Skip to main content

I was going to thank all the little people, but then I remembered I am the little people.

Prediction
2018 Oscars

I’ve seen six of the nine Best Picture nominees so far (and should see Phantom Fred, I mean Thread, on Thursday), and I’d argue only two of those have no business being there (The Post and Darkest Hour). I don’t think either are in danger of troubling voters for the top award, in a ceremony that has always been politically fuelled but just now even more so. As such, what might on one day be a frontrunner could get bumped for not sending out the right messages in the right way the next (which, if it doesn’t win, will surely be the bone of contention for Martin McDonagh’s contender). My track record with these guesses is usually in the 50-60% region, which an uninformed person (not that I’m suggesting I’m informed) could probably get close to, so if you’re aiming for aggressively average standards, I’m virtually impossible to beat. Accordingly, let the guessing begin:

Best Picture
Winner: The Shape of Water
I’d like to win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Interesting Choice: Get Out

The outside outsiders in this category, as in “don’t stand a chance of even offering a last-minute surprise”, are Dunkirk, The Post, Phantom Thread, and Darkest Hour (some were surprised the last two even managed to get nominated). Which takes us into the political vote arena (The Post is too ineffectual in its sincerity to seriously court Academy members); Call Me By Your Name, as a gay love story, seems unlikely so soon after Moonlight took the surprise statuette last year, and if it were getting serious press for the big award, there might be more scrutiny of why voters are considering a 16-year-old’s relationship with a 25-year-old approvingly in the year of Kevin Spacey’s ignominy. Lady Bird is liked, but I don’t think loved (or, in the year of #MeToo, giving a female-helmed picture the main prize would be irresistible). If not for the racism debate, I’d have pegged Three Billboards as the likely winner, so I’m unsure there’s sufficient appetite for McDonagh’s wilfully-difficult-to-pigeonhole approach. Get Out could still come in as an inside outsider, the way The Silence of the Lambs, another early year release and another horror movie, did, but I think I have to fall in with the hot favourite The Shape of Water. It has all the necessary present-and-correct empowerment issues, it offers a distinctive authorial voice, and it’s roundly liked. Could the plagiarism suit dint its chances? If it doesn’t win, that will be the claim, but you might as well point to whatever is in the air surrounding the actual winner (if it’s Get Out, the success of Black Panther may be considered to have prodded voters in that direction, or if it’s Three Billboards, the BAFTA glory). I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a settlement in due course either way, though.

Best Director
Winner: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
I’d like to win: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
The Interesting Choice: Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Del Toro’s work on The Shape of Water will likely be recognised even if it doesn’t take Best Picture, and he very much deserves it (what faults the picture has lie in his – honestly, not inspired by anyone else’s stage play, really – screenplay, rather than his execution of it); I think he’d get my vote even if McDonagh had been nominated. Dunkirk’s more impressive for its editing than direction. No one is talking about Gerwig’s skills as a director, which speaks volumes. Paul Thomas Anderson bags his second Best Director nod (the previous was also with Daniel Day Lewis), but I don’t think enough people care about Phantom Thread, let alone love it. Peele would be interesting, a much more impressive first timer than Gerwig, but I suspect, even if Get Out takes the big prize, he won’t join it as director.

Best Actor
Winner: Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
I’d like to win: Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
The Interesting Choice:  Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) 

Oldman’s a shoe-in for this, it seems, and like Casey Affleck last year, he seems to have staved off potential bad press concerning past words and deeds to lay claim to the podium. Great actor that he is, I’d rather have seen him honoured for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. His turn as Churchill dazzles, but it feels a little too much like an effortless scoop. Denzel’s presence is of the obligatory Meryl Streep nod type, while Day Lewis gets nominated in part as a forlorn attempt to keep him from retirement (but not serious enough an attempt to give him the award). That leaves young pups Timothee Chalamet (the recipient of serious accolades, and if this was Best Supporting Actor rather than lead, would probably be a shoe-in) and Kaluuya. I greatly enjoyed the latter’s performance, but a reactive part like that is less likely to get serious buzz than one reliant on showboating.

Best Actress
Winner: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri)
I’d like to win: Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
The Interesting Choice: Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)

I wouldn’t be at all unhappy with favourite McDormand winning, but she already has an Oscar, and I was even more impressed by Hawkins. Meryl’s there because she’s Meryl, while Saoirse Ronan is undoubtedly going to win at some point, just not this time. Robbie doesn’t have a hope, but that would make her getting it the more interesting result.

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)
I’d like to win: Willem Dafoe  (The Florida Project
The Interesting Choice: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)

Most of the main categories have seemed a lock for a while now, not least Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards, but I wonder if the debate over his character might not have a negative effect on the night. Woody did well just to get nominated, Richard Jenkins was last given a nod for The Visitor, but I don’t think his Shape role is as interesting, and while the background to Christopher Plummer’s casting is a story in itself, no one is enthused enough about All the Money in the World to reward him (he got his Oscar a few years back anyway). So I’m leaning towards Dafoe, who’s great, and should have been given a few Oscars by now.

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
I’d like to win: Mary J Blige (Mudbound)
The interesting choice: Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

I think we can rule out Lesley Manville and Octavia Spencer (underseen movie and past Oscar winner respectively, added to which the latter’s role, like Jenkins, isn’t really notable enough to get her a little gold man). Allison Janney, like Rockwell, has been the main one to beat for most of the awards season (both nabbed Golden Globes), and I think she’ll probably take it, certainly over Laurie Metcalf. But the underseen Blige could still be the outsider, not to count out, if the Academy isn’t expressly averse to Netflix (which they may be).

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: Call Me By Your Name
I’d like to win: Mudbound
The Interesting Choice: Logan

I should say, I don’t think Logan deserves to win (it just isn’t that great a piece of writing), but it would be different if it did. The Disaster Artist is the last vestige of the ubiquitous James Franco’s once unswerving path to the Oscars, and its chances have gone the same way, while Molly’s Game is about as likely as Phantom Thread taking Best Picture. This is where the otherwise unrewarded Best Picture contenders make do with consolation prizes, so Call Me By Your Name is pretty much a cert, but I’d like to see Mudbound’s screenplay recognised.

Best Original Screenplay
Winner: Get Out
I’d like to win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Interesting Choice: Get Out

I don’t think Get Out’s the best screenplay by any stretch – its metaphor doesn’t quite follow through – but it’s structurally very sound, and satisfies for its neatness. I’ll have to reserve judgement on Lady Bird until I’ve seen it, but otherwise, Three Billboards is the at the front of the pack (Golden Globe and BAFTA). Nevertheless, Get Out is probably expected to win something, and this may be the most likely category.

Best Animated Feature
Winner: Coco
I’d like to win: Loving Vincent
The Interesting Choice: The Boss Baby

Why would The Boss Baby winning be interesting? Because it probably shouldn’t have even been nominated in the first place. Ferdinand is likewise filling the category out a bit. Like too many of this year’s nominees, though, there isn’t really any doubt about the winner.

Cinematography
Winner: Blade Runner 2049
I’d like to win: Blade Runner 2049
The Interesting Choice: Darkest Hour

Again, you can’t buck the smart money here, or Roger Deakins finally claiming his first Oscar. I don’t have a problem with any of these getting noticed, except perhaps Dunkirk. Darkest Hour, a film with a lot of issues, might be the most unlikely choice, but Bruno Delbonnel (who has worked with, amongst others, Jeunet, Burton and the Coen Brothers) did a beautiful job on it.

Best Production Design
Winner: The Shape of Water
I’d like to win: The Shape of Water
The Interesting Choice: Blade Runner 2049

While Blade Runner 2049 was one of my two favourite films of last year, I can’t favour it for this category, simply because the design, as striking as it is, pales in comparison to the gorgeously cluttered original. Still, a science fiction winner would be different (as opposed to the more commonplace fantasy winner).

Best Costume Design
Winner: Phantom Thread
I’d like to win: The Shape of Water
The Interesting Choice: Victoria and Abdul

The one win Phantom Thread can guarantee. Would Victoria and Abdul winning be interesting? Well, I don’t think anyone expects it.

Best Make Up and Hairstyling
Winner: Darkest Hour
I’d like to win: Darkest Hour
The Interesting Choice: Victoria and Abdul

Ditto this category. I don’t understand why they expanded the number of VFX nominees but kept this at three, and three not very interesting choices at that. I guess Oldman sports a decent fat suit, but it’s no Nutty Professor.

