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

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Dude, you're embarrassing me in front of the wizards.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
(SPOILERS) The cliffhanger sequel, as a phenomenon, is a relatively recent thing. Sure, we kind of saw it with The Empire Strikes Back – one of those "old" movies Peter Parker is so fond of – a consequence of George Lucas deliberately borrowing from the Republic serials of old, but he had no guarantee of being able to complete his trilogy; it was really Back to the Future that began the trend, and promptly drew a line under it for another decade. In more recent years, really starting with The MatrixThe Lord of the Rings stands apart as, post-Weinstein's involvement, fashioned that way from the ground up – shooting the second and third instalments back-to-back has become a thing, both more cost effective and ensuring audiences don’t have to endure an interminable wait for their anticipation to be sated. The flipside of not taking this path is an Allegiant, where greed gets the better of a studio (split a novel into two movie parts assuming a…

I don't like bugs. You can't hear them, you can't see them and you can't feel them, then suddenly you're dead.

Blake's 7 2.7: Killer

Robert Holmes’ first of four scripts for the series, and like last season’s Mission to Destiny there are some fairly atypical elements and attitudes to the main crew (although the A/B storylines present a familiar approach and each is fairly equal in importance for a change). It was filmed second, which makes it the most out of place episode in the run (and explains why the crew are wearing outfits – they must have put them in the wash – from a good few episodes past and why Blake’s hair has grown since last week).
The most obvious thing to note from Holmes’ approach is that he makes Blake a Doctor-substitute. Suddenly he’s full of smart suggestions and shrewd guesses about the threat that’s wiping out the base, basically leaving a top-level virologist looking clueless and indebted to his genius insights. If you can get past this (and it did have me groaning) there’s much enjoyment to be had from the episode, not least from the two main guest actors.

When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry we must always pay strict attention.

Twin Peaks 1.5: The One-Armed Man
With the waves left in Albert’s wake subsiding (Gordon Cole, like Albert, is first encountered on the phone, and Coop apologises to Truman over the trouble the insulting forensics expert has caused; ”Harry, the last thing I want you to worry about while I’m here is some city slicker I brought into your town relieving himself upstream”), the series steps down a register for the first time. This is a less essential episode than those previously, concentrating on establishing on-going character and plot interactions at the expense of the strange and unusual. As such, it sets the tone for the rest of this short first season.

The first of 10 episodes penned by Robert Engels (who would co-script Fire Walk with Me with Lynch, and then reunite with him for On the Air), this also sees the first “star” director on the show in the form of Tim Hunter. Hunter is a director (like Michael Lehman) who hit the ground running but whose subsequent career has rather disapp…

An initiative test. How simply marvellous!

You Must Be Joking! (1965)
A time before a Michael Winner film was a de facto cinematic blot on the landscape is now scarcely conceivable. His output, post- (or thereabouts) Death Wish (“a pleasant romp”) is so roundly derided that it’s easy to forget that the once-and-only dining columnist and raconteur was once a bright (well…) young thing of the ‘60s, riding the wave of excitement (most likely highly cynically) and innovation in British cinema. His best-known efforts from this period are a series of movies with Oliver Reed – including the one with the elephant – and tend to represent the director in his pleasant romp period, before he attacked genres with all the precision and artistic integrity of a blunt penknife. You Must Be Joking! comes from that era, its director’s ninth feature, straddling the gap between Ealing and the Swinging ‘60s; coarser, cruder comedies would soon become the order of the day, the mild ribaldry of Carry On pitching into bawdy flesh-fests. You Must Be Joki…

Luck isn’t a superpower... And it isn't cinematic!

Deadpool 2 (2018)
(SPOILERS) Perhaps it’s because I was lukewarm on the original, but Deadpool 2 mercifully disproves the typical consequence of the "more is more" approach to making a sequel. By rights, it should plummet into the pitfall of ever more excess to diminishing returns, yet for the most part it doesn't.  Maybe that’s in part due to it still being a relatively modest undertaking, budget-wise, and also a result of being very self-aware – like duh, you might say, that’s its raison d'être – of its own positioning and expectation as a sequel; it resolutely fails to teeter over the precipice of burn out or insufferable smugness. It helps that it's frequently very funny – for the most part not in the exhaustingly repetitive fashion of its predecessor – but I think the key ingredient is that it finds sufficient room in its mirthful melee for plot and character, in order to proffer tone and contrast.

He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.

Darkest Hour (2017)
(SPOILERS) Watching Joe Wright’s return to the rarefied plane of prestige – and heritage to boot – filmmaking following the execrable folly of the panned Pan, I was struck by the difference an engaged director, one who cares about his characters, makes to material. Only last week, Ridley Scott’s serviceable All the Money in the World made for a pointed illustration of strong material in the hands of someone with no such investment, unless they’re androids. Wright’s dedication to a relatable Winston Churchill ensures that, for the first hour-plus, Darkest Hour is a first-rate affair, a piece of myth-making that barely puts a foot wrong. It has that much in common with Wright’s earlier Word War II tale, Atonement. But then, like Atonement, it comes unstuck.

Ain't nobody likes the Middle East, buddy. There's nothing here to like.

Body of Lies (2008)
(SPOILERS) Sir Ridders stubs out his cigar in the CIA-assisted War on Terror, with predictably gormless results. Body of Lies' one saving grace is that it wasn't a hit, although that more reflects its membership of a burgeoning club where no degree of Hollywood propaganda on the "just fight" (with just a smidgeon enough doubt cast to make it seem balanced at a sideways glance) was persuading the public that they wanted the official fiction further fictionalised.

Well, who’s going to monitor the monitors of the monitors?

Enemy of the State (1998)
Enemy of the State is something of an anomaly; a quality conspiracy thriller borne not from any distinct political sensibility on the part of its makers but simple commercial instincts. Of course, the genre has proved highly successful over the years so it's easy to see why big name producers like Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson would have chased that particular gravy boat. Yet they did so for some time without success; by the time the movie was made, Simpson had passed away and Bruckheimer was flying solo. It might be the only major film in the latter's career that, despite the prerequisite gloss and stylish packaging, has something to say. More significant still, 15 years too late, the film's warnings are finally receiving recognition in the light of the Edward Snowden revelations.

In a piece for The Guardian earlier this year, John Patterson levelled the charge that Enemy was one of a number of Hollywood movies that have “been softening us up f…

Like an antelope in the headlights.

Black Panther (2018)
(SPOILERS) Like last year’s Wonder Woman, the hype for what it represents has quickly become conflated with Black Panther’s perceived quality. Can 92% and 97% of critics respectively really not be wrong, per Rotten Tomatoes, or are they – Armond White aside – afraid that finding fault in either will make open them to charges of being politically regressive, insufficiently woke or all-round, ever-so-slightly objectionable? As with Wonder Woman, Black Panther’s very existence means something special, but little about the movie itself actually is. Not the acting, not the directing, and definitely not the over-emphatic, laboured screenplay. As such, the picture is a passable two-plus hours’ entertainment, but under-finessed enough that one could easily mistake it for an early entry in the Marvel cycle, rather than arriving when they’re hard-pressed to put a serious foot wrong.