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Should, Could, Will, Why, and Where: The 2019 Oscars

The Academy can’t make up their minds about anything, but for now the Oscars are scheduled for Sunday, so I’m back with Connor Stambaugh to break down everything we want to happen and everything that will happen instead.

oscars 2019

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star Is Born

PJ

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

Could Win: A Star Is Born

Will Win: BlacKkKlansman

Why…Nothing!

Where is…First Man?

It’s funny that we’re leading off with this category, because you’ll quickly realize that I am NOT fond of the Academy’s overall choices this year…but this is good! This honestly might be the best category of the night, and there were a few other adapted screenplays that could’ve made the cut. The hilarious yet smart screenplays of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians come to mind, but I especially wish there could have been room for First Man’s slow burn. I guess it could have taken Buster Scruggs’ spot, especially since that stretches the definition of an adapted screenplay, but I actually really liked that movie and the Coen Brothers kinda have to try to not to get nominated.

Despite decent odds for both Can You Ever Forgive Me and If Beale Street Could Talk, I think this comes down to BlacKkKlansman vs. A Star Is Born, and either would be a fantastic choice. The buildup of A Star Is Born is just so, so good, as is the writing behind the addiction storyline. And the dialogue is probably the best of the year. Was there a more repeated 2018 movie line than “I just wanted take another look at ya”? Still, I can’t shake how steep the drop-off is over the second half of the movie. So I give the slightest of personal edges to the hilarious, brutal, and timely screenplay of BlacKkKlansman. I’m pretty confident it wins out too. It’s deserving of the honor, and like I wrote in this blog last year about Jordan Peele, there’s just no way that the Academy lets Spike Lee go home empty handed. I don’t feel great about his chances in the bigger categories, so Spike gets his long overdue Oscar here.

Connor

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

Could Win: If Beale Street Could Talk

Will Win: BlacKkKlansman

Why… The Ballad of Buster Scruggs?

Where is…Widows?

Academy Award winner Spike Lee. Sounds pretty good, right? Get ready for it. This is a pretty exceptional category, and I really enjoyed Buster Scruggs so that kinda hurts but thems the rules. Beale Street is knocking on the door but this one is pretty much locked. Gillian Flynn took a complex heist narrative, fleshed out each character, and (along with Steve McQueen and a baddest cast) created a rousing and thoughtful piece of popcorn entertainment with Widows. Would’ve been nice to see.

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: The Favourite, First Reformed, Green Book, Roma, Vice

Connor

Should Win: The Favourite or First Reformed

Could Win: Green Book

Will Win: The Favourite

Why…Green Book?

Where is…Eighth Grade? Sorry To Bother You?

This is a wild one, where a different film has won every major precursor. The Favourite *should* score here for its devilish wit, and it’s nice to see Paul Schrader recognized with his first career nod for the incredible First Reformed. (Seriously, go watch it. It’s streaming on Prime). Green Book somehow won the Globe and cannot be ignored. Bo Burnham? More like No Burnham. I’ll show myself out. But seriously, his WGA-winning script is so fucking good and should’ve been here. Special shoutout to Boots Riley for his imaginative and daring Sorry To Bother You script.

PJ

Should Win: First Reformed

Could Win: Green Book

Will Win: The Favourite

Why…Vice?

Where is…Blindspotting?

YUCK. They botched my favorite category this time around. This is usually where the more original and creative movies of the year that are too bold for other categories get their due, but instead the Academy pretty much teed off with an 8 iron on a Par 5. I personally didn’t care for a majority of these screenplays, but even objectively the Vice screenplay is straight up not good. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see it nominated since Adam McKay is a genius, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s sloppy, largely uninteresting, and has no bite. As for the others, Green Book’s feel-good vibes don’t make up for its cheese factor and messy racial dynamics in my book, and Roma was just so sprawling. I don’t have enough fingers to list off the more deserving options here, but I’ll shout out Blindspotting since it was super underrated and had a script with more energy than any other movie I saw in 2018.

Still, it’s hard for me to get too upset here, because the First Reformed screenplay got a bit of a surprising nomination, and it was my favorite of the year. It was so goddamn brilliant and thought provoking and daring. Paul Schrader, who got his first ever Oscar nomination for this screenplay EVEN THOUGH HE WROTE TAXI DRIVER AND RAGING BULL, should be getting his first statuette as well, but it’s going to Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara instead. And I’d actually be fine with that – The Favourite was extremely original with A++ insults to boot.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Mahershala Ali for Green Book, Adam Driver for BlacKkKlansman, Sam Elliott for A Star Is Born, Richard E. Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Sam Rockwell for Vice

PJ

Should Win: Adam Driver

Could Win: Mahershala Ali or Sam Elliott

Will Win: Richard E. Grant

Why…Sam Rockwell?

Where is…Jason Isaacs for The Death of Stalin?

Each of these next two categories is going to be FUN. Since four of these nominees are hugely deserving and at least three stand a good chance of winning, I’m going to trim the fat now: Sam Rockwell has absolutely no business being here. He was actually one of the few things I liked about Vice, but that’s just because he offered like five minutes of pure comic relief with his Dubya impression. If we’re giving that final spot to whoever served up the most laughs per scene, then it should have gone to Isaacs.

Anyway, a lot of people have this category as a runaway for Ali. Not only do I not see it that way, I have a weird feeling that he’s not going to win. His performance as Don Shirley was undoubtedly great, but he’s got a few things working against him. First and foremost, the Shirley Family was apparently less than pleased with the characterization and the movie as a whole. But Ali also won this very award just two years ago for Moonlight, and that performance dwarfs this one. (I would remove him from the category altogether just because he’s a goddamn lead in this movie, but nobody else seems to care about that.) The other three nominees each delivered one of my ten favorite performances of the year. I loved Driver’s the most, but I just don’t think there’s any way the Academy would risk the optics of the white guy winning the only Oscar for BlacKkKlansman. Elliott might have given the best pound-for-pound performance of ANY actor, but he just wasn’t in the movie that much and I’m not sure he can overcome that. (Seriously you morons, the category is for SUPPORTING performances. This is what that is supposed to mean!) So that leaves Grant, a popular actor who is impossible to look away from in Can You Ever Forgive Me? His speech would be a highlight of the night.

Connor

Should Win: Sam Elliott

Could Win: Richard E. Grant

Will Win: Mahershala Ali

Why…Sam Rockwell?

Where is…Everyone?

