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

I added sixty on, and now you’re a genius.

The Avengers 4.3: The Master Minds
The Master Minds hitches its wagon to the not uncommon Avengers trope of dark deeds done under the veil of night. We previously encountered it in The Town of No Return, but Robert Banks Stewart (best known for Bergerac, but best known genre-wise for his two Tom Baker Doctor Who stories; likewise, he also penned only two teleplays for The Avengers) makes this episode more distinctive, with its mind control and spycraft, while Peter Graham Scott, in his third contribution to the show on the trot, pulls out all the stops, particularly with a highly creative climactic fight sequence that avoids the usual issue of overly-evident stunt doubles.

Exit bear, pursued by an actor.

Paddington 2 (2017)
(SPOILERS) Paddington 2 is every bit as upbeat and well-meaning as its predecessor. It also has more money thrown at it, a much better villain (an infinitely better villain) and, in terms of plotting, is more developed, offering greater variety and a more satisfying structure. Additionally, crucially, it succeeds in offering continued emotional heft and heart to the Peruvian bear’s further adventures. It isn’t, however, quite as funny.

Even suggesting such a thing sounds curmudgeonly, given the universal applause greeting the movie, but I say that having revisited the original a couple of days prior and found myself enjoying it even more than on first viewing. Writer-director Paul King and co-writer Simon Farnaby introduce a highly impressive array of set-ups with huge potential to milk their absurdity to comic ends, but don’t so much squander as frequently leave them undertapped.

Paddington’s succession of odd jobs don’t quite escalate as uproariously as they migh…

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…

Where is the voice that said altered carbon would free us from the cells of our flesh?

Altered Carbon Season One
(SPOILERS) Well, it looks good, even if the visuals are absurdly indebted to Blade Runner. Ultimately, though, Altered Carbon is a disappointment. The adaption of Richard Morgan’s novel comes armed with a string of well-packaged concepts and futuristic vernacular (sleeves, stacks, cross-sleeves, slagged stacks, Neo-Cs), but there’s a void at its core. It singularly fails use the dependable detective story framework to explore the philosophical ramifications of its universe – except in lip service – a future where death is impermanent, and even botches the essential goal of creating interesting lead characters (the peripheral ones, however, are at least more fortunate).

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.

You’re never the same man twice.

The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970)
(SPOILERS) Roger Moore playing dual roles? It sounds like an unintentionally amusing prospect for audiences accustomed to the actor’s “Raise an eyebrow” method of acting. Consequently, this post-Saint pre-Bond role (in which he does offer some notable eyebrow acting) is more of a curiosity for the quality of Sir Rog’s performance than the out-there premise that can’t quite sustain the picture’s running time. It is telling that the same story was adapted for an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents 15 years earlier, since the uncanny idea at its core feels like a much better fit for a trim 50 minute anthology series.

Basil Dearden directs, and co-adapted the screenplay from Anthony Armstrong’s novel The Strange Case of Mr Pelham. Dearden started out with Ealing, helming several Will Hay pictures and a segment of Dead of Night (one might imagine a shortened version of this tale ending up there, or in any of the portmanteau horrors that arrived in the year…

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.

You think I contaminated myself, you think I did that?

Silkwood (1983)
Mike Nichol’s film about union activist Karen Silkwood, who died under suspicious circumstances in a car accident in 1974, remains a powerful piece of work; even more so in the wake of Fukushima. If we transpose the microcosm of employees of a nuclear plant, who would rather look the other way in favour of a pay cheque, to the macrocosm of a world dependent on an energy source that could spell our destruction (just don’t think about it and, if you do, be reassured by the pronouncements of “experts” on how safe it all is; and if that doesn’t persuade you be under no illusion that we need this power now, future generations be damned!) it is just as relevant.

Rejoice! The broken are the more evolved. Rejoice.

Split (2016)
(SPOILERS) M Night Shyamalan went from the toast of twist-based filmmaking to a one-trick pony to the object of abject ridicule in the space of only a couple of pictures: quite a feat. Along the way, I’ve managed to miss several of his pictures, including his last, The Visit, regarded as something of a re-locating of his footing in the low budget horror arena. Split continues that genre readjustment, another Blumhouse production, one that also manages to bridge the gap with the fare that made him famous. But it’s a thematically uneasy film, marrying shlock and serious subject matter in ways that don’t always quite gel.

Shyamalan has seized on a horror staple – nubile teenage girls in peril, prey to a psychotic antagonist – and, no doubt with the best intentions, attempted to warp it. But, in so doing, he has dragged in themes and threads from other, more meritable fare, with the consequence that, in the end, the conflicting positions rather subvert his attempts at subversion…

We’re going to find that creature they call the Yeti.

The Abominable Snowman (1957)
The Abominable Snowman follows the first two Quatermass serials as the third Hammer adaptation of a Nigel Kneale BBC work. As with those films, Val Guest takes the directorial reins, to mixed results. Hammer staple Peter Cushing repeats his role from The Creature (the title of the original teleplay). The result is worthy in sentiment but unexceptional in dramatic heft. Guest fails to balance Kneale’s idea of essentially sympathetic creatures with the disintegration of the group bent on finding them.

Nevertheless, Kneale’s premise still stands out. The idea that the Yeti is an essentially shy, peaceful, cryptozoological beastie is now commonplace, but Kneale adds a further twist by suggesting that they are a distinct and in some respects more advance parallel branch in the evolution of hominids (the more extravagant notion that they are in some way extra-dimensional is absent, but with the powers thy sport here wouldn’t be such a leap). Cushing’s Rollason is…