My predictions of the 90th Academy Awards (2018)

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#Metoo has been what Hollywood was known for in 2017 more than any film title. People went so far as to making sure that all the presenters at the SAG awards were all female (which I thought was too much).

I mention this because that is what is still at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and what may be the key indicator of certain categories at this year’s Academy Awards.

That, and talent, of course.

 

And the Oscar will (probably) go to…

 

Best Picture

 

Best Picture

 

It has become a two-way race between The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The former is my favorite (as well as my second favorite of 2017), but I am going with the latter. The Shape of Water does have more nominations (it was a technical marvel), but I think the Academy will go with the top-notch acting, smartly written, and daring power of Three Billboards.

 

Will win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could win/Should Win: The Shape of Water

 

Best Actor

Best Actor

There is no way, in any shape or form, I can see anyone beating Gary Oldman. His turn in Darkest Hour is the easiest win of the night. Not even legend Daniel Day-Lewis in his last role (which I still hope is not true) has a chance. Also, kudos to young Timothee Chalamet from Call me by your name.

 

Will win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Could win: Timothee Chalamet, Call me by your name (again, won’t happen)

Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

 

Best Actress

Actress

It says something when Meryl Streep (The Post) is the least likely to win. In any other year, these woman would have won easily, but it is far too competitive. The one who has emerged is Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The only possible upsets would be Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird, or Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water. Still, like the character she plays, I would not mess with McDormand.

 

Will win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could win: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Should win: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

 

Best Supporting Actor

Best

 

All talented men, but Sam Rockwell of Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri has become the frontrunner. This is one of the few categories where I agree with the Academy. Rockwell had one of the best character growth arcs I saw last year. However, if he splits the votes with his co-star Woody Harrelson, it could possibly go to Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project (who was the backbone of that film).

Will win/Should win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could win: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

 

Best Supporting Actress

BSA

An upset could still possibly occur in the form of Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird, but it is still a safe bet to call Allison Janney will be winning her first Oscar as I, Tonya ‘s mom from hell.

 

Will win/Should win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Could Win: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

 

Best Director

Director

If you win the DGA award, it is very hard to not win the Oscar. So expect the winner to be Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape of Water.

 

Will win/Should win: Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

Could win: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk 

 

Best Original Screenplay

Best

Easily one of the toughest categories, nearly any one of these films can win. However, since Martin McDonagh did not get a best director nomination, I am pulling for him to win for writing Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Will win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Could Win: Get Out

Should win: Lady Bird

 

Best Adapted ScreenplayBest

Despite three past nominations for Best Director, expect the 89-year-old James Ivory to finally win for his work on Call me by your name.

Will win: Call me by your name

Could win: Mudbound

Should win: Logan

 

Best Cinematography

Cinematography

Kudos to Rachel Morrison for becoming the first woman nominated in this catagory. Still, with his 14th nomination, can we please just give an Oscar to legendary Roger Deakins for his work on Blade Runner 2049? It has been far too long.

Will win/Should win: Blade Runner 2049

Could win: Mudbound

 

Best Costume Design

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Will win: Phantom Thread

Could win: The Shape the Water

 

Best Film Editing

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Another close one, but I am having a gut feeling the action packed (and underrated) Baby Driver will win.

Will win/Should win: Baby Driver

Could win: Dunkirk

 

Best Sound Editing

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Will win: Dunkirk

Could win: The Shape of Water

 

Best Sound Mixing

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Will win: Dunkirk

Could win: The Shape of Water

 

Best Original Score

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One of the central parts of The Shape of Water was the score, which is why it will win.

Will win: The Shape of Water

Could win/Should win: Phantom Thread

 

Best Original Song

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Another close call, but I am going with “Remember Me” from Coco. While the songs were the only universal praise for The Greatest Showman, it was near impossible to not cry during the scene between Miguel and his great grandma.

Will win/Should win: Coco “Remember Me”

Could win: The Great Showman “This is Me”

 

Best Make-Up/Hairstyling

Make up

Despite great make up on a fantastic young actor (Jacob Tremblay) in Wonder, expect the winner to go to make up on another fantastic actor (Gary Oldman) for Darkest Hour.

Will win/Should win: Darkest Hour

Could win: Wonder

 

Best Production Design

 

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Will win/Should win: The Shape of Water

Could win: Blade Runner 2049

 

Best Animated Feature

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It is not wise to mess with Disney/Pixar.

Will win/Should win: Coco

Could win: The Breadwinner

 

Best Foreign Language Film

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Will win: A Fantastic Woman

Could win: The Square

 

Best Documentary Feature

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Will win/Should win: Faces Places

Could win: Icarus

 

Best Documentary Short Subject

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Will win: Edith + Eddie

Could win: Heroin(e)

 

Best Animated Short

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Kobe as an Oscar winner? It could happen, and should.