Best Film Editing
Winner: Dunkirk
I’d like to win: Baby Driver
The Interesting Choice: Baby Driver

Baby Driver scooped this one at the BAFTAs, and I think a lot of people would probably respond to the musicality of Wright’s choice over the more austere Dunkirk, but like Phantom Thread’s gowns, it’s likely to bring home the bacon in these tech categories.

Best Sound Mixing
Winner: Baby Driver
I’d like to win: Blade Runner 2049
The Interesting Choice: Blade Runner 2049

That said, I’m not plumbing for Dunkirk in all three editing/sound categories. Although, I think Blade Runner’s aural immersion would be the most interesting choice.

Best Sound Editing
Winner: Dunkirk
I’d like to win: Blade Runner 2049
The Interesting Choice: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dunkirk, but can you imagine how irate The Last Jedi loathers would be if it managed to sneak off with an Oscar (not remotely likely, I know).

Best Visual Effects
Winner: War for the Planet of the Apes
I’d like to win: Blade Runner 2049
The Interesting Choice: Blade Runner 2049

Another shoe-in, although really, how much more impressive are these apes three films in that they need recognition now? Any of the other four would be more interesting.

Best Original Score
Winner: The Shape of Water
I’d like to win: Phantom Thread
The Interesting Choice: Dunkirk

I liked Shape of Water’s score well enough, if it’s maybe a bit too self-consciously quirky, but just because I don’t love any of them, I’d go for Jonny Greenwood’s luxuriant classic Hollywood score. Dunkirk, being an anti-score, would definitely be different if it was picked.

Best Original Song
Winner: This Is Me (The Greatest Showman)
I’d like to win: The Mystery of Love (Call Me By Your Name)
The Interesting Choice: The Mystery of Love (Call Me By Your Name

Remember Me (Coco) appears to be the hot tip, but really, it’s inconsequential anodyne nausea on a plate, and how can they not go with the super catchy, anthemic and rousingly affirmative This is Me? That’ll be the one with the shelf life. I found Mighty River (Mudbound) a bit overemphatic, while Andra Day (Marshall) has a pair of lungs on her, but my pick would be Sufjan “Cat” Stevens’ perfectly poised piece for Call Me By Your Name.

Best Foreign Language
Winner: The Square
The Interesting Choice: On Body and Soul

The Square seemed to be the one to beat at one point (I really didn’t rate the director’s Force Majeure, so I’m not sure I’ll agree), but A Fantastic Woman is currently leading it, because trans is so hot right now. Loveless doesn’t seem to be winning the same love its director’s Leviathan elicited a few years back. I’ve yet to see any of these, but the outsider On Body and Soul looks the most interesting of the bunch.

Best Documentary Feature
Winner: Faces Places
The Interesting Choice: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

In this year’s selection there’s Last Men in Aleppo, another propaganda piece in favour of the White Helmets (the Oscars really love them, so that’s cause enough to be dubious), a nice safe anti-Putin piece (because that’s pushing the envelope) about Olympic doping (Icarus), a police racism film (Strong Blood), and a doc on the only financial institution to face criminal charges in the aftermath of the subprime crisis (Abacus: Small Enough to Jail). The winner, though? Smart money is on Face Places, a feel-good crowd-pleaser (as much as docs attract crowds, anyway) about a photographer and filmmaker bonding around France.

Best Animated Short
Winner: Lou
The Interesting Choice: Garden Party

Is Pixar likely to take home both animation categories? Why ever not? The lost property Cookie Monster-looking character in Lou is a definite winner, and like all Pixar, it turns incredibly mawkish at the end, so what’s not to like? Dear Basketball did nothing for me, even though the animation is very good, because it’s about basketball. I’ve only seen the trailers for the other three, but Garden Party’s animation impresses the most.

Best Documentary Short
Winner: Edith + Eddie
The Interesting Choice: Edith + Eddie

Oldest Interracial newlyweds turns into a dark family feud is getting all the positive press, and understandably so. The other contenders’ subjects include heroin (er, Heroin), cooking (Knife Skills), more police racism (Traffic Stop), and an artist on prescription meds (Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405).

Best Live Action Short
Winner: The Silent Child
The Interesting Choice: The Eleven O’Clock

Two of these (Dekalb Elementary and Watu Wote) are inspired by shootings, one has racist killers in 1955 Mississippi (My Nephew Emmett), another a British deaf girl (The Silent Child), while the final contender is a comedic encounter by a psychiatrist with a patient who thinks he’s a psychiatrist (The Eleven O’Clock). Dekalb Elementary is the favourite.

