Academy Awards - The Oscars

Once again it is time to celebrate a year of film watching. Here are my choices for the following awards along with a few thoughts about some of the selections and non-selections The Academy made.

  • Actor in a Leading Role – The nominees are: Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Timothee Chalamet (Call me by Your Name), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), and Denzel Washington (Roman J. Isreal, Esq.). Who else could be on this list? Tom Hanks (The Post), James Franco (The Disaster Artist), and Richard Gere (Norman). However, regardless of who wasn’t on the list, the runaway best performance is Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour. His Winston Churchill was simply sublime.
  • Actress in a Leading Role – The nominees are: Meryl Streep (The Post), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Francis McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, and Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird). Who didn’t get nominated? Rachel Weisz (My Cousin Rachel), Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes) and Jessica Chastain (The Zookeepers Wife). If it were up to me, I’d select Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird because of the variety and excellent delivery of teenage emotions she effectively brings to the screen. Margot Robbie was utterly fantastic as Tonya Harding. Francis McDormand was filled with angst and fire as the woman who lost her daughter to rape and murder. Sally Hawkins was ethereal as Elisa Esposito a deaf woman who communicates with the captured creature. Meryl Streep showed the subtle development of strength as her character Katharine Graham.
  • Supporting Actress – The nominees are: Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread), Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird), Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Mary J. Blige (Mudbound). Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water). Who is missing from this list? Melissa Leo (Novitiate), who gave one of most outstanding performances of the year. The film wasn’t seen and that is a shame. This is a strong field but choosing from the nominees, I’d select Allison Janney. Her depiction of Tonya Harding’s mother was vividly cold.
  • Supporting Actor – The nominees are: Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World), Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Willem Defoe (The Florida Project), and Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water). A great set of actors. Missing? Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes) gave us an incredibly life like Bobby Riggs. I’d have to say that Sam Rockwell would get my vote although each of the above deserve the recognition.
  • Best Cinematography – The nominees are: Bruno Delbonnel (Darkest Hour), Hoyte van Hoytema (Dunkirk), Rachel Morrison (Mudbound), Dan Laustsen (The Shape of Water), and Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049). Great list of people creating and delivering great pictures. My vote would go for Hoyte van Hoytema in Dunkirk. I admired the multitude and type of scenes that were shot and how they were made into a cohesive feeling of awe.
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – The nominees are: Dee Rees and Virgil Williams (Mudbound), Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter (The Disaster Artist), James Ivory (Call Me by Your Name), James Mangold, Michael Green and Scott Frank (Logan), and Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game). My vote would go to  Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter for The Disaster Artist.
  • Writing (Original Screenplay) – The nominees are: Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor (The Shape of Water), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), Jordan Peele (Get Out) and Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird). This is probably the tightest category to be contested. Each of these stories is amazingly original. Therefore, I don’t have a single selection, they all are deserving.
  • Film Editing – The nominees are: Lee Smith (Dunkirk), Tatiana S. Riegel (I, Tonya), Jonathan Amos and Paul MacHliss (Baby Driver), Sidney Wolinsky (The Shape of Water), and Jon Gregory (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). All very good, however the standout in editing goes to Lee Smith for Dunkirk. This is a story based film and not a character based film and because of this the editing makes this film engaging.
  • Directing – The nominees are: Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread), Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), and Jordan Peele (Get Out). What is missing. To me there are huge gaps here. Margaret Betts (Novitiate), Kathryn Bigelow (Detroit), Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya), and Joe Wright (Darkest Hour) all had a great firm hand on their story's and told them with excellence. Out of the nominees, I’d vote for Christopher Nolan and Dunkirk because he made this event come alive. However, Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) got amazing performances from her cast.
  • Picture – The nominees are: Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, Get Out, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Shape of Water, and Lady Bird. All these pictures, except Phantom Thread (review in process) are films I loved to watch for different reasons. What is missing? I think Novitiate, Detroit, and Battle of the Sexes were deserving as well. However, Novitiate would be my candidate for replacing Phantom Thread which I didn’t really find likable or engaging. Who will win? My wish would be Dunkirk, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in that order. If Novitiate was in the mix, it would be a tie between it and Dunkirk.

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