Arts Review

2018 Oscar Nominations and Thoughts, Film Reviews by Marc Glassman

2018 Oscar Nominations and Thoughts, Film Reviews by Marc Glassman featured image

2018 Oscar nominations and thoughts
By Marc Glassman

There were no masterpieces made in Hollywood last year. As usual, very few big budgeted films were made for adults, which is par for the course, and even adolescents must be getting tired of endless recycles of Marvel and DC graphic novel films.

Even in a diminished year, the Oscar nominations shockingly missed what to many critics was the best film of the year, The Florida Project.  A funny, sexy take on poverty in America, the film drew a predictable nomination for veteran Willem Dafoe as best supporting actor, but its subversive take on Trump’s America was ignored in the big categories. At least Get Out, the most amazing take on race in America ever, was nominated for best picture but it’s hard to imagine that a truly black comedy will be taking home the Oscar.

It is the year of #MeToo and one can’t but wondering how that will affect Oscar voters. It’s also been a year when African-Americans and students of all races and creeds were targeted by psychopaths and the police. In the age of darkness ruled by Trump and his supporters, how will Hollywood liberals vote?

I suspect that there will be a few leftist surprises but the tuxedoed and black dress wearing fashionistas will still make a lot of aesthetic mistakes while making a few politically correct statements.

One certain prediction: Meryl Streep will not win an Oscar this year. Apart from that, who can tell?

Having said that, here are my predictions.

Best Picture:

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

Marc’s pick: Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s low-key comedy about a young woman coming of age in small town California, doesn’t feel like an Oscar winner, but in a year of #MeToo, this is the best candidate. And Oscar could do—and has done—worse.

Lead Actor:

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.”

Marc’s Pick: Gary Oldman. The best performances in this category are by Daniel Day-Lewis and Daniel Kaluuya but this seems to be the time for Winston Churchill, who has been the subject of two features and is an important character in a top-drawer TV series, The Crown (where he’s played by John Lithgow). Oldman gives a shrewd, spry take on one of the UK’s greatest war leaders.

Lead Actress:

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

Marc’s pick: Frances McDormand. Five wonderful performances but there will be only one winner. This is the role of a lifetime for McDormand, who is the anchor of this funny, brutal, overly intellectual take on America

Supporting Actor:

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

Marc’s Pick: Sam Rockwell. A leading man turned character actor, Rockwell is marvelous as a racist cop who gradually evolves into a more thinking and caring individual in an overly metaphorical film about America.

Supporting Actress:

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

Marc’s Pick: Allison Janney. Too bad for Lesley Manville and Laurie Metcalf, who are excellent in their films! Janney is bone chilling, quirky and utterly watchable as Tonya Harding’s bully of a mother in the ice skating epic, I, Tonya.

Director:

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

Marc’s Pick: Guillermo del Toro. He’s won the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. Time for a hat trick for the best fantasy film artist since Val Lewton. (And, yes, that includes Peter Jackson.) Del Toro makes you care about a Creature from the Black Lagoon who actually does get the girl.

Animated Feature:

“The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
“The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

Marc’s Pick: Coco is an incredibly beautiful film. This year, every animated feature is top-notch but this is the clear winner thanks to its visuals and well-considered story.

Animated Short:

“Dear Basketball,” Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant
“Garden Party,” Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon
“Lou,” Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
“Negative Space,” Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
“Revolting Rhymes,” Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer

Marc’s Pick: “Negative Space,” Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
Great animation and a genuinely weird film.

Adapted Screenplay:

“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory
“The Disaster Artist,” Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
“Logan,” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
“Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin
“Mudbound,” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Marc’s Pick: James Ivory. It’s appropriate that the 89-year-old James Ivory wrote this sophisticated take on Andre Aciman’s coming-of-age novel. Well known for directing adaptations of E.M. Forster (A Room with a View), Kazuo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day) and Henry James (The Golden Bowl), Ivory is too old to direct this gorgeous adaptation, but he could—and did- write it.

Original Screenplay:

“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh

Marc’s Pick: Greta Gerwig. This charming take on a young woman coming-of-age is perfectly observed, with apt dialogue and cunning characterizations.  True, it’s likely to be based on Gerwig’s own life, but there’s nothing wrong with taking personal life and turning it into art.

Cinematography:

“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins
“Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema
“Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison
“The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen

Marc’s Pick: Roger Deakins. It’s about time that the best cinematographer of the past two decades (True Grit, Fargo, Kundun, In the Valley of Elah, Skyfall, Sicario) gets an Oscar! His bleak visionary take on the future is the most riveting element in an underrated big budget film.

Best Documentary Feature:

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
“Faces Places,” JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda
“Icarus,” Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
“Last Men in Aleppo,” Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen
“Strong Island,” Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes