I don’t like to make predictions, mostly because I don’t like to be proven wrong and on the global platform that The British Blacklist resides I’m even more cautious about being caught out!
Call me egotistical.
But in keeping up with The Jones’s I felt it only right I offer some opinion on tonight’s potentially history-making Oscars. Over the years I watch all the Oscar-nominated films, at least in the major categories so I can be well informed as I cuss or applaud the winners.
This year is no different, I’ve taken all the films in the Best Picture category with notes about some of their other nominations.
Oh, actually this year is different. VERY different. #BritishBlacktor aka my honorary lil’ bruh, Daniel Kaluuya is nominated for BEST ACTOR. Also, my best-friend-homegurl-who-doesn’t-know-me-singer-of-the-soundtrack-to-my-teenage-then-stressed-black-woman-life Mary J Blige is nominated for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS… we will discuss.
THE SHAPE OF WATER – Best Picture | Best Actress | Best Supporting Actress | Best Supporting Actor | Best Director | Best Original Music Score | Best Original Screenplay | Best Cinematography | Best Costume Design | Best Film Editing | Best Sound Mixing | Best Production Design | Best Sound Editing
Elisa is a mute, isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab’s classified secret — a mysterious, scaled creature from South America that lives in a water tank. As Elisa develops a unique bond with her new friend, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent and a marine biologist.
- Sally Hawkins (Best Actress) – as Elisa, did a good job. Worthy.
- Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress) – erm, not much of a challenge. She does well with what she’s given. Maybe not this year. But also #TeamImRootingForEverybodyBlack.
- Richard Jenkins (Best Supporting Actor) – lovely, wouldn’t be mad.
- Guillermo del Toro (Original Screenplay) – nice story, a little overrated. It’s flawed. It’s a no from me.
- Guillermo del Toro (Best Director) – lovely directing, but I want this for Jordan Peele so not for me thanks.
- Dan Laustsen (Best Cinematography) – lovely, but I’d rather Rachel Morrison for Mudbound. Thus, also no.
- Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale (Best Picture) – So look, it’s a lovely film and tribute to 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon. Definitely keeping with Del Toro’s weird fantastical mind, which I often love (Pan’s Labyrinth 2006). Except this film is flawed. Enough for me to feel people are blindly gushing. Hawkins is great. The frien-mistry between she and Jenkins is endearing and even though the fish-man, sorry Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) is not sexy… at all… their love is sweet, troubling, yet sweet. But then we have the brilliant Michael Shannon as the evil Richard Strickland whose negative vibes are waayyy too much for the story man. Dunno why Del Toro had Shannon go warp evil 100 undermining the gentle story. Especially in this #MeToo #TimesUp moment, we didn’t Strickland’s random rapeyness nor his putrid thumb… *spoiler* nor, actually a full body shot of Hawkins’ nekkid body, especially as we didn’t get to see what an Amphibian Man willy looked like… I mean it’s not like it’s real so? Also did not appreciate the tad stereotypical moment when Octavia Spencer’s Zelda totally emasculated her husband (can’t find the actor’s name) who is also racially emasculated by Evil Strickland. So, nah. Although it’s a strong probability.
DARKEST HOUR – Best Picture | Best Actor | Best Cinematography | Best Costume Design | Best Production Design | Best Makeup
A true story beginning at the precipice of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.
- Gary Oldman (Best Actor) – did a good job. I’m indifferent because he’s a probably.
- Bruno Delbonnel (Best Cinematography) – okay.
- Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick (Best Makeup) – One for diversity, Tsuji is the first ever Asian makeup artist nominated in this category EVER! Le sigh. So even though it would be a shared win, I would not be mad.
- Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten and Douglas Urban (Best Picture) – it’s well acted. But I genuinely didn’t care. Way too much English fruhfruhfruh posh political waffling going on. I was bored. Sorry. Also #TeamBlackPersonAffectedByTheNegativeRacialHistoryOfWinstonChurchill. Plus #TimesUp #MeToo where do we stand on the ‘rumours/facts’ surrounding Mr Oldman? Sigh. It all gets so technical, doesn’t it? It’s a no thank you from me.
DUNKIRK – Best Picture | Best Director | Best Film Editing | Best Sound Mixing | Best Production Design | Best Cinematography | Best Sound Editing | Best Original Score
In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.
- Christopher Nolan (Best Director) – great, hmmm.
- Hoyte van Hoytema (Best Cinematography) – Yeah some epic visuals. Erm… okay.
- Best Production Design (Best Writing Adapted Screenplay) – great, worthy.
- Nathan Crowley; Gary Fettis (Best Production Design) – very well done. Okay.
- Emma Thomas; Christopher Nolan (Best Picture) – So it’s epic. It’s war. It’s overall well presented. That rascal formerly of British X Factor Boy Band, One Direction (are they still together?) Harry Styles is in it as Alex a British soldier. Basically, a bunch of, okay roughly 300k soldiers make it to the safe side during the Battle of France. Another narrative I didn’t care for much. Dunkirk feels like it was made for an Oscar. Thus irritated me slightly. Also WWII and soldiers and bombs, le bore. I do not get how or why it made just over $525 million at the box office making it the highest grossing war film ever … I mean… really? It’s a no from me. But in with a strong maybe of a chance. Sigh.
PHANTOM THREAD – Best Picture | Best Actor | Best Supporting Actress | Best Director | Best Original Music Score | Best Costume Design
Set in the glamour of 1950’s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing the rich and famous in The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes his muse and lover. Soon he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love.
- Daniel Day-Lewis (Best Actor) – His character Reynold Woodcock is simply a horrible cantankerous middle-aged man with social, anger and self-issues. He plays him well, but it’s no My Left Foot, or Gangs of New York, nor Lincoln performance. This is meant to be Daniel’s last film as he retires from the industry… shame because, if he wins this as a leaving present I won’t be amused. It’s a no from me.
- Lesley Manville (Best Supporting Actress) – Her character Cyril really puts up with a lot from her ridiculous brother Reynold and his irritating girlfriend Alma (Vicky Krieps) who could have just LEFT HIM. Sigh, erm… she was good but I think there are stronger contenders this year.
- Paul Thomas Anderson (Best Director) – Well, this is the second time he’s worked with Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) so I guess they have a connection. He does direct a fraught and engaging story so… sure. But Jordan Peele so no.
- JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupi (Best Picture) – Here’s the thing. This film is hilarious! But it’s not meant to be. People have been getting all artsy fartsy it’s such a deep reflection on toxic masculinity and submissive women about it. Maybe, or maybe it’s a 2hr and 1o minute overly long look at a moany bastard of a man with highly dramatic issues and his relationship with a weirdly committed young lady, who really didn’t need to stay with him. Love or not. She wasn’t an old maid, she had potential, she just chose to stick around. Going to extreme lengths in the end to keep him. I was in stitches. What was actually great, was that it highlighted women falling for no good men and wasting their lives, and sanity, in this case, to change them. Also, sisters who enable their brother’s poor behaviour. Posh white folks are hilarious. Just creating issues for creating issues sake. It’s a brilliant watch. But definitely, don’t think it should win.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE, EBBING MISSOURI – Best Picture | Best Actress | Best Supporting Actor x 2 | Best Original Music Score | Best Original Screenplay | Best Film Editing
After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby, the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command, Officer Dixon — an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence — gets involved, the battle is only exacerbated.
- Frances McDormand (Best Actress) – She’s bloody excellent as Mildred Hayes. I wouldn’t mind.
- Sam Rockwell (Best Supporting Actor) – Yes he does a great job as Dixon the racist cop. So on merit, sure be nominated. But the whole narrative around Dixon is problematic so it’s a no for the win. (Not sure if it’s fair but should we award flawed-written characters played well?)
- Woody Harrelson (Best Supporting Actor) – he’s typically Woody Harrelson good as police chief Willoughby. But I want Willem Dafoe to win this category for The Florida Project which really really should have been up for Best Picture too.
- Martin McDonagh (Best Original Screenplay) – Sigh, no. Because the script lets black folks down.
- Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh (Best Picture) – Three Billboards means well. It’s powerful and punchy and because McDormand as angry Mildred kicks arse, you could be forgiven for thinking this is an outstanding film which should win an Oscar. But there are holes all over the place. The really ill-casting of Abbie Cornish as Anne, Willoughby’s wife, she’s too young to play opposite Harrelson to be believable. Her strong Australian accent couldn’t handle the s’posed to be deep southern accent. It seemed like her agent called in a massive favour that casting couldn’t ignore. Because surely there were so many other actresses to choose from. That aside let’s focus on the story that starts off as Mildred’s but somehow ends up focusing on the poor troubled racist Dixon. Who is absolved of his racist views, and violent actions towards black folk by pulling back the lens on his overbearing mother, his struggle with alcohol and man insecurities. Boo fackin’ hoo. Nevermind Amanda Warren who plays Denise, Mildred’s only black friend who gets called the N-word and is harassed then temporarily jailed for being friends with Mildred. Then good old racist Dixon gets to save the day kinda. I mean… seriously and then the ending for all of Mildred’s brass tits… the ending… I get why it’s nominated. But it shouldn’t win.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME – Best Picture | Best Actor | Best Writing Adapted Screenplay
It’s the summer of 1983, and precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman is spending the days with his family at their 17th-century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who’s working as an intern for Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.
