Friday, March 02, 2018

Oscar Forecast: “Three Billboards” with a Chance of Everything Else. Oy Vey.

Updated: Wow. So The Shape of Water actually pulled it off. It won Best Picture without a Best Cast SAG nomination. The only film to do that since Braveheart. BP and Director did NOT end up splitting. The film walked away with 4 total wins (Picture, Director, Score, & Production Design). Get Out did pull off a win for Jordan Peele’s script which was probably my favorite win of the evening. The acting wins went to their respective front runners and otherwise there weren’t really any surprises. The show was really fun and even if I only got 16 out of 24 correct I’m still proud to have correctly predicted the Academy, yet again, refused to award the Planet of the Apes series for their jaw dropping effects work. 

I like stats. Stats usually work. But stats are sometimes meant to be broken. And it’s gonna happen this year. Every single best picture nominee will break a stat if it wins Best Picture. I remember last year when I was losing sleep over my Oscar picks and that’s when La La Land was the unabashed frontrunner. Nothing could stop it. Not even an envelope mix-up. Oh wait. RIGHT! MOONLIGHT WON! What a crazy surprise that was huh? I was so sure nothing could upset La La Land last year (even though it didn’t have a SAG CAST nomination), and now there are about FIVE films that could possibly take best picture and I can’t for the life of me figure out which one it’s gonna be. At least I know what definitely won’t win. But that’s not helping much. And like I said, each film has something working against it. Three Billboards doesn’t have a directing nod. Only four films in Academy history have won BP without a directing nom. The Shape of Water doesn’t have a SAG cast nomination. Only ONE film in 25 years has won BP without a SAG Cast nomination (it was Braveheart). Niether Get Out nor Lady Bird have an editing nomination nor any other “tech” nods. Only one film has won BP without an editing nomination since 1980 (it was Birdman). Dunkirk also doesn’t have a SAG Cast nod, nor writing or acting nominations (it’s been 85 years since a film won without Writing and Acting  nominations). The other films are happy to be nominated. One of those stats is going bye-bye, but which one? Let’s jump in, shall we?

Best Picture

Who Will Win: “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” Where do I even begin? Except that I honestly have no clue what’s gonna win best picture. I’ve never been so unsure.  In three of the last four years Picture and Director have split. And in those three incidents I have incorrectly predicted Best Picture because I’ve always gone with whoever was going to win Best Director. Correctly predicting splits are difficult. This year I’m predicting Guillermo del Toro for Director for The Shape of Water, so technically Shape of Water should have the most obvious shot. But not so fast. In the those three years where I’ve been wrong, I’ve incorrectly predicted a film that was also snubbed in the Best Cast award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. There’s a disturbingly accurate correlation between the SAG award nominees and what ends up winning the Best Picture Oscar. And guess what? The Shape of Water wasn’t nominated there so you know what? I REFUSE TO PREDICT IT. I’m going with “Three Billboards” because it FEELS like a Best Picture winner even if it will have a tough time making it through the Academy’s annoyingly perplexing preferential ballot (this ballot, in which members rank their choices, functions to award a consensus pick, in other words, what film does a majority of the Academy like overall. As opposed to just circling a winner, in which case Three Billboards or Shape of Water would win easily. So basically, with ten potential nominees the Academy things that a film winning with less than 20% of the Academy’s vote is unfair). If not “Three Billboards” I’d say “Get Out” has a slight chance (remember when the last and only horror film to win Best Picture was The Silence of the Lambs? That film came out in February just like Get Out. Coincidence?) but I’m still not buying it as an actual winner. Same with “Lady Bird.” Heck, even “Dunkirk” could win here since it felt like an obvious choice since its summer release. So basically what I’m saying here is there are 5 strong possibilities for Best Picture, while four films (Call Me By Your Name, The Post, Phantom Thread, and Darkest Hour) have no real shot. OK I’m done with you Best Picture, you’re giving me anxiety.

Who Should Win: “Get Out.” It’s a zeitgeist film. A surprise hit. It SAYS something and entertains all at once. It feels like the movie of the moment.  Having said that, I’d truly be happy if any of the five frontrunners won.

Should Have Been Nominated: “The Big Sick” My favorite film of the year had a shot, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Best Director

Will Win: Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water.” He won the DGA. It’s hard to bet against history. Anyone else would be a surprise at this point.

