Tag Archives: Oscars

My Predictions For the 2019 Academy Awards

Chocolate Oscar

It’s interesting that this year’s Oscars are being held the second Sunday of February. Usually they’re held the last Sunday or the first Sunday of March in a Winter Olympic year. It was pretty evident will all my cramming of my Best Picture reviews. I didn’t start until three weeks to go and I didn’t think I could review all nine in time. But I did! The last of the Best Picture reviews I posted on Wednesday. Next year they’ll be going back to the last Sunday of February. So hopefully reviewing them all will be a lot more relaxed.

Anyways I’m able to make predictions for this year’s Oscars. I’m even able to make some calls for what should win in some categories. I’ve seen enough films to make up 96 of the 124 nominations. They range from single-nomination films like Knives Out to Joker with the most nominations with eleven in total. Most categories have been very predictable with the same film or same effort winning film award after film award. That could help me with my Oscar bingo I’ll be playing once again this Sunday! However there are a few that appear unpredictable. So without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2019 Academy Awards:

BEST PICTURE

Oscar nominees

All credit to Olly Gibbs for that excellent image of this year’s nominees. This year has a wide range of film among the nine nominees. Two are set during World Wars. Two are written and directed by a Hollywood couple. Four have had a domestic gross at the box office of over $100 million. Two are films that got moved to NetFlix after an initial box-office release. One is done by a master of gangster movies and another is done by his heir apparent, but not a gangster movie at all. One is a modern-day adaptation of a classic novel. One is a fictional account of a cartoon villain. One is of car racing. One is of a failing marriage. One if of classic Hollywood. One is of Hitler through a child’s eyes. One is a possible answer to a popular whodunit. One is of a journey during war. And one is of an impoverished family trying to break free. All are seen worthy of being nominated in the Best Picture category this year. So here is my rundown of the Best Picture nominees:

1917 – War movies usually win the Academy over, as long as they’re done well. This has been the darling of most awards shows. I predict this as my Will Win pick. I myself admire it for its cinematography and it’s storytelling, but it’s not the film I most want to win Best Picture. Usually for Best Picture, I feel it should have much of the best of the year in the three top categories: acting, directing and writing.

Ford v Ferrari – Very rarely do auto racing movies get nominated for Best Picture. This is more than an auto racing film. It’s about those that were behind the big moment and the family relation of the racer who was shunned behind. Definitely a crowd-pleaser, but it doesn’t look like an Academy-pleaser.

The Irishman – What can I say? This is the film in which I most want to win because this is a film that went above and beyond what I expected out of it. I admire films that go above and beyond what I expect. Plus it had top-notch acting, directing and writing. However it lost a lot of its energy it had back in November. That’s why I think it won’t win.

Jojo Rabbit – This is one movie that would normally not be Best Picture material. I have to say of all nine Best Picture nominees, this is my favorite. This is the most entertaining of the nine. However I know how to separate my personal favorite from the films I feel are the best. Besides I know how stodgy the Academy is towards comedies.

Joker – Last year was something how a superhero movie finally got a Best Picture nomination. This year is a case of a story of the genesis of a villain won crowds and won movie awards. This is an impressive story too. However I feel that it faces stiff competition in the Best Picture race from other films.

Little Women – To think this is the first Little Women adaptation to be nominated for Best Picture! I can’t complain at all as the film took some different twists and it came out a winning story. I admire the way it was directed, written and acted, but there are films that have more boost in this competition.

Marriage Story – Sometimes all it takes to win people is a story that connects with people. That’s the magic of Marriage Story. This film’s best qualities are the acting and writing. However this is another film that appears prone to fall under the weight of bigger competition. Plus this being on NetFlix may be an additional reason why its chances were hurt.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood – This is one salute to the Golden Age of Hollywood with a twist. Also it will cause a lot of people to reassess their definition of what a Quentin Tarantino movie is. I know my parents still think Tarantino movies are all ‘blood and guts’ but this film shows a side of Quentin most people overlook. I do rank this as a film in the Top 3 most expected to win, but it’s not my top pick. I think its summer release may have caused it to lose much of its buzz.

Parasite – This is definitely the foreign-language film of the year. Undisputed! This is my Should Win pick because this film has accomplished more than any of the other nine Best Picture nominees. It’s a case once again that the best film of the year is not in the English-language. However I’m very doubtful it will win. I remember last year Roma was the best film but it lost out to Green Book. That solidified my belief the Academy will never make a foreign-language film a Best Picture winner.

I know a lot of people often think the Academy Awards are a case of Hollywood patting itself on the back. One can say an excellent example of this was last year when Roma lost Best Picture to Green Book. If Once Upon A Time In Hollywood wins this, then it will further prove their point. I am very doubtful Parasite will win. However if 1917 wins, it won’t look like Hollywood patting itself on the back because it’s a British film!

BEST DIRECTOR

Should Win: Bong Joon-ho – Parasite

Will Win: Sam Mendes – 1917

I chose Bong Joon-ho naturally. Most people feel the common belief that The winner for Best Director should be the director of the Best Picture winner. It happens over 70% of the time at the Oscars. As a result my Best Director pick for Should Win is from the same film as my Should Win for Best Picture. I feel it’s right since Parasite is the film I admire most and it’s Bong who made it happen. I feel it will go to Sam Mendes because of his past awards success this year. Nevertheless I would not be disappointed if it did because 1917 is a film that’s worth admiring.

BEST ACTOR

Should Win and Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

What can I say? It’s not just about being widely praised as the acting performance of the year but of the movie role of the year. Nobody — not even the most loyal of Batman fans — expected Joker to be the film that it is. It’s a film that not only tells the story of the emergence of the Joker, the chaos of Gotham City and the genesis of Batman, but it takes one into the mind of Arthur Fleck. One knew that Arthur would snap any minute. What can I say? One could argue that it’s Joaquin that single-handedly made the work!

BEST ACTRESS

Should Win and Will Win: Renee Zellweger – Judy

I never reviewed Judy in my blog after I saw it back in November. It’s an excellent story of a period in the last year of Judy Garland’s life. It focuses on her attempt for a comeback and how it appeared showbiz took everything out of her. It also flashed back to her childhood and how she was raised to think that a normal life that the other girls were having is for mortals. Renee was excellent in embodying Judy as she looked like a person who just couldn’t come to terms with herself and even feared what she would mostly be remembered for. Renee was spot on in epitomizing Judy from the voice, to the singing to the hostile attitude to the troubled personality to even writing left-handed.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Should Win: Joe Pesci – The Irishman

Will Win: Brad Pitt – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

One thing about this year’s acting nominees. A lot of people talked about the lack of racial diversity. That is true, and I even reminded people in social media of Spielberg saying the Academy is like a member-only club.

As for actors, another lack of diversity is that only six nominations went to performances from five actors who were never nominated before. For Supporting Actor, this is normally a ‘newbie-friendly’ category but all five have been nominated before in the past and only Brad Pitt has never won an Oscar. That appears likely to change as he is the heavy favorite to win for his scene-stealing in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Actually Brad has enough screen time to qualify for the Best LEAD Actor category! However I would be likely to go with Joe Pesci for his portrayal as a mob boss who appears like a father figure. Nevertheless Sunday will be Brad’s moment.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Should Win and Will Win: Laura Dern – Marriage Story

Some performances nominated for Supporting Actor/Actress are usually lead roles that are ‘politicked’ as supporting roles, like I I mentioned about Brad Pitt earlier. Some supporting acting nominations and wins are because they’re good at stealing the show from the lead actors. And some nominations and wins in the supporting acting categories can also be because they do an excellent job of character acting. That’s why I have no problem with Laura Dern winning. She made you hate Nora! She did an excellent job as the manipulative sly-talking lawyer and she made her character of Nora almost look like she was a snake!  Actors are taught about even using animal-like behaviors to enhance characters. This award is Laura’s for the taking. And on the day before her 53rd birthday to boot!

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Should Win: Boon Jong-ho – Parasite

Will Win: Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

If there’s one major category that I feel will be the hardest to predict, it’s actually both screenplay categories. Lately some of the award shows have given alternating views on who they think is the best. I agree with what Bong Joon-ho said in his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes: “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you’ll be introduced to so many more amazing films.” I agree, but I doubt if the Academy agrees. Roma may have won last year, but I don’t think they’ll make it two in a row.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Should Win: Steve Zaillian – The Irishman

Will Win: Greta Gerwig – Little Women

It’s interesting that Greta and her common-law partner Noah Baumbach are both nominated for screenplays this year. I had to go with The Irishman on this one because it’s a complex story that Zaillian is able to make work. I think they will give it to Great for putting a new twist to a story that’s been adapted numerous times. I think the biggest upset could come from Jojo Rabbit, but I’m still set on Little Women.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Will Win: Toy Story 4

This year I did not see any of the nominated films. I only saw three animated films and none of them got nominated here. Even though Klaus won the Annie Award and the BAFTA, I have a feeling Disney is going to take it again. This is the one category Disney wants to win most. wouldn’t that be something if Toy Story 4 loses to a NetFlix film?

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

Should Win and Will Win: Parasite (South Korea)

For those wondering, this is a new title for the category that used to be called Best Foreign Language Film. This year I saw four of the five nominees in this category, which is extremely rare for me. The others I saw are Pain And Glory, Honeyland and Corpus Christi. That means I can also make a ‘should win’ judgement in this category. It’s safe to say Parasite is the foreign-language film of the year. Also Honeyland makes history as the first documentary to be nominated in this category.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Will Win: Roger Deakins – 1917

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Will Win: Jacqueline Durran – Little Women

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Will Win: Honeyland

BEST FILM EDITING

Will Win: Yang Jin-mo – Parasite

BEST HAIR AND MAKE-UP

Will Win: Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker – Bombshell

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Will Win: Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Will Win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” – Rocketman

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Will Win: Barbara Ling & Nancy Haigh – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

BEST SOUND EDITING

Will Win: Ford v Ferrari

BEST SOUND MIXING

Will Win: Ford v Ferrari

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Will Win: 1917

SHORT FILM PREDICTIONS

For my reviews of the nominees and predictions of the wins for Best Animated Short Film, Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Documentary Short Subject, click on this paragraph.

JUST ONE MORE – TOP OSCAR UPSETS

Here are the five upsets I anticipate are most likely to happen. In category order:

  • Taika Waititi for Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit
  • Klaus for Best Animated Feature
  • Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland for Best Film Editing for Ford v Ferrari
  • American Factory for Best Documentary Feature
  • The Lion King for Best Visual Effects

And there you go. My predictions for the winners, and possible upsetters of the 92nd Academy Awards. Having a hostless Oscars last year was such a success, they did it again this year. Will it be as entertaining? Will there be some shock winners like Olivia Colman was last year? It will all be decided Sunday night.

