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”

 

 

 

Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri – A Review

Image result for 3 billboards outside ebbing missouriMartin McDonagh directs Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. The story of one woman who takes it upon herself to take on the local authorities who failed to apprehend the criminal behind the gruesome rape and murder of her daughter.

 

Frances McDormand plays Mildred Hayes – a small town Missouri divorced mother of two who lost her daughter a year ago and the perpetrators are still at large. She blames the police chief, William Willoughby played by the inimitable Woody Harrelson, of dereliction of his duty. Other characters in the saga are, the head of the town advertising agency Red Welby played by Caleb Landry Jones and utterly incompetent inspector Dixon played by Sam Rockwell.

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Martin McDonagh has been a director whose work I have been keen to see but never managed to get around to. In Bruges garnered him critical acclaim and seven psychopaths seemed to divide the critics but the praise for Three Billboards has been deservedly unanimous. The original story by McDonagh is a shoo-in for a nomination this year. Every character is perfectly fleshed out and someone you can get personally invested in – there are no villains and no real heroes. Each one of them is flawed and shows a level of raw vulnerability that tugs at your heart.

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The three standouts for me are McDormand, Harrelson and Rockwell. Frances McDormand seems to thrive in these stories set in Rural America. She won her Oscar in Fargo and seems poised to repeat the feat with Three Billboards. Her Midlred Hayes is a tough as nails woman who takes on the entire police department by putting up three billboards to remind them of the still unsolved crime which took her daughter. There is also a vulnerability to her when she talks to a deer, breaks down in a flood of tears as she witnesses a fire. There is also a tenderness to her when she consoles chief Willoughby as he coughs up blood. Woody Harrelson is Mr. Dependable he is the police chief who seems to be running the department with a very laid back attitude. He lets slide a number of infractions on the part of Officer Dixon and but you also see a more genial more thoughtful side to him in the letters he leaves behind for both Mildred and Dixon. Sam Rockwell as Officer Dixon is stupidity personified. He is egged on by his mother and every single choice he makes is the wrong one. However towards the end he is able to redeem himself in a manner that is most unexpected.

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The lush cinematography of Ben Davis adds another layer of unexpected beauty to the story. The editing by John Gregory is so precise that not once does the pace slacken or feel flabby at any point.

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A simple story masterfully told through characters that are brilliantly written and even more brilliantly enacted. Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri is fantastic and unmissable.