Skip to main content

Even after a stake was driven through its heart, there’s still interest.

Prediction
2019 Oscars

Shockingly, as in I’m usually much further behind, I’ve missed out on only one of this year’s Best Picture nominees– Vice isn’t yet my vice, it seems – in what is being suggested, with some justification, as a difficult year to call. That might make for must-see appeal, if anyone actually cared about the movies jostling for pole position. If it were between Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody (if they were even sufficiently up to snuff to deserve a nod in the first place), there might be a strange fascination, but Joe Public don’t care about Roma, underlined by it being on Netflix and stillconspicuously avoided by subscribers (if it were otherwise, they’d be crowing about viewing figures; it’s no Bird Box, that’s for sure).

As for the ceremony itself, the affair seems to have run through the entire catalogue of shambolic decisions even before the night, stretching back to the Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film debacle (the post quote comes from Academy President John Bailey, upon recanting the announced category) and from thence trying to administer damage limitation following a number of hopeless blunders, including going ahead without a proper MC– you need to have a show with some sort of spine, which even the less memorable presenters have given it – and trying to legislate for overruns by chopping into awards coverage and then hastily backtracking in response to the outcry just shows none of those calling the shots understand viewership in today’s age.

Best Picture
Winner: Green Book
I’d like to win: A Star is Born
The Interesting Choice: BlacKkKlansman

Smart money (certainly Netflix’s smart lakes of money) has been on Roma, but Green Book’s inroads and Academy grudge-bearing towards what is perceived as a disruptive threat from Netflix lead me to think the more traditional – and resultingly controversial in some quarters, in a Driving Miss Daisy kind of way – option will go home with the big award. Black Panther stands no chance – even by Marvel standards, let alone by those of the presumed quality of Oscar fare, it’s a third-tier superhero movie. The Favourite is whacky and oddball costume drama, but I doubt it has the likes of BAFTA love behind it. Vice is respected but just not something anyone is impassioned about, not in a political era that makes Cheney look like small potatoes (however mistaken such an analysis may be). Bohemian Rhapsody is seductive surface gloss, very well done, while A Star is Born is the same, but with some depth and death and incontinence to give it earthy substance. The interesting choice – not because it’s good, far from it – would be BlackKklansman, but the Academy has already covered itself simply by nominating it.

Best Director
Winner: Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
I’d like to win: Adam McKay (Vice)
The Interesting Choice: Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)

I’m not fussed by any of these. The snubbed Bradley Cooper would have been my pick out of the picture frontrunners. Cuaron is obviously going to win, and he knows the ends of his lenses from each other, but that doesn’t make his work on it some kind of miracle; like everything he does, it’s very studied, so reflecting the faux-naturel quality of the whole movie. Just for giggles sake I’d like to see McKay win, not that he’s anyone’s idea of a great director (if he’s there, so should Farrelly be). Interesting would be Pawlikowski, because he’d be the foreign language guy no one was banking on. Most undeserved would be Yorgos Lanthimos, who has all the philosophical depth of a walnut. As for Spike, he’s the sterling example of someone who has gone his entire career in desperate need of a good editor.

Best Actor
Winner: Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
I’d like to win: Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
The Interesting Choice: Viggo Mortenson (Green Book)

Any time Willem Dafoe gets nominated, he automatically deserves the win. Playing Van Gogh, especially so. Viggo would be interesting, not least because he’s overdue recognition, but also due to his interview faux pas and status as the stands-accused part of a movie about race made for white people (plus, he’s incredibly good in it). Bale might be good in Vice, but no one likes Christian, not even his mum (that probably isn’t true). And it sucks to be Bradley; anyone would think A Star is Born was this year’s The Color Purple. Rami’s won this one, and if he hasn’t, all that copious schmoozing has been completely in vain.

Best Actress
Winner: Glenn Close (The Wife)
I’d like to win: Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
The Interesting Choice: Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Glenn Close is the 91stOscars’ Jessica Lange or Julianne Moore, appearing in a movie no one saw but it’s nevertheless felt that it’s about time to recognise her body of work. Which is fair. Even the mighty Jeff got the statuette for the wrong movie. Lady Gaga is about as likely to win as Yalitza Aparicio, the difference being that a plethora of roles won’t await the latter if she does. Olivia Colman is a boring Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs choice, much admiration for amusing ticks and quirks. Melissa McCarthy, though: a talented comedy actress proving her mettle in a straight(ish) part. She’d be my choice and the most interesting pick.

