Academy Award nominations for 2017

I wish The Florida Project had gotten more love

Life being what it is, I’ve only seen six of the nine Best Picture nominations so far. That won’t keep me from picking who will, and should, win. I’ll limit this to the major categories.

Worse, I have watched ZERO of the five animated feature flicks, though I wanted to see the inevitable winner, Coco, and Loving Vincent, which looked fascinating in previews.

Links to my reviews at first mention:

Best Picture:

Call Me by Your Name (pictured)
*Darkest Hour
Get Out – getting buzz after Writers’ Guild award
*Lady Bird – with ranked voting, and some people hating Shape of Water and/or Three Billboards, this, or Get Out, could actually win
*Phantom Thread
*The Post
*The Shape of Water
*Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – my personal favorite

Lead Actor:

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
*Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
*Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour – will win, and probably should
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Lead Actress: I’ve seen then all!

*Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
*Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – my pick, and will likely win
*Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
*Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
*Meryl Streep, The Post

Supporting Actor:

*Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project – wish this film had gotten more love
*Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
*Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water – my favorite performance in that film
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World – best replacement actor at the last minute, standing in for Kevin Spacey
*Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – he’s deserving of the win he’ll likely get

Supporting Actress:

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
*Allison Janney, I, Tonya – will and should win
*Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread – she was very good
*Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird – so was she
*Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water


Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
Get Out, Jordan Peele
*Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig – I’m rooting for the first-time director
*Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
*The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro – won the Director’s Guild award, which makes him a virtual lock

Adapted Screenplay:

Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory – it’s the only Best Picture nominee in the lineup, and Ivory is 89
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter, and Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank and James Mangold, and Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees – if it isn’t Ivory…
Original Screenplay:

*The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – I was rather fond of this
Get Out, Jordan Peele – I’m picking the one film I didn’t see to win
*Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
*The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor – suffers from a recent plagiarism allegation
*Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh
Did the Oscars Blow Its Big Bet?

Bess Flowers – She appeared in 5 Oscar-winning films and appeared in 23 Oscar-nominated films. She worked with all the best directors. Plus a lot more movies, TV and commercials. And 25 Three Stooges shorts.

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Movie review: Darkest Hour (2017)

Gary Oldman delivers a tremendous performance in Dunkirk, aided by impressive makeup.

The good news is that The Daughter wanted to go see Darkest Hour, the 2017 film not to be confused with several other films with the same or similar titles. The bad news is that she kept referring to it as “the film with “that guy.” The good news is that after we saw it this month at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, she now knows who “that guy” is.

In May 1940, when World War II had overtaken most of western Europe, Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup), the Prime Minister from the ruling Conservative party lost the confidence of the opposition Labour. While Tory loyalists wanted Lord Halifax (Stephen Dillane), the only Conservative who could sway the opposition into a governing pact was an opinionated blowhard of excess named Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman).

Churchill could be quite difficult, as his secretary Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) discovered early on. Even King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) admitted to being a little afraid of the pugnacious new Prime Minister. Only his equally strong-willed wife Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) could tame him sometimes, and even she could become exasperated by his excesses.

This is a story of political intrigue. As the news from Europe worsened, how would Britain respond, especially since there were troops on the Continent? Should they negotiate with Hitler, as Chamberlain, disastrously by most accounting, had done so regarding Czechoslovakia? Should the king be whisked away to Canada? Or should the country fight, despite the incredible odds?

Gary Oldman delivers a tremendous performance, aided by impressive makeup. My favorite scenes involve him and Scott Thomas, who show that, despite it all, a great love between Winston and Clemmie. Also very good is Lily James.

Interestingly, I had received, after the fact, an invitation to see Darkest Hour at Hillsdale College in Michigan, suggesting that the conservative facility was giving its imprimatur to the film.

It DOES make me wish I had seen the 2017 movie Dunkirk, which addresses the battle from the side of the fighters, not just the politicians that put them at risk. This is no knock on Darkest Hour, which was telling the story from a different POV, some fictionalized, although a share of the criticism of Darkest Hour did draw comparisons, some unfavorable, to Dunkirk.

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