Oscars 2019 Shorts Review: Animation, Live-Action and Documentary

Cinema

This year marked another year I was able to see the Oscar-nominated shorts in the Animation and Live-Action categories. This year was also the very first year I was able to see the nominated Documentary shorts. That’s my Oscar milestone for this year. Here are my reviews of the films:

LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILMS

Two films are set in Middle eastern countries. One is set in Central America. One is set in Belgium while one is set in New York City. Three are dramas from start to finish. One starts as a comedy, but ends in dramatic fashion. One is a comedy from start to finish. Here are my thoughts on the live-action shorts nominees:

Brotherhood: dirs. Meryam Joobeur and Maria Gracia Turgeon – This is a story set in Tunisia. Two brothers are awaiting their older brother Aladinne to return from Syria. The father Muhamad appears to be looking forward to this. The brother returns. However he reveals Aladinne’s now married to a teenaged Syrian woman who is pregnant. The father is suspicious of Aladinne, fearing he may have joined ISIL in Syria. Muhamad makes a phone call Over time though, truths come out from both Aladinne to his other brothers over by the beach and to Muhamad though the wife. Including the truth about her pregnancy. The ending will leave one asking questions.

This is a relevant story as it is a situation that’s possibly happening in families in the Middle East now. It leads one thinking which brotherhood Aladinne is part of: his blood brothers or the ‘brotherhood’ of a terrorist group. It’s a story that gets one thinking. That’s why I predict it as my Will Win pick.

Nefta Football Club: dirs. Yves Piat and Damien Megherbi – The film begins with two men in the hills of Algeria who lost a donkey. It then leads into two brothers on a motor bike arguing over who the best footballer is. Then to a group of boys playing in a nearby football club. The boys get into an argument where the out-of-bounds is as there are no lines. The younger brother has to stop to urinate. After he’s finished, he notices the stray donkey who has earphones tuned into Saharan music. The older brother notices bags of cocaine with the donkey. The older brother decides to sell it but keep it secret. The two men are baffled. Especially one man who put the music onto Hadel instead of Adele. The older brother tries to sell it but something goes wrong. The ending will leave all surprised, and delighted.

This short was actually the last of the five that were shown. Knowing how the previous four had dark or tragic stories, you will expect something terrible or tragic to happen. You might even anticipate a social message out of this. I think those of us watching all needed some comic relief! It will make you glad this film is last in running order. End on a positive note.

The Neighbors’ Window: dir. Marshall Curry – Alli and Jacob are a middle-aged couple with two preschool-aged children and expecting a third soon. They live in a block of apartments in New York. They notice there is a young couple that moved into the apartment right across from them. Their window is a view to their apartment and they notice the two naked and making love. Did they forget to put up the drapes already? Three months pass. Alli gave birth to their third child. Jacob works from home and has a perfect view to watch the couple from the window as he works. That gets on Alli’s nerves. During Christmas, the Alli and Jacob have a family Christmas while that couple have a big party. Soon Alli becomes the voyeur. She notices the man has a bald head. Jacob thinks she shaved it. Soon it becomes evident he’s sick as he can be seen from his bed. Eventually Alli and the woman connect, but through unfortunate circumstances.

This is a film of a story where time elapses over eighteen months. It starts simply as a story of two voyeurs. Then it leads into a story of a couple who get reminded how much they miss their young-and-stupid days when they see those two having fun. The fun ends when sadder truths become obvious. I think the point of the story is to remind us of our own judgementality and even how prone we are to compare ourselves to others and making ourselves feel inferior without knowing the truth. It speaks volumes.

Saria: dirs. Bryan Buckley and Matt Lefebvre – The film begins in an orphanage one day in March 2017 in Guatemala. The fifty-one girls are woken up by the leader. The leader acts as the teacher. Before classes Saria learns that her sister has fallen in love with a male from the orphanage named Appo. During class Saria says a comment of defiance. This angers the teacher so much, she commands her to the guard who has her raped and beaten. Ximena learns from Saria that she and Appo have a plan to escape and walk to the United States for freedom. The opportunity arises when the girls hold a protest over the dirty and unsafe conditions of the orphanage. During police action, Saria and Ximena make their escape with Appo. However it’s a hopeless cause as the police have then cornered by dogs. Appo decides to throw himself to the dogs for the girls’ safety. All the 51 girls are brought back into a single room with just mattresses and the woman guarding. Two girls plan an escape by using fire, but it fails as the guard ignores them all.

This is a story based on real events. There was a protest over the conditions of the orphanage on March 7, 2017 and there was a planned escape. The girls were locked in that room and there was an escape plan that involved fire. The guard, who was a female, ignored them all until after ten minutes. 41 girls died. There were only ten girls who survived and they exposed the story. It’s not meant to be a true story. Instead it gives the girls who were victims characters and personalities. It exposes a truth of what’s happening in Guatemala while also reminding us these orphan girls were girls with hopes and dreams. I like the humanistic approach to the story. That’s why I call it my Should Win pick.

A Sister: dir. Delphine Girard – The film begins inside a car. The man is driving and the woman appears to be a passenger making a phone call to her sister. The film then goes to the emergency call centre. A woman is picking p this very call. She sorts out the confusion. It’s evident the woman in the car is making an emergency call and disguising it to look like it’s a call to her sister. The woman on the other end tries to work with her and even poses as the sister when the man talks on the line. This sets up for a climactic, but positive, end.

This is a film that keeps the viewer in the moment. There’s what one knows at the start and then what one knows as time goes on. At the same time, it puts the viewer in the intensity of the situation. You know it’s an abduction but the last thing you want is the worst. Throughout the film it’s a case of scenes of the woman and the man in the car and the woman at emergency control. It’s a story that will get you interested once you fully understand it and then keep you in the intensity of the story until the end.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Interesting how not a single nominated short is 3D computerized animation. Even the computerized ones are 2D. The 3D ones are all stop-motion. All of them are unique in the stories they have to tell and the styles of animation they display.

Dcera (Daughter): dir. Daria Kashcheeva – The daughter watches her ailing father from his hospital bed. Suddenly a bird crashes through the window of the room. That still bird reminds her of the time she saw a dying bird and tried to get her father to resuscitate it. He was too busy cooking. She was in tears, but it inspired her to make a bird mask. She then remembers the time she was on a subway to a festival where she had to wear red makeup. She refuted and left the subway. He has the mask she made and decides to wear it. Then the film flashes to the present. He’s not in his bed. She then notices he slept with the mask she made. She goes to meet up with her father, who is being taken to surgery. Suddenly he becomes all better and the bird that crashed through is alive, just like that bird in her childhood.

I think the motif of birds can be interpreted in one of two ways: either the girl loves birds or she want to be free as a bird in her life pursuits. The story is told with marvelous artistry through stop motion on knit dolls and paper eyes. The animation style makes the artistry of the film and magnifies the beauty of the story.

Hair Love: dirs. Matthew Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver – A young African-American girl in an apartment wants to style her hair just like the woman in the YouTube video styles it. The man, a neighbor, however tries to style it differently. The girl leaves crying. It isn’t until he sees the drawing and learning that the woman in the instruction video is the girl’s mother that he agrees to do it that way. He watches and does her hair at the same time, and the result is perfection. Then he takes the girl to see her mother in the hospital, in a wheelchair, and bald from chemotherapy.

This is a story that starts as being entertaining during the first half. Then you see the human moments at the very end of the story. The story goes from fun to touching deep down inside with surprising results. This is definitely a heart-warmer for anyone. You have to be hard-hearted not to like it. It will touch anyone who has gone through cancer or knows someone close who is going through cancer. That’s why I give it my Will Win pick.

Kitbull: dirs. Rosanna Sullivan and Kathryn Hendrickson – The film starts with a black stray kitten going throughout the neighborhood. He finds an area near a house full of boxes and wood blocks to make his own shelter. He also learns the owners own a big vicious dog and they keep him chained outside. The dog first wants to make food out of the kitten, but the kitten shows the dog he stands his ground and can fight vicious when provoked. Soon the kitten notices the dog is being abused by the owner. The kitten then sends the message to the dog that he can help him find a way out. Then the two plan their escape together. Soon the dog’s wounds heal and they find themselves adopted by an interracial couple.

This is a film from Pixar that was on the Disney+ channel. I find it surprising that Pixar created a 2D story! Usually they do 3D, but I still like it nevertheless. I’ve seen stories in animation before of how the cat and the dog go from enemies to the best of pals. This is unique as it tells that story with the theme of interracial relations. I admire how they do that in this story. It makes for a story that crosses from the humorous to the serious. However it still ends on a happy note, as we all hope it will.

Memorable: dirs. Bruno Collet and Jean-Francois le Corre – A painter gets into an argument with his wife, or so it appears. It turns out he has either dementia or Alzheimers and his wife has died. The conversations he has with his wife are in his mind. He still continues to paint, but it’s not easy to do. Then one day he decides to do a simple painting of simple unattached strokes. The strokes come alive and it’s in the shape of his wife. They even speak with her voice. It’s like she’s alive through the painting. The two share one dance together and it’s a dance full of color.

This is a dark story. However it’s told in touching form and even through a positive tone through the animation. This animation style is claymation and brush-stroke on glass. It’s like the story about the painting is trying to be like paintings themselves. It’s as much about the style in which the story is told as it is about the story. I make this my Should Win pick because this is the most unique and colorful of the nominees.

Sister: dir. Siqi Song – This is a story told by an adult male of how he experienced his baby sister: when she was born and when she was growing up. Boy did she have bratty behavior. Then you learn this is just a story of his. The sister he was supposed to have was aborted because of China’s One-Child policy. The story is just his story of how he fantasizes of what his baby sister would have been like. Somehow the film ends on a positive note.