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…

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

Whoever comes, I'll kill them. I'll kill them all.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
(SPOILERS) There’s no guessing he’s back. John Wick’s return is most definite and demonstrable, in a sequel that does what sequels ought in all the right ways, upping the ante while never losing sight of the ingredients that made the original so formidable. John Wick: Chapter 2 finds the minimalist, stripped-back vehicle and character of the first instalment furnished with an elaborate colour palette and even more idiosyncrasies around the fringes, rather like Mad Max in that sense, and director Chad Stahleski (this time without the collaboration of David Leitch, but to no discernible deficit) ensures the action is filled to overflowing, but with an even stronger narrative drive that makes the most of changes of gear, scenery and motivation.

The result is a giddily hilarious, edge-of-the-seat thrill ride (don’t believe The New York Times review: it is not “altogether more solemn” I can only guess Jeannette Catsoulis didn’t revisit the original in the interven…

No time to dilly-dally, Mr Wick.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
(SPOILERS) At one point during John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, our eponymous hero announces he needs “Guns, lots of guns” in a knowing nod to Keanu Reeves’ other non-Bill & Ted franchise. It’s a cute moment, but it also points to the manner in which the picture, enormous fun as it undoubtedly is, is a slight step down for a franchise previously determined to outdo itself, giving way instead to something more self-conscious, less urgent and slightly fractured.

She worshipped that pig. And now she's become him.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)
(SPOILERS) Choosing to make The Girl in the Spider’s Web following the failure of the David Fincher film – well, not a failure per se, but like Blade Runner 2049, it simply cost far too much to justify its inevitably limited returns – was a very bizarre decision on MGM’s part. A decision to reboot, with a different cast, having no frame of reference for the rest of the trilogy unless you checked out the Swedish movies (or read the books, but who does that?); someone actually thought this would possibly do well? Evidently the same execs churning out desperately flailing remakes based on their back catalogue of IPs (Ben-Hur, The Magnificent Seven, Death Wish, Tomb Raider); occasionally there’s creative flair amid the dross (Creed, A Star is Born), but otherwise, it’s the most transparently creatively bankrupt studio there is.

Isn’t Johnnie simply too fantastic for words?

Suspicion (1941)
(SPOILERS) Suspicion found Alfred Hitchcock basking in the warm glow of Rebecca’s Best Picture Oscar victory the previous year (for which he received his first of five Best Director nominations, famously winning none of them). Not only that, another of his films, Foreign Correspondent, had jostled with Rebecca for attention. Suspicion was duly nominated itself, something that seems less unlikely now we’ve returned to as many as ten award nominees annually (numbers wouldn’t be reduced to five until 1945). And still more plausible, in and of itself, than his later and final Best Picture nod, Spellbound. Suspicion has a number of claims to eminent status, not least the casting of Cary Grant, if not quite against type, then playing on his charm as a duplicitous quality, but it ultimately falls at the hurdle of studio-mandated compromise.

I mean, I think anybody who looked at Fred, looked at somebody that they couldn't compare with anybody else.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018) 
(SPOILERS) I did, of course, know who Fred Rogers was, despite being British. Or rather, I knew his sublimely docile greeting song. How? The ‘Burbs, naturally. I was surprised, given the seeming unanimous praise it was receiving (and the boffo doco box office) that Won’t You Be My Neighbor? didn’t garner a Best Documentary Oscar nod, but now I think I can understand why. It’s as immensely likeable as Mr Rogers himself, yet it doesn’t feel very substantial.

I think, I ruminate, I plan.

The Avengers 6.5: Get-A-Way
Another very SF story, and another that recalls earlier stories, in this case 5.5: The See-Through Man, in which Steed states baldly “I don’t believe in invisible men”. He was right in that case, but he’d have to eat his bowler here. Or half of it, anyway. The intrigue of Get-A-Way derives from the question of how it is that Eastern Bloc spies have escaped incarceration, since it isn’t immediately announced that a “magic potion” is responsible. And if that reveal isn’t terribly convincing, Peter Bowles makes the most of his latest guest spot as Steed’s self-appointed nemesis Ezdorf.

Our very strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict... breeds catastrophe.

The MCU Ranked Worst to Best

She can't act, she can't sing, she can't dance. A triple threat.