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Ben's 2018 Oscar Predictions
2017 was a great year for movies of all kinds. We got big blockbusters and little blockbusters, indies and mega indies and of course a new batch of Oscar hopefuls.
While the year was chock full of great flicks, there were not many that clearly stood out as "Oscar worthy". Some can look at this as a good thing, movies in general are fighting for interest and this leads to more fan friendly atmosphere.
I myself can get down for a wildly out of control, plot hole filled action adventure movie, but I also love movies that are sharply made with great messages and awards dreams.
I have done my best to see as many of the nominated movies as possible over there year and like I said, this year is a bit all over the place. I'm not just trying to hedge my bets, there are so many surprises in the nominations it makes one wonder just how much of a surprise they really are.
Below I have laid out the categories that I believe I have either seen enough of all of the movies in to make a educated guess as to how the awards will ship out.
they are as follows....
Best Adapted Screenplay
We start with one of the more interesting categories, if not one of the easiest to predict.
Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green, Logan is a surprising if not appreciated pick. This is the farthest a comic book movie has ever gotten and even though I was hoping for a Best Picture nod or at least a Best Actor nod for Hugh Jackman, this is still a deserving nomination.
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist left a little to be desired for me as the plot centered around the two leads more than the awful movie that they made. While well written I don't see this standing much of a chance.
James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name is a movie that in a different year may have cleaned up. I don't want to talk about it all too much because it will come up more later, but the writing is one of the best parts of an already solid movie.
Aaron Sorkin, Molly's Game is another one I was surprised by but not for good reasons. I reviewed Molly's Game and even being a huge Aaron Sorkin fan was very disappointed with his work here, especially the writing.
Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, Mudbound disappointed a little bit by using the most frustrating movie writing technique of all, voice over. To give it a bit more credit, they use it in an interesting way by jumping from perspective to perspective, but this also complicates things more than necessary.
Prediction-James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
Best Original Screenplay
This one is far less cut and dry than the Adapted award. Full of both surprises and standouts this category may be one of the more difficult to predict.
Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick is one of two movies in this category that I feel pretty proud for calling getting a nomination way back in the beginning of the year. Not only is this full of heart, truth and relateability but is also one of if not THE funniest movie of the year.
Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water is another one that is going to pop up a ton on this article. Guillermo Del Toro has always done a fantastic job writing his movies but this one is most likely his best do far. It all depends on how much love they want to give it.
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Not only has Martin Mcdonagh won in this category before for In Bruges but this one has been the front runner for a long time. If the Academy wants to go chalk, this will be the winner.
Jordan Peele, Get Out is the other movie that I mentioned previously in the Big Sick blurb. With an enticing mix of horror, social satire and comedy, Get Out winning would not be out of the realm of possibility. Depending on how well it does in the other categories, Get Out may just run into one here.
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird oh Lady Bird. This is another movie that if released in a different year may have done tremendously. It is also a contender for funniest movie of the year and for what it's worth was my favorite piece of movie writing this year.
Prediction-Martin McDonagh,Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
It's one of those years when Lubezki is off so someone else gets a shot.
Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049 Not much has to be said about Rodger Deakins, he is the greatest living cinematographer with a career that would make Spielberg blush. The man has been nominated 14 times in the category without a win, come one guys, just give him the dang thing already.
Bruno Delbonnel, Darkest Hour as you will find multiple times on this list, I have not actually seen, and it is pretty hard to judge how a movie looks without seeing it.
Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk is an absolutely brilliantly shot movie. I cant think of a war movie being better shot even and thats including Stanley Keubrick's Full Metal Jacket. The pilot sequences are alone enough to garner this nomination and Christopher Nolan's affinity for capturing as much as possible in camera without using CGI makes Hoyte van Hoytema's work even more impressive.
Rachel Morrison, Mudbound is a dirty ass movie and i don't mean in the way of Howard Stern's Private Parts. There is literally mud and dirt and dust all over this movie and this is bolstered by the great cinematography. There are other movies in the field that are shot better but Mudbound is no slouch.
