If I picked the Oscars


The nominations for this year’s Academy Awards come out tomorrow – and Academy of Motion Picture  Arts and Sciences is not asking my opinion.  But if I picked the Oscars:

Best Picture:  My choice for the year’s best movie – Truman – is NOT going to be nominated because it is a little-seen Spanish movie. But there are several deserving choices, including The Big Sick, The Shape of Water and The Post. The Academy almost always chooses a drama for Best Picture, seemingly equating seriousness and gravitas for quality. That means that comedies – and despite the coma, The Big Sick is fundamentally a romantic comedy – get underrated. So I don’t think it will win, but I gauge The Big Sick, an almost perfect film, to be the best American flick of the year.

Best Director:  I’m rooting for Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water, a story that could not be told as well in a novel, on stage or in any other artistic medium. It has to be a movie and one which springs from del Toro’s imagination.

Best Actor:  He’s probably not going to even get nominated, but I would go with Richard Gere in his best career performance in Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer. The huge favorite, of course, is Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour; it’s a fine performance, but I think the Oscars over-elevate portrayals of Great Men and Women.

Best Actress:  Can’t go wrong with Meryl Streep in The Post or Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water.   Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird was pretty special, too.

Best Supporting Actor:  Sam Rockwell is going to win this for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but I prefer the performance of Woody Harrelson in the same movie. Harrelson doesn’t have as  showy a role, but this is one of Woody’s very best performances. Another brilliant performance that will NOT be nominated is Steve Coogan’s guy hanging on to sanity with his fingernails in The Dinner, but nobody saw it.  Among the guys who stand a chance of getting nominated, my preference is for Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project.

Best Supporting Actress:  Allison Janney will be nominated for I, Tonya, she will win and she will deserve it.

Best Animated:   Coco, of course.  Pixar is back.

Best Documentary:   The brilliant Ken Burns documentary The Vietnam War, which aired on PBS, isn’t eligible for an Oscar, but it was the year’s best doc.  Of the eligible documentaries, I really liked Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.

Best Foreign Language Picture.  I am all in for Truman from Spain, which will not be nominated.  Of those nominated, I most admired In the Fade from Germany.

Original Screenplay:  Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri.

Adapted Screenplay:  Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for I Tonya.

Cinematography:  I’m going to cop out on this category.  There just too many wonderfully visual movies this year tp pick just one as the best.  In any other year, the Academy could easily recognize the cinematography  in The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Call Me by Your Name, Phantom Thread, Baby Driver and Okja – but only one can win the statuette.

Film Editing: Baby Driver or Dunkirk.

Long ago, the Oscars recognized a “Juvenile” acting category.  Brooklynn Prince of The Florida Project would be deserving for her exuberant performance.

Other groups give a “Promising Newcomer”award; mine would go to Greta Gerwig as writer.  Obviously, she’s not new to the movies, but her first screenplay makes me eager to see her next ones.


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