Some would rush to dismiss this story as pro-life propaganda. I won’t state my stance but I don’t consider this propaganda. Keep in mind the sister was aborted because of China’s One-Child policy. The abortion was not the mother’s choice. The story is told in a unique way as it’s told through stop-motion animation and through knitted dolls. I have seen similar animation. At first I didn’t think an Oscar-nominated film could come through this style of animation, but it does here. I find it unique for the animator to tell a dark story with some humor into it. It’s worth admiring.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Some of you may ask why haven’t I seen the Documentary Shorts in past year? It’s hard to say. Money? Lack of interest? Time? Those were the most likely reasons. However I did have the time and money this year, and I made myself interested in them. So here are my thoughts of this year’s nominated documentary shorts:

In The Absence: dirs. Yi Seung-jun and Gary Byung-seok Kam – This is a story that focuses on the sinking of the Sewol ferry off the waters off the coast of South Korea on April 16, 2014. 304 people of the 476 on board perished. Most were high school students. The documentary shows a lot of film footage from the day of the accident which includes news footage, rescue footage and footage from passenger smartphones. The film includes hearing dialogue between the Coast Guard, the transportation office and President Park Geun-hye. The film also includes footage of the inquiry and of footage when the Sewol was raised out of the sea three years later.

This film is good in letting the moments of the accident tell the story as well as expose a lot of ugly truths that people already knew. The film showcases the root of the problem: negligence on many parts. It shows the negligence and lack of action of the coast guards, the negligence of the transportation board, the negligence of the captain who instructed passengers to stay in before he escaped, and the negligence of the government. There are some interviews with parents of fatalities, survivors, and volunteer divers who dove to bring bodies up. I liked how this film used a combined set of video, film and audio to expose the truth of the matter. It also proved insightful as I believe this is the first disaster I know of leading to the overthrow of a world leader. That’s why I pick it as my Should Win pick.

Learning To Skate In A Warzone (If You’re A Girl): dirs. Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva – The film shows girls in Kabul, Afghanistan who attend a school privately after boys leave the school. This is in an area of Afghanistan that is strongly against girls going to school. Not only do they go to school, they also learn skateboarding at a park called Skateistan. The film interviews the young girls about their family background, what they like about school and what their ambitions are. The film also interviews the teachers and instructors throughout the whole year.

This is an excellent documentary reminding us of the threats women in Afghanistan still face. However it also shows us the hope of a better tomorrow. The film shows the girls as they learn the five basics of skateboarding over time. It also shows how their skateboarding lessons aren’t simply for fun. They’re life skills along with their education for a better tomorrow. The film includes the interviews as well as footage of the girls at school and at their skateboarding lessons. The film also includes audio of news stories of bomb blasts in Kabul reminding us that they still face threats to their future. The film then ends with an image of hope. Overall an excellent short documentary, which is why I make it my Will Win pick.

Life Overtakes Me: dirs. John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson – This film is of a dark subject matter: Resignation Syndrome. It’s a coma-like psychological problem that mostly happens in children and is common in Sweden. The film shows three children who have suffered this syndrome for many months. All lay in bed most of the time and are fed by tubes and syringes. The film also shows how the families work to resuscitate the child out of the illness by giving them exercises and taking them out in the open. The film allows the parents to tell the stories of what led them to flee their countries. The film also includes doctors showing their insights into the problem.

This film is good at exposing a problem that exists in many countries but is rarely talked about. It presents the examples and even shows how the syndrome happens most when the parents are facing a distressful situation regarding their refugee status. The film shows the children and their families in one time setting and the follow-up many months later. Two of the children show progress in their recovery while the other shows that her sister is showing signs she will soon suffer from it too. The main child at the start is given a third filming where she’s seen fully recovered. The film also presents a puzzling situation of why Sweden is the country with the highest rate of of Resignation Syndrome. This is a very insightful informative film that ends with a ray of hope.

St. Louis Superman: dirs. Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan – The film opens with Bruce Franks Jr. talking with his son who’s about to turn five. The son was born on the same day African-American Michael Brown was shot to death by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri: a suburb of St. Louis. That event shapes Bruce into joining the St. Louis chapter of Black Lives Matter. That also made Bruce run as a State Representative and win. As Bruce is now a lawmaker and judges laws being passed in state congress, Bruce now has a new battle as he seeks to have passed laws labeling youth violence as a public epidemic and having Christopher Harris Day on June 7: the day in 1992 Christopher, his nine-year-old brother, was shot by someone using him as a human shield.

The film is a telling of Bruce’s life. It shows him as a congressman, a lawmaker, a rapper by night, an activist, a youth leader, and a family man. It showcases the many battles he goes through with getting his bill passed both by debate through the opposition and even other African-Americans who see him as a conformist to ‘the system.’ This film is also a ray of hope and a reminder at even in the days of Trump’s America where there appears to be a lot of ignorance and red tape, that efforts for the better can happen and that the marginalized can have a hope for a better future. Excellently done.

Walk Run Cha-Cha: dirs. Laura Nix and Colette Sandstedt – The film begins with a Cha-Cha lesson taught in a dance hall in a Los Angeles neighborhood. The students are Asian and middle-aged and the teachers are Ukrainian emigres Maksym Kapitanchuka and Elena Krifuks. The film focuses on the couple Paul and Millie Cao. Paul and Millie first met each other in Vietnam back in the 1970’s. Communism took over and both had to leave for the United States, albeit six years apart. They’ve become successful professionals but have taken dance as a way to rediscover themselves. Maksym and Elena even work with them privately for a competition dance.

This is a story where we get to learn about a couple and their life experience about what brought them to the United States. We learn about their love back home, their loss of connection as both left Vietnam at different times, their families who also emigrated to the United States to their dance number. This film reminds us that for many, dance is more than just a hobby or an activity. It’s a chance for one to rediscover themselves. The film doesn’t end with the Caos in a competition. Instead it ends with their performance to a cover of We’ve Only Just Begun. Even though the two were reunited decades earlier, the film makes the dance performance look like the two are truly reunited at that moment. Not just a delight to watch, but insightful.

It’s interesting watching the documentary nominees for the first time. They all tell a lot in their limited time. Even for those that focus on a certain issue, it makes its point very well in that time. It even adds the human element to add to their point. Usually I’m skeptical to documentary films because all too often, it shows an issue through one side and one side only. You can thank Michael Moore for that suspicion of mine. However I was impressed with what I saw. It was hard to detect them as one-sided. They all made their point well.

And there you have it! Those are my reviews and predictions of the short films nominated at this year’s Academy Awards. It should be interesting to see the winners. Also it will be interesting to see how far these directors go in the future.

My Predictions For The 2018 Academy Awards

Chocolate Oscar

Holding this year’s Academy Awards has been a load of chaos going even as far back as August. The struggle had as its focus the record-low ratings of last year’s Oscars. Hey, when they keep on giving Best Picture to films with low grosses, they have that struggle coming. First there was an attempt to include a new category: Best Popular Film. Derision from critics, filmmakers and the public quickly rose and the category was dropped within a week. Then there was having Kevin Hart as the host. That seemed like a good idea, until he said something homophobic in his comedy. He apologized and even some celebrities came to his aid, but the hostility did not die. That meant no host this year: only the second Oscars to be hostless. Then came the procedure two weeks ago of four categories to be awarded during commercials with the presentation broadcast on livestream. Filmmakers and fans shouted their derision online and that led to the categories assigned back on broadcast.

All I can say about the ceremonies is what a headache for the organizers. The big question may not be ‘who will win what’ but ‘can they do a winning Oscars without a host?’ There has been one hostless Oscars in the past — the 61st in 1989 — and they went off very well despite the highlight being an unforgettably cheesy song-and-dance number with an awkward Snow White singing and dancing with Rob Lowe. This year’s hostless Oscars have yet to bee seen, but there have been other awards shows where there wasn’t a host.

The surprises weren’t just about the ceremony itself. The surprises were in the awards race too. One big shocker was a NetFlix film being a heavy favorite. Another was most of the Best Picture nominees snubbed in at least one category that effects their Best Picture standing: like in acting, directing, writing or film editing. Only BlacKkKlansman had nominations in all. Another was the double-snub of Emily Blunt in both acting categories to actresses of Roma that didn’t have as big of awards clout. Another was films with outside chances like Cold War and The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs garnering nominations. Guild awards provided other lopsided results too like SAGs giving snubbed-out Emily Blunt the Best Supporting Actress award, and the Writers Guild of America giving Bo Burnham the Best Original Screenplay award. With only days to go there’s still no clear favorite for Best Picture. Not even The Favourite!

However the awards results and the pictures themselves do give a good sense on who just could win. So without further ado, here are my predictions for who Will Win the Oscars as well as a Should-Win pick where I feel necessary. Also hyperlinks to my reviews are included.

BEST PICTURE

This year’s eight-pack of Best Picture nominees are quite unique and exhibit a lot in diversity. One is a film predominantly in Spanish. One is a superhero movie. Two are music-based. Three begin with the letter B. Three have African-Americans as their dominant or central characters. Five have some reference to LGBT people. All have a lot of awards clout and have paved their way successfully to their nominations. So here is my rundown of the Best Picture nominees:

Black Panther – The 21st Century is best remembered so far as the heyday of the superhero movie. For so long, people have waited for a superhero movie to get nominated for Best Picture. In fact the number of Best Picture entries was expanded past its traditional five when The Dark Knight didn’t get nominated. Finally a superhero movie is nominated. I can’t think of a better choice than Black Panther. It has all the qualities of a Best Picture contender — acting, directing, writing, and a lot more — but its buzz fell fast when its only other nominations were technical ones. I don’t think it will win.

BlacKkKlansman – Isn’t it something how Spike Lee went from boycotting the Oscars three years ago to becoming a nominee this year. Spike Lee has had a career with a lot of ups and downs. Ever since Do The Right Thing, he has struggled to get his greatness back. His success however has paved the way for other African American directors. BlacKkKlansman brought him back into major action. I consider this a top contender for the Best Picture award, but not necessarily the winner.

Bohemian Rhapsody – This film has all the ingredients of a Best Picture contender, especially a performance by the lead that will blow you away. The film also has a very critical weakness. That being the original director is an alleged sex offender. That may not hurt Rami’s chances for Best Actor, but it robs any and all chances of a Best Picture win for this film.

The Favourite – What’s the Oscar race without a timepiece set way back being a top contender for the Best Picture award? The Favourite is just that movie, and one of only two movies with ten nominations. The film has the ingredients to win Best Picture. However some may find the story too tempestuous and the film too eccentric to win the biggest award of the night.

Green Book – Overcoming racism has been a central theme in many a film in this year’s Oscar race. This is a film that may not be historically accurate, but it does make for a good film from start-to-finish with a good message. Much of it is true as Tony Lip’s son was the scriptwriter. It’s tight but I give this my Will Win pick.

Roma – This film is a thing of beauty. I can sum it up like that. For the record, no film predominantly in a foreign-language has ever won the Best Picture Oscar. I have a feeling that could rob Roma of the biggest award that night. However this is a close race and anything can happen. That’s why I give it my Should Win pick.