Sam Elliott backing out of the driveway. Nuff said. Anyone with a close relationship to a sibling would be absolutely gutted right there. I was ready to hand this to him back in October, but who are we kidding? Mahershala is taking this home. It’s a walk. Richard E. Grant, however charming he may be, doesn’t have as close of a shot as some pundits are predicting. Going with the stats here. It should be noted that this category was so strong all year that you could have an incredible field of five that weren’t even nominated – Chalamet, Hugh Grant, Michael B. Jordan, Nicholas Hoult, Alex Wolff.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Amy Adams for Vice, Marina de Tavira for Roma, Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk, Emma Stone for The Favourite, Rachel Weisz for The Favourite

Connor

Should Win: Rachel Weisz

Could Win: Regina King

Will Win: Rachel Weisz

Why…Nothing!

Where is…Claire Foy for First Man?

Here is my ballsy pick. Hear me out: Regina King has long been considered the frontrunner for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk, but missing out on SAG (the actor’s branch that makes up the majority of Academy voters) and BAFTA nominations hurt. Weisz has won before and is *incredible* as Lady Sarah in The Favourite. Beale Street’s three nominations vs. The Favourite’s ten. Coming off the BAFTA win, I’m feeling the love for Weisz. Claire Foy was stellar in First Man, and I think her missing out on a nom is more of a knock against the film than it is for her performance. Other than that, de Tavira is the best part of Roma and this is a very strong category.

PJ

Should Win: Rachel Weisz

Could Win: Regina King

Will Win: Rachel Weisz

Why…Amy Adams?

Where is…Claire Foy for First Man?

SERIOUSLY THOUGH…WHERE IS CLAIRE FOY?!?! I thought she was going to win the damn thing! Did every single Academy voter get up to take a piss during the “BUNCH OF BOYS” scene? Christ.

I swear I’m not copying here. The Academy clearly didn’t love If Beale Street Could Talk. Ironically enough, I did, but I don’t get the hype surrounding King. She was definitely good, but it’s a mostly dialed-back performance and she doesn’t have THAT scene that you usually look for from supporting actors. If I were to bet on Oscars, I’d put money on both nominees from The Favourite. The fact that both already have Oscars could work against them, but Weisz won all the way back in 2006. Also, mildly important, she outdoes Stone in the movie.

(Don’t even float the idea of Adams winning to me. I LOVE me some Amy Adams, but she was not very good in this role.)

Best Actress

Nominees: Yalitza Aparicio for Roma, Glenn Close for The Wife, Olivia Colman for The Favourite, Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born, Melissa McCarthy for Can You Ever Forgive Me?

PJ

Should Win: Lady Gaga

Could Win: Olivia Colman

Will Win: Glenn Close

Why…Yalitza Aparicio?

Where is…Toni Collette for Hereditary?

I’ve had a really last-second change of heart here. I’m confident that Close will finally lose her distinction of being the most nominated actor ever without a win, and I was all aboard that train. I still think she was incredible and that this wouldn’t be a bad case of lifetime achievement recognition, but my rule in the acting categories is that performances from bad movies shouldn’t win. I actually kinda liked The Wife almost solely due to Close’s performance, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not a particularly good movie. A Star Is Born, on the other hand, is very good. I had a few minor issues with Gaga’s performance, but her singing scenes was instantly legendary and I’m still amazed by how convincingly she played a grounded character.

As for Aparicio, I love the “can you BELIEVE it was her first time acting” reviews. Yes. Yes I can. (I’ll let Connor talk Collette.)

Connor

Should Win: Olivia Colman

Could Win: Olivia Colman

Will Win: Glenn Close

Why…Yalitza Aparicio?

Where is…Toni Collette for Hereditary?

Toni Collette gave, in my opinion, one of the greatest performances of the decade in Hereditary. I just don’t understand the miss. Yalitza was solid but unremarkable. I didn’t buy in emotionally and I don’t see her having a long career in film. Of all people not named Toni Collette, Olivia Colman should win here. She’s at once tragic and hilarious and I want to hear another Olivia Colman speech. (Check out her BAFTA win). She’s in for a dogfight against Close and her “career award.” I haven’t seen The Wife & will have to let PJ speak to her performance, but the idea of awarding someone based on her career instead of a single performance is annoying. Give her an honorary Oscar and give the queen her hardware.

Best Actor

Nominees: Christian Bale for Vice, Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born, Willem Dafoe for At Eternity’s Gate, Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody, Viggo Mortensen for Green Book

Connor

Should Win: Bradley Cooper

Could Win: Christian Bale

Will Win: Rami Malek

Why…Willem Dafoe? Viggo Mortensen?

Where is…Ethan Hawke for First Reformed?

Like Collette, 2018 belonged to Ethan Hawke. His perfect role in the perfect First Reformed was, well, perfect. This award doesn’t count. Cancel the show. Luckily, the second best male performance of the year is Bradley Cooper’s. It is *insane* to me that he will lose to anyone in this category. He is the only one not playing a real life figure, and to build up such a believable, tragic character from the ground up (not to mention the live singing, piano, guitar, directing, writing, producing, etc.) is remarkable. Bale is the Gary Oldman of this year and the Academy loves rewarding actors who transform, but at this point I don’t think there is any stopping Rami Malek and the behemoth that is Bohemian Rhapsody.

PJ

Should Win: Bradley Cooper

Could Win: Rami Malek or Bradley Cooper

Will Win: Christian Bale

Why…Willem Dafoe?

Where is…Ethan Hawke for First Reformed?

Connor already covered how ass backwards this category has been from the start, from Hawke’s snub all the way to Malek dominating the awards circuit for an impression from a shit movie that is honestly more problematic than uncanny. So instead, I want to focus on what really matters: At Eternity’s Gate. I know almost nobody saw this movie…but did ANYONE see this movie besides me? Because it is bad. Like SOOOOO bad. It’s a drama about van Gogh that uses more shaky cam than Cloverfield. And Dafoe isn’t even good in it! Half of his performance is sprinting through the countryside for no particular reason! All right, now that that’s off my chest, Bradley Cooper should win in a landslide. Thank you.

Best Director

Nominees: Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman, Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War, Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite, Alfonso Cuaron for Roma, Adam McKay for Vice

PJ

Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron

Could Win: Not Happening

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron

Why…Adam McKay?

Where is…Ryan Coogler for Black Panther?

This is the only lock of the night among the major awards. Cuaron turned an extremely personal story about his upbringing in Mexico City into a technical and visual masterpiece. He deserves his second Oscar.

I obviously didn’t like Vice, but I didn’t hate it either. I just think it’s mind-boggling that it got Oscar nominations, let alone EIGHT of them. So that pretty much speaks to what I thought of McKay’s direction, which never deviated past “Dick Cheney was bad.” I would have so much rather seen Bradley Cooper, Christopher McQuarrie, Damien Chazelle, or Ryan Coogler, who turned the 18th Marvel movie into way more than a superhero movie, in that spot.

Connor

Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón or Yorgos Lanthimos

Could Win: Spike Lee

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón

Why…Adam McKay?

Where is…Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born?

