Thursday, March 1, 2018

Oscar Picks from the Basement

By now you have all seen the video, "Don Goes to the Movies," which weaves clips from 9 films nominated for Best Picture into a creepy narrative about racism, sexism, Hitler, misery, and how scary Michael Shannon looks "The Shape of Water." (If you haven't, take about 3 minutes to enjoy it or enjoy it again).

Is anyone completing the full Oscar ballot anymore? For over 20 years, Benjamin Shearn and I have competed in head to head competition including all categories. This year there are 24 categories.

Voting for Oscars ended Feburary 28 so recent events could affect this year's selections. Last year, you will recall the Moonlight/La La Land confusion.

Jimmy Kimmel will again be hosting the Oscars. And probably make Matt Damon jokes which are funny if you know about their feud. Which I don't. I predict a joke about a nominee having their Darkest Hour. 

If I were hosting, I would say....'that great film Get Out...Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein.

But I am in the basement where I belong.

Get out your pencils and your scorecards and I will give the starting lineups for the March 4, Academy Awards.

Here is a link to a one page ballot. Print out the ballot to play along.

Actor in a Leading Role: Lead pipe lock. Gary Oldman as Churchill.

I love Denzel but I never heard of the movie he was in.

Timothée Chalamet is 22 and starred in Call Me by Your Name and supported in Ladybird. He was born in Manhattan to a well-connected family and pronounces his name, 'Timo-TAY." Obviously, I hate him.

Daniel Kaluuya, the son of Ugandan parents, grew up in London played an African-American in Get Out and plays an African-Wakandan in Black Panther. I didn't understand the motivations of his character W'Kabi in BP. But I don't want to spoil Black Panther. I can only say that the screenwriters took some liberties with the succession rites of Wakanda.

Daniel Day-Lewis has already won 3 Oscars and has lost to Oldman at the Golden Globes, Bafta, and was not even nominated for the Screen Actors Guild. Everybody hates him and thinks he's a jerk. He plans to retire and perform at second-tier casinos in Nevada,

Actor in a Supporting Role: Toss up. Edge goes to Sam Rockwell.

I liked Sam Rockwell in 'Moon.' I guess he did a good job of playing a dangerous, possibly psychotic racist who inexplicably becomes a sympathetic character in the disagreeable movie, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. He will win, probably.

I'm told that Willem Dafoe was the best part of The Florida Project. I didn't see it. I don't like movies with kids in them unless they are G-Rated. This movie is an 'R' so that kids in the movie can't see them. That's wrong.

Woody Harrelson. Give someone else a chance. You have been in nearly 80 movies and you are 56. You were fine. Maybe the best part of that movie. But c'mon.

Richard Jenkins: Liked him. Sympathetic quirky. But how is Michael Shannon not nominated for The Shape of Water? Shannon is an excellent villain. Cruel. Ambitious. Greedy. Predatory.

Christopher Plummer: I saw the previews. Did that movie ever come out? A good prop bet is whether Plummer will show up for the ceremony. I think he will.

Actress in a Leading Role: Frances McDormand as a grief-stricken, deranged, arsonist. It's been 20 years since Marge Gunderson stole our hearts in Fargo.  In Three Billboards, she plays a crazy person who seems normal which I guess is why she is considered the lock for the Oscar.

Sally Hawkins is charming, courageous and loyal in The Shape of Water. True, she plays love scenes with a man-fish. That should be a plus.

Sally Hawkins (left), Man-fish-god (right)
Margot Robbie: If she did her own skating in I Tonya, I would give her at least a bronze medal.

Saorise Ronan has been acting for 15 of her 23 years. She was fine. She'll get more work.

Meryl Streep. Every year there seems to be an article about who got snubbed when Meryl Streep gets nominated. I didn't find one for this year so I guess she deserved it. She wasn't believable as the wealthy socialite. Although that's kind of what she is now. So her turn to journalist heroine didn't convince me. I thought her best performance of all time was The Devil Wear Prada.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Allison Janney is despicable and mean in I Tonya and she had a bird nibbling at her ear.

Mary J. Blige:  Mudbound/Didn't see it.