- Timothée Chalamet (Best Actor) – erm though his character Elio is way annoying. He is heartbreaking by the end scene. Takes a while to get it, but when you do, Chalamet did do a good job. Bit early for him, maybe in a few years time.
- James Ivory (Best Writing Adapted Screenplay) – so Ivory is 89 years old and as yet hasn’t won an Oscar after three nominations (A Room With a View; Howards End; The Remains of the Day). He adapted the story from André Aciman’s novel of the same name and it is a lovely story. I’ve not read the book but appreciate what Ivory took from it. The film is peppered with lots of rich people dialogue about their rich people interests. There’s also the moving monologue Elio receives from his father, Professor Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg). But as either Stuhlbarg or director Luca Guadagnino (sources are unclear) said in an interview “Words are part of what’s going on, but it’s not necessarily what’s going on underneath. I think this film celebrates the underneath,”… I have other interests in this category, I really want Dee Rees & Virgil Williams to win for Mudbound. I will, however, understand in typical Hollywood fashion if they gift it to Ivory.
- Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges and Marco Morabito (Best Picture) – All through watching this film I kept thinking, imagine if a black creative said, hey financiers I’ve got a film about a rich middle-class black family on holiday in Europe who will do nothing but have lengthy culture filled convos, go on picnics and to evening parties. Talk to the locals and oh, someone falls in love with someone. Exactly! Back to the matter at hand, as outlined, Call Me By Your Name is a long film mostly about nothing. Elio is a typical attention seeking, self-centred teen. I didn’t see a gentle unavoidable romance between him and Oliver (Armie Hammer) I saw a youth with too much freedom as rich kids are wont to have, pushing himself up in grown folks business. The other issue I had was that Armie Hammer looked way too old to play the 24-year-old he’s supposed to be (Hammer is 31 in real life). Chamalet, 22, is waif-like and believable as 17-year-old Elio. Which made it a difficult watch because the contrast troubled me. If it were Hammer opposite a young actress there’d be more criticism. Though there have been rumblings about the maturity of Oliver to Elio, it does feel a bit muted. After a long time of nothing, there is some poignancy. The best bit of this whole film is daddy’s monologue and Chamalet’s final scene. It’s not a surprise nomination, but I don’t think it should win.
LADY BIRD – Best Picture | Best Actress | Best Supporting Actress | Best Original Screenplay
A teenager (Saoirse Ronan) navigates a loving but turbulent relationship with her strong-willed mother (Laurie Metcalf) over the course of an eventful and poignant senior year of high school.
- Saoirse Ronan (Best Actress) – nice acting. But no.
- Laurie Metcalfe (Best Supporting Actress) – Forever love Metcalfe as Jackie in the brilliant Roseanne. Hmm. I wouldn’t be entirely bothered. But I have interests elsewhere.
- Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Evelyn O’Neill (Best Picture) – I do love a coming of age film. It’s got all the right things, angsty teenage girls with the requisite cool/nerd, chubby best friend, and bitchy popular chick. Randy hot teenage boy and sexuality confused teenage boy. Loveable dad quiet behind the noise of overbearing stressed mom. Random ethnic adopted sibling. Small town mentalities erm and that’s it really. Watchable, not amazing. Not a contender for this category.
THE POST – Best Picture | Best Actress
Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper — The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee, Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers — and very freedom — to help bring long-buried truths to light.
- Meryl Streep (Best Actress) – It’s Meryl Streep. But, it’s not a Meryl Streep level performance. Playing Katharine Graham wasn’t a challenge for her. She’s just one of many ground-breaking women Streep has played, and you can kinda tell. Love you white Viola Davis, but no not for this.
- Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger (Best Picture) – Yeah it’s okay. A little boring. Understand the nomination because of the Hollywood royalty involved but even Tom Hanks phoned in his performance. It’s a no.
