by Kevin Muller
Most people get excited for the beginning of the year due to the proximity of the Superbowl to the New Year. For me, I also get the Academy Awards, which is the Superbowl for film fans. Though the Patriots, and Brady, losing to a team who never won and that no one believed in, was maybe the greatest narratives of the year. Let’s see who is nominated in each of these major categories, along with my personal picks, and who I think will take an Oscar home.
Call me By Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.
My Pick and who will win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
As a movie: Writer and director Martin McDonough has crafted a film that is practically a masterpiece of film making. The script is fast, hilarious, and subtle in the way it sneaks up on you with its message. All the performances are ace. It is a film with characters who aren’t black and white. That is why this movie is incredible because it makes you feel different things for the characters at different points of the film. You will hate one character one minute, and then start to like them the next, and vice-versa.
As a statement: America is shaken after the tragedy in Florida. Both children and adults are fighting to be heard. Hollywood always likes to get involved in the social issues of America and what better way to stick it to the man than to give it to a movie about sticking it to the man. It is a transparent and obvious move, but when has Hollywood been subtle with their activism?
Timothee Chalamet in “Call me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya in “Get Out”
Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington in “Roman J. Israel”
My Pick and who will win: Gary Oldman
He is playing a historical figure and it is his time. It is a crime that it is only his second nomination in his career. Bet the barn with this one.
Sally Hawkins in “Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie in “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan in “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep in “The Post”
My Pick and who will win: Frances McDormand
To me, this is the most unpredictable and competitive category of the night. All of these actresses gave worthy performances and each would be a great story if they won. Hawkins didn’t say a word, but gave such an emotive performance through physical acting. Streep, well she is Streep. Ronan has always been a favorite of mine and is the second runner up here. I am going with McDormand though. She creates a character that is someone you root for one minute, and question the other. Her actions are brash and unpredictable, but you wish you had the courage she does to keep it going while everyone in that town starts to hate her. It is a character that projects such confidence, but in her moment of vulnerability, she is scared, but knows she has to do what she has to do.
I have been having a sneaking suspicion that Robbie will upset all of them. Ever since 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street, I’ve been incredibly impressed with her immersion into each role she plays. It would be a great upset since she made someone so despicable seem somewhat redeemable. I am still sticking with McDormand though.
Best Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe in “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins in “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer in “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell in “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”
My Pick and who will win: Sam Rockwell
If anyone has ever seen 1999’s The Green Mile, Rockwell is basically playing an extended and more relatable version of his racist character from that movie. The actor always has been a manic ball of energy who always busts his signature dance moves in all his movies. He is also an actor who has popped up here and there while giving respectable performances throughout his career. Here, he gives an audience both a character to despise then sympathize with by the end of the film. Most importantly, he seems to be having a blast on screen while giving his character, Dixon, one hell of a journey.
Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige in ‘Mudbound”
Allison Janey in “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville in ‘Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metclafe in “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer in “The Shape of Water”
Who Will win: Allison Janey in “I, Tonya”
Who I want to win: Laurie Metcalf in “Ladybird”
I still haven’t seen I, Tonya, but Janey is winning every award for her portrayal as a no bullshit mother who pushes her daughter to win no matter what. I am sure the performance is great since it is Janey, who has always been a reliable actress. My pick, Metcalf, gives a very similar performance, not as over the top though, as a mother who wants the best for her daughter. She maybe brash and blunt, but she does it out of love. We all have a mother, or know one, who wants the best for her child and will be hated by their daughter so their child can achieve greatness. There aren’t any sappy moments and Metcalf projects her love through looks and general concern for her daughter. Plus, she definitely uses those comedic chops to go head to head with Ladybird. She won’t win, but it really was a great performance that made the film the popular piece of art that it has become.
Roger A. Deakins for “Blade Runner 2049”
Bruno Delbonnel for “Darkest Hour”
Hoyte van Hoytema for “Dunkirk”
Rachel Morrison for “Mudbound”
Dan Lausten for “The Shape of Water”
My Pick and will win: Roger A. Deakins
Deakins has been behind some of the most beautiful looking films out there for over two decades. Use your smartphones and see the resume this dude has under his belt. He is the Susan Lucci of this category. Every time he is nominated, he is shut out by another nominee. He does has some competition this time with both the cinematography from Dunkirk and The Shape of Water, being well deserving of winning that statue too. Though the movie was a bit long in the tooth, he painted a beautiful, yet grim, future for the setting of Blade Runner 2049. The isolation, grittiness, and futuristic quality of the film is perfectly portrayed by this veteran cinematographer. His win isn’t certain, but I think this will finally be his year.
Christopher Nolan for “Dunkirk”
Jordon Peele for “Get Out”
Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird”
Paul Thomas Anderson for “Phantom Thread”
Guillermo Del Toro for “The Shape of Water
My Pick: Nolan
Will Win: Del Toro
Even though I didn’t go bonkers over Dunkirk, I can’t deny the fact that the movie was masterfully directed. Each Nolan film pushes the bar, while sticking to old school film making techniques, but that hasn’t solidified his chance of winning. This is Del Toro’s year. He has won every award previous to this night. The film beautifully balances all different genres while acting as a tribute to the one genre he loves and is known for.. the monster movie.
Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos for “Baby Driver”
Lee Smith for “Dunkirk”
Tatiana S. Riegel for “I, Tonya”
Sidney Wolinsky for “The Shape of Water”
Jon Gregor for “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”
My Pick: Dunkirk
Will Win: Baby Driver
For many years, this award has been reserved for the winner of best picture. Lately, that hasn’t been the case with the winner of this award not scoring the big prize. Either way, I feel that the winner here will not get the Oscar for Best picture. I would love if the academy would reward Nolan with this prize for his film that takes place over three different time lines, yet still makes you feel the horrors of war. That isn’t going to happen though and the surprise of the night will be a film, not nominated for any other major Oscars, that will walk away with this one. Edgar Wright’s crime caper was an editing dream with quick cuts and a fast pace felt throughout. It never slowed down.
Best Adapted Screenplay
James Ivory for “Call me by Your Name”
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for “The Disaster Artist”
Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green for “Logan”
Aaron Sorkin for “Molly’s Game”
Virgil Williams and Dee Rees for “Mudbound”
My Pick and will win: Call Me by Your Name
Other than the spectacular acting, beautiful cinematography, and sublime direction, the script is just wonderful for this film. As the father, Michael Stulhberg’s final monologue about love is just an actor’s dream. It is real, truthful, and beautifully written. The movie is full of moments that both equally lift your heart and breaks it at the same time. It also never crutches on to the fact that you are watching two gay men fall in love, but just shows a basic love story as it would play out if two straight A-listers would’ve played the roles.
Best Original Screenplay
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani for “The Big Sick”
Jordon Peele for “Get Out”
Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird”
Guillermo Del Toro for “The Shape of Water”
Martin McDonough for “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who Will Win: Greta Gerwig
Who I want to win: Martin McDonough
Three Billboards will most likely clean up, as it has been doing over award season, but I feel the academy will reward Gerwig here. The movie is a realistic view of two women, a mother and daughter, with a similar fire in their personalities that makes for some of the funniest back and forth dialogue in movies this year. The script also has heart and is a very accurate depiction of the whirlwind days before high school graduation. It also beautifully depicts the hate/love relationship between an adolescent girl and her mother. Gerwig gave both Ronan and Metcalf plenty to chew on for their roles and they both hit it out of the park.
Oh, if neither of my picks win, and Jordan Peele gets it, I fully expect him to do a version of the TSA line up on stage.