Will win: Dear Basketball

Could win: Lou

Best Live Action Short

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Due to the terrible recent school shooting in Florida, expect the Academy to award Dekalb Elementary, which revolves around a similar situation.

Will win: Dekalb Elementary

 

Best Visual Effects

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Will win: Blade Runner 2049

Could win: War for the Planet of the Apes

 

The Top 20 Movies of 2017

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Even with 20, these films did not make the cut.

Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for.

 

I went back and forth as to whether make the traditional top ten, or go with twenty. I decided on the latter for a few reasons. First, in a great year for movies, there were too many to ignore (and even at twenty, films such as Wonder Woman, Detroit, Mudbound, and Darkest Hour did not make it). Second, so what if I added more than ten? If you really want see just the top ten, here is a trick: skip down to number ten, and go from there (though you will be missing a lot of great films along the way).

 

20.

The Disaster Artist.JPG

“YOU’RE TEARING ME APART LISA!!!”

 

A passion project for director/actor James Franco, The Disaster Artist tells the tale of another passion project (and cult favorite), The Room. Franco is so wonderful in the role of the aloof Tommy Wiseau that it goes beyond comedy and becomes very human. It truly tears you apart!

 

19.

Molly's Game

Jessica Chastain, fantastic as Molly.

 

Renowned screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game, is full of electricity. As always, his dialogue snaps like fire crackers, no doubt due to the wonderful casting of greats such as Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba.

 

18.

Faces Places

JR and Agnes Varda, on a quest you have not seen before.

The most recent film I have seen as of this writing, Faces Places is the unique documentary about legendary french film maker Agnes Varda and her friend JR (whose eyes she has never seen). They go around meeting people as they post big pictures of their subjects on vast walls. As in all great films, it goes far beyond that. It reminded me a lot about Errol Morris’s masterpiece, Gates of Heaven.

 

17.

Logan Lucky

No peaking!

Even with an all-star cast including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Hillary Swank, Seth Macfarlane, and (especially) Daniel Craig, a film like Logan Lucky could have gone wrong on so many levels. Thankfully, the script is so tight that every moment is real, authentic, and down right ludicrously hilarious.

 

16.

The Last Jedi

Sometimes, questions don’t need concrete answers.

A prime example of a movie you either love or hate, I am on the former when it comes to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. No, we did not get any “answers” to questions we may have had, but so what? It was a Star Wars film that gave us new twists and turns we had not seen before, plus was much better than the overrated Rogue One.

 

15.

Blade Runner 2049

Deckard returns.

From one sci-fi sequel to another, Blade Runner 2049 is full of a lot of questions that are also unanswered. What no one will question is the gorgeous scope of the film, thanks in part to cinematographer Roger Deakins (who may finally get his Oscar now).

 

14.

Logan

Logan and his daughter.

In one of the best years for superhero films, my pick still goes to Logan. A swan song of epic proportions, Hugh Jackman truly goes out swinging. Or clawing.

 

13.

 

The Post

Meryl Streep as Kay Graham, owner of The Post.

 

Even if the film was rushed, Steven Spielberg’s The Post has a fire burning in the soul, which shows in the cast led by Hollywood giants Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. It is a movie that, had it not been made, I would not be reminded of the right I have to be typing these words in the first place.

 

12.

I Tonya

Just before the show, Robbie’s Harding is set to go…

How wickedly devilish is the film I, Tonya! So fun, and self-aware of itself, it gives a stellar Margot Robbie performance, and heaven knows how wonderful Allison Janney is as one of the worst mom’s in recent cinema history.

 

11.

Coco

Miguel’s passion for music knows no bounds…

As Miguel tugs at the guitar strings, so does Coco tug at our heart-strings. Which, by now, is totally the standard Disney/Pixar films have set for all animated films (and others in general).

 

10.

Lady Bird

Ronan as the title character.

One of the most original scripts in recent memory, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is full of outstanding wit and charm. It is also more proof why Saoirse Ronan is truly one of the best actors of her generation.

 

9.

Wonder

The Wonder that is Jacob Tremblay.

Of all the movies I saw this year, I fought the hardest (okay, fought myself) for Wonder to be in the top ten. Based of the book of the same name (which I highly recommend), this wonderful fable of why it is important to #choosekind is something I cannot imagine parents not taking their kids to.

 

8.

Dunkirk

Many of the soldiers at Dunkirk

 

Very few, if any, director has a current positive track record than Christopher Nolan, and Dunkirk is no exception. Packed with more than enough tension and grit, it is as fitting a war film as they come.

 

7.

