A FEW NOTES BEFORE WE START:
Before we even get into anything, let me preface things by saying that this is one of those years like the 84th Academy Awards where I just don't find damn near anything to be interesting, and I not only haven't seen almost any of these movies, but I really can't see myself sitting through them because I know I won't like them.
This is because there seems to be two motivating factors behind the nominations this year: it's either a boring historical drama (like always), or it's some kind of political statement where the movie probably is being revered for its subject material rather than the film's execution itself.
Example, I hear outcries that Wonder Woman should have been nominated for Best Picture. If you replace the lead protagonist with a male, you'd all come to the realization that the movie isn't really all that good. I agree 100% that the film is important because it helps break barriers as far as having a female director and being a female-led superhero film, but that doesn't mean it matches up to The Shawshank Redemption. Please.
If a movie looks good enough to me, with or without an agenda, I'll see it. I really enjoyed Hidden Figures and Fences last year. I didn't, in retrospect, enjoy Moonlight as much and didn't want it to win Best Picture. A combination of these from this year is Battle of the Sexes, which I thought looked kind of interesting and it's not only a historical piece, but it's also about female empowerment. I didn't see it yet, but then again, I haven't seen Blade Runner 2049 or Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle either, and I wanted to see those, so...
I look at the list of nominees from this year and outside of a few examples, they all look to me like they were nominated because someone read the synopsis and said "I like the message that's going for" or "that seems like it would be an Oscar thing" rather than "I like this movie as a whole better than every other movie this year in comparison."
Get Out was fun as hell, and I enjoyed The Shape of Water and I liked I, Tonya more than I thought I would (but I'm glad it wasn't nominated for Best Picture). I'll probably try to watch some of these movies, even if I have to shut them off midway through.
Lastly, I just want to point out that when it comes to any "artsy fartsy" movie, as some would describe them—particularly those that fall under the Oscar-bait categories I'm talking about here—they don't stand the test of time. Nobody is talking about Brooklyn. Nobody ever brings up The King's Speech as the best movie ever. Have you heard anyone say a damn thing about The Artist or Moonrise Kingdom?
No. You didn't. Unless you're part of the film community that turns its nose to anything "mainstream" and revels in the idea that you're so much more sophisticated and classy.
Spotlight is a movie I didn't enjoy and I never need to watch again and wish I had that time back. Les Misérables was surprisingly delightful. Shit happens.
CHECKLIST OF MOVIES BELOW:
* = I've seen the film
(#) = number of total nominations
* The Shape of Water (13)
* Dunkirk (8)
* Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (7)
Darkest Hour (6)
Phantom Thread (6)
Blade Runner 2049 (5)
Lady Bird (5)
Call Me by Your Name (4)
* Get Out (4)
* Star Wars: The Last Jedi (4)
Baby Driver (3)
* I, Tonya (3)
Beauty and the Beast (2)
The Post (2)
Victoria & Abdul (2)
All the Money in the World (1)
* Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (1)
* Kong: Skull Island (1)
* Logan (1)
Loving Vincent (1)
Molly's Game (1)
Roman J. Israel, Esq. (1)
The Big Sick (1)
The Boss Baby (1)
The Breadwinner (1)
* The Disaster Artist (1)
The Florida Project (1)
The Greatest Showman (1)
War for the Planet of the Apes (1)
THOUGHTS AND PREDICTIONS:
Now, onto my predictions, which I'll be updating as time goes on and I potentially watch any of these movies.
THOUGHTS: I think Get Out can be ruled out. I enjoyed it, but it's not Best Picture. The Shape of Water stands a chance, but I can see a couple other things taking it out of the competition. I don't think Dunkirk deserves it, or is really even in the discussion, as the same movie without the context of it being a war film which also happens to be directed by Christopher Nolan would probably get zero attention in comparison to what it got. Having not seen Darkest Hour or The Post or Call Me by Your Name or Phantom Thread or Lady Bird, but not seeing much of a point to really watch them as they probably stand not chance, I definitely put Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as the favorite, for sure.
PREDICTION: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
THOUGHTS: We can probably rule out Denzel Washington, who I think gets a nomination for basically being just always rock solid. Daniel Day-Lewis might be more of an honorary thing. Daniel Kaluuya was a total shock for me, and he won't win. This is really between Chalamet and Oldman, and I think it's a matter of whether the voters want to go with the story of the young kid with the positive message or if they want to go with pure acknowledgment. No nomination for James Franco for The Disaster Artist, though, which is surprising considering his Golden Globe win. Nothing for Tom Hanks for The Post, either.