Should Win: Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk.” What does this guy have to do to win a freaking Oscar already?

Should Have Been Nominated: Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.” There was no excuse for leaving his name off the list. None.

Best Actor

Will Win: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour.” The easiest of the four acting races to call this year (in a year where all four awards seem to be locked up anyways). He’s a respected actor who’s never won in a role that checks off all the traditional Academy boxes. Poor Timothee Chalamet will have other chances.

Should Win: Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name.” Chalamet’s performance is way subtler than what Oldman is doing but it’s way more impressive considering how young the kid is. What is he like 12?

Should Have Been Nominated: James Franco, “The Disaster Artist.” Even if he’s a tool, his performance was impressive and fun.

Best Actress

Will Win: Frances Mc Dormand, “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.” If Frances AND Three Billboards wins, it’ll be the first film since Million Dollar Baby that the Best Actress winner comes from the Best Picture. I’m pretty sure Frances has a second win the bag at this point. If anyone spoils I guess it’s Saoirse Ronan but that’s unlikely.

Should Win: Frances Mc Dormand, “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.” I thought everyone here was pretty great.

Should Have Been Nominated: Brooklyn Prince, “The Florida Project.” One of the more impressive child performances in quite some time.

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.” I’m pretty sure Rockwell is a lock. Willem Dafoe was the frontrunner until Rockwell started actually winning everything. Surprises happen in this category so don’t get too cocky Rockwell. Just ask Stallone. It helps that Rockwell is in a widely seen movie and Dafoe is the solo nomination for his film.

Should Win: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.”  That fact that Rockwell plays such a hateful character speaks volumes to how good his performance really is. No one said this was an easy film to like.

Should Have Been Nominated: Michael Stuhlbarg, “Call Me By Your Name.” Best. Monologue. Ever.

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya.”  Arguably the least sure thing of the acting races this year, though she’s still pretty much locked in at this point. Laurie Metcalf could pull this off, but Janney’s performance is showier while Metcalf’s is subtler. Though tell that to Mark Rylance.

Should Win: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya.”  Janney plays such an evil bitch; it has to go down as one of Oscar’s best villainous roles.

Should Have Been Nominated: Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick.” This one still stings.

And the rest:

Best Adapted Screenplay 
Will Win: “Call Me By Your Name.” The 89 year-old James Ivory is poised to win his first Oscar after many former times at bat. Probably one of the sure things of the night, but tell that to Jason Reitman for “Up in the Air” who won every single Adapted Screenplay award that year except the Oscar.

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.” If this category was called Most Original Screenplay, then sure Get Out would be a shoo-in. This is really a race to watch as pretty much any of the nominees could win, with the probable exception being “The Big Sick.” I’m pretty certain that if Three Billboards wins this it’s going all the way. The last Best Picture winner to not win for its Screenplay was “The Artist” which didn’t have dialogue. Also, watch for Get Out, a legitimate threat. It really has to win here if it’s going all the way. (Though it could still win here and literally anything could win BP).

Best Animated Feature Film
Will Win: “Coco.” It’s Pixar. Good Pixar. Moving on.

Best Cinematography
Will Win: “Blade Runner 2049.” Could this really be Roger Deakins’ year? I guess so?? There’s something that’s telling me that “Dunkirk’s” thrilling IMAX footage or love of “The Shape of Water” might actually take this. This is a category I’m excited about.

Best Costume Design
Will Win: “Phantom Thread.” This is probably Phantom Thread’s only real shot at a win (with a possibility of Best Score, but we’ll get to that). It’s interesting to note that the last nine winners of this award have also at least been nominated for Best Production Design (previously Art Direction). There’s sometimes a correlation between the two but I think Phantom Thread will still pull it off.  There’s a chance that something like Beauty and the Beast could win here but I don’t know that the film is liked or respected enough (though that didn’t stop the borderline garish “Alice in Wonderland” from winning 2 Oscars).

Best Documentary - Feature
Will Win: “Faces Places.” The frontrunner in this category, “Jane,” isn’t even nominated which makes things a little fuzzy. Unless some late-breaking news about the director of “Last Men in Aleppo” being denied a visa to attend the Oscars got enough people to get riled up, I think 89 year old documentarian Agnes Varda (the oldest nominee ever) will probably win her first competitive Oscar (She was just honored with an honorary award in the fall). “Icarus” has the power of Netflix behind it, and its  Russian doping storyline is certainly timely. Anything can happen here.