A Star Is Born – When the Oscar season began, this film had the biggest buzz. Especially with it being Lady Gaga’s big screen breakthrough. The film has all the ingredient for a Best Picture winner. However, this is a film that’s been done three times before. I don’t think the Academy is willing to give the Best Picture Oscar to a reboot.

Vice – If you remember The Big Short, you’ll see how Adam McKay lampooned the banking system and the games they were playing just as they were about to lead the US to its biggest recession since the Great Depression. Here McKay lampoons the American political system and how Dick Cheney played a major role in the political climate we have today both as Vice President and while holding other office. It’s as entertaining as The Big Short, but not as good. That’s where I feel Vice falls short in the Best Picture race.

BEST DIRECTOR

Should Win and Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron – Roma

If you see Roma, you will see it’s more than just two women transformed in a changing time in Mexico. You will notice it’s a piece of Alfonso Cuaron’s childhood. He creates a masterpiece so beautiful and intimate, not even the images of the dog droppings can ruin its beauty. It’s a masterpiece of a film and I feel Cuaron deserves to win again.

BEST ACTOR

Should Win and Will Win: Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

Thirteen of this year’s twenty acting nominations are for performances of people that exist or have existed. In no other category is that best represented than in the Best Actor category. Bradley Cooper’s is the only nomination of a fictional person here. It’s a tough call between Christian Bale as Dick Cheney or Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. I have to go with Malek because his performance was more dead-on while Bale’s was intended to be cartoonish in the way Adam McKay wanted it. Besides those that saw Bohemian Rhapsody will say Malek got the spirit of Freddie to a tee.

BEST ACTRESS

Should Win and Will Win: Glenn Close – The Wife

How far back was Glenn Close’s first Oscar nomination? Back in 1982 for her performance in The World According To Garp. Her performance in The Wife is her seventh nomination. Many people will claim that she will win the Oscar on career culmination. I’m sure Lady Gaga fans will have their own trash-talk on social media for her when she wins (Monsters indeed!). However those who have seen The Wife will admire her acting for how her character hides her true intentions and true feelings and you can see it. As expected, Glenn delivers.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Should Win and Will Win: Mahershala Ali – Green Book

Ever since he stunned audience in Moonlight as the crack dealer with a soft spot for the young boy, Mahershala Ali has been on a roll. I still remember in his acceptance speech, he said the advise his teacher taught him: “It’s not about you. It’s about the character.” He delivers again as Don Shirley. Another winner.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Should Win and Will Win: Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk

This is a category with jam-packed with top contending performances. It’s tough to pick a favorite. However I have to go with Regina King for playing the mother in Beale Street who goes all out for her son-in-law’s innocence.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron – Roma

Will Win: Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara – The Favourite

The originals have the edge over the adapted this year, but the results are all over the map. Green Book has the Golden Globe, First Reformed has the Critics Choice, The Favourite has the BAFTA, while the Writers Guild award went to Eighth Grade which was snubbed out. This must be the major category that’s hardest to predict. I was tempted to go with Roma, but I have to pick The Favourite.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Should Win: Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk

Will Win: Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman

In all frankness, I think If Beale Street Could Talk was the best film by an African American director this year. James Baldwin would have been proud of Barry Jenkins’ adaptation. However I think the major buzz is for the four writers of BlacKkKlansman for creating a clever story that’s very thought-provoking.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Should Win and Will Win: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

This year, animated movies continued to draw crowds and families. However it was once again another year that couldn’t compare to 2016. Near the end of the year, the two biggest movies were sequels: Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks The Internet. Just when it seemed lackluster, Spider-Verse came and was more entertaining than the others. Deserves to win here.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron – Roma

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Will Win: Ruth E. Carter – Black Panther

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Will Win: RBG

BEST FILM EDITING

Will Win: Hank Corwin – Vice

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM

Will Win: Roma (Mexico)

BEST HAIR AND MAKE-UP

Will Win: Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney – Vice

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Will Win: Nicholas Britell – If Beale Street Could Talk

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Should Win and Will Win: ‘Shallow” from A Star Is Born

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Will Win: Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton – The Favourite

BEST SOUND EDITING

Will Win: A Quiet Place

BEST SOUND MIXING

Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Will Win: Avengers: Infinity War

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

Will Win: Black Sheep

JUST ONE MORE – TOP OSCAR UPSETS

Here are the six upsets I feel are most likely to occur. In category order:

  • Roma wins Best Picture
  • Spike Lee wins Best Director for BlacKkKlansman.
  • Christian Bale wins Best Actor for Vice.
  • Amy Adams wins Best Supporting Actress for Vice.
  • Łukasz Żal wins Best Cinematography for Cold War.
  • Cold War wins Best Foreign-Language Film.

And there you have it. My predictions for the winners, and possible upsetters of the 91st Academy Awards. The end result of a hostless Oscars has yet to be seen, as well as the ratings results. But the winners have yet to be seen too, and that should be the most important thing. It will all be decided Sunday night.

Oscars 2018 Shorts Review: Animation and Live-Action

Cinema

I’m good at keeping count of all the years I’m able to see all the Best Picture nominees, but I don’t know how many consecutive years I’ve seen the shorts. However I did it again this year. I lucked out and saw all the shorts for this year’s Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film categories. There were a lot of differences of the films, but a lot of similarities too. Here’s my review of the films:

LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILMS:

The col thing about this year is that two films — Fauve and Marguerite — come from Canada. More specifically, Quebec. The five films nominated are very different in genre and story, but all are deserving of their nominations:

Detainment: dir. Vincent Lambe – This is the most controversial of the five films. February 12, 1993 started off as a day in which two 10 year-old boys named Jon Venables and Robert Thompson simply played truant from school and stole items from nearby stores. That all changed when they saw 2 year-old James Bulger standing outside the butcher shop unattended. The film focuses intensely on the police interrogations. Both Thompson and Venables are interrogated separately. Both boys’ parents are in the room listening in, and in complete paralyzing shock.

The film is based off of some of the recorded interrogations of the two boys. The film appears to be a character study of the two individual boys. Thompson appears defiant and remorseless while Venables is constantly lying and frequently cries, even hysterically. The film also relives the moments such as when adults butt in and how they walked Bulger the long distance to the track where he died. It becomes gripping without getting too disturbing.

NOTE: The film has attracted a lot of controversy because of its subject matter. The James Bulger murder is a murder that still upsets the UK, especially Liverpool, to this day. The mother has gone on BBC speaking her anger and demanded the film be removed from the list of nominees. That’s why even though I think it’s the best film of all five, I feel it should not win the Oscar. I don’t see it trying to bring any sympathy to the two boys, but it still upsets many from the UK to this day.

Fauve: dir. Jeremy Comte – Two boys, Tyler and Benjamin, are playing an innocent power game. They first do it around an abandoned train. However they decide to take their game to a surface mine for a concrete factory. Then the game becomes deadly as Benjamin finds himself sinking in the wet cement. Tyler tries to help, but to no avail as it stops him too. Any help from Tyler helps to no avail. Then the aftermath as a woman offers a ride home tells a lot.

The film is a good short story. The story starts off as simple fun and games, but then turns to a dark tragic drama when you least expect it. Even the ending leaves you asking questions at the end. Very good short.

Marguerite: dir. Marianne Farley – Marguerite is an elderly lady nearing the last years of her life at home. She is nursed on a daily basis by a young nurse named Rachel. One day, she overhears a phone conversation between Rachel and another woman. It sounds romantic. Later, Marguerite notices Rachel’s phone in the bathroom and sees romantic photos of Rachel and the other woman. One day, Marguerite unearths a photo album. The photos are back in the 1960’s and are of her and another woman named Cecile. It brings back memories of the two. Cecile would later marry a man. After being put to bed early because of a fall, Marguerite confesses in her bed to Rachel of Cecile and why she never ‘loved’ her.

This is a story that is slow, but it tells a lot. It’s about two women, both lesbians, who are a product of their times. One couldn’t love a woman because it was considered a ‘mortal sin’ and was criminalized. The other is free to love another woman without guilt. It’s there where they share their special bond at the end. That’s why I declare this my Should Win pick.

Mother: dir. Rodrigo Sorogoyen – Marta is relaxing at her place with her mother around. Her son Ivan is on the coast of the French Riviera with his father on vacation. Soon Marta receives a phone call from Ivan. Ivan is alone on a remote area of the coast. The father abandoned him. Nobody except a strange man is around. The battery in Ivan’s phone is dying. Soon Marta calls the police, but the police have no way to locate Ivan as Ivan doesn’t know where he is. Then a second phone call from Ivan happens. That leaves Marta even more frightened and causes Marta to rush out.

The film’s best attribute is that it captures the moment. It’s between cellphones and Marta’s domain. The qualities are what we know and what we don’t know and it builds on the suspense. The weakness is that it appears to be part of a film rather than a full film. It feels like it has a beginning and a middle, but no end. I’m sure the purpose of the director was to give us a film that leaves us in suspense, but it leaves you wondering what was the point of this partial-film? Social message? Suspense story? What?

Skin: dir. Guy Nattiv – Troy is a ten year-old boy growing up in a remote area of the southern USA. The father, Johnny Aldd, is bringing him up to be rough and tough. The father even teaches Troy how to shoot a real gun with the help of his neo-Nazi friends. One day at a supermarket, Troy smiles at an African American man just simply buying groceries. Johnny gets angry and shouts racist slurs, but the black man walks off calm, collect, but angry and lets him know it. Johnny response by getting his friends to rush over and beat the black man up near his van while his family watches in horror, and Troy watches on.

Days later, Troy and Johnny go out somewhere, but the father is captured by a van of African American men. They put a sleeping injection in Johnny and a tattoo artist goes over his racist tattoos, leaving you wondering what will come. After eleven days, Johnny is dropped back at his home. The tattoo artist completely covered him in black, to Johnny’s horror. As Johnny tries to come home, his wife and son react in fear. It ends with a surprise ending.

No question the main theme of the film is about racism. However the film is also about cliques and breeding fear into people. The film can say that the culture of fear can also be why the United States has a gun problem. Seeing how neo-Naziism exposed its face in the Unite-The-Right rally in August 2017, this is a film very relevant to our times. Even with its bizarre story and surprise ending. That’s why I pick it at my Will Win pick.