A Ghost Story.JPG

Time moves by in an instant for the ghost

At only around an hour and a half, few films of this (or any) year have given me more questions than that of A Ghost Story. Like a pool, you soak in it, look at the reflection, and see all the questions you want answered. Multiple viewings are needed, and are something I plan to do in the time I have left on earth.

 

6.

TBOEM

Mildred is a role only Frances McDormand could play

Another one of the most original scripts in years, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a tough sit through at many times. Yet it has so much dark peppered humor and spot on performances (mainly McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and especially Sam Rockwell) it is hard to turn away.

 

5.

The Big Sick

A love story unlike any seen before

The true story of how one man met his wife, The Big Sick is still the best rom com I have seen in nearly a decade. All the actors are hilarious and convincing, and the writing is top-notch. I still can’t get over that 9/11 joke.

 

4.

The Florida Project

Bobby (Willem Dafoe), the hotel manager who is tough but kind-hearted.

I had never thought of what could be outside the walls of Disney World before I saw The Florida Project. I doubt I am alone. With some of the best acting from children you will see, and a sublime Willem Dafoe, the movie takes us to a place that has been under the shadows of Disney for far too long.

 

3.

Phantom Thread

DDL, the master at work

Like most, I had to wait nearly a month before I could see Phantom Thread, but it was far worth the wait. Daniel Day-Lewis gives (no surprise) a perfectly majestic performance as a dress-maker in 1950s London, whose new muse (Vicky Krieps) must put up with him. Director Paul Thomas Anderson treats the film as gentle as the fabric that Woodcock works with in his shop.

 

2.

The Shape of Water

Though mute, Eliza (Sally Hawkins) lets herself be heard.

Of all the love stories of this year, my favorite still goes to that of a mute help worker and a sea creature in The Shape of Water. Guillermo Del Toro gives us a world of endless possibilities, filled with memorable characters (don’t get me started on how much we love to hate Michael Shannon here), astounding visuals, and a love that is not easy to forget.

 

1.

IT

“Hello Georgie”

I can imagine a lot of people being surprised at my number one pick, but after more than one viewing, I just could not deny IT. Undoubtably one of the top four or five adaptations of Stephen King, the film is far more than a horror masterpiece. It is also about coming of age (I have yet to meet anyone who though negatively of the kid performances, all of whom are perfect in their roles), young love, bullying, and, of course, clowns.

Floating has never been so terrifying. Or enjoyable.

 

The 10 Worst Films of 2017

Worst of 2017

The only reason these films are not on the list is that I was spared seeing them…

I am still waiting on a few movies to see before I can list my top ten movies of 2017, but I am more than ready to list the pieces of trash (trash being the most polite word I can think of) of the past year. Movies in the collage above are not going to be mentioned, only because I did not see them.

 

That being said, here comes the reminder of the pains I went through the past year…

 

10.

The Shack

Despite having a nice message, The Shack falls in so many ways that it sadly becomes another forgettable Christian movie. Also, I still don’t see how you can see the title and not think it is a horror film.

 

9.

The Space Between Us

I had hopes for The Space Between us, but was disappointed. Despite nice acting and chemistry between the young leads, the story goes nowhere and we are left wishing Butterfield and Robertson were in another movie.

 

 

8.

The Emoji Movie

 

Every now and then, I feel a little sorry for The Emoji Movie, which was not as hated by me as most of the rest of the human race (even by those who did not see it). Then my mind remembers how bland and boring the film was. And the absolute worst humor imaginable.

 

7.

Split

 

Lousy M. Night, making me almost hopeful that he may be going back to good movie making. At the end, Split is still an utter failure, with premises that I found completely ridiculous.

 

6.

Roland (Idris Elba) in Columbia Pictures' THE DARK TOWER.

 

While watching The Dark Tower, you get a sense that this movie had so much promise, but that every decision made behind camera was the wrong one. I never read the book series (by Stephen King), but I feel that doing so will give me more reason to hate the film.

 

5.

Transformers

Tranformers: The Last Knight. It is a Transformers movie. That alone should be enough explanation.

 

4.

POTCDMTNT

Remember when the Pirates of the Caribbean movies where fresh, new, and exciting? Well, if they make more sequels like Dead Men Tell No Tales, I will forget why I liked the first film at all to begin with.

 

3.Life

 

A solid cast and some neat special effects cannot stop Life from being a rip off of the original Alien, or from having one of the worst end twists I have seen in my life.

 

2.

The Snowman

If you look up all the people associated with The Snowman, you will be as confused as I am. Confused not just at the plot, but at how all these people could make a film the equivalent of eating yellow snow.