Dan Laustsen, The Shape of Water strikes back, and in full force. Dan Lausten garners his first nomination with possibly the best work of cinematic storytelling this year. There are so many different feelings and emotions delivered just through the camera placement and movement. It helps to have such beautiful set and costume designs and a director at the top of his game.
Prediction- Rodger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
Editing is one of the most important parts of movie making and is often one of the most overlooked. It can completely change a movie in so many ways and two films this year went above and beyond.
Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss, Baby Driver comes with one of the most exciting and mind blowing editing performances in recent years. I picked this movie as my favorite of 2017 and the editing was a big part of that.
Lee Smith, Dunkirk is the other movie I had in mind when thinking of game changing editing performances. The style of the movie being centered around 3 different time periods all occurring at the same time takes a bit of brilliant editing.
Tatiana S. Riegel, I, Tonya utilizes a sort of mockumentary style that is perfect for comedic editing and Tatiana S. Riegel does a great job getting the most out of it. The editing also helps the great pace that I think makes I, Tonya such an enjoyable experience.
Sidney Wolinsky, The Shape of Water is back again and even though the editing is not one of the main takeaways it is certainly well done. It does not provide anything spectacular like the previous three nominees but succeeds in it's simplicity.
Jon Gregory, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri like Shape of Water does not dive too far outside the box with it's editing but does a darn solid job of it. With these latter two movies probably winning a few other awards I think the academy will look to give this to something else.
Prediction-Lee Smith, Dunkirk
Over the last decade or so there really has been a huge leap in the visual effects category. It was probably pretty hard to narrow down to this 5 this year and any of these could take home the prize.
John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer, Blade Runner 2049 is probably the movie that got the most bang for their buck from visual effects. I don't know exactly how much was used but it felt like every single surface was in some way augmented, and in a good way.
Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick, Guardians of the Galaxy Part 2. I can't really remember this movie being any more outstanding than other Marvel movies have been but that bar is pretty high. Having two of the main characters fully animated is pretty impressive.
Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus, Kong: Skull Island this one you could say got the least bang for it's buck from visual effects. The movie was saturated with far too much of it and made the movie difficult to get into, that Kong is pretty tight tho.
Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan, Star Wars: The Last Jedi took a leap forward from The Force Awakens when it comes to visual effects. Where the first one relied on in camera and lighting effects, The Last Jedi dives in and adds a new layer that some can take or leave.
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist, War for the Planet of the Apes is 3 movies in the making. Both Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes were nominated in this category and there was even some push for Andy Serkis to get an acting nomination. Even if this is not the most deserving this year (which it very well may be) they have earned this one.
Projection-Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist, War for the Planet of the Apes
Best Supporting Actress
Supporting Actress is a category that I think is a lot closer than it seems. There are things at play that your average movie goes might not consider.
Mary J. Blige in Mudbound is about as unexpected as this nomination. I have seen Mrs. Blige act before but I had to see it to believe it and let me tell you she absolutely kills it. There is so much passion here and not just outwardly. Blige does a lot more with this character than just show up.
Allison Janney in I, Tonya certainly gives a big performance. I can see why most like her in it, she is a wicked evil character who probably reminds alot of people of their own mother, whether that is fair or not. These things are not what normally sway the Academy normally and I think there are a few stronger performances coming.
Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread is probably the strangest nomination out of the bunch. While she was fantastic in her limited time in the movie, she is just not in it enough. Vicky Krieps's character is clearly more than supporting and thus Manville sneaks her way in.
Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird is probably a closer approximation of what most people mother is really like. There is so much reality in this role and Metcalf plays it perfectly. I don't want to tip my hand but I think my pick is pretty clear.
Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water did what Octavia does best and that is deliver a strong supporting performance in a strong willed character. Spencer may be one of the best Supporting Actresses of her generation and this nomination shows that.