ANIMATED SHORTS:

This makes for a very eclectic five films chosen for this year. One of the films is from a Canadian animation company. However there are two American films that hint they may have some Canadian ingredients:

Animal Behaviour: dirs. Alison Snowden and David Fine – Various animals walk into a psychology group meeting with a dog doctor leading the meeting. All have a problem to confess. However problems arrive when a gigantic ape with an anger problem comes in. He doesn’t want to be helped. The pig, the leech and the moth are all cooperative, but the ape is disruptive. Then the ape confesses his problem, but also throws a fit in the process and all havoc is wreaked. Right at the end, and with all the damage done, the ape appears helped and will be back next week.

This is some clever 2D animation that may appear simple and crude by most, but fits the story well. Also the whole story of all the animals involved and their problems makes for funny hilarity.

Bao: dirs. Domee Shi and Becky Neiman-Cobb – A Chinese-Canadian woman makes dumplings for her busy husband, but one comes alive. She raises it to be like her own baby. She mothers it with her caring nature, but the son grows up out to be rebellious and even leaves to marry a white woman he loves. She can’t handle it and eats him. Heartbroken after ‘eating’ him, she wakes up to find out it’s just a dream. She’s a mother going through empty-nest syndrome and the child dumpling in her dream was mirroring her own son’s life. It ends on a happy note.

This is the short shown before Incredibles 2. Once again, Pixar adds another excellent writer to its dream team. Director Domee Shi started as a storyboard artist for The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out. Here she has a chance to let her creativity flow with a charming story which transcends race and delights people of all ages and backgrounds.

Late Afternoon: dirs. Louise Bagnall and Nuria Gonzales Blanco – Emily is an elderly woman who is constantly tended to by Kate. Frequently Emily’s memory goes back to her past from moments in her childhood and her carefree nature and then to moments in her young adulthood. Her memory keeps going in and out. Then at the end, she’s reminded Kate is her daughter.

This does seem like a heavy short as the story appears to be either about Dementia or Alzheimers. The use of animation helps with the drifting of Emily’s mind from the present to the past back to the present again. A very good short, but it may be too deep for some.

One Small Step: dirs. Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas – Luna is a Chinese-American girl with dreams of becoming an astronaut. She lives with her father, a shoe cobbler. He has always let Luna know how much he loves her with the shoes he crafts for her and with his business. He uses his money to promote Luna’s dream. As a young child, Luna cherishes every minute of her father. As she grows up, she becomes more distant from her father and even too busy with her college work. Things take a turn for the worse as she starts failing courses and is denied acceptance into astronaut training. Then one day she comes home and learns that her father has passed. Heartbroken, she then turns her life around and starts a new ambition. This leads to the happy ending we all want.

The story is a very good story as it deals with a common theme of father-daughter relationships. The story may appear heartbreaking, but ends with the positive energy it began with. The animation was excellent and the story, with no dialogue at all, told us a lot. I call this my Should Win and Will Win pick.

Weekends: dir. Trevor Jimenez – A young boy living in downtown Toronto in the mid-1980’s is divided between the time between the homes of his father and his mother. The father is more playful with an imagination into samurai swords. The mother is more serious while she’s dating a man who doesn’t take well to the boy. As the stories shift between the two world, they become intertwined with the boy’s dreams and the dreams tell a lot about the realities of the home lives he’s going through.

Trevor Jimenez has been a storyboard artist for Pixar films and has his chance at doing his own short film. It’s all hand-drawn which adds to the effect of the story. The point of this story was to mix the eerie dreams with the boy’s unfriendly reality. It does a great job in creating the right environment for the film and the drama.

And that’s my look at this year’s Oscar nominated short films. Last year I was better at predicting the shorts winners, but this year looks to be very open. There are some that look like clear winners, but anything can happen in these categories. It will all be decided on Sunday the 24th.

My Predictions For The 2017 Oscars

Chocolate Oscar

The Oscars will be awarded Sunday night. Jimmy Kimmel will be back. Last year’s ‘envelope guardians’ from PWC, Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, won’t be for obvious reasons. I’ve seen enough movies and shorts to make up 90 of the nominations here. And to think just before Christmas, the only big-time contender I saw was Dunkirk. Whatever the situation, I succeeded again for the seventeenth year in a row in seeing all of the Best Picture nominees before Oscar night.

And now here are my predictions:

BEST PICTURE WRAP-UP:

Interesting how last year I did ‘summaries’ where I reviewed three in one blog. This time I had the energy to do one blog per film. So here’s my summary. All titles have links to my reviews:

-Call Me By Your Name– This is an excellent story about a love that’s meant to be, but is only temporary. It’s best quality is the story happening in a picturesque background. Excellent film, but I don’t think it has what it takes to win Best Picture.

-Darkest Hour– This is one film that was not considered a huge threat to the Best Picture race, but it did it. It has a lot to admire, especially Oldman’s acting. However I don’t think it has what it takes both as a picture and in terms of campaigning to win.

-DunkirkThis is a film that first appears like it has Best Picture material. This makes for n excellent case, but the script is lacking and there’s no single acting performance that stands out for this year. Excellent film, nevertheless.

-Get OutThis is one of the Top 3 bets for Best Picture. It has a lot of what it takes to win, and especially since this is a come-from-nowhere story. However the Academy has never taken well to horror movies. I think this is the first ever to be nominated for Best Picture? I think the Academy will back off in favor of the ‘other two’ contenders.

-Lady BirdThis is a charmer of a film and one of the more significant films of the year. It’s a film written and directed by a woman and sends the message about how much of an impact women can have in film. Excellent work, but usually the Academy doesn’t normally reward movies where a teenager is the central character.

-Phantom ThreadThis is a film that had the luck of a ‘late surge.’ The film was first seen having its best chances in nominations in Day-Lewis’ acting, Anderson’s writing and Bridges’ costuming. Instead it also acquired Best Picture and Best Director. Very good film, but lacks the muscle of some of the other contenders.

-The PostThis is another excellent Spielberg film. However it doesn’t compare to some of his more legendary works like Schindler’s List or Saving Private Ryan or even E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Not this time Steven.

-The Shape Of WaterThis is the one film of the bunch that I can truly describe as ‘having it all.’ Top acting, top directing, top script, and even a lot of pluses along the way like top set design, excellent costuming, excellent make-up and excellent music. This is my pick for Should Win and Will Win.

-Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriThis is a film packed with top acting and a top script. I liked it because of its unpredictability. I don’t think it will win Best Picture, but I think this is the film that has the best chances of upsetting The Shape Of Water.

BEST DIRECTOR:

Should Win & Will Win – Guillermo del Toro, The Shape Of Water

How many of you have seen Pan’s Labyrinth? How many of you fell in love with that film? I’m one that has. I’ve been waiting for the longest time for Del Toro to get his acclaim as a director. Finally he gets his chance with The Shape Of Water.

BEST ACTOR:

Should Win and Will Win – Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Many people have felt that Gary Oldman is one of the most underrated actors around. He’s given us a lot to appreciate ever since he burst onto the scene with Sid And Nancy. After so long, he finally gets his long overdue respect. And if you saw Darkest Hour, you’d know it’s for all the right reasons.

BEST ACTRESS:

Should Win and Will Win – Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Frances knows how to mix the comedic with the dramatic. Those who saw Fargo ought to know. That’s where she won her first Best Actress Oscar. I read that Frances tried to adopt John Wayne as an influence for Mildred Hayes. In retrospect, I think she was dead on! It’s no wonder she’s favored to win her second Oscar here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Should Win and Will Win – Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This year’s favorites for the acting categories are rather predictable. All of them have won the Golden Globe, The SAG and the BAFTA awards. The Oscar is a forgone conclusion. Same here for Sam Rockwell. Nevertheless he is deserving of it as he does some excellent character acting that makes him unrecognizable.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Should Win and Will Win – Allison Janney, I, Tonya

I’m sure all of you can name at least one movie where you saw Allison Janney catch your eye in a supporting role. Primary Colors, American Beauty, Nurse Betty, The Hours, Hairspray, Juno, The Help, The Way Way Back, the list goes on. Even if the role is small, she helps make the movie. Now it’s her turn for Oscar glory, and rightly so. She’ll leave you wondering if the movie’s about Tonya or LaVona.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Should Win – Jordan Peele, Get Out

Will Win – Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

It’s a tough call between the two scripts. I’d like to see Get Out because everybody loves a come-from-nowhere story. I think it will go to Three Billboards on the strength of it Best Picture buzz.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

Should Win and Will Win – James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name

I can see why it’s so highly acclaimed. It plays out like a lot of European films, even though it’s actually a love story about two Americans in Europe. Nevertheless the best choice in this category.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

Should Win and Will Win: CoCo

2017’s line-up of animated movies really couldn’t compare to that of 2016. We’re talking a year where The Boss Baby was nominated and there was even the mere release of The Emoji Movie! However it’s like they saved the best for the end of the year with Ferdinand, CoCo and Loving Vincent. A lot of people loved the humor of Ferdinand, but I went with CoCo. I always love it when an animated movie takes you to another world, and CoCo is the movie that did it this year.

BEST ART DIRECTION:

Will Win: Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin, The Shape Of Water

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Will Win: Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

Will Win: Mark Bridges, Phantom Thread

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Will Win: Faces Places

BEST FILM EDITING:

Will Win: Lee Smith, Dunkirk

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

Will Win: The Square (Sweden)

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:

Will Win: Darkest Hour

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Will Win: Alexeandre Desplat, The Shape Of Water

It seems like every time John Williams creates a film score, it gets nominated. Actually his score for The Post–which had bigger nomination expectations than his score for The Last Jedi— didn’t get nominated! That’s odd. I always considered a nomination for John Williams a default. Whatever the situation, Alexandre Desplat looks to be the film composer most poised to be the next great one. He won for The Grand Budapest Hotel and he’s highly likely to do it again.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

Should Win & Will Win: ‘Remember Me’ from CoCo

BEST SOUND MIXING:

Will Win: Dunkirk

BEST SOUND EDITING:

Will Win: Dunkirk

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Will Win: Blade Runner 2049

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:

Will Win: Edith+Eddie

JUST ONE MORE – TOP OSCAR UPSETS

Here are the five upsets I feel are most likely to occur:

  • Three Billboards wins Best Picture
  • Willem Dafoe wins Best Supporting Actor for The Florida Project
  • Jordan Peele wins Best Original Screenplay for Get Out
  • ‘This Is Me’ from The Greatest Showman wins Best Original Song
  • A Fantastic Woman from Chile wins Best Foreign Language Film

And there you have it. My predictions for this year’s Academy Awards. The 90th edition. I’m expecting them to show a lot of memories of the past. One thing I hope for this year is that they have all their envelopes right. Whatever the situation, it looks to be one entertaining night.

