Posted Mar 02 2018

Last Word Calls The Oscars 2018

Is it just us, or does this Awards Season feel like it’s been going on since…well about a week after last year’s Oscars ended? (And boy what an envelope-trashing ending that was!) And so much of it has been confused and uncertain. The changing face of Oscar voters, and Hollywood in general, has led to a race that has been remarkably hard to call. A few years back, the mastery of Chris Nolan’s Dunkirk, or even Spielberg’s The Post, would have left everyone else without a hope in hell.

But this is not a few years back. The dynamics – and those behind said dynamics – have notably changed. And even some of the old duffers are up for embracing change. We’ve seen this in the likes of a fishy fantasy leading the pack. And the very distinct possibly that Get Out could walk away with Best Picture. (It’s a “Good” Picture, but surely some kind of weirdly politicised vote won’t name it “Best” Picture, will it?) Or will the desire to acknowledge women in general in a post-Weinstein world result in Gerwig toppling Del Toro and Lady Bird besting all comers? Now, don’t get our slightly cynical tone wrong – we’d love to see Lady Bird take both those statues home (and add Saoirse to that list) – but only because it’s a remarkable movie. Not because it’s “timely.” Or the “right thing to do.” Oscars are above all that. Surely?

Anyway, all of the above said, and with all the unpredictability of the season, it’s strange that in the last few weeks, as so often happens, things have become a bit clearer. Boring even – certainly in five of the six biggies – Best Pic still being the wild card.

But that’s without allowing for the recent voting period scandals of course. Could the people accusing Shape Of Water of plagiarism have chosen an earlier date than the first day of voting to bring their lawsuit? (Not a coincidence.) Will The Sunday Times’ recent revelations of Winston Churchill having a long-term affair derail Gary Oldman’s Best Actor bid? (Just a coincidence.) All will be revealed.

So, without further ado, and in something vaguely approaching reverse order – here we go again. And we start with –

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – aka, “So Strong A Category This Year – They Forgot Holly Hunter!!” Of those that did make it, it’s been a two horse race from day one, with Janney and Metcalfe duking it out all over the shop. Both incredibly deserving, in the latter stages Janney (a long term, multi-Emmy winning favourite of the actors’ branch certainly) has eclipsed Ms Metcalfe and become the chosen one. As her undoubted win here will undoubtedly prove.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Again, this started as a two horse race, before one of those nags just started to pull ahead. Sam Rockwell snuck up on legacy vote Willem Dafoe and is a cert for what we predict will be the beginning of a good night for Three Billboards.

BEST ANIMATED FILM – One of the easiest calls of the night. Coco – only Coco. (The dead will rise if it doesn’t win.)

BEST CINEMATOGRPAHY – We could say the same of this in that slam dunk kind of way – but we’ve been here 13 times before!! Surely, Roger Deakins finally takes this home with him on the night – and again, not because it’s “long overdue” or “right.” But simply because his work on Blade Runner 2049 is simply, translucently fucking brilliant. (Not that he hasn’t got some serious competition this year, most notably from Hoyte Van Hoytema and Dunkirk.)

BEST EDITING – Often a precursor of Best Pic – but not tonight. Tonight, the glory should be heading in the direction of what will come to be the much neglected Dunkirk. But we have a feeling Baby Driver (which is, at its very core, some kind of exercise in editing) is going to pull up to the bumper and steal this baby and ride off with it, all tyres a-blazing.

Which brings us to BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN. Now, this is a tough call this year. Do the two WWIIs split the vote? (Yes.) Do they go fairy tale retro (Beauty and the Beast) or future noir (Blade Runner 2049)? No. They go for he delirious visual beauty of all things Del Toro and land The Shape of Water with a very significant gong. (Well, it’s not getting Best Picture, so this is nice.)

BEST HAIR AND MAKE UP – Or the Gary Oldman- Judi Dench Smackdown. And Oldman wins by a fat suit and an Academy that currently likes him, really likes him. (See further down the list.)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – Presuming Jonny Greenwood doesn’t upset things and win for Best Score, this will be the only win for the really rather wonderful Phantom Thread. All day long - as the folks on Storage Wars like to say.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – Such a tough call here. Jonny Greenwood (robbed years back for his remarkable work on There Will Be Blood) should be a lock. But he’s up against Hans Zimmer’s incredible work on Dunkirk. Ultimately though, we have a feeling that Zimmer may have gone too industrial and too experimental with his desire to blend score and sound design, and the more straight laced amongst the Academy voters will go for the lyrical beauty of Alexandre Desplat’s Shape Of Water. Which is a great score, and well deserved (even if a part of us was holding out for Zimmer’s best work ever.)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Although our heart belongs with Sufjan Stevens, the minute we first saw Coco, we thought Remember Me was a lock. But that was before the strange and unexpected phenomenon of The Greatest Showman took hold. And it is a genuine, grassroots non-manufactured, found-by-the-people phenomenon. And what’s more This Is Me (not the greatest song in the world, but perfectly reasonable) totally reflects the independent movement that this film carries with it. So, this particular show is over when the Bearded Lady sings.