PREDICTION: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour
THOUGHTS: This is going to Frances McDormand. C'mon. Sally Hawkins is a nomination for recognition. Margot Robbie is a motivator of "we know you're killing it, keep up the good work" and the same applies to Saoirse Ronan. Meryl Streep is just Meryl Streep so she always has her name on this list. This is a one woman race, though.
PREDICTION: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
THOUGHTS: The fact that two men are nominated for the same movie makes me think one of them will win, if not just by pure statistics, and between the two, Sam Rockwell is in the film longer and has a more dynamic character, overall. I don't think Richard Jenkins has it, even though I liked his character a lot in The Shape of Water. I'm also not sure if the Christopher Plummer nomination was because he's going to win it or because they just want to acknowledge how he stepped into a production so late and rushed a performance and somehow pulled it off. Personally, I think someone who was skipped over was Paul Walter Hauser for I, Tonya. He stole that movie to me and nailed his character to a ridiculous level.
PREDICTION: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
THOUGHTS: Frankly, I don't see why Octavia Spencer was nominated. I don't think Lesley Manville has this for the same reason as Mary J. Blige—I haven't heard anything about their performances, so either I'm totally out of the loop on those two, or they must not be that great. To me, this is probably between Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf, and honestly, I don't know which one stands out more (mostly because I didn't see Metcalf's performance)...but because of her Golden Globe win, I'll go with Allison Janney.
PREDICTION: Allison Janney for I, Tonya
THOUGHTS: This is an extremely hard one to call. Don't count out Jordan Peele. I don't think it will be Christopher Nolan or Paul Thomas Anderson, but they aren't out of the running by any means. If I had to pick, I'd go with Guillermo del Toro, but with the whole political climate going on right now, Greta Gerwig might win just because she's a woman and that could give her some extra votes from people who could have seen the exact same movie and if it were directed by a man, wouldn't vote for it. Then again, there still might be people who vote AGAINST her purely because she's a woman, so maybe that will balance itself out in the most ridiculous way because neither political vote judges the film itself.
PREDICTION: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
THOUGHTS: These are some of the hardest to predict, as they can go one way or the other. Either they go to the exact same movies that win everything else like Best Picture, or they go to the runner-up as a consolation prize. Did The Big Sick get the nomination and that's good enough? I can see the same thing happening with Get Out, but in the past, when I've been hesitant to trust the oddball choice, I've been proven wrong, so maybe I need to give some credit where it is due that it might happen, especially since it won for the Writers Guild of America Awards.
PREDICTION: Get Out
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
THOUGHTS: Copy and paste what I said about Original Screenplay and the whole consolation prize idea, but since only one of these films is nominated for Best Picture, I think that narrows it down quite a bit. If that happens and it's a statement, they could go with something other than Call Me By Your Name, but that's the one I think stands out. It's nice to see Logan get some love as the first comic book movie to get a serious nomination in a long time. I still don't get how Captain America: The Winter Soldier didn't earn this category nomination a few years ago and I'm bummed about that.
PREDICTION: Call Me By Your Name
BEST FILM EDITING
THOUGHTS: Good lord, I have no idea. I'm going to assume that if something was nominated for this and not much else, it must stand out, which means Baby Driver could get the win, even though that might just mean they liked it enough to nominate it. I don't think it will be I, Tonya or Three Billboards and I think I can even rule out The Shape of Water. I think this goes to Dunkirk even though I wasn't a fan of it having a split narrative and confusing timeline.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
THOUGHTS: Not only am I surprised Kong: Skull Island got on this list, I'm also shocked Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets didn't get nominated as I've heard that that is gorgeous. Maybe I'm bitter about the story told in Star Wars: The Last Jedi but I don't even want it to win this award and I'll argue that Leia floating through space was enough of a reason to ignore it even if the rest of the movie looked pretty great and just fell flat in other ways. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 should be skipped, I think, since it all feels a bit too fake. I haven't seen War for the Planet of the Apes, and I can imagine a world where they give this award to that in honor of all the CGI work they've done with the apes over the course of the three films, but I'm definitely leaning toward Blade Runner 2049 being the most obvious pick here.
PREDICTION: Blade Runner 2049
THOUGHTS: Cinematography isn't the same animal as Visual Effects, but they do have some parallels and it isn't crazy to think Blade Runner 2049 could win both. It's interesting, though, that that's the only one to get nominated for both awards, which helps its chances. Dunkirk wouldn't be too too shocking, nor would The Shape of Water.