Oscars 2017 Shorts Review: Live-Action and Animation

Cinema

Once again, I had the luck to see the shorts nominated for the Oscars for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. All were entertaining in their own way and all showed the qualities of why they were nominated.

Anyways here are my thoughts on this year’s nominated shorts:

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILMS:

Last year, all nominated shorts were in a language other than English. This year, four of the nominated shorts were in English. This year’s crop of stories are impressive to see. All five have a wide variety from the funny to the thought-provoking.

DeKalb Elementary: dir. Reed van Dyk – Today is supposed to be an ordinary day at an elementary school in the US, but a young man with an assault rifle comes in and threatens people. The receptionist tries deal one-on-one with him. She notices some mental instability and even some flaws in his thinking. She feels she can talk him into withdrawing his gun. She is able to talk with him, talk to law authorities, and get him to cooperate. In the end, the man is arrested and no one dies.

This is a remarkable story, especially since this is being shown during a time when a shooting incident in a Florida high school made headlines. It’s remarkable because it takes you there into the moment. You feel the intensity. Plus seeing in the film how brains win over brawn make this an incredible story to watch. That’s why this is my Will Win pick.

The Eleven O’Clock: dirs. Derin Seale & Josh Lawson  – A psychiatrist in 1980’s Australia has an appointment with a delusional mental patient who thinks he’s a psychiatrist. The doctor thinks he can handle it until he meets face to face with the patients. Soon it becomes an all-out verbal battle of madness and idiocies. Looks like he finally met his match.

For once, it’s nice to take a break from some of the more serious stuff and see something comedic. It was very enjoyable and can leave you hating the patient. However it has an appropriately bizarre ending where you’re left to wonder is he the doctor or the patient?

My Nephew Emmett: dir. Kevin Wilson Jr. – This is a depiction of what may have happened the night before the 1955 abduction and lynching of 14 year-old Chicago boy Emmett Till who was just staying with his uncle’s family in Money, Mississippi, but was a victim of racism instead. His murder and his alleged killer’s acquittal would play a part in the Civil Rights Movement.

This might be a fictional depiction of what happened before, but it was very good in sending the message that all Emmett Till was doing was being a typical 14 year-old boy. Having it from the uncle’s point of view is important as the uncle would be interviewed by the media shortly after. It does a very good job of storytelling from the uncle’s point of view as well as recapturing the moments as they happen.

The Silent Child: dirs. Chris Overton & Rachel Shenton – A rich family hires a tutor to help with their 4 year-old deaf daughter. The tutor works very well with the daughter and gets her to sign. The results are pleasing to the father and her siblings, but the mother has higher demands. It gets to the point the mother makes a questionable drastic choice for the daughter.

The story is very good. It also catches your intrigue whether the mother has these high demands because she has high expectations or because she’s trying to cover up a family secret? The story reminds us that the connection between the deaf child and the tutor is a bond we so easily forget about.

Watu Wote/ All Of Us: dirs. Katja Benrath & Tobias Rosen – This is based on a true story. This takes place on a bus trip close to the Kenyan-Somali border. Christians and Muslims travel in the same bus. All have animosity towards each other. One passenger, Jua, has a certain animosity towards Muslims. Her husband and child were killed by a Muslim. She lets the Islamic ‘teacher’ raising money for his student know it. Then the bus is attacked by the group Al-Shabaab. They demand that all Christians be brought forth, but the Muslims defend by quoting scriptures from the Koran to protect them. At the end, police arrive and the teacher is shot. Jua is the one looking after him as they drive to safety.

This is the only film not in the English language. This story may be the darkest of all the stories nominated, but it’s very thought-provoking and it sticks with you. It packs a lot in its 20 minutes of time. You can really feel the hurt in Jua and you’re surprised to see her compassion in the end. That’s why I make this my Should Win pick.

ANIMATED:

This year’s animated shorts made news of what was included and what was not included. Ever since In A Heartbeat, the animated short of boy meets boy, went viral on YouTube back in August, people predicted it would win the Oscar. Even though it made the shortlist of ten back in December, it did not get nominated. A shock to all fans of the short! As for those that did get nominated:

Dear Basketball: dirs. Glen Keane & Kobe Bryant – This is a pencil-and-paper style of animation drawn by Glen Keane, son of Family Circus cartoonist Bil Keane, and narrated by Kobe Bryant. It’s of the letter Kobe wrote to the sport of basketball upon his retirement.

The film is excellent in how it takes a simple style of animation and successfully makes the audience embrace the athlete’s story of passion. Excellently done. You’ll feel the heart and soul of the story within its four minutes. That’s why I choose this as my Will Win prediction.

Garden Party: dirs. Victor Caire & Gabriel Grapperon – This is funny. A bunch of frogs find themselves over at a mansion. They go around exploring and eating whatever comes their way. Then right as they make their way to the pool area, we learn it’s party time for all!

This is a fun humorous story. The events are slow, but they’re still fun to watch. They’re especially funny when the frogs accidentally find themselves in a mess. The ending is a complete surprise. Nevertheless the short is enjoyable from start to finish.

Lou: dirs. Dave Mullins & Diana Murray – This is the short shown before Cars 3. When kids come in from recess at an elementary school, you can guarantee there will be lots of things left behind. A certain ‘thing’ comes from the lost-and-found bin, which have its L, O and U missing, and gathers up all the stuff in the bin. The school bully J.J. steals the kids’ toys and it’s up for this thing to teach J.J. a lesson, and actually be a friend.

Pixar not only knows how to make a great feature, but they also know how to make a great short too. Even though there’s some dialogue in this short, it is definitely entertaining and fun to watch.

Negative Space: dirs. Max Porter & Ru Kuwahata – A son talks of how his father taught him how to pack and how it’s been passed on as a skill. The son reminisces about it at his father’s funeral.

This is an adaptation of a poem by Ron Koertge. This is a charming story with stop-motion animation. It has a humorous look at a story a son reflects around his father’s funeral. The story ends on a note one didn’t expect it to end on. Nevertheless it’s funny and it has its own unique charm.

Revolting Rhymes: dirs. Jakob Schuh & Jan Lachauer – This is done by the same studio that did the Gruffalo series. This time they return with a story of a babysitter meeting up with a wolf. There we learn the shocking truth of what happened to Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and The Three Little Pigs!

It’s a funny and charming short. Does get a bit confusing when you learn about these new ‘truths’ and even surprising when you learn some shocking things like the Seven Dwarfs’ gambling problem. Well-written, well-animated and very entertaining. That’s why I give it my Should Win pick.

And there’s my look at this year’s Oscar nominated short films. Lots of creativity and a lot of good storytelling. However the shorts are two of the hardest categories to predict the winner. The winners are often a surprise. Time will tell this Sunday.

 

 

My Predictions For The 2016 Academy Awards

DISCLAIMER: There was an incomplete post like this yesterday. The reason was I was editing from my smartphone and intended to update the draft, not publish the blog. It published anyways. This blog here is my complete blog for Oscar predictions.

Chocolate Oscar

The Academy Awards are here. I’ve seen enough movies to make up 82 of the nominations this year. It was quite the year with lots to offer and a lot of things that appeared guaranteed weren’t. So without further ado, let’s get on with the predictions:

BEST PICTURE WRAP-UP

You all saw my three summaries of all nine nominees. Doing shorter summaries were better for me this year. Maybe next year I won’t be so busy or have as many ailments. So here goes for predicting the winner:

-Arrival-  This is the first movie about aliens to be nominated for an Oscar. A very smart film that was loaded with buzz when it first came out. However its awards excitement faded over time as did its Best Picture chances.

-Fences- I like it when I see a celebrated play brought to the big screen. Especially around Oscar time. I felt it was done excellently. However it is up in this category against meatier competition. This is one category I think Fences won’t win.

-Hacksaw Ridge- Very rarely does a pro-religion movie have a chance for Best Picture. Hacksaw Ridge is the pro-religion film in the past 15 years most deserving of a nomination. However it does have some formulaic elements that come up every now and then and it has better chances in the technical categories instead of Best Picture.

-Hell Or High Water-  This year’s ‘summer survivor.’ Those like me who missed out on it during the summer missed out on a gem. A crime story that’s funny and entertaining, but smart too. However I’m not too optimistic in its Oscar chances here.

-Hidden Figures- This movie started with very little Oscar buzz at first but it increased as rapport from the film–from both critics and audience alike– grew. It seems like it doesn’t have good chances to win Best Picture but it could pull a surprise. A very slim chance of that but it is likely.

-La La Land- What can I say? People have been embracing it in droves. Why? Because people just really like a good musical? Because of its feel? Because it reminds one of the charm of old Hollywood? Whatever it is, it’s made it the frontrunner that looks hard to beat. That’s why it’s my Will Win pick. the biggest reason why I hope it win is because last year I said: “One more Best Picture winner that fails to gross $100 million and I’m done Oscarwatching.” I don’t know what made me carry on even after Spotlight won– and it didn’t even make $50 million— but La La Land makes me glad I did.

-Lion- I’m no expert in Oscar trivia but I think this is the first Australian film to be nominated for Best Picture, and a deserving nominee. It’s won over everyone I know who has seen it. It may have had better Best Picture chances in another year.

-Manchester By The Sea- This is a film that was loaded with buzz at the beginning of the Oscar race and looked to be the one film that could beat out La La Land. The buzz faded over time, despite how great the film was. May have an outside chance but not too likely.

-Moonlight- This is one film that proves that less is more. Less dialogue, more of a feel of what’s happening. Less showy characters, more knowing who the characters are. Less singing and dancing, more feel for the music in the film. This is the surprise of the Oscar race that was able to let it speak for itself. I know it faces a hell of a fight against La La Land to win Best Picture but I give this my Should Win pick.

BEST DIRECTOR:

Should Win – Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Will Win – Damien Chazelle, La La Land

I felt that Moonlight is the better picture and Jenkins did an excellent job of directing but I know this is the year of La La Land and it’s Damien Chazelle’s to take.

BEST ACTOR:

Should Win and Will Win – Denzel Washington, Fences

These past two years saw the rise of the #OscarsSoWhite outcry. This year there are seven non-white acting nominees. Denzel may have won twice before but his performance as Troy Maxson has been getting loads of buzz and even surprised favorite Casey Affleck at the SAG Awards. The only way I can see Casey winning instead of Denzel is if the Academy doesn’t want to make this his third Oscar, and it is a possibility.