This is Cuarón’s to lose after sweeping all relevant precursors. One of the safest bets of the night, but I know there is a groundswell of support for Spike here as he is long overdue for a nom (and because BlacKkKlansman rules pretty damn hard). I’ve long been a Lanthimos fan and he turns in an obscenely lavish & wonderful film while directing the best ensemble of the year. Much has been said about Bradley Cooper’s snub and while I think his greatest contribution to A Star Is Born is in front of the camera, there’s no denying he is also a born director. I’m not losing sleep—he’ll be back.

Best Picture

Nominees: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice

Connor

Should Win: The Favourite

Could Win: Roma or The Favourite

Will Win: Green Book

Why…Bohemian Rhapsody?

Where are…The ‘Firsts’? (First Reformed, First Man)

This is one of the more wide-open Best Picture races in recent memory (and probably history). That said, only four have a reasonable shot at winning – Roma, Green Book, BlacKkKlansman, and The Favourite. Roma has been the critics champ all year long, but I think it has too much working against it. I don’t think the Academy is ready for a Netflix film to win the big one, and no foreign language film has ever won Best Picture. Roma is going to have a huge night, but I think it comes up empty-handed in the end. That leaves Academy-friendly, controversy riddled Green Book in prime position after riding a wave of solid box office and a strong showing at the Globes and other precursors. That said, neither Roma nor Green Book nabbed an Editing nom, which is a key indicator of Best Pic momentum and could spell trouble for both. If The Favourite takes Editing, watch out. The Favourite is my personal, ahem, favourite of the bunch and I would love to see a sweep. If Editing goes to either Vice or Bohemian Rhapsody, my money is on Green Book. Bohemian Rhapsody was incredibly entertaining (how could it not be with that music?) and Rami Malek does very well, but I don’t think it belongs here. I don’t understand how First Man got shafted across the board (that score!), and I need to plug First Reformed (my favorite of 2018) as another snub.

PJ

Should Win: Black Panther

Could Win: A Star Is Born

Will Win: Roma

Why…Bohemian Rhapsody?

Where is…Mission: Impossible – Fallout?

I don’t think 2018 was a standout movie year by any means, but man, these nominees make it seem like the worst movie year ever when that was certainly not the case. It’s gotta be the worst Best Picture class since when? 2011? This is all headlined by Bohemian Rhapsody, a generic yet terrible sing-a-long biopic that was half-made by known creep Bryan Singer and half-made WITHOUT A DIRECTOR. Just about any 2018 film could have justifiably taken its place, or, ya know, one of the two spaces that the Academy just opted not to use? We’re clearly still far away from a time when action movies will receive fair consideration for Oscars, because Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the finest ever made. It was the best movie I saw all year.

As for the winner, I’m not gonna overthink this one. Roma landed the most nominations, has arguably the most respected director in the world attached to it, and has supporters in just about every guild. I know it’s a Netflix movie and that a foreign film has never won Best Picture, but I just think too many voters are in love with it. If we’re talking upsets, I think A Star Is Born has WAY more of a chance than people are giving it. The Academy is clearly preoccupied by box office and winning over millennials, so yeah, I think the Lady Gaga movie that made over $400mil is in the hunt. I really don’t have a ride-or-die in this race, but I’d give my vote to Black Panther, which was undoubtedly the movie of the year and changed the game for an entire genre.

Nominee From Another Category That Needs To Win

PJ

Best Film Editing

Barry Alexander Brown for BlacKkKlansman

Despite the numerous problems that I have with both Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, both of those movies are actually really well edited. And The Favourite was crazy innovative from a technical standpoint. But BlacKkKlansman was a PERFECTLY paced movie, and without pinpoint editing the tonal mashup probably doesn’t work.

Connor

Best Animated Feature Film

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

Best Picture Ballot

Connor PJ
1. The Favourite 1. Black Panther
2t. A Star Is Born 2. BlacKkKlansman
2t. BlacKkKlansman 3. A Star Is Born
4. Roma 4. Roma
5. Black Panther 5. The Favourite
6. Bohemian Rhapsody 6. Green Book
Green Book (Haven’t Seen) 7. Vice
Vice (Haven’t Seen) 8. Bohemian Rhapsody

 

Top 10 of 2018

Connor PJ
1. First Reformed 1. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
2. The Favourite 2. Blindspotting
3. Paddington 2 3. Crazy Rich Asians
4. Eighth Grade 4. First Reformed
5. Sorry To Bother You 5. First Man
6. Mandy 6. Black Panther
7. A Star Is Born 7. BlacKkKlansman
8. Widows 8. Destroyer
9. Annihilation 9. Avengers: Infinity War
10. Hereditary 10. If Beale Street Could Talk
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My 2018 in Movies

Another year come, another year gone in movies. More than anything, 2018 in cinema was…weird. We started the year with MoviePass as the Wild Wild West, and we ended the year with MoviePass as the app that allows you to see the 10am showing of Instant Family and only that. It was a year where rom-coms returned and superhero movies became fun again! And by all accounts, this was a monster year for documentaries and foreign films too. (The only one I checked out in either category was Roma.) But overall this felt like a mostly down year for traditional, narrative-driven, English-language films. Your Oscars guesses are as good as mine. Still, there was a lot to really like in movies this year, and even some stuff to love. I’m headlining this blog with my obligatory, movie-critic-wannabe Top 10 of the Year. (I used to rank movies both objectively and subjectively, but that got confusing even for me, so now I’ve lumped them together.) But I’m also including the best and worst of other categories – some of the awards show variety, others made up by yours truly. I saw about fifty 2018 releases, and here’s what I thought about them.

(Haven’t-Yet-Seen Notables: Bad Times At The El Royale, Blindspotting, Burning, Halloween, If Beale Street Could Talk, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Ocean’s 8, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Support the Girls, The Rider)

 

TEN BEST MOVIES

 

10. Ready Player One

ready player one

No, I haven’t read the book. I haven’t read most books, if you’re asking. So I went into this movie completely blind, and two hours later I emerged with possibly my favorite theater experience of the year. A meditation on how CGI action can actually be awesome, Ready Player One is an absolute visual delight. Are the characters underdeveloped and is the story far too reliant on exposition? Sure. But this movie is proof that Steven Spielberg can still capture our imaginations, and that’s worth a whole lot.

 

9. BlacKkKlansman

 blackkklansman-poster

I’m not sure if Spike Lee ever lost it, but if he did, well then he’s found it. A tonal mashup like no other in 2018, BlacKkKlansman tries to be a ton of different things at once, and it succeeds on most levels. And that’s including a tie-in to reality at the credits that hits devastatingly hard. Occasionally Spike swings and misses and a few scenes bothered me, but this is an incredibly well acted movie that manages to be haunting and hilarious at the same time. (Responsible for my loudest laugh in a theater this year.)

