My predictions of the 90th Academy Awards (2018)

BeFunky Collage

 

#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

BeFunky Collage

Will win: Phantom Thread

Could win: The Shape the Water

 

Best Film Editing

BeFunky Collage

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

BeFunky Collage

Will win: Dunkirk

Could win: The Shape of Water

 

Best Sound Mixing

BeFunky Collage

Will win: Dunkirk

Could win: The Shape of Water

 

Best Original Score

BeFunky Collage

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

BeFunky Collage.jpg

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

 

BeFunky Collage

Will win/Should win: The Shape of Water

Could win: Blade Runner 2049

 

Best Animated Feature

BeFunky Collage

It is not wise to mess with Disney/Pixar.

Will win/Should win: Coco

Could win: The Breadwinner

 

Best Foreign Language Film

BeFunky Collage

 

 

 

Will win: A Fantastic Woman

Could win: The Square

 

Best Documentary Feature

BeFunky Collage

Will win/Should win: Faces Places

Could win: Icarus

 

Best Documentary Short Subject

BeFunky Collage

Will win: Edith + Eddie

Could win: Heroin(e)

 

Best Animated Short

BeFunky Collage

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

Will win: Dear Basketball

Could win: Lou

Best Live Action Short

BeFunky Collage

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

BeFunky Collage

Will win: Blade Runner 2049

Could win: War for the Planet of the Apes

 

The Top 20 Movies of 2017

Cover.jpg

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.

 

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Call me by your name

A “truce” is made between Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer)

It is truly risky to make a movie like Call Me by Your Name, especially in a year of talks of sexual misconduct coming out of Hollywood (as well as politics). Yet for the most part, the movie still seems to work.

If you have not heard of the movie, it tells the story of a seventeen year old boy named Elio (Timothee Chalamet) as he spends one summer in 1983 in his family’s villa in northern Italy. An only child, he spends most of his summer writing his own music, hanging with his girlfriend Marzia (Esther Garrel), swimming, and going out at night. He also will help his father (Michael Stuhlbarg), a professor of ancient roman history (I believe), on occasion. All this changes when a college graduate comes in to assist his father. He is Oliver (Armie Hammer), a kind-hearted young man who eventually forms a relationship with young Elio.

It is clear the film will not be for everyone, as Elio and Oliver do have more than one times where they are intimate. It should be noted that the story (based off of a book by Andre Aciman, who also has a cameo) does take place in Italy, where the age of consent is lower than in America.

One thing no one will find controversial is the acting. After a memorable role in this year’s Lady Bird, it is safe to say that Chalamet is clearly making a name for himself, and shows range, poise, and vunerability unseen by most young actors. Hammer of course is affective as Oliver, but the one perhaps most perfectly cast is Stuhlbarg as Elio’s father. His is the type of Professor you would want to have in college, and even some attributes you would want in a father (he was also in this year’s The Shape of Water).]

My issue with the film is how it was presented. Though the director, Luca Guadagnino, does a fine job overall, the audience seems to be thrown into this situation, without exactly having a character we can see a point of view from. I would argue if we had seen this more from Elio’s perspective, the movie would have been a whole lot better.

Parents, you should not be surprised: this is not a movie for kids at all. There is strong sexual material, nudity (including female), and some swearing. The R rating is more than appropriate.

Another thing the movie gets right is the landscape of Italy, a country I have always wanted to visit at least once. If you add in the stellar acting and emotion to the immaculate imagery of the scenes, it is clear why Call Me by Your Name is getting all the praise it deserves.

 

Overall: Four Stars ****

The Shape of Water (2017)

The Shape of Water

Not your average tale as old as time…

To say that Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is weird take on Beauty and the Beast is a gross understatement. Thankfully, that is not a negative in the slightest. While this is only the second film of his I have seen (the other being 2006’s masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth), I am confident in saying that del Toro’s is an acquired taste, and I am one to gorge on it.

Set in the 1960s, The Shape of Water tells the story of Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute single woman whose life consists of janitorial duties at a research facility. True, a mute person may be looked at differently, but Elisa has such a charm about her it is impossible to not like her. Her two main friends are her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) and her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer).

One day, the research facility gets an aquatic creature from the amazon, brought by Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). While the main scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg) wants to keep it alive (he has his own secrets to hide), Strickland wants it cut up and studied (he and the creatures did not get along “on the way back”). The only source of love comes from Elisa.

I pause now to not give away anything else, except to say that there was a feeling of resolution I felt as the story (written by Del Toro, with help from Vanessa Taylor) unfolded. It all made sense and made me feel content. Of course, it also does not hurt when you have some of the most stunning images of the past decade. They all speak for themselves.

You won’t be surprised that Del Toro wrote the characters with (most of) these actors in mind. Michael Shannon has always been great at playing a character that makes you feel a little queasy, but he kicks it up many notches here. There is one scene where he radiates all we have been coming to despise about sexual assault recently. His character is clearly the villain of the year. Of course, Octavia Spencer is pitch perfect (she has already won an Oscar for being a part of The Help). There is no way Zelda could have been played by anyone other than Spencer.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was Richard Jenkins (who the role was not originally written for) as the neighbor. When you think of his role, you realize it could have easily been too over the top and been the problem for the film. Yet Jenkins brings more than humor, but also subtly and depth. He is remarkable.

Still, it is Sally Hawkins who is the most human, palpable, and poetic. I have been a fan of her since 2008’s Happy-Go-Lucky (which I still am mad she did not get nominated for at the Oscars), and here she truly has more of a chance to show she is one of the most underrated actresses we have. I know it is ironic to say, but her performance truly speaks volumes.

Parents, the film is not at all for kids. There is a good amount of swearing and violence, but also a handful of nudity scenes. While I am aware of nudity being a form of art (as it is shown here), there is one sex scene that I am not sure needed to be included (though it did show a characteristic of one of the characters). Either way, the R rating is totally accurate.

Still, the movie is a gem, and one of the year’s very best. It is already getting the Oscar buzz it surely deserves, and will be high way robbery if it is not nominated for Best Picture (let alone director, lead actress, screenplay….ok, you get the idea).

I left the theater, feeling the way all great movies should make you feel: Refreshed.

 

Overall: Four and a Half Stars **** 1/2