Best Documentary - Short Subject
Will Win: “Edith+Eddie.” I’m torn between this depressing tale of really old people in love and “Heroin(e)” because it’s readily available on Netflix. These shorts categories are always tough to call since so few members actually watch them and vote. I think people will respond to “Heaving is a Traffic Jam on the 405” but I found the film rather distancing. For what it’s worth, there is no film about the Holocaust this time.

Best Film Editing
Will Win: “Baby Driver.” This category is always ripe for an upset. There are certain types of films that usually win here, whether it’s a war film (like last year’s “Hacksaw Ridge”) or a frenetic action film (like “The Borne Ultimatum”). The Academy also isn’t afraid to award this film to a non-Best Picture nominee though the last five winners were up for the night’s big prize. I’m going out on a limb for “Baby Driver” which recently won at BAFTA (which correctly predicted the last two most recent surprise winners). While Dunkirk feels like the obvious pick, I’m worried that the film’s fragmented editing style is more confusing to Academy members than showy.

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: “A Fantastic Woman.” The Academy made a political statement with last year’s winner. A win for “A Fantastic Woman” would be the first win for Chile. But watch out for “The Square” which is the other most well-known of the nominees.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Will Win: “Darkest Hour.”
 Last year everyone was surprised that a film as horrendous as “Suicide Squad” could actually win an Academy Award no matter how good the particular craft was. This time it will easily go to “Darkest Hour” which completely transformed Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill. I’d be shocked if either of the other two won here.

Best Original Score
Will Win: “The Shape of Water.” The Academy likes to reward newcomers in this category which is why “Phantom Thread” feels like a possible spoiler. The Academy also loves a good string score (tell that to Thomas Newman who lost for his amazing American Beauty score to The Red Violin). I think previous winner Alexandre Desplat is poised for his second trip to the podium for his memorable work in “The Shape of Water” though I found that the music in “Dunkirk” is what really drove much of the dialogue-less film – and the Academy may recognize that as well.

Best Original Song
Will Win: This is Me, “The Greatest Showman.” It’s not impossible for a movie to win on its only nomination here. “Spectre” pulled off somewhat of a shock win here two years ago. I think the surprise popularity of “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack will prevail against the plot-significant  and memorable Remember Me from “Coco.”  If This is Me wins, its writers Pasek & Paul will be the Tom Hanks of song composers with back-to-back wins.

Best Production Design
Will Win: “The Shape of Water.” I think the flooded room sequence is enough to get Academy members to vote for “The Shape of Water” even if that was more of a visual effect. Sometimes the Academy confuses Producting Design with Production Value after all (I know, I know, no one said they’re the smartest people in the world). I guess the futuristic sets of “Blade Runner 2049” could pull off a win here, but it is “Beauty and the Beast” and its relevant Costume Design nomination we all must watch out for.

Best Short Film – Animated
Will Win: “Garden Party.”
Most pundits seem to be picking Kobe Bryant’s cute but short and self-indulgent “Dear Basketball” but I’m going with the dark-themed, lifelike animated frogs. Pixar’s in the mix with “Lou” but I don’t think it’s strong enough to prevail.

Best Short Film – Live Action
Will Win: “Dekalb Elementary.”
A timely film about a school shooter. “The Eleven O’Clock” is the only comedy in the group which gives it an edge.

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: “Dunkirk.” They went sci-fi last year with “Arrival” so I’m thinking they’ll check off the war film this time.

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: “Dunkirk.” Sometimes these sound categories are split between two films and sometimes they’re given to the same film. Usually because many members don’t even know the difference. If there’s a spoiler look to either “Blade Runner 2049” or even “Baby Driver” whose sound design was integral to the film’s success and even figured into the plot.

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: “Blade Runner 2049.” The Academy has been shamefully neglectful of the new Planet of the Apes series. The effects in these films are jaw-dropping and have improved with each entry. It’s mind-boggling that they’ve never been rewarded. But if they didn’t before I don’t think they will now (though it COULD happen as many are predicting). This award tends to go to a Best Picture nominee when there is one (there isn’t this year) and “Blade Runner 2049” feels the most like a Best Pic nominee with 5 nods total. Besides, the film recently won at the BAFTAs as well.

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