8. Paddington 2

 paddington 2

Yup, I’m eating the marmalade too. I was late to the game, but these movies are just as wonderful as everyone says they are. I slightly prefer the original to the sequel, but Paddington 2 is still the best Wes Anderson movie that Wes Anderson movie didn’t actually make. You know in the back of your heart that nothing harmful can actually happen to Paddington, but that doesn’t stop you from worrying sick at all times about the well being of this polite bear from Darkest Peru. And DO NOT even get me going on the ending. Good lord, I still can barely handle it.

 

7. A Star Is Born

 a star is born

After an onslaught of a marketing campaign and Oscar buzz for Lady Gaga that feels like it started in 2017, A Star Is Born annoyed me before I even saw it. But then about halfway through the movie after that scene (more on it later), I thought to myself, “oh, so this might be the best movie ever.” That ended up definitely not being the case after a flawed second half, but I was still blown away by the final product. The soundtrack, the acting, the direction – I still can’t believe that Bradley Cooper actually delivered.

 

6. Avengers: Infinity War

 infinity war

For about 95% of the movie, I was properly satisfied with Infinity War. The Russo Brothers balanced all of the characters really well, there were some great fight scenes, Thor’s arrival on Wakanda was electric – it all did the job. Then that ending happened. The one that probably didn’t change the game but still feels like it changed the game. It was so bold and unexpected, and it instantly vaulted Thanos into elite villain territory. Who cares if its sequel is already being promoted? Let’s enjoy Infinity War as long as we can.

 

5. Black Panther

 black panther

For as much as I obviously liked Infinity War, sometimes the Marvel Cinematic Universe can feel too big. So for a self-contained story like this to debut right beforehand while being the most original and thought-provoking entry in the MCU yet…yeah I’m a big fan. Undoubtedly the movie event of the year, Black Panther deserves all of its hype. Cool and funny with a great cast of characters and maybe the best world building…ever? More of this, please.

 

4. First Man

first man

I’m not sure how this happened, but Damian Chazelle managed to make the most underrated movie of 2018. I think it was overlooked because it’s not an Apollo 13-style adventure or Americana propaganda, but it’s all the better for it. Instead focusing deeply on the private life of one of our lesser-known American heroes, Ryan Gosling plays a subtle yet strong Neil Armstrong with Claire Foy knocking it out of the park as his wife. The cinematography is a work of art and the score is my favorite of the year. I’m not sure that First Man reaches Chazelle’s heights of Whiplash and La La Land, but it’s definitely not far off.

 

3. First Reformed

 first reformed

Best performance of Ethan Hawke’s illustrious career? Check. A screenplay with genuinely profound themes and the best dialogue of the year? Check. Gorgeous camera work? Check. An ending that is so surreal that you’ll have no clue what the hell you just watched? Check. To some, First Reformed and its dearth of action might be too slow. But for others like me, this movie is mesmerizing and has been on the mind since the summer.

 

2. Crazy Rich Asians

 crazy rich asians

About 30 minutes into Crazy Rich Asians, I was surprised by how much fun I was having. But everything that I had come to learn about movies told me that there was no way the fun could last. But then, something happened. The movie got…even better? Seriously, in addition to simply being a blast of a movie, Crazy Rich Asians is absolutely terrific. The characters and the performances are excellent, the screenplay is sharp and hilarious, the production and costume designs are beautiful, the music is perfect…I could keep going. With multiple starmaking performances and the foundation established for sequels, Crazy Rich Asians feels like the start of something huge. And I am HERE for it.

 

1. Mission: Impossible – Fallout

fallout

Despite all of my glowing words for the previous nine movies, there was only one film in 2018 that will probably go down as an all-timer for me, and that movie is Fallout. One of my personal highlights of 2018 was binging the first five Mission: Impossible movies in anticipation of Fallout, and then having it exceed all of my wildest expectations. Forget the stunts and the action scenes being the best of the franchise. They are some of the best the genre has ever seen. Even the characters are great! Henry Cavill’s August Walker was an excellent addition, and Ilsa Faust continues to be the best non-Ethan character in the franchise. I’m not sure if Fallout is perfect, but it was as close as we got to perfection in 2018.

 

Just Missed The Cut: Widows, A Quiet Place, Leave No Trace, Searching

 

FIVE MOST DISAPPOINTING MOVIES

I don’t see the appeal in going out of my way to pay for then spend two hours watching a bad movie, so these are definitely not the five absolute worst movies of the year. These are just the five worst movies that were either intriguing in some way or I thought could be good.

 

5. Borg vs McEnroe

I was really amped about this movie, being a huge tennis fan and someone who thinks Bjorn Borg’s story needs to reach a bigger audience. But Borg vs McEnroe has a ton of problems, starting with its title. Shia LaBeouf plays a good John McEnroe, but he’s in the movie for maybe 15 minutes. It’s all about Borg, which could have been a good thing but they don’t do anything interesting or provide any new information. Between that and the subpar tennis scenes, I couldn’t help but think the entire time how it would have been better as a 30 for 30. Maybe next time actually consult the subjects of the film?

 

4. Bohemian Rhapsody

I’m trying to decide on the scene that best encapsulates this movie. Is it when Freddie Mercury watches a trucker go into a rest stop bathroom, then all of a sudden he’s gay? Or when his friend sees some white dust on his living room table, then all of a sudden he has a drug problem? Or maybe when Freddie decides the band should go disco, then all of a sudden the “Another One Bites The Dust” bass riff is written? It’s an absolutely preposterous script that takes so many liberties, yet it somehow still manages to be a cookie-cutter take on one of the wildest rock bands ever. An admirable performance from Rami Malek and the impressive Live Aid recreation don’t save this from being one of the dumbest blockbusters in recent memory.

 

3. Isle of Dogs

The stop-motion animation is cool. I liked the score a lot. That’s where my compliments end. It’s the most painfully Wes Anderson movie in years. The story is quirky in the most boring way and his stupid humor falls completely flat. I honestly wanted to punch him in the face by the end of this movie.

 

2. Venom 

I can’t really remember what convinced me to see Venom, since the reviews were terrible and I thought the trailers looked like garbage. And boy, was I right! This movie did practically nothing well. Tom Hardy gives a truly bizarre performance that I’m still unsure about, and his screen chemistry with Michelle Williams is some of the worst I’ve ever seen. Throw that on top of one of the least compelling villains ever, bad action, and a PG-13 screenplay that tried its hardest to be edgy, and you have this dumpster fire of a film.