BEST ACTRESS:

Should Win – Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Will Win – Emma Stone, La La Land

Some are saying that Isabelle Huppert looks to be the biggest threat to Emma Stone’s win. It is a possibility but I think Casey Affleck beating out Denzel appears more likely. It’s Emma’s to lose.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Should Win and Will Win – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Mahershala Ali may have only been seen in the first part of Moonlight but there was something about his performance of Juan that stood out like no other supporting performance this year. Was it Juan’s charisma? Was it his silent coolness? Whatever it is, it’s what made Mahershala stand out this year among all the supporting actor performances.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Should Win and Will Win – Viola Davis, Fences

What can I say? If there’s anyone who can steal the show from Denzel, it’s Viola Davis. She reminded us very well that Fences wasn’t just about Troy Maxson. It was about Rose too.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Should Win – Taylor Sheridan, Hell Or High Water

Will Win – Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea

A lot of people are expecting Damien Chazelle to do it again here but I feel that Kenneth Lonergan will take it for one of the best scripts of the year. It was a film that cuts deep and doesn’t water down.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

Should Win and Will Win – Barry Jenkins and Terell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight

It all started with a short story by McCraney, then Jenkins developed a screenplay, and now it’s one of the best of the year. No stopping it.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

Should Win: Kubo And The Two Strings

Will Win: Zootopia

Kubo was the best at taking your imagination away this year. However in comparison to frontrunner Zootopia, it isn’t really all that family friendly and that I believe is where it will hurt it. Zootopia was without a doubt this year’s crowd charmer. Besides this is the one category Disney wants to take year after year.

BEST ART DIRECTION:

Will Win: La La Land

Let’s face it. Any movie that shows off the classic areas in Los Angeles and even meshes it into the present will win this category.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Will Win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

Will Win: Madeline Fontaine, Jackie

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Will Win: O. J. Simpson: Made In America

BEST FILM EDITING:

Will Win: Tom Cross, La La Land

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

Will Win: The Salesman (Iran)

Salesman director Asghar Farhadi has been the subject of news as it was believed Donald Trump’s travel ban could prevent him from attending the Oscars. Whatever the situation, he boycotted the Oscars in protest of Trump’s policies.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:

Will Win: A Man Called Ove

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Will Win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

I’m sure we’ve all been waiting for the longest time for a musical of original composition. Especially the Academy.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

Should Win: ‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’, La La Land

Will Win: ‘City Of Stars’, La La Land

BEST SOUND MIXING:

Will Win: La La Land

BEST SOUND EDITING:

Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Will Win: The Jungle Book

I think the reason why Star Wars lost this category last year is because having the best digital effects of the year is expected for a Star Wars movie. That’s where The Jungle Book has the edge for this year.

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:

Will Win: Joe’s Helmet

JUST ONE MORE – TOP OSCAR UPSETS

I did this for the first time last year. I want to do it again this year.:

  • Moonlight wins Best Picture
  • Casey Affleck wins Best Actor for Manchester By The Sea
  • Kubo And The Two Strings wins Best Animated Feature
  • Arrival wins Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Greig Fraser wins Best Cinematography for Lion.

And there you have it. My predictions for Hollywood’s night of nights. Let’s see how Jimmy Kimmel does as host this time.

My Predictions For The 2016 Academy Award Nominees

Chocolate Oscar

I know I haven’t been blogging as much as I normally have. You may have noticed I didn’t post predictions for the Golden Globes this year. Heck, I’ve even delayed publishing my review of Doctor Strange! It’s not just about my busy schedule but my lack of hits to my blog in 2016: the least since 2011. However since I’ve been getting more hits to my blog this January, it gives me the energy to publish my next blog.

Of course I wouldn’t miss out on predicting the Oscar nominations. I have been paying attention to the race and seen some of the heavily favored films. The race looks exciting and it’s hard to tell who will win. La La Land looks like the best bet but there have been surprises before, like Spotlight trouncing The Revenant last year. And speaking of last year, I believe the #OscarsSoWhite row has paid off as the Academy has seen a lot of diversity in this year’s new inductees, which I will reflect on in a blog in a week or two, and there appears to be four or five non-white actors heavily favored to be nominated. Cheryl Boone Isaacs even said she’ll have the Academy lead by example.

Anyways without further ado, I have my predictions. To start off, here are my predictions for the nominations on Tuesday:

BEST PICTURE

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell Or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester By The Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Sully

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Garth Davis, Lion
  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
  • Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

BEST ACTOR

  • Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
  • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land
  • Viggo Mortenson, Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

BEST ACTRESS

  • Amy Adams, Arrival
  •  Emily Blunt, The Girl On The Train
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie
  • Emma Stone, La La Land
  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges, Hell Or High Water
  • Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Lucas Hedges, Manchester By The Sea
  • Dev Patel, Lion

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Viola Davis, Fences
  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman, Lion
  •  Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams, Manchester By The Sea

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Yorgos Lanthimos and Efyhimis Filipou, The Lobster
  • Paul Laverty, I, Daniel Blake
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
  • Jeff Nichols, Loving

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Luke Davies, Lion
  • Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
  • Barry Jenkins And Terell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight
  • Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures
  • August Wilson, Fences

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • Finding Dory
  • Kubo And The Two Strings
  • Moana
  • The Red Turtle
  • Zootopia

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Greg Fraser, Lion
  • James Laxton, Moonlight
  • Rodrigo Prieto, Silence
  • Linus Sandgren, La La Land
  • Bradford Young, Arrival

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Colleen Atwood, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  • Consolata Boyle, Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Madeline Fontaine, Jackie
  • Mary Zophres, Hail Caesar!
  • Mary Zophres, La La Land

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • The Eagle Huntress
  • Life, Animated
  • OJ: Made In America
  • Tower
  • Weiner

BEST FILM EDITING

  • Julian Clarke, Deadpool
  • Tom Cross, La La Land
  • John Gilbert, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Jennifer Lame, Manchester By The Sea
  • Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon, Moonlight

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • It’s Only The End Of The World (Canada)
  • A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
  • The Salesman (Iran)
  • Tanna (Australia)
  • Toni Erdmann (Germany)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Nicholas Britwell, Moonlight
  • Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
  • Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka, Lion
  • John Williams, The BFG
  • Hans Zimmer, Pharrel Williams and Benjamin Walfisch, Hidden Figures

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’, Trolls
  • ‘City Of Stars’, La La Land
  • ‘Faith’, Sing
  • ‘Heathens’, Suicide Squad
  • ‘How Far I’ll Go’, Moana

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  • Hail Caesar!
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Rogue One

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Arrival
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange
  • The Jungle Book
  • Rogue One

Those are my predictions for nominations. I also include predictions for possible upsetters for my main predictions. They could upset some of my favorites and get nominated instead. Without further ado, here is my list for the most likely upsetters:

BEST PICTURE

  • Loving
  • Deadpool
  • Elle

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

BEST ACTOR

  • Tom Hanks, Sully
  • Joel Edgerton, Loving

BEST ACTRESS

  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  • Ruth Negga, Loving

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
  • Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
  • Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Taylor Sheridan, Hell Or High Water

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Eric Heisserer, Arrival
  • Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, Silence

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • My Life As a Zucchini
  • Miss Hokusai

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Seamus McGarvey, Nocturnal Animals

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson, The Dressmaker
  • Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Love & Friendship

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • 13th

BEST FILM EDITING

  • Joe Walker, Arrival
  • Jake Roberts, Hell Or High Water

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Abel Korzeniowski, Nocturnal Animals

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  •  ‘Try Everything’, Zootopia
  •  ‘Just Like Fire’, Alice Through Looking Glass

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Arrival
  • Jackie

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

  • Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

So did my predictions come true? Which of my upsetter predictions caused the biggest shocker? Or which nominations from left-field happened? We’ll find out Tuesdayj morning.

2015 Oscars: The Buzz And The Biz

Best Picture 2015

This year’s Best Picture nominees brought in the most box office gold since 2012 but the winner…

Once again, it’s my annual look at this year’s top Academy Awards contenders and how they fared at the Box Office. This was something that once again had to wait until one month after the end of the Oscars to get the full picture. Boy did they have a lot to tell. Once again, all credits for my research to Box Office Mojo.

Before I get into explaining the box office results, I’ll let you all in that Awards Daily showed an interesting graph. It showed how not even $500,000 was spent on a For Your Consideration ad for a Golden Globe win but a win brought in megamillions. It also showed how millions are spent on For Your Consideration ads for the Oscar but the box office draw isn’t even half of what one gets from a Golden Globe win. Something to think about. Especially as we all read on.

When the nominations were announced, two of the eight Best Picture nominees–Mad Max:Fury Road and The Martian— had already grossed over $100 million. That wasn’t the case last year when none of them passed that mark on ‘Nomination Day.’ And that was the Thursday just before American Sniper had its wide release. Actually the eight-set of Best Picture nominees turned in an average of over $75 million. Very impressive.

The film that definitely had its biggest boost since its Best Picture nomination was The Revenant. Between Nomination Day and Awards day, it grossed $116.5 million. A significant boost also came to Room which only grossed $5.2 million before the nominations but $8.2 million between Nomination Day and Awards Day. Films like Spotlight, The Big Short and Brooklyn didn’t double their grosses after their nominations like The Revenant and Room did but their Oscar nominations did give them a good added boost. The Big Short received an additional 423.9 million: more than 50% more than before its nominations. Brooklyn also showed a bigger-than-50% increase in its box office results after their nominations. Spotlight also had an increase but it was just slightly over $10 million.

The only three movies that didn’t see a significant boost after their Oscar nominations were Mad Max: Fury Road, Bridge of Spies and The Martian because they had already neared completion of their box office run with their totals as impressive as they would get. Actually Mad Max: Fury Road wasn’t re-released after its Oscar nominations.

Now Awards Day came and three of the eight Best Picture winners had grossed over $100 million. However the Best Picture winner was a film that was one of the lowest-grossing of the eight nominees: Spotlight. It didn’t even have $40 million grossed by Awards Night. Ever since it’s only grossed an additional $5.2 million and it’s highly unlikely it will hit $50 million. This makes it the second year in a row the Best Picture winner failed to gross $50 million and the third year in a row it fails to gross $100 million. This is a bit of a surprise since I said to myself months earlier: “One more Best Picture winner that fails to gross $100 million and I’m done with Oscar tracking.”

