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

Marc’s Pick:  Faces Places. My heart and love of great docs is taking me to a risky choice. Varda’s wonderful take on the underbelly of French society and collaboration with thirty-something photographer J.R. has yielded the masterpiece that eluded Hollywood’s filmmakers this year. But I won’t be surprised if Last Men in Aleppo or Abacus wins in this tough, artistic genre.

Best Documentary Short Subject:

“Edith+Eddie,” Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405,” Frank Stiefel
“Heroin(e),” Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon
“Knife Skills,” Thomas Lennon
“Traffic Stop,” Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

Marc’s Pick: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405. This film about mental illness, therapy and art is unsettling and beautiful. A truly mesmerizing doc.

Best Live Action Short Film:

“DeKalb Elementary,” Reed Van Dyk
“The Eleven O’Clock,” Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
“My Nephew Emmett,” Kevin Wilson, Jr.
“The Silent Child,” Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton
“Watu Wote/All of Us,” Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen

Marc’s Pick: The Silent Child is a beautifully acted take on deafness and teaching; a slice of life drama that makes you care about people struggling to understand each other.

Best Foreign Language Film:

“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)
“The Insult” (Lebanon)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“On Body and Soul (Hungary)
“The Square” (Sweden)

Marc’s Pick: On Body and Soul. A couple working in an abattoir fall in love when they discover that they are dreaming the same dreams together every night. Crazy, romantic, surrealist—and one for the ages.

Film Editing:

“Baby Driver,” Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
“Dunkirk,” Lee Smith
“I, Tonya,” Tatiana S. Riegel
“The Shape of Water,” Sidney Wolinsky
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Jon Gregory

Marc’s Pick: The Shape of Water. In a tough category, this is the winner—a bravura elaboration of del Toro’s vision.

Sound Editing:

“Baby Driver,” Julian Slater
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mark Mangini, Theo Green
“Dunkirk,” Alex Gibson, Richard King
“The Shape of Water,” Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

Marc’s Pick: Baby Driver. It’s all about sound in this thriller, which uses a rock soundtrack and the atmosphere surrounding high-stakes driving in a robbery or a ritzy party to transport its audience.

Sound Mixing:

“Baby Driver,” Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
“Dunkirk,” Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
“The Shape of Water,” Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

Marc’s Pick: Dunkirk. Another tough category, but this WW2 epic gives the audience an overwhelming sense of space.

Production Design:

“Beauty and the Beast,” Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
“Blade Runner 2049,” Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
“Darkest Hour,” Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
“Dunkirk,” Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
“The Shape of Water,” Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

Marc’s Pick: The Shape of Water.  Breathtaking. An absolute winner.

Original Score:

“Dunkirk,” Hans Zimmer
“Phantom Thread,” Jonny Greenwood
“The Shape of Water,” Alexandre Desplat
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” John Williams
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Carter Burwell

Marc’s Pick: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Carter Burwell. An evocative score by a veteran composer, with a knack for composing unique melodies.

Original Song:

“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

please credit © Denny Renshaw

Marc’s Pick: “Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens


Makeup and Hair:

“Darkest Hour,” Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
“Victoria and Abdul,” Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
“Wonder,” Arjen Tuiten

Marc’s Pick: “Victoria and Abdul,” Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard

Costume Design:

“Beauty and the Beast,” Jacqueline Durran
“Darkest Hour,” Jacqueline Durran
“Phantom Thread,” Mark Bridges
“The Shape of Water,” Luis Sequeira
“Victoria and Abdul,” Consolata Boyle

Marc’s Pick: “Phantom Thread,” Mark Bridges

Visual Effects:

“Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
“Kong: Skull Island,” Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,”  Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
“War for the Planet of the Apes,” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

Marc’s Pick: “Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer

Click here for more film reviews from Marc Glassman.

Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus

Tune in to hear Marc Glassman’s Art Reviews
Friday’s at 9:07am on Classical Mornings with Mike and Jean.

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