 

1. Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Of all the movies that I saw in 2018, there was only one that I truly resented, and that was Sicario: Day of the Soldado. Sicario is one of my favorite movies of the last decade, and it’s quite possibly the single last movie that I desired a sequel for. All of the tension, emotion, and ambiguity of the original is essentially replaced with, “what if we made the border seem…cooler?” Characters are developed in ways that actually make them far less compelling, the stakes are almost always unclear, and the movie ends with a scene that has the subtext of “we’re going to milk every single cent out of this franchise.” When Denis Villeneuve and Emily Blunt, possibly the hottest director and actor going in Hollywood right now, both pass on your sequel…then maybe don’t make one?

 

Just Missed The Cut: Ant-Man and the Wasp, Vice

 

TWENTY BEST PERFORMANCES

 

20. Ike Barinholtz (Blockers)

Barinholtz rolling up to his daughter’s pre-prom party while standing out of a limo sunroof, holding sparklers, and yelling “Taio Cruz!” was nothing short of movie magic.

 

19. Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Great to see McCarthy finally get a lead role that doesn’t ask her to just do slapstick. (She’s still really funny in this movie.) Hoping to see her get an Oscar nomination.

 

18. Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians)

You’re lying if you say you weren’t terrified of Yeoh in this movie. Even thinking about that mahjong scene makes me nervous. Perfect casting here.

 

17. Jason Isaacs (The Death of Stalin)

Isaacs doesn’t appear in The Death of Stalin until about an hour into the movie, but he comes in like a wrecking ball. He takes over every scene that he’s a part of.

 

16. John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)

I think we can stop calling him “Denzel’s kid” now.

 

15. Blake Lively (A Simple Favor)

As someone who watched all of Gossip Girl in 2018, I saw a lot of Blake Lively this year. Let’s just say her acting this time around is…much better.

 

14. Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

I wasn’t nearly as high on The Favourite as most, but the acting is great across the board. My favorite performance of the bunch was from Weisz, who nails the publicly steely, privately vulnerable act.

 

13. Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible – Fallout)

The guy is 56 years old and doing helicopter stunts and jumping out of airplanes from extremely unsafe altitudes. I don’t care that it’s not traditional acting. It’s incredible.

 

12. Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace)

No one born in the 21st century has any business being this good at acting already. She’s going to be around for a looooong time.

 

11. Elizabeth Debicki (Widows)

I didn’t even know Debicki’s name before seeing Widows, and now I want her cast in everything. Definition of a scene-stealer.

 

10. Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)

All right, let’s talk about Gaga’s performance, because she’s going to win a trillion awards. Would I give them all to her? Probably not. I think her newness to the screen is evident during some intimate, conversation-driven scenes. But that doesn’t mean that she’s not goddamn amazing in this movie. Her vocal performances are the stuff of icon status. She was already a legend, but this just added to it.

 

9. Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

We’ve reached the territory of names that I will be actively rooting for at the Oscars. Grant is so insanely good and funny in this movie, and he compliments Melissa McCarthy perfectly. My favorite chemistry of the year.

 

8. Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)

God bless Elsie Fisher for taking on this role. In one of the more awkward movies in recent memory, Fisher doesn’t shy away during the tough scenes and manages to win over everyone in the process. Casting actual young teens to play young teens…actually good!

 

7. John Cho (Searching)

This movie has such a batshit premise that I don’t even think it works with an average lead performance. But Cho goes so far beyond average that the movie doesn’t only work, but it became one of the year’s best. For a longtime actor who is still perhaps most famous for a character literally named “MILF Guy #2,” I hope Cho gets the recognition he deserves here.

 

6. Toni Collette (Hereditary)

I wasn’t crazy about Hereditary as a whole, mainly because of how far it goes off the deep end with its ending. So having Colette ranked this high, and as the top lead female performance of the year, should speak to how transcendently good she is in this role. Simply put, it’s one of the best performances ever within the horror genre.

 

5. Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)

Elliott is only in a handful of scenes in A Star Is Born, but my god does he make all of them count. In what might be the best pound-for-pound performance of the year, Elliott is devastating as Bradley Cooper’s much older brother. If he wins some hardware during awards season, don’t frame it as a lifetime achievement thing. He deserves everything he gets for this performance.

 

4. Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)

What Driver does in this movie is insane. He’s basically playing two characters: one is a cop who’s trying to take down the local chapter of the KKK while understanding the hardships faced by his African-American partner, and the other is a buffoon who joins that chapter of the Klan. AKA, polar opposites. And not only does Driver make it work, but he’s hilarious in the process without the performance ever feeling insensitive. Even with a Best Supporting Actor class as loaded as this year’s is, Driver stands out.

 

3. Claire Foy (First Man)

There are a lot of things that make First Man work as well as it does, but nothing more than the dynamic between Ryan Gosling and Foy. As Gosling’s Neil Armstrong remains stoic throughout the movie to an unnerving degree, Foy’s Janet Armstrong slowly breaks down, and it is captivating to watch. From her accent to her delivery, everything about this performance works. Let’s hope the Academy agrees.

 

2. Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)

There’s commitment, and then there’s what Bradley Cooper did for A Star Is Born. He learned and mastered multiple instruments, became a legitimately good singer, nailed that deep drawl, and transformed himself to look like a member of Kings Of Leon after a weeklong bender. And I haven’t even mentioned his acting yet. We always knew he could do that, but his breakdown in rehab scene might be the pinnacle of his career so far. Rami Malek might edge Cooper for awards for a performance where he wore fake teeth and lip-synced to Queen hits. Please don’t do that.

 

1. Ethan Hawke (First Reformed)

Narrowing this list to twenty performances and ranking 2-20 was tough, but this part was easy. Undoubtedly the top performance of the year, Hawke is this movie. Playing a priest who is in the midst of both a physical and a mental crisis, Hawke claws you in and doesn’t let go. Even though you know that things can’t end well for his character, it never stops being hypnotizing. It’s dumb that Ethan Hawke has never won an Oscar. It will be a crime if he still doesn’t have one after this year.

 

Just Missed The Cut: Ben Foster (Leave No Trace), Sunny Suljic (Mid90s), Jesse Plemons (Game Night), Olivia Cooke (Thoroughbreds), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You), Armie Hammer (Sorry To Bother You), Josh Hamilton (Eighth Grade), Michael B. Jordan (Creed 2), Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns), Tim Blake Nelson (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), Na-kel Smith (Mid90s), Hugh Grant (Paddington 2), Ronny Chieng (Crazy Rich Asians), Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War), Jude Law (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald)

 

FIVE WORST CHARACTERS

It’s usually tough to separate a performance from a hopeless role, so these are the characters that sucked the most in 2018.

 

5. i-R0k (T.J. Miller, Ready Player One)

It’s a miracle that Ready Player One turned out as good as it did after spending so long in production hell. But they didn’t completely avoid problems during that time, because T.J. Miller fell out of favor with just about everybody by the time the movie was released. Playing a character who barely serves a purpose beyond comic relief becomes an issue when the actor just isn’t very funny.