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
I’d like to win: Richard E Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
The Interesting Choice: Sam Elliot (A Star Is Born)

I’d love Grant to win, but he’s too much of an unashamed (and rightly so) ham to get serious consideration. Ali will likely get this as the acceptable face of Green Book, but there’s something faintly underwhelming about re-recognition so soon after Moonlight (same as Sam Rockwell in Vice). Adam Driver is the furthest from the envelope of the five, while it would be nice to see Elliott and his ever-loving moustache get a shout after all these years.

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
I’d like to win: Amy Adams (Vice)
The Interesting Choice: Marina de Tavira (Roma)

By the law of averages, it should be Adams’ turn, but at the current rate, I’d be unsurprised if she has to make do with a lifetime achievement in about thirty years. The two Favourite favourites pretty much cancel each other out (but Weisz has the edge over Stone, recently recognised for La La Land). King has been the likely pick for a while now, and I’m not going to argue with that, but the interesting choice might be the one memorable performance in Roma (if you don’t include Aparicio’s boyfriend).

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: BlackKklansman
I’d like to win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Interesting Choice: A Star is Born

There’s a good story somewhere in BlackKklansman, but Spike Lee does his best to divest you of that notion. Still, if the movie’s going to win anything, it’s this. It would be funny if The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was recognised, but has an anthology movie ever been? I’m fully behind any boosting of Can You Ever Forgive Me? despite having yet to see it, mostly because it’s a great story that strangely hasn’t caught on. If Beale Street Could Talk will probably settle for its Supporting Actress statuette. Interesting would be A Star is Born, just because of the number of times the story has had the opportunity to be nominated in the past (this is the first time since the 1937 version it’s been recognised in that category, on which occasion it won).

Best Original Screenplay
Winner: Green Book
I’d like to win: Green Book
Interesting Choice: First Reformed

Visually distinctive as it may be, that shouldn’t blind anyone into mistaking Cuaron’s nostalgic noodling for magnificent writing. The Favourite was probably better before Yorgos interfered with it. McKay was more acute when he was tackling the financial crisis. If nothing else, Green Book is likely to win this one, and it should, as it’s an expertly judged balance of laughs and poignancy. Interesting would be giving it to the misbegotten First Reformed, just because anyone voting for it would have to answer the question whatwere you thinking if you thought the last half hour was in any way good writing?

Best Animated Feature
Winner: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I’d like to win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Interesting Choice: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

All round, I think Spider-Verse breaks the mould, being an unashamedly modern animated movie that has been critically praised and publicly recognised. The likes of Incredibles 2 and Ralph 2 are fine, but more of the same. Mirai is the sole foreign-language entry, most unlikely to gain ultimate recognition, while Isle of Dogs would be my pick in any other year, Wes Anderson making good, having previously failed to provide us with an authentic Fantastic Mr Fox.

Best Cinematography
Winner: Roma
I’d like to win: A Star is Born
Interesting Choice: Cold War

Roma wins, that’s guaranteed. It’s also the least engaging visually of the season: impressive, but distancing. The Favourite is all ticks and quirks, like Olivia Coleman. Cold War would be interesting for stealing a foreign-language guaranteed award away from the prime contender. Caleb Deschanel has received his sixth Oscar nomination for Never Look Away. This won’t be his year, alas. A Star is Born had the most interesting visual approach of the nominees, by a long chalk.

Best Production Design
Winner: Black Panther
I’d like to win: Mary Poppins Returns
Interesting Choice: First Man

I’m not sure any of this year’s really “pop” but giving it to Black Panther is as good as any, and means it doesn’t go away empty handed. First Man, in its rudimentary way, is most interesting, while Mary Poppins is most sumptuous. Roma and The Favourite may need to look elsewhere.

Costume Design
Winner: The Favourite
I’d like to win: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Interesting Choice: Black Panther

Panther would be interesting, if only because it’s the sole non-period piece nominated. I’d give it to Scruggs, not least for Tim Blake Nelson’s impressive duds. But I suspect Sandy Powell will go home with an award, and not for Mary Poppins Returns.

Best Make Up and Hairstyling
Winner: Vice
I’d like to win: Vice
Interesting Choice: Border

They’re not giving it to an otherwise ignored Swedish movie, any more than they gave it to The 100 Year-Old Man a few years back. Mary Queen of Scots can count itself fortunate to bag two nominations, but this is Vice’s, and Christian Bale’s prosthetics, to lose.

Best Film Editing
Winner: The Favourite
I’d like to win: Bohemian Rhapsody

One might argue The Favourite or Vice are the obvious contenders here, what with their flashier styles. Green Book would be the outsider, in terms of being unshowy and seamless. BlacKkKlansman deserves recognition for how notto edit a movie. Is John Ottman too synonymous with Bryan Singer to be garlanded with an Oscar? He’s arguably the unsung saviour of his wayward director, going back to The Usual Suspects, and in the second half at least he works magic on Bohemian Rhapsody that’s the key to its success. I suspect the Academy won’t want to risk him speaking his pal’s name on the stand.

Best Sound Editing
Winner: First Man
I’d like to win: First Man
Interesting Choice: First Man

First Man is technically one of the most impressive movies of the year, only its achievements are rather hidden beneath its first-person demeanour. The two sound awards don’t often go to the same movie, so I’ll go for Bohemian Rhapsody in Mixing, with A Star is Born as the runner-up.

Best Sound Mixing
Winner: Bohemian Rhapsody
I’d like to win: First Man
Interesting Choice: First Man

See Sound Editing above.

Best Visual Effects
Winner: Avengers: Infinity War
I’d like to win: First Man
Interesting Choice: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Christopher Robin would also be an interesting choice, but it would be funny if the first Star Wars flop got an Oscar. First Man deserves it in the seamless way The Right Stuff also did (but didn’t even get a nom). Ready Player One might be too undiluted in its CGI, and anyway, I think Marvel’s the frontrunner here (at least it’s the right Marvel; that Black Panther scooped a BAFTA for its often-terrible effects work shows how laughable that awards ceremony is).

Best Original Score
Winner: Mary Poppins Returns
I’d like to win: Isle of Dogs
Interesting Choice: BlacKkKlansman

Mary Poppins was something of a box office disappointment, given the stratospheric expectations, but if the songs aren’t so memorable, the score is perfectly agreeable. Alexandre Desplat’s compositions are always agreeable when he’s working with Wes Anderson, but he’s won a couple of Oscars in the last five years, and probably doesn’t need any more urgently. The interesting choice would be Terence Blanchard, never previously nominated for his languorous, jazzy contributions to Spike’s oeuvre.

Best Original Song
Winner: A Star is Born
I’d like to win: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Interesting Choice: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Shallow’s a great song, but could be robbed (Greatest Showman was last year, after all). RBG proffers a power ballad, Mary Poppins one of its least memorable unmemorable tunes and Black Panther a packaged piece of pop from Kendrick Lamar. But a comedy tune always wins out in my book, particularly a comedy cowboy tune.

Best Foreign Language Feature
Winner: Roma

I’ve only seen Roma, but it’s a shoe-in here, the closest contender being Cold War some considerable distance behind. And Roma being the hot ticket here makes it less likely to gain recognition in the main category. 

Best Documentary Feature
Winner: RBG

With no Mr Rodgers in sight, this probably has Free Solo’s name all over it, but the Academy being what it is, they might go for the politically skewing RBG instead. Elsewhere, there’s the usual Syria propaganda piece (Of Fathers and Sons), a doc about skateboarding (Minding the Gap), and one about Alabama’s “Black Belt” (Hale County This Morning, This Evening).

Best Documentary Short
Winner: Black Sheep
Docs about a black kid’s survival growing up on a racist white estate (Black Sheep), German volunteers rescuing Libyan refugees from sinking rafts (Lifeboat), end-of-life support (Netflix’s End Game), a 1939 pro-Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden (A Night at the Garden) and women making sanitary pads in rural India (Period. End of Sentence).

Best Animated Short
Winner: Animal Behaviour
I’d like to win: Weekends

Animal psychology under the microscope (Animal Behaviour), Pixar’s Bao (mother’s dumpling comes to life for pining mother), an elderly woman’s memories (Late Afternoon), a girl’s dreams of becoming an astronaut (One Small Step) and an autobiographical piece about the child of divorced parents (Weekends). It’d been two years since Pixar last took home the short award, so it’s probably about time again, but I’m just going by my instinct of finding Bao immensely irritating.

