General Thoughts: The 90th Academy Awards

One knows already how predictable the Academy Awards can become after the route of the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards among many more, but in the 90 years that we have seen them moving onward, what they had managed to turn forth was not only one of the strongest lineups in a while but also one of the most pleasantly surprising, knowing where their own habits lie. If there was anything else to be said about what the Academy Awards have in store for us this year, then it only makes this year’s ceremony – unlike the past few at least, worth looking forward to.

Bold indicates my vote for said category.
Underline indicates who I think will win.

To read more about the picks this year in the major categories, click “read more.”

Best Picture

  • Call Me by Your Name (5 Stars)
  • Darkest Hour (1.5 Stars)
  • Dunkirk (4 Stars)
  • Get Out (5 Stars)
  • Lady Bird (5 Stars)
  • Phantom Thread (5 Stars)
  • The Post (3.5 Stars)
  • The Shape of Water (5 Stars)
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (5 Stars)

I’ll be perfectly honest here, even though I have given Three Billboards all my raves, I’m a bit iffy about it winning Best Picture. Not to say anything against Martin McDonagh, but the subject matter it covers and its matter of addressing such doesn’t seem to fit alongside the other strong picks that we have in store for us this year at the same time. That having been said, to see Get Out up for Best Picture, being the sixth horror film to join such ranks as well as the first debut film from an African-American filmmaker to score a nomination for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, that’s already making an interesting enough ceremony to look out for. Speaking of debuts, seeing Lady Bird get all the love it deserves makes me happier for what Greta Gerwig has in store for the future as a director.

Best Director

  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
  • Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out

Just seeing that the Best Director category this time around is filled with names that had never been nominated previously (aside from Paul Thomas Anderson, at least), repeating from the steps of last year’s nominations is enough to make me feel satisfied. But somehow we’ve gone further because two of these are for solo directorial debuts, with feats being broken on both ends (one for a black filmmaker and the other for a woman) – making this lineup even more interesting. But I’ll have to say this, as much as I love Guillermo del Toro, I think Jordan Peele should take Best Director, at least in good measure because we have yet to have a black Best Director winner.

Notable snubs: Sean Baker (The Florida Project), Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).

Best Original Screenplay

  • The Big Sick
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • The Shape of Water
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The lack of Martin McDonagh under the Best Director category was one thing that caught me, given as Three Billboards was expected to win Best Picture. Nevertheless, I think that at least we’ll still have room for an interesting race this time around, but if Three Billboards were going to win, I wouldn’t be surprised either way. What I think would be nice though, seeing Guillermo del Toro get his moment on the stage.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Call Me by Your Name
  • The Disaster Artist
  • Logan
  • Molly’s Game
  • Mudbound

I think at this point, it’s a guarantee that Call Me by Your Name is going to win Best Adapted Screenplay on the count that it’s the only one up for Best Picture, but what’s surprising here nonetheless is to see Logan nominated. Seeing a comic book film, let alone a superhero film up for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar isn’t something that we know the Oscars would be going for, though the same can be said with their recognition of a Netflix feature in Mudbound. Nevertheless, I had a feeling The Disaster Artist were going to be snubbed – although not as if it bothers me greatly.

Best Actor

  • Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
  • Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

I’ve come to the point where I don’t want Gary Oldman to win an Oscar now, because of who he was playing and the sort of role that came along. Considering he’s been winning Best Actor pretty much everywhere we can name, this is not a win that I’m looking forward to. I’d vote in favour of a Daniel Day-Lewis win, but I’m looking forward to what’s in store for the newcomers – particularly Timothée Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya.

Notable snubs: Robert Pattinson (Good Time)

Best Actress

  • Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  • Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  • Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
  • Meryl Streep, The Post

Okay, we’ve already had to live through so many Meryl Streep nominations for films that we had practically forgotten about at this rate – what’s the use in nominating her again? I don’t hate her, but I’m not her grandest fan either. Nevertheless, aside from the inevitable Streep nomination, we have a fairly strong race up again and it’s tough for me to choose between Sally Hawkins and Saoirse Ronan. But if I had to pick between the two, Hawkins already has me up and ready – because she doesn’t need words to create one of the most moving performances of last year, it’s all clear from her actions. Though with that having been said, I’m disappointed that Vicky Krieps wasn’t nominated this year.