PREDICTION: Blade Runner 2049
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
THOUGHTS: Blade Runner 2049 and The Shape of Water seem like bigger feats to me than Dunkirk as we've seen a million war films already. Beauty and the Beast...well, they had the animated film for reference. Darkest Hour isn't something that has as much work to need done on it than the first two I mentioned, so I think it's between them.
PREDICTION: The Shape of Water
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
THOUGHTS: I never seem to get this one right, so don't bet any money on me being correct. My gut instinct is to say Beauty and the Beast because they love their dresses, but they also love their period pieces and that's just going to screw with my mind and make me second guess myself. Victoria & Abdul seems like it would strike a lot of chords. Phantom Thread is literally about clothes, though...
PREDICTION: Phantom Thread
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
THOUGHTS: Um....I have no idea what Victoria & Abdul is. Wonder doesn't strike me as the thing that would beat out Darkest Hour considering the buzz Gary Oldman has. If the makeup didn't work, he wouldn't be in such high contention for Best Actor.
PREDICTION: Darkest Hour
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
THOUGHTS: Hans Zimmer tends to always do great work, but nothing stood out to me from Dunkirk, John Williams used to be amazing but is kind of phoning it in lately in my opinion, and I don't remember any of the score for Three Billboards even though I just got done watching it a few minutes before writing this. The Shape of Water didn't have anything astounding to me, but I do remember it resonating more than the rest.
PREDICTION: Alexandre Desplat for The Shape of Water
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
THOUGHTS: The only two that I've heard any buzz about are "Remember Me" from Coco and "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman. In the past, that's been a good indicator of which has the advantage going into the voting, but I've been surprised before. Given the choices, I think "This is Me" might win since that film isn't nominated for anything else, so that must stand out a bit. Plus, it is a musical after all, so it better do its job right. But, hell, I'm really tossing a coin here and I don't feel confident at all that it isn't just going to Coco.
PREDICTION: "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman
BEST SOUND EDITING
THOUGHTS: There's no difference whatsoever in the nominees. It's the same playing field of five films, and so often, whatever wins ends up taking both. At this point, I don't know why they don't just combine these categories into a Best Sound Design category, but someone who is more knowledgeable can explain that to me. Keep in mind that while I know there is a distinction to the job, I don't understand how Best Visual Effects can be combined instead of differentiating Best Practical Effects and Best CGI since those blend together, while Editing/Mixing is a blend. Anyway, Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk to me have better chances than The Shape of Water and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Since it's a war film and from what I've heard, the emphasis is on the battles and not on any story, I'm going to lean towards Dunkirk.
BEST SOUND MIXING
THOUGHTS: Look up.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
THOUGHTS: Really? The Lego Batman Movie doesn't get a nomination??? Come on! The Boss Baby and Ferdinand look so stupid to me, I've literally never heard of The Breadwinner or Loving Vincent and that means Coco wins by default.
THE REST OF THE CATEGORIES
Best Animated Short Film
Best Documentary Feature
Best Documentary Short Subject
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Live Action Short Film
THOUGHTS: These are the categories that I never know anything about. Everything listed is a completely foreign entity to me, so I typically go into the ceremony not having seen a single still image of the films. It's always a total shot in the dark as I basically either decide not to try to predict them at all, or I pick one at random. I have no idea which movies should have been nominated but weren't, which films should not have been nominated but were, or anything else like that. Essentially, I could put all of them up on a dart board and whatever I hit, those are my picks, and I'd probably do just as well as if I tried to guess blindly on my own merits. If you know anything about any of those films, feel free to enlighten me in the comments section so I can try to check them out if I can get access to any of them before the ceremony takes place.
Last year, we saw a distinct response to the #OscarsSoWhite situation and with this year's primary focus seemingly shifting to the LGBT community and women empowerment, I don't know how that's going to factor in on a grander scope. I assume that will be the focal point of the speeches, but as far as the awards themselves, I don't know if it will translate to wins and losses. If we see Lady Bird killing it, then we know it did, because holy shit, I shut that movie off at the 3:12 mark and didn't want to see a single second more as I felt like it would be wasting my time with pointless angst that I've already seen before. If we see Get Out sweeping, we know #OscarsSoWhite is still prevalent. Then again, maybe this is going to be one of those years where everything is so random because there aren't standout obvious choices for anything, so the people like myself who are trying to guess what other people are thinking have no ability to jump into their brains and guess correctly. I'm just glad Star Wars: The Last Jedi wasn't nominated for Best Picture as I clearly had my problems with it.
TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!