on-the-pulse contemporaneity of execution that would make Spielberg and Lucas’ genre dives so memorable in a few short years’ time.