 

4. Rez Gavron (Rafi Gavron, A Star Is Born)

If you are asking yourself who this is, he is Ally’s manager. Not only is this character random and poorly acted, but it’s pretty evident that he only exists to push Jackson Maine to his inevitable conclusion.

 

3. Topsy (Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns)

Man…I HATED this character. I’m not sure if Meryl inserted herself into the movie or if Disney demanded it, but I figure it has to be something like that because this character’s existence just makes no sense. It’s such an unnecessary ten-minute detour to meet Topsy, who has a stupid accent for some reason and is the center of one of the more forgettable numbers of the movie. If Topsy was in more than one scene, then she probably would have been at the top of this list.

 

2. Martin Addison (Logan Miller, Love, Simon)

I really liked Love, Simon, but I did have a few problems with the movie, and they basically all regard Martin. He’d probably be on this list just for being so unfunny and cringy, but he ranks second because he also VINDICTIVELY OUTS SIMON AND KINDA TOTALLY GETS AWAY WITH IT. Like, one of the meaner things you can possibly do to a person, and the only consequence was that he got yelled at a little bit.

 

1. Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed, Venom)

I’m not sure what’s the worst part about Carlton Drake: the lifeless writing of the character, the bizarre decision to cast Riz Ahmed for it, or Ahmed’s completely unconvincing performance. As uncool and unimposing as a villain can possibly be, it’s fitting that it happened in a Venom movie, because this performance joins Topher Grace’s portrayal of Venom from Spider-Man 3 as one of the worst ever.

 

Just Missed The Cut: Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins, Ant-Man and the Wasp), Goh Wye Mun (Ken Jeong, Crazy Rich Asians), Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy, Venom), Paul Prenter (Allen Leech, Bohemian Rhapsody), Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy, Unsane)

 

TEN BEST SCENES

(SPOILERS AHEAD, OBVIOUSLY)

 

10. X-Force Takes Flight, Deadpool 2

 

9. Charlie Leans Out The Window, Hereditary 

 

8. The Ending, Paddington 2

 

7. The Opening, A Quiet Place 

 

6. The Beach Rescue, Roma

 

5. The Drive Through The Neighborhood, Widows

 

4. Thanos Snaps His Fingers, Avengers: Infinity War

 

3. The Bathroom Fight, Mission: Impossible – Fallout

 

2. The Moon Landing, First Man 

 

1. “Shallow,” A Star Is Born

(Not the actual scene, but closest I could find.)

 

Just Missed The Cut: Cash Raps For The Room (Sorry To Bother You), The Race (Ready Player One), The Wedding (Crazy Rich Asians), “BROTHER FUCKER!” (A Simple Favor), Tom Says Goodbye (Leave No Trace), Toller Talks To Michael (First Reformed), Elastigirl Saves The Train (Incredibles 2), “Always Remember Us This Way” (A Star Is Born), Prom Party Arrival (Blockers), Killmonger Robs The Museum (Black Panther), Stevie Goes For The Jump (Mid90s), Thor Arrives On Wakanda (Avengers: Infinity War), The Screaming Bear (Annihilation), Sharing A Pizza (Set It Up), The Pool Party (Eighth Grade), Blaming Beria (The Death Of Stalin), “Can You Imagine That?” (Mary Poppins Returns)

 

 

Follow PJ on Twitter @Real_Peej

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Should, Could, Will, and Where: The 2018 Oscars

Oscars season, baby! Before the big show tonight, Connor Stambaugh and I are here to break down everything we want to happen and everything that actually will happen.

Moonlight

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Call Me By Your Name, The Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly’s Game, Mudbound

PJ

Should Win – Call Me By Your Name

Could Win – Logan, if they decided to hold the voting at Comic-Con.

Will Win – Call Me By Your Name

Where Is…Stronger?

Talk about an eclectic crop for this category this year. A movie from the Pineapple Express guys, a comic book movie, a movie that went mostly unseen (including by me), a Netflix movie…and then there’s Call Me By Your Name. Despite being a boldly and proudly gay movie, the screenplay is pretty straightforward and doesn’t feature much drama or tension. Still, it’s beautifully written and features one of best scenes of the year: the monologue delivered from Michael Stuhlbarg. Get your peaches ready, people. As for Stronger, I had pretty low expectations going into it, just because I generally dislike the “let’s make a movie about this tragedy that just happened” movies. But it is excellent. I think most of us expected this movie to mainly focus on the bombing itself or Jeff Bauman’s physical struggle in learning to walk again, but it smartly centers the drama on the psychological toll taken on heroes who unwillingly become heroes.

Connor

Should Win – Call Me By Your Name

Could Win: Absolutely nobody else.

Will Win – Call Me By Your Name

Where Is…seriously why was anyone else even nominated?

See it and fucking TRY to tell me otherwise.

 

Best Original Screenplay

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

Connor

Should Win – Lady Bird

Could Win – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will Win – Get Out

Where Is…Colossal?

This is an absolute beast of a category and a case could be made for each of the contenders. I am going with my gut here and predicting Get Out for the win. If The Shape of Water takes Best Picture, and Three Billboards takes the two acting statues, this *has* to go to Peele, right? Right?!?! If it doesn’t win here, Get Out will go home empty-handed and will singlehandedly break Twitter. I’m throwing Colossal with Anne Hathaway into the mix too because it has a ton on its mind and explores those ideas in fascinating ways. And just keep reading if you want an idea of how phenomenal I think Lady Bird is.

PJ

Should Win – Get Out

Could Win – Lady Bird

Will Win – Get Out

Where Is…Phantom Thread?

This is annually my favorite category, because it’s where the most original movies get recognized since the Academy is usually too afraid to put them in the Best Picture class. That’s the case once again with The Big Sick, but they actually decided to give major props to two of the other coolest movies of the year: Get Out and Lady Bird. I’m fairly sure Get Out will actually win, for two reasons. First, because it fucking deserves it. Second, because I don’t think it will get the serious looks it deserves elsewhere and there’s ZERO chance the Academy lets it leave the Dolby Theatre empty-handed. I think Lady Bird has a better chance than people are giving it too, for similar but non-racially charged reasons. Greta Gerwig somehow made a screenplay about a theater chick from Sacramento universally relatable. I’d say Phantom Thread has an outside chance as well, but it didn’t even get nominated. I mean, the “are you here to ruin my evening, or possibly my entire life?” line is better than the entire The Shape of Water script.

 

Best Supporting Actor

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

PJ

Should Win – Sam Rockwell

Could Win – Rockwell’s name is already engraved.

Will Win – Sam Rockwell

Where Is…Armie Hammer for Call Me By Your Name? And Jason Mitchell for Mudbound? BUT SERIOUSLY…WHERE IS ARMIE HAMMER???