Prediction- Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird
Best Supporting Actor
Now I love Richard Jenkins and Woody Harrelson but the fact that Michael Shannon's name is not on this list is a disservice to us all. I think Shannon would have given the front runner his biggest competition but that being said all of these were great performances.
Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project was another movie that I did not get a chance to see, but this one is not my fault. The Florida Project, even for it's success never came to my local theater. Being that I am such a fan of Sean Baker's previous movie, Tangerine, and hearing how good Dafoe is, The Florida Project is the movie I am most upset at missing.
Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will unfortunately be overshadowed by his movie mate. Woody gives one of his most honest performances in quite some time but his limited time in the movie and the aforementioned peer will do him in.
Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water plays the character in Del Toro's movie monster masterpiece that represents us, the audience. He is really the only one to be thrown off by a Amazonian merMan and like us comes around when we see it's humanity. In other years Jenkins may have nabbed one here but there is one performance I think is better.
Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World really made it hard to see with all of the controversy surrounding it. Plummer replacing Kevin Spacey after his meteoric fall from grace which led to a discussion about how much more Mark Wallberg was paid than Michelle Williams for the re shoots. Plummer gets extra points for taking the fight on short notice.
Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri dances his way into the best performance of his career and will most likely go home with some hardware. Rockwell is easily one of my favorite actors ever and it's no wonder why, the guy is immensely likeable. His role is this movie is so unlike the characters he normally plays but somehow just like them all at the same time.
Prediction-Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Actress in a Lead Role
This brings us to be big ones. There have been some locks this year but Lead Actress may have the stone cold lock of the year of the century.
Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water was so incredible at playing a deaf character that I had to go and check if she was really deaf after the movie. There was so much passion and pain in her performance that I don't think I will forget for years.
Francis McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri pretty much has this one locked up. Not many actors could play such an intense and flawed lead character the way McDormand can and with the writing of Martin McDonaugh this one is almost unfair.
Margot Robbie in I, Tonya to use an overused buzzword is a powerhouse in this role. She is able to mix the toughness of Tonya Harding with the sadness that lays behind the curtain. Robbie has already broken out but this role should propel her to full blown stardom.
Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird is so damn good in this movie that it is hard to see her not winning even though the odds are stacked against her. Her character is both parts frustrating and likable and these emotions change from scene to scene. In a different year she would have dominated this category.
Meryl Streep in The Post is almost a given to get a nomination every year. She is far better than her co-star Tom Hanks in The Post and even if it is not one of the all time great Streep performances it is still a great one.
Prediction- Francis McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Actor in a Lead Performance
The Lead Actor category is a strange one this year. I want to say that any of these actors could take home the big prize but there is one that seems to stand above the others.
Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name in my opinion gave the best performance by an actor this year. His turn as a young man, too smart for his own good and learning the basics of life, love and happiness is one that any actor would drool for.
Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread is an absolutely incredible performance for many reasons. The character of Ryenolds Woodcock is a tough one, but Day-Lewis pulls it off brilliantly. It feels like there is a bit of auto-biography in the role and if this truly is the last role for Day-Lewis, it has been an absolute pleasure to watch the greatest actor of his, or maybe any generation.
Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out is the clear outlier here, but maybe it's time the Academy started recognizing roles like this one. Like Jenkins in The Shape of Water, Kaluuya provides the perspective for the audience and brilliantly provides the sheet for the audience to put their thoughts and opinions onto.
Gary Oldman in The Darkest Hour is actually one of the movies nominated for an award that I did not have the chance to see. I will instead talk about the legacy of Oldman and why this will probably be his best shot to take home the big one. Oldman has been one of the great chameleon actors of all time and I could not think of a guy who looks less like Winston Churchill.
Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq. is another of the few movies that I missed seeing. Denzel is like Merryl Streep in the way that pretty much any year he could get nominated in this category if he releases a movie and is pretty much always deserving.
Prediction- Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour
This one is going to be incredibly hard. I really do think any of these fine directors could win and all of them deserve it in different ways.
