Oscars 2018 – My Predictions

2018Oscars and Hollywood seems to be playing the rule of diminishing returns each year with more sequels and super hero movies than those pushing the cinematic landscape further. Plus the problem of representation politics seems to compound the list of nominees even further with each passing year. It is no wonder that unlike previous years I do not have very strong feelings about most of the categories. With the exception of Dunkirk, 3 Billboards and Call me by your name there really isn’t a single movie or individual contribution in the entire list that has me willing to pick a fight with anyone who disagrees with my picks.  However traditions must be kept alive in the hope that maybe next year’s crop of nominees will be better.

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Dunkirk seems to be polarizing people like I couldn’t believe it. I still remember sitting in BFI Imax where the theatre manager came out before the movie and told us that Christopher Nolan had personally adjusted every adjustable control so that the sounds & visuals were how the movie was meant to be seen. I remember a current run through my spine before and after the movie. It is almost unimaginably innovative in how it tells the story of a war, there are no individual characters, there is no glory there is just the oppressing claustrophobia of war. For once a war movie does not glamorize the war. There is tragedy everywhere and in an immersive IMAX experience it puts you on the battlefield.

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3 Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is a triumph of screenplay and a tour de force of acting in France McDormand. It is such audacious storytelling that it will have you question every character. There are no heroes or villains, there are just real people who make real mistakes to deal with real problems. Frances McDormand is simply Phenomenal.

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Call Me By Your Name is in a way the perfect Oscar movie, based on a novel, adapted by James Ivory and an unusual and unresolved love story at the center of it. But where it rises above the Oscar bait category is that this movie has a heart and that too in spades! Timothée Chalamet better beat Daniel Day-Lewis and Gary Oldman for the best actor prize. He is incredible and to anyone who thinks he is only 24 and his time will come I will beat you to a pulp. He shows more range in the final credit scenes than Day-Lewis did in the entirety of the weird Phantom Thread. Gary Oldman has been fantastic in everything up until Darkest Hour. This might truly be his worst turn ever.

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And finally The Shape of Water – it deserves to win absolutely nothing – every category it is nominated for has a stronger contender. In isolation too the movie is just not very good. It is poorly written, sluggishly paced, the acting is very average and the story is just bizarre. If I had any power it would be nominated for the razzies and not the Oscars. And I really do not need Guillermo Del Toro’s hype to be validated. Everything he has done has been sub-par. But this is America we are talking about where mediocrity is rewarded so I’ll be hate posting every time The Shape of Water wins anything.

Supporting Actor:

Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

 Makeup and Hair:

“Darkest Hour,” Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick

Costume Design:

“Phantom Thread,” Mark Bridges

Best Documentary Feature:

“Icarus,” Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan

Sound Editing:

“Dunkirk,” Alex Gibson, Richard King

Sound Mixing:

“Dunkirk,” Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo

Production Design:

“Blade Runner 2049,” Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola

Best Foreign Language Film:

“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)

Supporting Actress:

Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

Animated Short:

“Dear Basketball,” Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant

Animated Feature:

“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson

Visual Effects:

“Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer

Film Editing:

“Dunkirk,” Lee Smith

Documentary Short:

“Heroin(e),” Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon

Live Action Short:

“DeKalb Elementary,” Reed Van Dyk

Adapted Screenplay:

“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory

Original Screenplay:

“Get Out,” Jordan Peele

Cinematography:

“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins

Original Score:

“Dunkirk,” Hans Zimmer

Original Song:

“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Director:

“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan

Lead Actor:

Timothée Chalamet “Call me by your name”

Lead Actress:

Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Best Picture:

“Dunkirk”

 

 

 

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Call Me By Your Name – A Review

Related imageLuca Guadagnino directs Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in a James Ivory screenplay based off André Aciman’s novel Call me by your name.

Set in the 1980 in northern Italy it is the story of American Oliver who comes to stay with Professor Pearlman and his Family. How he meets and creates a lasting impression on professor’s young son Elio. One half of the famed Merchant-Ivory duo, James Ivory adapts Andre Achiman’s novel into a narrative that seems to span a lifetime in the searing Tuscan heat but also is encapsulated in a fleeting moment, that ephemeral summer romance. Guadagnino translates this script so beautifully that all you want to do is move to this nondescript Italian village and sip apricot juices for breakfast and go for a swim in the afternoons.

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Armie Hammer plays Oliver and Timothée Chalamet plays Elio. Michael Stuhlbarg plays the professor and Amira Casar the fabulous Annella. The story starts with Oliver arriving in Italy to stay with Elio and his family in their Tuscan villa. Elio gives up his room and immediately is resentful of this American who invades his life. How they go from Elio mocking Oliver’s “Later..” to taking a trip with him to Bergamo before Oliver returns home is where the magic unfolds. Hammer is fantastic in Oliver and this might be the first time that he has truly delivered on the potential he has always seemed to possess. The way he chides and teases Elio is indescribably intimate. Stuhlbarg delivers one of the most poignant father-son moments of perhaps all time. It is a crying shame that he has been denied a nomination in the supporting actor category.

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But in Timothée Chalamet a star is born, the range he depicts far outshines his peers this year. As 17 year old Elio he lives out every teenage emotion there is and lays bare his heart for the audience in the final few minutes. You watch enthralled every time he is on screen, the infamous Peach scene is not what you must remember this movie for but it is what immediately follows. When he sobs “I’m Sick” you feel his pain, his shame, his desperation. If Chalamet doesn’t win the best actor Oscar this year then the ceremony is not merit based but an exercise in either honouring a swan song (Daniel Day-Lewis) or an attempt at righting past wrongs (Gary Oldman).

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Music by Sufjan Stevens is exceptional, in particular the Traitor piece, the use of Piano music to elevate the emotional dynamics of the film is phenomenal. The cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom captures the beauty of northern Italy beautifully. Every scene feels crisp and perfectly drenched in the Tuscan sunshine. Together with Guadagnino, Mukdeeprom manages to create the never-ending heat of summer feel palpable. Guadagnino imbues the scenes with such nuances that you are in the scenes yourself. Every character serves a purpose. Mafalda, Mounir (played by Andre Aciman himself), Marzia, they all exist fully and completely within the film’s grammar. This is exceptional filmmaking.

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Watch it because frankly it is perhaps one of the best coming of age movies I’ve ever seen. I saw this and Ladybird on the same day and I have to say that this is a far superior film. Timothée Chalamet is Phenomenal and I’d put my money on him piping both Daniel Day-Lewis and Gary Oldman to the podium – he is that good here.

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