I could spend this entire blog talking about how good Sam Rockwell is in Three Billboards. The humanity that he brought to piece-of-shit Jason Dixon convinced a ton of people that his character, who was fired, shunned by his small town, burnt nearly to death, and unsuccessful in his final investigation, was somehow redeemed at the end of the movie. Still, I’d rather talk more about how badly the Academy botched this category. At most they got 3 of the 5 right (there’s little defense for Harrelson and literally none for Plummer). I’d maybe let it slide if it was a down year for supporting male performances, BUT THEY MISSED SOME GREAT ONES. Armie Hammer is seriously an all-time bad snub, and Jason Mitchell deserved this spotlight too. Rockwell is winning in every single scenario, but it would’ve been great for those two guys to get their moments.

Connor

Should Win – Sam Rockwell

Could Win – Willem Dafoe

Will Win – Sam Rockwell

Where Is…Armie Hammer?

As dominating as Frances McDormand is when she’s onscreen (and she is), Sam Rockwell’s bumbling, racist cop is usually the one you can’t keep your eyes off of. He has the greatest character arc of anyone in the film (not that he changes *that* much) and leaves his mark as a villain who might want to be a hero but has no idea how, or if, anyone will let him. Dafoe grounds the entirety of The Florida Project and I wouldn’t be mad in the slightest if he got his “career” Oscar for this little gem. Everyone knows Armie Hammer has the movie star looks, charisma, and build of a leading man. But this is almost a two-hander with Timothee Chalamet and the two of them exhibit some of the greatest chemistry I’ve ever seen in a film. Or anywhere. It’s a thing of beauty and I hope he rests easy knowing—nomination or not—he’s redefined his career.

 

Best Supporting Actress

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

Connor

Should Win – Laurie Metcalf

Could Win – Laurie Metcalf

Will Win – Allison Janney

Where Is…Holly Hunter for The Big Sick?

Everyone loves Allison Janney. She knows how to work a room better than anyone in Hollywood and she’s looking very solid here. Can someone tell me exactly what Octavia Spencer did in The Shape of Water to steal this nom from Hunter? I love Spencer but come on. Highway robbery. In what is technically the most wide-open acting category (not really), watch out for Laurie Metcalf in the heartbreaking role of her life. This should be hers. Yes, Janney has the flashy lines and comedic chops, but honestly have you ever seen a more realistic depiction of a working class mother? I haven’t. She grounds the entire film while Lady Bird has her head in the clouds. The reason the phone call is as powerful as it is at the end of the film is more of a testament to Metcalf than it is to Ronan—and that’s saying something.

PJ

Should Win – Laurie Metcalf

Could Win – Laurie Metcalf

Will Win – Allison Janney

Where Is…Tiffany Haddish for Girls Trip?

You nailed it. I have no idea why Metcalf isn’t the runaway favorite for this award. Honestly, I probably think it was the best overall performance of the year. (Not “overalls” performance, which clearly goes to Frances McDormand). Usually when I feel this strongly about a candidate, I eschew what the “experts” are predicting to roll with what I think is right. But Janney has won EVERYTHING leading up to the Oscars. And look, I am way more into I, Tonya than most people. Janney is outrageously funny in this role…but that’s really all the role is. Besides those two, this category is super weird. Octavia Spencer did nothing special for me in The Shape of Water, and I guess Mary J Blige is solid in her like 8 minutes of screen time in Mudbound? Connor already covered the deserving Holly Hunter, so how about Tiffany Haddish’s star-making performance? Girls Trip made a ton of money, but I feel like it was still overlooked because this movie is just as, if not more, funny than Bridesmaids. Melissa McCarthy got an Oscar nom for her breakout role in that movie, and Haddish deserved the same treatment here.

 

Best Actor

Nominees: 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, Esq.

PJ

Should Win – Daniel Day-Lewis

Could Win – Timothee Chalamet

Will Win – Gary Oldman

Where Is…Jeremy Renner for Wind River?

I feel like this is a pretty underwhelming group for what is often the can’t-miss category of the night. Maybe that’s unfair, because I love three of the nominated performances, but Gary Oldman’s inevitable win is probably why I can’t shake that feeling. And that’s coming from a HUGE Gary Oldman fan. That’s Sirius motherfucking Black. I just feel like Darkest Hour shouldn’t be bringing home any important hardware, even if Oldman fully committed and nailed Churchill’s quirky mannerisms. It’s a boring take on my part, but Day-Lewis should absolutely win. We’ve reached the Michael Jordan effect here. Just like Jordan should’ve won MVP for every season he played in the 90s, DDL should win Best Actor whenever he graces the screen with his presence. Even if he wasn’t at his Daniel Plainview heights, he got me to deeply care about an idiosyncratic dressmaker in the 50s. As for snubs, Gyllenhaal was probably the worst, but I’ll give a quick shoutout to Jeremy Renner for playing a silently grieving father to a T.

Connor

Should Win – Timothée Chalamet

Could Win – Timothée Chalamet

Will Win – Gary Oldman

Where is…Jake Gyllenhaal for Stronger?

Commissioner Gordon is going to get his. And it really is a great show he puts on. Also, Jake Gyllenhaal deserved so much more recognition than he got for Stronger. But no other performance this year made me *feel* as much as Chalamet’s. He learned Italian, piano, guitar, and does it all so effortlessly that I kept forgetting how young he is (youngest Best Actor nom in something like 80 years). So deserving. It’s an honor just to be nominated alongside these guys but for my money he should be installing a shelving unit for this hardware. Good luck looking at a fireplace ever again after you see this.

 

Best Actress

Nominees: Sally Hawkins in The 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

Connor

Should Win – Saoirse Ronan

Could Win – Sally Hawkins or Saoirse Ronan

Will Win – Frances McDormand

Where Is…Vicky Krieps for Phantom Thread?

Another absolute lock here. McDormand redefines “powerhouse” in what has to be one of the craziest, angriest scripts of the century. Her Mildred does unspeakable things, and is in no way redeemable, but McDormand brings enough raw pathos to the role that you are on her side all the way. Hawkins has the most challenging role of the bunch (mute janitor who loves fish monster) and this is easily Ronan’s best of her young career, but nothing will get in the way of Mrs. McDormand…except maybe herself—she publicly said the Academy should reward a younger actress…(I’ll let you talk Krieps).

PJ

Should Win – Sally Hawkins or Frances McDormand

Could Win – Sally Hawkins

Will Win – Frances McDormand

Where Is…Vicky Krieps for Phantom Thread?