Best Live Action Short
Winner: Marguerite

Controversial movie on the Jamie Bulger killing (Detainment), danger for two boys at an open pit mine (Fauve), the friendship between an elderly woman and her lesbian nurse (Marguerite) a mother calling her son learns he has been left alone on a beach (Madre) and a film about Nazi skinheads (Skin). I’m going with Marguerite, which seems to be the favourite, as I suspect an antidote to kids in peril/untoward environments in the other shorts might be called for.

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

We live in a twilight world.

Tenet (2020)
(SPOILERS) I’ve endured a fair few confusingly-executed action sequences in movies – more than enough, actually – but I don’t think I’ve previously had the odd experience of being on the edge of my seat during one while simultaneously failing to understand its objectives and how those objectives are being attempted. Which happened a few times during Tenet. If I stroll over to the Wiki page and read the plot synopsis, it is fairly explicable (fairly) but as a first dive into this Christopher Nolan film, I frequently found it, if not impenetrable, then most definitely opaque.

You can’t climb a ladder, no. But you can skip like a goat into a bar.

Juno and the Paycock (1930)
(SPOILERS) Hitchcock’s second sound feature. Such was the lustre of this technological advance that a wordy play was picked. By Sean O’Casey, upon whom Hitchcock based the prophet of doom at the end of The Birds. Juno and the Paycock, set in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, begins as a broad comedy of domestic manners, but by the end has descended into full-blown Greek (or Catholic) tragedy. As such, it’s an uneven but still watchable affair, even if Hitch does nothing to disguise its stage origins.

The protocol actually says that most Tersies will say this has to be a dream.

Jupiter Ascending (2015)
(SPOILERS) The Wachowski siblings’ wildly patchy career continues apace. They bespoiled a great thing with The Matrix sequels (I liked the first, not the second), misfired with Speed Racer (bubble-gum visuals aside, hijinks and comedy ain’t their forte) and recently delivered the Marmite Sense8 for Netflix (I was somewhere in between on it). Their only slam-dunk since The Matrix put them on the movie map is Cloud Atlas, and even that’s a case of rising above its limitations (mostly prosthetic-based). Jupiter Ascending, their latest cinema outing and first stab at space opera, elevates their lesser works by default, however. It manages to be tone deaf in all the areas that count, and sadly fetches up at the bottom of their filmography pile.

This is a case where the roundly damning verdicts have sadly been largely on the ball. What’s most baffling about the picture is that, after a reasonably engaging set-up, it determinedly bores the pants off you. I haven’t enco…

Seems silly, doesn't it? A wedding. Given everything that's going on.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I (2010)
(SPOILERS) What’s good in the first part of the dubiously split (of course it was done for the art) final instalment in the Harry Potter saga is very good, let down somewhat by decisions to include material that would otherwise have been rightly excised and the sometimes-meandering travelogue. Even there, aspects of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I can be quite rewarding, taking on the tone of an apocalyptic ‘70s aftermath movie or episode of Survivors (the original version), as our teenage heroes (some now twentysomethings) sleep rough, squabble, and try to salvage a plan. The main problem is that the frequently strong material requires a robust structure to get the best from it.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?

Batman (1989)
(SPOILERS) There’s Jaws, there’s Star Wars, and then there’s Batman in terms of defining the modern blockbuster. Jaws’ success was so profound, it changed the way movies were made and marketed. Batman’s marketing was so profound, it changed the way tentpoles would be perceived: as cash cows. Disney tried to reproduce the effect the following year with Dick Tracy, to markedly less enthusiastic response. None of this places Batman in the company of Jaws as a classic movie sold well, far from it. It just so happened to hit the spot. As Tim Burton put it, it was “more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie”. It’s difficult to disagree with his verdict that the finished product (for that is what it is) is “mainly boring”.

Now, of course, the Burton bat has been usurped by the Nolan incarnation (and soon the Snyder). They have some things in common. Both take the character seriously and favour a sombre tone, which was much more of shock to the system when Burton did it (even…

My dear, sweet brother Numsie!

The Golden Child (1986)
Post-Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy could have filmed himself washing the dishes and it would have been a huge hit. Which might not have been a bad idea, since he chose to make this misconceived stinker.

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991)
(SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.