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
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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: The Shape of Water

“It’s teal.”

The first movie my wife and I went to see after the Academy Award nominations were announced was The Shape of Water, which had 13 noms, including Best Picture. Right after we came out of the theater, I ran into a couple of friends of mine, and I utterly failed to describe what the heck this film was.

Was it magic realism? Maybe-ish. It is a cold war drama/civil rights metaphor/science fiction tale/love story. Yeah, right, that’s it. I asked my wife, and she said it was weird. That’s correct too.

Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), who cannot speak, presumably because of whatever caused the scars on her throat, is employed as a janitor in a secret high-security government laboratory. She works with her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer). They discover something they’re not supposed to know about.

There are a lot of things I liked about the movie. For instance, the relationship between Elisa and the amphibious entity (Doug Jones) who reminded me of the Creature from the Black Lagoon is lovely, especially early on, when they learn to communicate.

My favorite character was Giles (Richard Jenkins), Elisa’s neighbor, an artist who is even more isolated than she is, bemoaning aging as he watched old movies rather than the news. He has an interesting story arch.

What I didn’t much enjoy is the sadistic cartoon villainy of the facilities head, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), though he is involved in the one time I chuckled during the film. (“It’s teal.”)

There’s a sequence near the end, and I won’t describe it. But if I were sitting at home watching it on TV, I’d be screaming at the set, “Don’t do it!” And it plays out most predictably.

Also, there’s a scene where a black couple appears very briefly, designed to Make A Point. Ben Sachs of the Chicago Reader wrote: “The movie‘s worldview is as easy to like as the protagonist and her friends, but [director and co-writer Guillermo] del Toro lays it on so thick that there’s no room for counterargument or even independent thought.”

All good cinema manipulates the viewer, but I felt as though I could see the strings too obviously. I’m glad I saw The Shape of Water, I even recognize why it is so acclaimed, and I bought into the ending. But it was my least favorite of the five nominated films I’ve seen so far (3 Billboards, Lady Bird, The Post, Darkest Hour).

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