E: Today’s lesson: never underestimate the Brits.
Supporting Actor 5/5
My Picks: Rockwell, Dafoe, Jenkins, Harrelson, and Plummer
Oscar Picked: Rockwell, Dafoe, Jenkins, Harrelson, and Plummer
I feel pretty good about this one, because it was definitely not assured Plummer would make it in over Armie Hammer. But he did. (I’ll have to come back and tell you when I’ve seen both films if I think this was the fairest call. I’m particularly thrilled for Richard Jenkins here; he’s such a lovely, underrated actor, and it’s marvelous to see him pick up one of The Shape of Water’s three acting nominations. I suggested that if we saw Harrelson or Jenkins show up on this list without the other then we’d know that the Academy had a preference for one of those two movies. No help here, or in any of the acting races, but we’re definitely revisiting that subject.
Supporting Actress 4/5
Outside Shots from Across the Pond:
Leslie Manville, The Phantom Thread
Kristin Scott Thomas, Darkest Hour
My Picks: Janney, Metcalf, Spencer, Blige and Chau in a squeaker over Hunter
Oscar Picked: Janney, Manville, Metcalf, Spencer and Blige
I told you that it wouldn’t matter to voters if they got rid of the only Asian actor in the race.
I’ve left in the note where it shows that Manville was on my radar, thanks to her BAFTA nod, but I did go on to say this about her chances:
“BAFTA added two more names into the mix, The Phantom Thread‘s Leslie Manville (playing the sister and business partner to Daniel Day-Lewis’ dressmaker) and Darkest Hour‘s Kristin Scott Thomas (playing Mrs. Winston Churchill), but neither has had much buzz on this side of the pond. Though the Academy loves its Brits, the BAFTAs love them even more (unsurprisingly), and always pepper in a few names that don’t make waves on American beaches.”
I did not appreciate at all the love the Academy clearly feels for The Phantom Thread. Total miss there. BAFTA swung heavily toward several movies that hadn’t gotten much awards play here, but like I said elsewhere, BAFTA and AMPAS share more members than any other awards-giving body, so I should have been paying more attention.
Manville’s a lovely actress, beloved by my family for her roles in North & South (the British, not American mini-series) and Cranford among many more, and I’m thrilled that she’s finally getting some recognition. I didn’t remotely expect it, but I’m really happy for her.
Duking it Out For the Win:
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
The Next Most Likely:
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
And Two of These Guys:
Daniel Day-Lewis, The Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Tom Hanks, The Post
Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
My Picks: Oldman, Chalamet, Franco, Kaluuya and Day-Lewis
Oscar Picked: Chalamet, Day-Lewis, Kaluuya, Oldman and Washington.
So, okay. Remember when I said that it was hard to tell whether the accusations against James Franco came out in enough time to derail his nomination? We have the answer. They did. I can’t think of another reason he wouldn’t make this list.
I am somewhat surprised that Washington made the list ahead of Hanks, but I probably shouldn’t be. Denzel has been nominated for 3 Oscars in the last 5 years; unlikely his contemporary Hanks, the Academy’s appreciation of him only grows with time.
You know what’s fascinating here? Only Day-Lewis has a costar nominated here. It’s usually the women who’re plunked into the lead race as the sole representative of their movie, but not this year. Four out of these five do come from Best Picture nominated films, but it’s intriguing that over all 6 men (Chalamet, Dafoe, Kaluuya, Oldman, Plummer, Washington) received their film’s only acting nod, but only 2 women (Blige, Streep).
My Picks: McDormand, Ronan, Hawkins, Robbie and Streep
Oscar Picked: McDormand, Ronan, Hawkins, Robbie and Streep
Yay! Usually it’s easy to get Best Actress right because there are so few Academy-safe choices (you can’t star in an adventure, or a thriller, or a sci fi flick, or comic book or a Young Adult or Children’s movie, etc…) and markedly fewer movies made starring women. We had good choices this year, though, from relatively big movies, and I feel good about selecting the right ones. ( Entertainment Weekly didn’t, for example – in total they ended up with 15/20 to my 18/20 in the acting races..)
In case you were counting, that’s 1 nomination for Margo Robbie, 2 for Sally Hawkins (the first in lead), 3 for Saoirse Ronan, 5 for Frances McDormand, and 21 for Meryl Streep.
I still hate this category. I knew that they’d leave someone off the DGA list. I didn’t think it would be someone this shocking – someone totally not on my radar or on this list – but that’s what they do, the director’s wing. I’m not surprised that I got someone wrong; I’m stunned at who it is. I can’t even feel bad about it because no one thought he was vulnerable.
In the Old Boy’s Club:
Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
The Outsiders Pounding on the Door:
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Jordan Peele, Get Out
The (Old World) Spoiler:
Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name
The Oldest of Old Boys:
Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World
The Old Master/Peter Pan:
Steven Spielberg, The Post
A New Boy:
Sean Baker, The Florida Project
My Picks: Del Toro, McDonagh, Gerwig, Peele, and Baker in a shocking upset
Oscar Picked: Paul Thomas Anderson, Del Toro, Gerwig, Nolan, Peele
This turned out not to be full set of newcomers I expected – but it was disrupted by a repeat nominee I wasn’t expecting, either. Paul Thomas Anderson fits the directing wing’s vision of an old boy perfectly, though; he’s an auteur wracking up his third directing nod, bringing his lifetime total including as for his writing and producing to 8. He hasn’t won for any of them, and this is unlikely to be his year to change that.
