Saturday, February 10, 2018

Breaking Down the 90th Annual Academy Award Nominations [Contributor: Chelsea]

I have had some time to sit on this year's Oscar nominations, as well as see a few more of the contenders. And I believe this year is giving us one of the best Oscar ceremonies in years. Yes, there are plenty of films and performers I would have loved to have seen honored, but overall, it’s one of the strongest, most confusing awards seasons in a long time. It’s far more fun not knowing what’s going to happen and having hope that your favorites can prevail. Here are some of my thoughts on the nominations and the race at this point.


Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This has been a great year in that there are solid arguments for four of these nominees winning Best Picture. I personally really love eight of the nine nominees, with Three Billboards continuing to be a sore spot in my mind. Many people thought I, Tonya or The Florida Project could sneak in here, but the Academy went a little more British by adding Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour (both of which delighted me).

The Shape of Water feels like it could break a longstanding SAG Awards statistic and take the awards home, which would be great for genre film and original storytelling. In my ideal Picture/Director/Screenplay split, del Toro would get Picture, Gerwig would have Director, and Peele would earn Screenplay. The fact that The Shape of Water looks like a $100 million film and cost less than $20 million is so impressive.


Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

This is possibly my favorite category because I would be thrilled with any of these directors winning. Of course I want Greta Gerwig or Jordan Peele to make history here but it’s hard to deny del Toro’s technical accomplishment or Nolan and Anderson being overdue for recognition. If I had to pick my favorite directors who made their specific visions come to life, it would be Gerwig and Anderson. Both are so uniquely their own visions and voices and the performances in the films are so specific to the stories. I would love for Gerwig to snag this trophy, though it’s really del Toro’s to lose at this point. The surprise addition of P.T. Anderson over Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards) is the biggest shake-up this Oscar season. Before nomination morning, many of us had presumed Three Billboards to be the Best Picture winner but its director being excluded here gives the film an enormous uphill battle. Argo and Driving Miss Daisy are the only films to win Best Picture without a Director nomination, and McDonagh is no Ben Affleck.


Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

I mean, Gary Oldman was really great in Darkest Hour and I’m still shocked I loved that film as much as I did... but Daniel Kaluuya still had my favorite performance of the year and easily the most iconic. I would love for him to shock everyone and snag a win, but that’s a chaotic dream of mine. Chalamet also makes a great case for a win if you’ve watched the last five minutes of Call Me By Your Name. The unwavering shot of his face will haunt you weeks after watching.

More than anything though, I think we’re all just really thankful James Franco didn’t make it onto this list.


Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post

Coincidentally, this is also my dream brunch company. I’m cool with five-way ties at the Oscars. I loved all of these ladies a lot and they all bring something so striking to the screen. If Frances wins, PLEASE don’t censor her and give her all the time in the world.


Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards

This category is the first one I really take issue with because Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name should’ve been a slam dunk. So much heart and vulnerability in that beautiful, loving role. It is a complete shame he isn’t here. Behind him, I found Richard Jenkins to be my favorite in this particular category. So much of the heart and humor in The Shape of Water came from his performance and I’m just waiting for him to get some love. I have a lot of negative opinions about Three Billboards, and most of them are about Sam Rockwell’s character, but he is always a great actor — even in a tone deaf film. I love seeing working actors get these prizes, so if he wins this, I’ll be a little salty about the film but I’ll be happy for him.


Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

I’m thrilled to see Metcalf, Blige, and Manville in here. All of them give such memorable performances and steal their respective films. I will always want the best for Octavia Spencer, and that means wanting more roles for her besides the best friend. My heart is also in an odd place where I don’t want Allison Janney to win an award — not because she isn’t great, but because she’s too good for such a one-dimensional role. Her whole storyline is playing evil and it’s so poorly directed. Hollywood, give Allison Janney more complex leading roles because she deserves the best. So I’ll be happy of course being able to call her “Academy Award-winner Allison Janney,” but I just want better roles for her going forward. I love these ladies though and wish them all killer roles in the future.


Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Molly's Game

How cool is it that a superhero film got nominated in this category? A superhero film that did something fresh and original too! Sans The Disaster Artist, I also really liked this category. I’m pulling for Call Me By Your Name or Mudbound to snag this but it would be wild if Logan took it home. Swap The Disaster Artist for Wonder Woman, and this would have been a perfect category.


The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards

I have no idea what’s going to win here, but if anybody has any sense, it won’t be Three Billboards. The only thing worse than its direction was the script that clearly had no understanding of the race relations in Midwest America. Sticking to my dream split from above, I would love to see Get Out win this and if not that then Lady Bird or The Big Sick. (Sorry The Shape of Water. The script was not your strong point.) Nothing was more original or iconic than what Jordan Peele wrote for the screen. He captured culture at such a crucial moment and gave us hope for 2017. I do think this category will be indicative of Best Picture, since the four major contenders for Picture are here too. We’ll see how things go on Oscar night!


The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent

But how silly is it that The Boss Baby is an Oscar-nominated film? Ridiculous. The other four films are pretty delightful though, with Ferdinand having a special place in my heart. I do expect Coco to take home the trophy though, because Disney.


The Insult
On Bodo and Soul
The Square
A Fantastic Woman

So many of the presumptive frontrunners this season didn’t even make the shortlist before nomination day. A Fantastic Woman slowly came under the radar to become the frontrunner, but don’t underestimate The Square or Loveless if any transphobia is lingering in the Academy’s voters.


Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This is where Dunkirk should get some love because that film is all magnificent editing. Taking three different timelines and interweaving them into a masterpiece of a war film is inspiring. Baby Driver also benefits from being a film that is all about the editing and would be a fun win as well. The Shape of Water and Three Billboards benefits from being Best Picture nominees but there was nothing spectacular about them here. The lack of Get Out, Lady Bird, and Call Me By Your Name is really discouraging here but not surprising.


Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

I know Roger Deakins is overdue but Dunkirk, Mudbound, and The Shape of Water were all way more beautiful than Blade Runner 2049. I don’t know if this will be Deakins’ year and I don’t know if it should be. Just the difficulty that went into making Dunkirk and Mudbound and the conditions they had to film in were just astounding. And The Shape of Water is so striking and memorable with those beautiful water shots. I would actually swap out either Darkest Hour or Blade Runner for The Last Jedi because so many of those shots are stupidly beautiful.

Shout-out to Rachel Morrison (Mudbound) for being the first female nominated for this category (and a queer female at that). Many more should have come before you but I know many will follow and make you proud.


Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Oh this is tough because The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, and Phantom Thread were so beautiful. And I’m a sucker for a Star Wars score. Even Three Billboards — as terrible of a film as it is — is set to one beautiful composition. I’d put my money on The Shape of Water but don’t be surprised if Phantom Thread wins it all.


"Mighty River," Mudbound
"Mystery of Love," Call Me By Your Name
"Remember Me," Coco
"Stand Up for Something," Marshall
"This Is Me," The Greatest Showman

I hate myself for taking the song from Marshall out of my official predictions the night before nominations but I’m so glad it's here. This should be the place Call Me By Your Name or Mudbound win. One of them needs to get Screenplay and the other can get Song. I’d rather Mudbound get song so Blige doesn’t come home empty-handed. It was a relatively weak year for original songs in film and this list kind of shows it. It feels like it was scrapped together after the first two on this list.


Many of these categories are odd mixes of The Shape of Water vs. Dunkirk vs. Phantom Thread vs. Darkest Hour, with sprinkles of blockbuster films and odd Makeup and Hairstyling choices. The biggest surprise of the race was how much of a non-presence The Post made in these categories and how quickly it fell from the conversation. If The Shape of Water cleans up in these technical categories, then it should have an easy route to Best Picture.

Last year, the first indicator that La La Land wasn’t going to win was when it kept losing a lot of these categories to Arrival, Fantastic Beasts, and Hacksaw Ridge. If the winners prove to be all over the place again this year, look for some surprises in Best Picture.


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