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk Nolan painted an absolutely gorgeous and game changing visual war epic with more substance than message. The way the different story lines intertwine and converge is brilliant and his ability to tell a captivating story using so few words is astonishing.
Jordan Peele, Get Out If the award went to the person who made the most conscious movie of the year then Peele is the clear winner. Get Out not only presents the social African American struggle in an amazingly entertainingly and funny way but he also pays homage to classics like The Stepford Wives.
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird Gerwig knocks it out of the park in her first real shot at directing a full length motion picture. I am having difficulty of thinking of a movie that delivers the struggle of a young white girl in suburbia more effectively than Lady Bird does. It's dramatic moments are bolstered by it's top level comedy and stands out days after viewing.
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread P.T. Anderson for my money is the greatest director who has not won the big award. He is a genius when it comes to directing actors and making uncompromisingly deep movies. I think some of his movies have been a bit too bleak or dense to really connect with the academy, but Phantom Thread is some of his best work and makes him a contender.
Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water Del Toro has made a career of being obsessed with old movie monsters and blending fantasy with the real world. The Shape of Water is hands down his most accessible drama and is most likely the greatest showing of all of his talent. Like Jordan Peele in Get Out he pays homage to classic Hollywood, something the Academy loves.
Prediction- Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
Call Me By Your Name is the type of movies that win big at the Oscars normally. It is a well made movie that accentuates the beauty of knowledge, different types of love and growing up. This is a movie that stuck with me for far longer than I expected and even though it has some issues it is a fantastic movie. Strong performances all around and a top notch soundtrack make Call Me By Your Name one of the best of the year.
Darkest Hour as I said before I did not get the opportunity to see. I have heard the tales of how good Gary Oldman is but unfortunately this one just fell through the cracks. I look forward to giving it a watch on DVD.
was my way too early choice for best picture. At that point there were just so few movies that I thought would get the attention of the Academy and war movies, especially ones that buck the normal trend tend to do well. Since, things have changed, there are far more competitors and even though I think Dunkirk may be the best movie in the field, it will most likely be overshadowed for more niche picks.
Get Out is clearly the most surprising but welcomed film out of the bunch. Comedy/Horror movies have never done well at the Oscars and is just such a hard movie to put into a box. On the other hand the Academy has always wanted to seem 'woke' and Get Out is by far the most 'woke' movie of 2017. If the Academy really wants to shock some people, this is where they could do it.
Lady Bird is such a fantastic movie and like I have said a few times on this list, if it had been released in a different year it may have cleaned up. Literally everything about this movie is great, the acting, the writing, the acting, the directing and so on. The lead is relatable but also somehow divine and that all adds up to one of the best movies of the year.
Phantom Thread like Lady Bird is just so solid all around. P.T. Anderson has always been good at not talking down to his audience but he may have outdone his best work in this one. He is able to control the audience and put them in different levels of understanding on a whim. Phantom Thread is not at all what you expect and that makes it all the more enjoyable.
in my opinion is the weakest of the nine contenders. The names are all there, Streep, Hanks, Spielberg, Watergate, but the overall product is quite a bit weaker than the field. Not to say The Post is a bad movie, it is just a bit too much and when compared to these juggernauts it cannot compete.
The Shape of Water is everything the Academy did not know they wanted and more. A period piece involving the Cold War, intertwined with this unusual love story teeming with themes of acceptance and anti-prejudice. Throw in some old Hollywood style and Michael Shannon and you have a heavy contender. The Shape of Water will win big, I just don't know if it will take home the big one.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is such a difficult movie to put into words and is even harder to explain why it is so damn good. Martin McDonnaugh is doing things that most other writer/directors would not dare try and "Three Billboards" is both his most grounded and ambitious work yet. We are so lucky to have stolen Mr. Mcdonnaugh from the stage and hopefully he will be here for a long long time making more movies like these.
Prediction- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
And that does it for this year. Thank you to all of the people who took the time to read some of my stuff this year. I appreciate all three of you and hope that I helped you in some way pick better movies to go see throughout 2017. I will try harder next year.