BEST SOUND EDITING/BEST SOUND MIXING – Dunkirk does the double here. Why? Have you heard the damn thing? ‘Nuff said.

BEST DOCUMENTARY – What happened to Jane? We thought this was going to Jane? Didn’t even get the nomination. In light of that, Icarus had the great luck to land in a voting season that coincided with the whole of Russia apparently doping their way through the Winter Olympics. So, a strong movie, and an incredible amount of serendipity brings this home to Netflix. But, seriously, can someone explain this to us – doping? In curling?? What the fuck is that about??

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – Apes. Apes. Apes – all the way. But we said that at the BAFTAs and look what happened. That said, if the Academy cannot find it in their newly progressive hearts to finally fucking recognise Andy Serkis in the Best Actor category (denied three times in this franchise alone now), then the least they can do is throw a well earned bone in the direction of the genius technicians who help him achieve those superlative performances. . Go Ape, you dumb sons of bitches!

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – Loveless is undoubtedly powerful, but hard to love. The Square has some remarkable moments, but feels like a movie of “moments” rather than a cohesive whole, whilst gender-tatsic A Fantastic Woman really is a film of the moment. And more focused than probably any of the others, so this takes the Uncle home.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – No, not just because we all thought he was dead already and he wasn’t. But for his beautiful, lyrical and understated work in bringing Call Me By Your Name to the screen – James Ivory gets his due. And at 89 becomes the oldest ever Oscar winner, for you trivia people playing along at home.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – This is a genuine three-way fight and, more than any other award in the evening up to that point, will indicate where Best Pic could go. If political/progressive cards are being played (and they very well could be) then this either goes to the woman (Lady Bird) of the person of colour (Get Out.) Again, don’t get us wrong, both screenplays are totally deserving in their own right – but gender and race are also looking like they might have their say in this current climate. Even allowing for that, Lady Bird is the finer work and the more deserving of the two. But, when it all shakes down, we have a feeling the political bargaining chip nature of both might well cancel each other out, or just peter out altogether, and Martin McDonagh walks in and nabs it for his brilliant work on Three Billboards.

(Either way, we strongly suspect that whoever wins this, goes on to take Best Picture as well. Of which, more in a minute…)

So. We’re back with the biggies, and we pretty much feel the Oscars will be lining up right alongside the BAFTAs from here on in. So -

BESTACTOR – Gary Oldman. He’s due, he’s earned it, he’s won everything else, and if it goes to Daniel Kaluuya then the jig really is up. Oldman has had a great season, and been eloquent, humble and gracious at every opportunity. Day Lewis would be the way to go to deny the obvious – but when has the Oscars ever denied the bleeding obvious? Arise Sir Gary. (It’s probably next, isn’t it?)

BEST ACTRESS – Way back in October, we were lucky enough to see Three Billboards and Lady Bird within 24 hours of each other and ever since then we’ve been stuck in a mental hollytacker between Saorise and Frances. Our opinion shifting every time we re-watch their respective movies. We really championed Ms Ronan for Brooklyn a couple of years back, so…

And Frances already has one, so…

But, back in the real world, this has been Frances McDormand’s since she first walked in that two street town, channelling the heart of John Wayne in a boiler suit. And too fucking right.

BEST DIRECTOR – In which Guillermo Del Toro repeats the BAFTA and joins his friends Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Inarritu and become the Third Amigo to win his Best Director Oscar…

BEST PICTURE…but we still don’t see his film nabbing the final big one of the night – that stupid preferential voting system be damned. Been saying it all along, The Shape Of Water is a good film, but it’s no Pacific Rim! This is where things could go weird however – and we’re back to the potential political shifts in voting this year. Ever since the #OscarsSoWhite stuff a couple of years back, the Academy has opened itself up to new members and new attitudes. Tonight is the first real test of how powerful those new members are, and how “woke” the rest of the Academy view themselves as. In an age that is crying out to recognise and support women and Black Panthers alike, this has the distinct possibility of it going to Lady Bird (great choice.) Or even Get Out (not as great a choice.)

Taking all that into account, we see Three Billboards eclipsing them all and walking away with Best Picture. The new voters in the Academy only account for around 18% of the total membership, and while we’re sure they’re driven and vocal and influential – we don’t see them swaying it. Instead, the voters go for a movie that ticks at least some of those boxes – a brilliantly realised female-led story that touches on the current political environment of the country, even if it was made by an Irishman from London who you didn’t have the sense or good grace to tip the nod to in the Best Director category. Nonetheless, Three Billboards walks away – not with a sweep, but as the biggest winner of the night.


And then we all take a week or so off…and start the whole fucking thing all over again.

We’re pretty sure we’re 100% right on everything above – so feel free to re-mortgage the house and put some bets on – there’ still time.

But, as ever, all the Academy can do between now and Sunday night is get it wrong. (Warning potential gamblers – they have been known to do this in years past.)

Come back Sunday to see how it all plays out, when we’ll be desperately trying to stay awake as the Last Word team live-blogs the whole thing – misplaced envelopes and all!


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