I’m relieved to see the directors haven’t ignored Greta Gerwig (who directed the best reviewed movie of the year) or Jordan Peele (the most profitable), who’ve become the fifth woman and fifth black man nominated, but I’m utterly fascinated and all around gobsmacked that they left out Martin McDonagh, who helmed one of the two frontrunners in the race, right on the heels of Three Billboards SAG win. With McDonagh’s exclusion, Del Toro looks even more likely to continue the Mexican domination of the directing Oscar this decade.
Now, I know that I said if Peele or especially Gerwig were snubbed, it would automatically launch their films into the current 2 way race for Best Picture, a la Argo after Ben Affleck’s snub. I’m not sure Martin McDonagh’s omission does that. It may, but will it really hit the industry viscerally? I doubt it. So maybe that will send voters the other way, toward The Shape of Water, or maybe a new favorite will take its place. We’ll have to really watch the press for clues, because most of the major awards have already been given, taking away our obvious indicators of change.
Even though I called it wrong, I’m really pleased that Christopher Nolan finally can say he’s Oscar-nominated. I don’t know if it bothered him (he may be above such petty considerations) but it sure bothered me. I suppose I picked him because they’ve slighted him so many times before, but also because of the type of movie he made. Everyone on this list but Nolan has actors in the hunt; Nolan is there for producing such a tense and absorbing epic with so many moving parts. (It’s rather a shame there’s been no awards heat on Finn Wolfhard or Tom Hardy or any of Nolan’s talented cast, but there wasn’t a lick. This year’s acting nominations come from a very focused group of films, more so even than usual. Dunkirk has 8 nominations altogether, however – the second highest total this year – and 6 come from the technical fields. So clearly the directors respected his talents in marshaling together that team.
In that regard I want to add that I’m sorry Patty Jenkins was never in contention, but I’m not surprised.
Best Picture 7/9
Well, that was unexpected.
Uniformly Agreed Upon:
Call Me By Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Next Up Could Be:
Also in the Hunt:
The Big Sick
The Florida Project
If there are 7: Call Me By Your Name, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, The Post
If There Are 8: Add The Big Sick
If There Are 9: Add I, Tonya
Alternate: The Florida Project
Oscar Picked: Call Me By Your Name, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, The Post, Darkest Hour, The Phantom Thread
As you can see, I didn’t have The Phantom Thread or Darkest Hour on my long list, let alone my short one. Perhaps Darkest Hour should have been there due to it’s nomination at the Critics Choice and BAFTA, but after being ignored by the Producers Guild, Globes and SAG, not to mention the tepid critical response, it just didn’t seem likely. I don’t feel bad about missing out on The Phantom Thread, however; it hasn’t been nominated for anything, anywhere after making the National Board of Review Top Ten list along with Baby Driver and Logan. Not the Globes, the Critics Choice, the BAFTAs, the PGA, the DGA, the Writers Guild, the Independent Spirits, the Golden Satellites, nothing. And yet here it is with 6 Oscars, 4 in major categories. You could knock me over with a feather.
When I first started paying attention to the Oscars, in the early 90s, you could reliable guess the winner simply based on the number of nominations it received. That proved the movie had broad support across all wings of the Academy. That’s no longer uniformly true, but it does make clear that with 13 nominations, The Shape of Water is a force to be reckoned with, picking up nods in prestige, technical and artistic categories — especially considering that its main rival, Three Billboards, only ended up with 7.
As usual, I’m intrigued by what this grouping of films say about this moment in time, even though they weren’t curated for that purpose. It’s more of a blend than it was trending toward one thing. 4 out of 9 with female leads or co-leads, which should be normal but is kind of shockingly balanced. (Of course, the two movies I thought would get in would have made it 6 out of 9; my biggest disappointment is the lack of love for the wonderful I, Tonya.) There are 2 coming of age movies, 2 British movies about the bleakest hours of World War 2, 2 romances, and 3 American political movies of dizzyingly broad scope. Lots of politics, lots of class warfare, lots of warfare, period. Wonder what that could be about…
Odds and Ends
I was 10 for 10 in my very casual calling of the screenplay races. I’m glad The Big Sick managed to get something, anyway, and excited to see Logan make it to the big dance. I’m horrified that The Boss Baby and Ferdinand beat out Despicable Me 3 and The Lego Batman Movie, (I am so not seeing The Boss Baby) but not surprised to see The Breadwinner and Loving Vincent on the animated feature list. It’s just not a strong year. Baby Driver and The Last Jedi rule the technical categories. Wonder squeaked in for Make Up & Hair (yay!), though of course it’ll lose to Darkest Hour.
Altogether, it’s an interesting year, one that will merit a lot of thinking and hopefully writing in the next few weeks – and definitely a lot of movie viewing. That’s a challenge in an Olympic year, but a fun one. I’m looking forward to almost everything I haven’t yet seen — and sometimes the movies I dread are the ones I end up loving best. So here’s to a great 6 weeks of movie viewing for us all!