Notable snubs: Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread), Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
  • Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
  • Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
  • Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I don’t think I’ll be mad if Sam Rockwell ends up taking home an Oscar for this one, because he’s long overdue for even one nomination. Willem Dafoe’s career in itself is long overdue, and I think it’s easy enough for me to say that he has my vote, but what does surprise me is the fact that we have two Best Supporting Actor nominations for Three Billboards. Not as if I’m saying anything against Woody Harrelson’s nomination, because he’s without a doubt the most sympathetic(?) character in the film, but does it really need two nominations in this category, even when one of them could easily have gone to Armie Hammer in Call Me by Your Name or Michael Stuhlbarg, who’s in three of this year’s nominees?

Notable snubs: Tracy Letts (Lady Bird), Michael Stuhlbarg (The Shape of Water), Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya
  • Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
  • Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Just as it was nice to see character actors getting recognized in the Best Supporting Actor category, it’s nice to see something similar has come by for Best Supporting Actress this year. But I’d be fairly disappointed if Allison Janney wins, not because I think she did badly in I, Tonya (she was one of the few aspects of said film that I can really say I enjoyed), but her character isn’t compelling in any sense – it just feels like a role that’s played straight. Laurie Metcalf’s, on the other hand, as the mother of the rebellious Lady Bird, in the tumultuous relationship she had with her daughter, left behind one of the most heartbreaking performances of last year, and thus that is where my vote lies.

Notable snubs: Catherine Keener (Get Out)

Best Animated Feature

  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner
  • Coco
  • Ferdinand
  • Loving Vincent

Really, I think this is too easy to comment on because we already know Pixar is set to win the Oscar as they always have with every year. What’s more hilarious about this, though, is the fact that The Boss Baby is a nominee.

Best Foreign Language Film

  • A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
  • The Insult (Lebanon)
  • Loveless (Russia)
  • On Body and Soul (Hungary)
  • The Square (Sweden)

I think it’s nice enough to see that the Oscars are giving trans representation the light that it deserves with a nomination for A Fantastic Woman together with the fact that Daniela Vega is presenting – but alas, I still have yet to see it. However, from what I have to pick, it’s nice to see a film that doesn’t stereotype the experiences of being on the autism spectrum is competing for Best Foreign Language Film – so therein goes my vote.

Best Original Score

  • Carter Burwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
  • Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
  • John Williams, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk

While it’s impressive enough to see that minimalist scores like that of Dunkirk are being recognized, I’m not so sure why Three Billboards is here because I don’t even remember it having much of a score. I loved the film, but there’s so little about the score even in key scenes that strikes me as something I can remember. For as much as I’ve found Desplat to be a very hit-or-miss composer, his score for The Shape of Water is a hit, though I think the most interesting one to see coming forth is Radiohead’s own Jonny Greenwood, who is up for Phantom Thread.

Best Original Song

  • “Mighty River” from Mudbound
  • “Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name
  • “Remember Me” from Coco
  • “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall
  • “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman

The Academy never usually goes for lo-fi indie music, something I already knew was inevitable after Elliott Smith lost the Academy Award for his song “Miss Misery.” But I still have the feeling that Coco was practically destined to win more than just Best Animated Feature, though I think to say the least the Sufjan Stevens performance will be interesting to watch if we know St. Vincent is joining him.

I think at the very end, we’re only in for an interesting show to come forth with the fact that The Shape of Water is leading the ceremony at 13 nominations, but to think about how the Academy can still make history after Moonlight‘s win from the past ceremony will at least be interesting to watch. Obviously, I cannot vote for everything up but nonetheless, I’m only hoping for the picks to be different from other awards shows to avoid a predictable awards season.


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