GET OUT – Best Picture | Best Actor | Best Director | Best Original Screenplay
Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
- Daniel Kaluuya (Best Actor) – I mean… It’s going to be really difficult to be objective here. YES DANIEL SHOULD WIN. There’s a strong possibility he’ll lose to Gary, which I’m preparing myself for. I definitely don’t think he should lose to Timothée Chalamet or Daniel Day-Lewis. If he does lose I’d rather he lose to Denzel Washington. Overall I would die and cry if he won.
- Jordan Peele (Best Director) – obviously this would be phenomenal and well deserved. Worried because he’s up against bigwigs Guillermo Del Toro and Christopher Nolan and the other diversity contender Greta Gerwig. We’ll see.
- Jordan Peele (Best Original Screenplay) – Of all the films nominated in this category, Get Out is the most original story. So… it should.
- Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr. and Jordan Peele (Best Picture) – brilliant, epic, worthy. I don’t have many words outside of TBB’s #OutOf100 review read it here.
MUDBOUND – Best Writing Adapted Screenplay | Best Supporting Actress | Best Cinematography
Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband’s Mississippi Delta farm, a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family’s struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura’s brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not – charming and handsome, but he is haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, now battles the prejudice in the Jim Crow South.
- Mary J Blige (Best Supporting Actress) – I want her to win. For someone who has soundtracked our lives for over 20 years, Ms. Blige has evolved into a very good actress. At no time during Mudbound did I think of MJB the Queen of Hip Hop Soul. I don’t think she’ll get it because Allison Janney is almost guaranteed (and deserved) to win for her role as LaVona, in I, Tonya.
- Rachel Morrison (Best Cinematography) – beautiful work. Also, she is the first woman EVER to be nominated for an Oscar in this category, so if she wins it’ll be history. Morrison also worked on Black Panther, so right now she’s at the BBQ and we’re rooting for her. However, if she wins, it may cancel out a win for Adapted Screenplay which I really need for Rees & Williams.
- Dee Rees, Virgil Williams (Best Adapted Screenplay) – Based on the 2008 debut novel by Hillary Jordan I haven’t read the book, but I trust the narrative Rees & Williams delivered. I loved Mudbound, for being pulled together by a black woman and produced by Macro founder Charles D. King it stands up against any Oscar-qualifying film, which is why it’s been ignored for Best Picture doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not flawless, there are some sensational moments which weren’t needed. I have a feeling this will go to Call Me By Your Name, if so, I will grudgingly concede that at least Team Mudbound is Oscar-nominated. Read TBB’s #OutOf100 review of Mudbound here.
- Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq) – Very good in this role, though the film was quite flawed.. He’s up against Chalamet, Day-Lewis, Oldman, and Kaluuya. I want this to be between Kaluuya and Washington.
- STRONG ISLAND (Documentary Feature) – Harrowing and powerful story about true-crime documentary film directed by Yance Ford centred on the 1992 murder of Ford’s brother William, a 24-year-old African-American teacher in New York, who was killed by a white mechanic. An all-white jury declined to indict his killer, who claimed self-defense. I haven’t seen the films Strong Island is up against. So I can’t fairly say it should win. But it is a well made film. However, it’s not comparable to 2017’s cinematic genius of Raoul Peck’s nominated I Am Not Your Negro, nor Ezra Edelman’s Oscar-winning epic O.J.: Made in America.
SHORT (LIVE ACTION)
- DeKalb Elementary – A 911 call plays out against the backdrop of a school shooting incident in Atlanta. Powerful. Wonderfully lead by Tarra Riggs. A strong contender.
- My Nephew Emmett – At 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 28, 1955, in the most racially divided state in the country, 64-year-old Mose Wright tries to protect his 14-year-old nephew Emmett Till from two racists who are out for blood. Another strong contender. Read TBB’s #OutOf100 review here.
- Watu Wote/All of Us – a 2017 Kenyan-German, live-action short film directed by Katja Benrath, as her graduation project at Hamburg Media School and is based on the December 2015 Mandera bus attack on a bus by militant group Al-Shabaab in Kenya riding Christians and Muslims. Nicely put together.
- DEAR BASKETBALL – written by Kobe Bryant and directed by Glen Keane. The film is based on a letter Kobe Bryant wrote to The Players’ Tribune on November 29, 2015, announcing his retirement from basketball. It’s a lovely film beautifully animated.