After last year’s ceremony, I initially thought that I was not going to watch this year’s show. The past few years have been incredibly disheartening with regards to the nominations and the winners; even the cast of Moonlight couldn’t get onstage without a fiasco last year. Perhaps the Academy Awards have always been full of missteps, but maybe I was just younger and didn’t notice the snubs. I wasn’t questioning it when Crash won Best Picture at the 78th Oscars, but my have I scratched my head over that choice (and several others) many a time in the years since. So this year I’ve decided I’m just going to weigh in and critique it like I’ve always done – and hopefully feel ultimately vindicated by my spot on predictions.
And this year was not lacking in excellent films that pushed the boundaries of what we consume in pop culture. Of all the films I saw from 2017, nothing impressed me more than Jordan Peele’s Get Out. It was not only topical, but on its own the film is an excellent horror. In recent years, horror –especially indie horror – has been receiving more and more overdue praise. The Academy has notoriously snubbed the horror genre since its inception; only a handful of horror films have ever received praise, and only a smattering of that small group received directorial nominations.
This of course is my long-winded way of saying I desperately want Get Out to sweep all the categories: Picture, Lead Actor, Director, Original Screenplay – but especially Peele for Best Director. It would be an incredible win at the start of his directorial career, not to mention important for the Hollywood community as a whole. And Kaluuya deserves the award for his moment succumbing to the Sunken Place alone, and for perfecting the art of the OPT – one perfect tear – with two perfect tears. It was enough to steal the crown from the current raining champ, Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles. My hope is that the win would tip the scales in the genre’s favor and push the Academy towards nominating more similar films.
Another winning pair I anticipate to grace the stage is Allison Janney and Margot Robbie for Best Supporting Actress and Lead Actress, respectively, for their mother/daughter performances in the biopic I, Tonya, about the disgraced former Olympic figure skater. While I haven’t gotten a chance to see the film myself, both actresses are incredibly talented in their own right. Janey is a veteran character actress, currently starring on CBS’s Mom. And Robbie continues to take on more interesting, out of the box roles and she has more than proven her adaptability; it’s actually hard to believe she played Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad just a couple years ago.
Supporting Actor is a difficult category, but I really think it belongs to Willem Dafoe for his role in The Florida Project. Again, I haven’t seen it yet but I think Dafoe has earned an award for playing just a regular old dude after a career built upon playing weirdoes and degenerates. Of course, to the same token, the award could go to Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water for playing an adorable, closeted gay man in the 1960s, but it’s more likely going to go to Sam Rockwell for his performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Best Adapted Screenplay should go to James Ivory’s Call Me By Your Name – and that is based solely on my intuition that both the source material and the film are impressive pieces of work, despite my not having experienced either of them. But folks, trust me on this one.
Though I never know which way the category will actually go, this year I think the Sound Mixing and Editing awards belong to the musically choreographed stylings of Baby Driver. No film had a better opening credit sequence this year, and it was all due to Edgar Wright’s vision coming alive in the editing room. In a similar vein, I am putting my bets on Denis Villeneuve’s big budget reboot Blade Runner 2049 to sweep Visual Effects alongside the film’s exceptional Cinematography. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Dunkirk slips in to win Film Editing.
Production Design will likely go to del Toro’s The Shape of Water for his always otherworldly, fantastical vision. Though I have not listened to all the Original Scores nominated this year, Alexandre Desplat’s score for The Shape of Water evokes the ethereal, sweeping romance on the surface juxtaposing it with the darkness underneath.
Bryan Fogel’s Documentary Icarus engrossed me, despite it not at all playing out the way I thought it would. Following the recent Russian doping scandal, it took a bunch of unexpected twists and turns and I really enjoyed it. However, it is probable that Agnes Varda’s documentary Faces Places will take the award. Despite being the oldest nominee is the history of the Academy and being honored this year for her lifetime contribution to film, Agnes Varda could not care less about her nomination. After she received the nomination, she cheekily sent a cardboard cutout of herself to the Oscars luncheon, easily becoming one of my favorite people ever.
Netflix’s Herion(e) was incredibly moving and unusually uplifting for a short film about the fatal opioid epidemic. I admire the women immensely who are spending their time and money helping people who have found themselves in a difficult position in life. Despite the despair and grand scale of the opioid epidemic, these women are doing everything in their power to keep their community as safe as it can be, under the circumstances. It would be fantastic if it won the award for Short Subject Documentary.
CoCo will likely win Animated film, and though I have not seen any of them – including this one – I think that film is a sure bet. As for the Animated Short, I expect the niche film Negative Space, about a boy and his father bonding over packing suitcases, to clinch the win this year.
Another film I have heard excellent things about, but have not yet seen (are you getting the theme this year?), is the Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman, which is up for best Foreign Language film; I would be very surprised if it did not win.
And though I am most definitely not an expert in costuming, I think its safe to say that a film about a famous dressmaker might be at the top of the list; Mark Bridge’s Costume Design for Phantom Thread is likely to take the crown. Also, anyone who can make Gary Oldman look like Winston Churchill deserves an award for Makeup and Hairstyling.
So despite knowing that my favorites will not all win, I do like Jimmy Kimmel so I am going watch the ceremony – provided I can stream it somewhere… It also doesn’t hurt that I have money riding on my choices to be right, but to be clear: the ones I want to win are probably not going to be my picks for the ones who actually do win the statuettes this year. So if you’re trying to ascertain my guesses from this, try again!