Like Connor said, McDormand is winning this award. And I think that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because she is absolutely ferocious, hilarious, and occasionally heartbreaking in this role. Mildred Hayes is probably the character of the year. On the other hand, this is such a loaded category this year so it’s unfortunate that the other four nominees will receive consideration more as a formality than anything. It might be kinda obvious by now that I think The Shape of Water is a pretty overrated contender, but Sally Hawkins is by far my favorite part of that movie. Not just because she brilliantly plays a mute woman, but she actually convinces the audience that her love with a fish man makes any sense despite the fact that all they did together was dance one time and eat a few eggs. I’d be psyched if she won. The same goes for Ronan, who had to do more in her movie than anyone else, and Streep, whose performance I feel like is somehow being underappreciated. I thought Margot Robbie was really good as Tonya Harding (even if she looked absolutely nothing like her), but I’m not too sure what she’s doing here. I would have rather seen Gal Gadot recognized for her breakout role as Wonder Woman, or especially Vicky Krieps for doing the impossible by going the distance in an acting boxing match with Daniel Day-Lewis.

 

Best Director

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

PJ

Should Win – Jordan Peele

Could Win – Jordan Peele

Will Win – Guillermo del Toro

Where Is…Luca Guadagnino for Call Me By Your Name?

Major props to the Academy, because they crushed this category. I probably would have handpicked the same five. But there isn’t really much intrigue here, because del Toro is winning. Part of the inevitability is because this category is often used as somewhat of lifetime achievement recognition. More than that though, it’s because GDT turned this insane vision into a good movie, and the 13(!!!) total nominations proves just how well rounded and technically masterful the voters think The Shape of Water is. I’ll still be rooting for Peele, but I can get more into that in a second.

Connor

Should Win – Christopher Nolan

Could Win – Nada

Will Win – Guillermo Del Toro

Where Is…Edgar Wright for Baby Driver?

Look, nobody is taking this away from Guillermo. He’s incredibly beloved within the industry (while people have trouble connecting to Nolan’s coldness). He’s won every precursor. It’s his. Fine. But the sheer audacity of what Nolan tried to do — and completely achieved — should not go unnoticed. This is his first directing nomination, but, almost certainly, it will not be his last. Also, Edgar Wright deserves a shoutout for the technical wizardry and pure cinematic rush of Baby Driver.

 

Best Picture

Nominees: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Connor

Should Win – Get Out or Lady Bird

Could Win – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will Win – The Shape of Water

Where is…The Big Sick?

It’s a three-horse race at this point between The Shape of Water, Three Billboards, and Get Out. Shape has clearly captured the hearts of the older voters with its love letter to old Hollywood (man, it feels like that’s *all* you need to go for to score a nom these days) and Three Billboards is the actors’ favorite, so watch out. But of the three Get Out is the only one that changed the game. Its lack of an editing nom spells almost certain doom but there’s a groundswell of support for it and it’s a true underdog worth rooting for. The Big Sick was robbed in several categories, this being the most notable. (Really? Darkest Hour?) And then there’s Lady Bird. I’ve gushed over this film for months and after repeat viewings I’m here to tell you that it’s still an all-timer. Arguably the greatest exploration of the mother/daughter relationship ever put to film, Lady Bird’s success is just one of many signs that the tides are changing in Hollywood. Great Gerwig is here to stay and Saiorse’s third nom before age 25 proves that she is the greatest actress of her generation. It’s as close to perfect as anything 2017 had to offer. In other words — it’s hella tight.

PJ

Should Win – Get Out

Could Win – Get Out, Lady Bird, or The Shape of Water

Will Win – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Where Is…I, Tonya?

I have zero clue how on earth Darkest Hour – this year’s second best movie about the Dunkirk evacuation – scored a nomination. I really would have liked to have seen I, Tonya in its place or as a tenth nominee, because I think it’s objectively terrific and arguably the most entertaining movie of the year. Yes, the movie overlooked some important information and essentially chose a side despite aiming not to. But I loved the way that it leaned into the unreliable narrations and absurdity of the whole situation, all while offering a brutally honest look into American classism and condemning our society’s need for a villain to hate. Still, I’m not gonna complain about this group. I think the Academy went 8/9 here, which is WAY better than they usually do.

Biggest award of the night is the biggest tossup. I think there are four legitimate possibilities. I’m buying that Lady Bird actually has a chance, even if it’s an outside one. It would need to win Original Screenplay first, and I already covered how I don’t think that will happen, so we’ll cross it off. I’m scrapping The Shape of Water too, even though it’s probably the most common pick and has the most nominations by a mile. I expect it to land between third and fifth on a lot of ballots, but are there really enough voters who think this was the best movie of the year? I’m guessing not. So that leaves Get Out and Three Billboards, two radically different movies but my two favorites from this group. Get Out is my absolute favorite though, and I think it’s the *best* movie of the year too. It had me laughing out loud at times and on the edge of my seat at others, but it also just so happens to be one of the smartest and sharpest movies on racism ever made. Jordan Peele pulled off a masterpiece, plain and simple. Still, it technically falls within the comedy and horror genres, probably the two least popular within the Academy. I think conventionality wins out and Three Billboards nabs the main prize. While I wouldn’t exactly call it a conventional movie with its zigzagging script and some of the most vulgar dialogue ever put on the big screen, it has already won big at other awards shows and is a lock in at least two major categories. Some people do not like this movie at all, but I’m betting on way more people loving it.

 

Nominee From Another Category That Needs To Win

PJ

Best Original Song

“Remember Me” from Coco

It’s embarrassing how livid I will be if “Remember Me” doesn’t win. For starters, Coco kicks ass. The song kicks ass. Just so much ass kicking. But more importantly for the sake of defending its award credentials, the song is CRUCIAL to the movie. If you weren’t teary-eyed or completely bawling when Miguel sings it with Coco at the end of the movie, there is actually something wrong with you. Seriously, give this award to that stupid song about PT Barnum with a chorus of “OH OH OHHHHH” and see what happens.

Connor

Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049

Went in with sky-high expectations, left completely satisfied. No film looks better this year, except *maybe* the final shot of Tom Hardy’s plane on the beach in Dunkirk.

 

Best Picture Ballot

Connor PJ
1. Lady Bird 1. Get Out
2. Get Out 2. Call Me By Your Name
3. Call Me By Your Name 3. Lady Bird
4. Three Billboards 4. Three Billboards
5. Dunkirk 5. Dunkirk
6. The Shape of Water 6. Phantom Thread
7. The Post 7. The Shape of Water
8. Darkest Hour 8. The Post
Phantom Thread* (haven’t seen) 9. Darkest Hour

 

Personal Top 10 of 2017

Connor PJ
1. Baby Driver 1. Get Out
2. The Big Sick 2. The Disaster Artist
3. Lady Bird 3. Three Billboards
4. Call Me By Your Name 4. I, Tonya
5. Three Billboards 5. The Big Sick
6. The Florida Project 6. Lady Bird
7. Get Out 7. Phantom Thread
8. Dunkirk 8. Coco
9. The Disaster Artist 9. Wind River
10. Stronger 10. Call Me By Your Name