Leslie Manville: Phantom Thread/Didn't see it.

Laurie Metcalf: She plays the mom in Ladybird. She is troubled, stressed and confused as the parent of the lower middle-class girl. Not as over the top as Allison Janney but a better performance.

Octavia Spencer: I know The Shape of Water is set in 1962 but Spencer's character doesn't belong in a 2017 movie. This character was written especially for Spencer. And everybody seems to love her in it but me. Is it post-modern to have a sassy black sidekick?

Animated Feature Film: Coco is the consensus choice.

But Pixar chief John Lasseter is currently on a leave of absence because of sexual misconduct. "He was inappropriate with the fairies,”(young actresses promoting a Disney product line )...We had to have someone make sure he wasn’t alone with them.”

Then again, it made a lot of money, people love it and it respects Mexican culture. So #metoo and #timesup will have to wait to punish Pixar.

Coco and the Dead

Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049: Roger Deakins has been nominated 15 times including Oscar winners, No Country for Old Men and Fargo. And Not even nominated for Oscar winner, A Beautiful Mind. Longtime Coen brothers collaborator. His time has come. Loved the scene in post-apocalyptic Vegas.

Directing: The Shape of Water, Guillermo Del Toro is the pick. He won all the major awards.

Christopher Nolan: I haven't seen Dunkirk. Glad I wasn't there. Looks scary.

Jordan Peele: Get Out was my favorite movie of the year. I always favor large casts and degree of difficulty for best director awards. (For a good time, click on this link for best director. Think about Bob Fosse winning for Cabaret over Francis Ford Coppola/The Godfather. Or Kevin Costner/Dancing with Wolves over Scorcese/Goodfellas.) Peele won't win but the most thought provoking horror movie since the original Night of the Living Dead.

Greta Gerwig...Ladybird. I guess.

Paul Thomas Anderson. Phantom Thread. I'm prejudiced. They rejected my tagline. "Not Just Another Sewing Picture!"

No love at all for Rian Johnson, The Last Jedi. That was a great looking movie.

A bunch of other awards....

Documentary Feature: Didn't see any of them.

Documentary Short Subject: Bueller?... Bueller?... Bueller?

Film Editing: Shouldn't that be same as best picture? How can the best picture not be the best edited? I pick Dunkirk because the betting line in England likes it.

Foreign Language Film: A Fantastic Woman.  I didn't see it but I believe it is a reimaging of the Invisible Woman (Susan "Sue" Storm-Richards).

Makeup and Hairstyling: Darkest Hour

Original Score: Ask my friend Kevin.

Original Song: "Remember Me" from Coco is the favorite. I'm calling for the upset..."This is Me" from the Greatest Showman. It hit 58 on the Billboard 100. And people love that movie.

Production Design, Animated Short, Live Action Short, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects.

These awards should be given out at that ceremony that they always have for Sci/Tech awards. Here is what it would sound like.

Adapted Screenplay: Call Me by your Name...A lock. Nobody saw any of these other movies. No, Mike and Dina saw Molly's Game and didn't like it.

Original Screenplay: Get Back but it's a squeaker.

I like this category and the competition.

The Big Sick...Immigration-comedy-disease.

Lady Bird...Independent. Spirited. Sacramento.

The Shape of Water...Nostalgia. Cold War.  Illustration versus photography. Human-Creature Love.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri...Not a fan. Why did the Sheriff have the glamorous wife? Why are all the black characters positive and all of the white characters (except Peter Dinklage) crazed or stupid?

Best Picture:

Here is the 538 predictive model.

It shapes (pun intended) up to be a 2 picture race with The Shape of Water and Three Billboards being the favorites.

Even though this is more of #metoo year (Ladybird?) than an #oscarssowhite (Get Out)year, The Shape of Water has its share of Oscar-worthy themes.

Outsiders overcoming the odds-Evil government forces-Sexual predator-disabled character (usually a gateway to an acting award- and most importantly...A deep and abiding reverence for movies.

Birdman-The Artist (how did that happen?) Argo (seriously how did that happen. What was going in 2012 ?)

The Oscar goes to The Shape of Water. 

To which I say...