Actually those were temporary feeling as despite Spotlight‘s low gross, it was a film that gave something to admire. However it does point some interesting stats. This will make it the fourth Best Picture winner of the 2010’s that didn’t gross $100 million and there’s still four more years left. The naughts, the decade before the 2010’s, only had three that failed to do so as did the 90’s. You’d figure that the title of Best Picture Winner’ would be a draw to the box office but now it appears less than ever. This shows an interesting detail about how the Academy is in terms of voting for Best Picture. In the past, it was almost always a Hollywood picture. Then things changed with the 1996 Oscars when Jerry Maguire was the only one of the five Best Picture nominees done by a major Hollywood studio to receive a Best Picture nomination. All of the other four nominees including winner The English Patient were independent films.

Since then, the independent films have been winning the Academy over. This has led to a bigger gap than ever between blockbuster films and critical darlings. It has definitely become evident over these last ten years. It’s a bit of a downer for me because I’d really like to see good cinema do well at the box office deep down inside. However it’s becoming more fact. I read an article from Awards Daily which talked about how independent films and films of critical renown don’t so well nowadays at the box office. In the past, you had the movie box office which gave a first run and second run of movies before it even hit video. Now we have such a wide variety of media methods like Netflix and Shomi. It seems like if you want to bring people to the movies, you have to have what it takes to do it. Moviegoers are now choosier as they can decide whether a movie is worth seeing in a cinema or worth waiting for it on Netflix. That would often mean big special effects and often theatre things like showing them in 3D or AVX or in D-Box seats. You mostly won’t get that with the films that win the biggest critical renown. That could have a lot to do with the Best Picture winner constantly grossing lower and lower. For the record, the last Best Picture winner that grossed $100 million+ is 2012’s Argo.

The box office may not have been friendly to Spotlight but it was friendly to the eight Best Picture winners as a whole. The eight have grossed a combined total of $803.8 million– just over $100 million per film for the first time since 2012– an all of them have grossed over $10 million. Spotlight wasn’t the only nominee to bag some extra money after the Oscars. The Revenant took an extra $11.4 million, The Big Short gained an extra $1.6 million, Brooklyn grossed an extra $1.5 million and Room grabbed an extra $1.2 million. Overall The Revenant and Room were the two with the biggest boosts from the Oscar buzz.

The box office results of this year’s nominees told a lot about moviegoers and their choices this year. The winner told lots about the Academy and how they’ve changed as far as voting for Best Picture. Next year should tell more.

My 2015 Academy Award Predictions

Chocolate Oscar

No kidding there was a lot of news about this year’s Oscar nominees from the lack of diversity and the boycotts and AMPAS reform that followed to how this being one of the most unpredictable years as far as Best Picture is concerned. Despite the protests, Chris Rock will still host the Oscars.

As for me, I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees. This makes it the fifteenth year in a row I’ve seen them all before the awards night. It almost would have been my last as I was losing faith in the Academy as the last two Best Picture winners failed to gross $100 million both individually and combined. For the record, 2012’s Argo is the last Best Picture winner with a gross of higher than $100 million. However that could change with The Revenant being a strong favorite.

Collectively I have seen enough films and shorts to make up 86 of this year’s nominees. It’s a shame there won’t be any more members at large because I think I’d make a better Oscar voter. Anyways here are my predictions for this year’s Oscar winners. Note that the bigger categories will get the focus as well as my prediction. Only in few smaller categories will I elaborate. Also you will receive links to my reviews.

Best Picture 2015

BEST PICTURE SUMMARY

This year’s eight Best Picture nominees are quite different. Some have a lot of similarities but there are some surprises. Who would’ve though a Mad Max movie would be one of the nominees? Or even The Big Short would be a heavy favorite? Anyways here’s my summary with the titles hyperlinked to my review:

-The Big Short –  My favorite of the Best Picture nominees and my Should Win pick. I admire it for it being unconventional and making sense of something very technical. However I feel it may come up a bit short to my prediction for the winner.

-Bridge Of Spies –  I feel this is the most underrated movie of the whole Best Picture race. It did a great job in capturing the eerie feel of the Cold War and even the political tension behind it. Too bad it finds itself out of contention for the win because it is deserving of it.

-Brooklyn – It’s easy to think Brooklyn has all the bait of what would win the Academy over. However this was a tightly competitive year. Plus the Academy will always surprise you about what it thinks ids the best.

-Mad Max: Fury Road –  Very rarely does a science fiction movie have a chance at winning Best Picture. This film surprised everyone about how good a sci-fi story can go. A deserving winner, but the competition was tight and also I don’t think the Academy will make it Best Picture.

-The Martian –  Space stories have been winning over the Academy more often lately. Two years ago, it was Gravity.Now The Martian. A good choice for a nominee but I think there were too many parts that were a bit cornball.

-The Revenant –  It may have a lot of buzz but it doesn’t completely guarantee it will win Best Picture. The Revenant may have won the Golden Globe and BAFTA but Spotlight won the Critics Choice award and The Big Short won the Producers Guild. The buzz however is too hard to ignore and I feel that The Revenant Will Win Best Picture. Anyways I find it refreshing having a movie that made over $100 million win Best Picture, especially after Birdman’s poor gross.

-Room – One of two Canada/Ireland entries for Best Picture. Very well-acted and well-written but I don’t think a movie about two young people abducted makes for a Best Picture winner. It deserves respect for making this scenario watchable on screen but not enough to make it a winner.

-Spotlight –  This is this year’s critical darling. It has a lot to offer with a great ensemble of acting, an excellently-written story and well-directed. It has what it takes to win Best Picture. However I feel its November release has hurt its chances for the win. It still has some good chances to win but it faces rivalry against later releases like The Revenant and The Big Short.

BEST DIRECTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – The Revenant – This last while has been the emergence of Inarritu. He first burst onto the scene in 2000 with Amores Perros. He received his first Best Director nomination for Babel. Last year, he won for Birdman. This time around he directs an epic thriller and he succeeds excellently at it. Also it pays off at the box office this time.

BEST ACTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win – Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant – Everybody’s saying “Leo should win it.” It’s easy to see why. He’s done a lot of great performances. Plus winning the Oscar could be the case of career culmination for him. It’s too easy to declare career culmination for his anticipated Oscar win. However you have to see The Revenant for yourself to see why. It involved a lot of physical acting as well as a lot of acting moments involving no speaking at all. You can easily see why he’s a deserving winner.

BEST ACTRESS:

-Should Win and Will Win – Brie Larson – Room – Often enough winning an acting Oscar is often a case of career culmination. Other times it can be that case where you’re lucky to have that role of a lifetime. This is the case for Brie Larson. She was mostly unknown and her biggest work up to then was acting in Trainwreck. However her turn as Joy Newsome as a woman braking free from her kidnapping and struggling to live life in what should be freedom is that role of a lifetime.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

-Should Win – Mark Rylance – Bridge Of Spies – I’ll only base my decision on the supporting performances I’ve seen. Mark was excellent as he had to embody the character of a frail 50 year-old man from head to toe. Not only that but give him a unique charm that’s able to steal the show away from Tom Hanks.

-Will Win – Sylvester Stallone – Creed – I’m not a fan of Sylvester Stallone. In fact I can easily see why the Golden Raspberry awards like to give him accolades. However if there’s one role in which he knows how to do right, it’s Rocky Balboa. I believe with this being possibly the last movie of the Rocky saga, Stallone will win it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

-Should Win – Rooney Mara – Carol – I have to say of all the supporting actress performances I’ve seen, I’m most impressed with Rooney Mara. She played a young woman who was insecure with herself and just learning about herself until Carol helps her to understand herself and not be afraid to love.

-Will Win – Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl – I admit I have not seen The Danish Girl. However Alicia’s performance has already generated a ton of buzz. It seems like a no-brainer she’ll win. Some are already touting her as the biggest thing out of Scandinavia since Liv Ullmann. We’ll see.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win – Matt Charman, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen – Bridge Of Spies – I liked Bridge Of Spies and how it captured the time of fear and paranoia of the Cold War. This was a unique collaboration of Spielberg and the Coen brothers. I thought Bridge Of Spies was one of the smartest films this year.

-Will Win – Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer – Spotlight – Spotlight is one film that has gotten a lot of renown for its story of trying to bring a story to the presses. It’s a deserving winner as it is a story that will keep you interested and intrigued from star to finish. At the same time, it makes a film about sexual abuse by the clergy actually watchable.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win & Will Win- Adam McKay and Charles Randolph – The Big Short – All I can say is the script was full of energy. It defied convention and at the same time made sense out of a confusing topic which only those inside the banking world can fully understand. A deserving winner here.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

-Should Win & Will Win- What can I say? Inside Out is the animated movie of the year. It’s very much the case that when Disney/Pixar releases an original film, it’s bound to be the class of the field in terms of animated films. Heck, the script was even nominated for Best Original Screenplay so how can you rival that?

Here are the rest of the categories. I will only predict who Will Win. As well as give some notes if I feel so.

BEST ART DIRECTION:

Colin Gibson & Lisa Thompson – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

-Robert Richardson – The Hateful Eight

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

-Jenny Beavan – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Amy

BEST FILM EDITING:

-Margaret Sixel – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

-Son Of Saul – Hungary

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:

-The Revenant

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

-Ennio Morricone – The Hateful Eight

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

-“Til It Happens To You” – The Hunting Ground

As far as songs go, that’s the biggest talk about Til It Happens To You and Lady Gaga winning the Oscar. I’m cool with it. As long as she doesn’t wear a meat dress.

BEST SOUND MIXING:

The Revenant

BEST SOUND EDITING:

-Mad Max: Fury Road

Actually I will have my final prediction in this category Saturday evening as that’s when we’ll know the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild winner.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

-Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It seemed like a no-brainer to predict Star Wars to win that category. However it’s not to say it didn’t have it rivals. Accolades have also been given to the effects of The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road.

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:

-Chau: Beyond The Lines

JUST ONE MORE – TOP OSCAR UPSETS

This is something new for me. I’m picking the five most likely upsets of the evening, especially those that will go against my own predictions:

  • The Big Short to win Best Picture
  • Mark Rylance wins Best Supporting Actor for Bridge Of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road win Best Visual Effects
  • Mustang (from France) wins Best Foreign Language Film
  • Sandy Powell wins Best Costume Design for Cinderella

And there you have it. My predictions for Hollywood’s night of nights. You might only care about who wears what but see who wins on Sunday the 28th. Even attend a party. You might win prizes.

Reviews Of Other Nominated Movies Viewed:

-Joy

-Ex Machina

-Straight Outta Compton

-Anomalisa

-Boy And The World

-Cinderella