 

1.

frozenolaf

 

It may have been a Disney animated “short” (yeah, those quotation marks are as important as ever), but I have seldom felt more anger (even hatred) towards a movie screen than when I had to sit through Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. Sure, Disney pulled the film (which was followed by the far more superior Coco) a few weeks later, but those of us who saw it were left with one of the most excruciating experiences that we are still not sure is over yet. No one asked for this film to be in a theater, and I predict it will have the same future that was given to The Star Wars Christmas Special back in the 1970s.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017)

Olafs frozen adventure

Olaf’s 21 minute quest to find a holiday tradition.

It was around the second preview before Coco that I got up to use the rest room. On my way back to the theater, I noticed a sign I must have missed the second time around. The sign read that Coco would start later than normal, because the animated short, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, was nearly 21 minutes long.

I had not really cared much to see the short in the first place (I did vastly enjoy the original Frozen, but I like it so much more when the short films before a Disney/Pixar film are original pieces). Earlier in the day, a friend’s daughter said she would see Coco only because she wanted to see Olaf. To her, I say the following: this is one move from Disney I cannot support. I have seldom been more angry at the company.

It was very tempting of me to give this short film (which is far from short) my first zero rating, but I must admit I did smile at a few moments (the only one I do remember liking a bit is about fruitcake). The premise is simple: It is Christmas time in Arendel and the sisters Ana (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) set up for a big dinner, they realize no one will come since everyone has their own Christmas traditions. This is when Olaf (Josh Gad) decides to find a tradition for his friends to have together.

The movie is harmless, but with a runtime of just over 20 minutes (including four songs (which are forgettable), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is the best example of superfluous I can think of. I sat there, wondering why not just use this as a TV special? Sure enough, when I got home, I found out the film was supposed to be a TV special, but the execs and makers found the material “too theatrical”.

Uh huh.

If a movie theater (and, according to reports, the one I was at was not the only one) is letting you know that the main feature is going to start later than normal due to the “short” before hand, you made a grave mistake (it also does not help that it is not shown for critics).

It is bad enough that I had to be reminded that this was not the first short from the Frozen universe (Frozen Fever was played before 2015’s live action Cinderella). Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will be remembered for every wrong reason imaginable. I would not be surprised if they don’t even include it on the home release of Coco (which, unlike Olaf, is far more worth your money).

Still not convinced? Even the kid next to me was saying how glad he was the thing finally ended.

 

Overall: Half a Star 1/2 *

Coco (2017)

Coco

Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) loves music, even when his family disapproves.

 

Up the stairs and to the left.

That is where my grandma keeps the photos of her past. One picture in particular came to my mind frequently while watching Disney/Pixar’s latest triumph, Coco. It is the photo of my great-grand father as a kid. My grandma always said I had his eyes, and the more I look at it, the more I agree.

Family and music are the two obvious elements of Coco. We learn that Coco is not the main character, but the main character’s great-grandmother. The main character’s name is Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez, giving a stunning breakout performance reminiscent of Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho). He is a young boy living with his family of shoemakers. The family is loving, but is strict on having no music whatsoever. Miguel’s great-great grandfather (Coco’s father) left the family to pursue a music career, and never returned. He was therefore rejected by the family, and his picture torn away.

Still,  the love of music is in Miguel’s bones (and he is no slouch either at the guitar). He idolizes his hero, the late Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), yearning to play exactly like him. Even so, his family (especially his grandma, Coco’s daughter) strongly hate the idea, even breaking Miguel’s guitar. When he tries to steal the real Cruz’s guitar, he makes an unexpected trip to the land of the dead, trying to find out why he can’t bring his love of music into his home. On his trip, he meets (not surprisingly) a vast number of characters, including a lovable dog named Dante, many dead relatives, and a mysterious wanderer named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal).

The film has at least two plot twists, neither of which I will spoil, except that one of them was kind of a given and the other I was not expecting. What I can say of the movie is that it is, of course, visual eye candy. Before the film even began, there was a short two-minute intro by the makers of the film (which seemed odd to me), saying how thankful they were to the countless people who worked on the film. Just watching the film is proof enough that the film took a lot of time and care to make. The land of the dead never seemed so vibrant.

Parents, the movie is Disney/Pixar, so the kids will be fine. Yes, there are some thematic moments, but nothing too bad for a child.

Is Coco the best of Disney/Pixar? Probably not, but it is surely a great movie. It does have some plot points that seem easily covered up, and the villain is bad, but sub par. Still, the visuals are amazing, the music (by frequent Disney/Pixar composer Michael Giacchino) adds to the film’s love for music, and the ending emotional punch is one of the best the studio has ever offered (my eyes got a little wet).

Coco is a film that is not just one you will always remember, but one worth it as well.

Es Muy Excellente.

Overall: Four Stars ****