Musings on the Spielberg VS Netflix Debate

Hello readers! Today is the fifth and up until a couple of years ago, it’s customary that I post five random movie news/tidbits/query under the Five for the Fifth series. Well, this topic would certainly be part of that series today!

I had thought about this quite a bit since I heard about Steven Spielberg’s plan to push for the Academy to ban Netflix from Oscars at its annual post-Oscars meeting. Spielberg is the Academy Governor of the directors branch and this is what his company Amblin spokesperson is quoted as saying:

“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation… He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting]. He will see what happens.” (per Variety)

I didn’t know this but apparently Spielberg has said in the past that Netflix films should only be eligible for Emmys rather than Oscars. Again per Variety, this is what he said back in 2018: “You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”

This news was first reported by Indiewire, and it lists some of the complaints from Hollywood studios against the streaming service. Among others, the fact that Netflix doesn’t report box office and that it doesn’t respect the 90-day theatrical window. ROMA only spent spent 3 weeks in the theatre before it’s shown on Netflix.

Now, this is what Netflix responded with on Twitter a couple of days later, without mentioning Spielberg by name…


Now, when I first read Spielberg’s comment, I was already unnerved by it. My initial reaction is that he’s just a big Hollywood elite who does not like change, especially one that threatens his own status and tradition he holds dear. No doubt that ‘threat’ got bigger when Netflix’s ROMA got no less than 10 nominations at the Oscars this year AND won three, including Best Foreign Language film.

Now, I don’t have to be a filmmaker to realize how tough it is not only to get a film made, but to get it distributed. An indie filmmaker would be lucky to get even a limited theatrical release, and few could expect to get a wide release the way a standard legacy (studio) system would. The title of the IndieWire article alone says it all about what this ‘battle’ means for the underdogs, aka indie filmmakers…

The Spielberg vs. Netflix Battle Could Mean Collateral Damage for Indies at the Oscars

I recognize that many of the films Netflix campaign aggressively for Oscars were about people of color AND were made by people of color who are still very much a minority under the Hollywood legacy system… Beasts of No Nation (Cary Joji Fukunaga), 13th (Ava Duvernay), Mudbound (Dee Rees), and Roma (Alfonso Cuarón).

So naturally, as a filmmaker of color myself who’s trying to get a feature made, I experience it firsthand how arduous it is to get the chance to make a film. Indie filmmakers don’t get the privilege to expect ANY theatrical release, and many consider getting even a streaming release as a huge accomplishment. Thus I see Netflix as an ally to independent filmmakers, and also filmmakers of color. Based on the films they’ve made/distributed, they seem committed to inclusive storytelling which can only be a good thing for film fans everywhere. But of course that’s still somehow seen as a challenge to the ‘status quo’ who only says they support ‘diversity’ if it aligns with their own success and pocketbooks.

As a film fan, I have increasingly choose to see films on my TV rather than going to the theater. Yes, as a press member I do get invited to advanced screenings, but if I miss some of those films, I often choose to wait until it’s available on VOD. Now, when I know it’s a Netflix film or an Amazon Studio film, I’m glad to know that I can see it sooner and without paying extra because I already have subscriptions to both streaming services. So to me, the quality of a film and its legitimacy to be regarded as a motion picture (read: its Oscars-eligibility) has no bearing on where it’s presented. Spielberg seems to say that there is one way to see a movie and that is on the big screen. I think that communal way of film viewing will never go away, and I still do enjoy seeing some films on the big screen (even in IMAX if it’s made specifically for that giant screen), but there is really no wrong way to see a movie.

Many Hollywood studios don’t like the fact that Netflix doesn’t report theatrical grosses. They are starting to share some metrics of audience viewerships (per BGR.com) so perhaps they’d do the same with theatrical release numbers in the future? Not that it matters to me, the audience member, nor should it have any bearing in the quality of a film.

Even before the Spielberg news came out, Alfonso Cuarón already weighed in on this subject to Variety:

There needs to be greater diversity in how we release our films. Distribution models need to be more flexible, depending on the film. You cannot impose the release strategy of a tentpole film on a smaller film. You may need fewer theaters and longer runs or models in which the so-called window is shorter. We’re thinking in one single paradigm. It’s a moment to start opening up paradigms. Right now it’s a confrontation between economic models. It’s not like one model benefits cinema, and the other does not.


Now, I’m NOT writing this because I’m on the side of a multi-billion dollar streaming company. In fact, I’ve been a longtime fan of Spielberg, but his comments shows him as being out of touch and elitist who wants to maintain his status quo. He’s a product of the studio system where minorities (women, people of color, disabled, etc) struggle to get in and tell their story.

I came across this thread from Franklin Leonard, the founder of The Black List (an annual survey of Hollywood’s executives’ favorite unproduced screenplays), and it’s hard to argue with his points…


Yes I realize some of you might argue that Netflix is not an ‘underdog’ company that deserves our sympathy. After all it spent about $50 million for Roma‘s Oscar campaign alone. So perhaps the argument should be about limiting spending on Oscar campaigns? I personally can’t stand studio’s award campaign, that’s one of the worst things about award season for me. But if the film Netflix or other streaming service is promoting is a worthy one, who’s to say it’s not eligible to be included in the Oscar race??

As I have just seen a Netflix Original Film last night, TRIPLE FRONTIER. It’s the first time I saw a Netflix film on the big screen, surely the first of many. At the film premiere, no doubt this topic was all the buzz. One of the film’s star who’s also a filmmaker, Ben Affleck, is naturally supportive of Netflix, saying that “they’re helping define the future of cinema and distribution” (per Deadline).

Per Cinema Blend, Affleck spoke of his rationale why he wouldn’t be in Spielberg’s camp in trying to disqualify streaming films (even those that has limited theatrical release) from competing at Oscars…

We certainly approached [Triple Frontier] as any other movie. There’s no difference when you’re making it between what the platform is that it’s going to be seen on. I do think Netflix is doing more interesting stuff in creating a more cinematic experience for the home. More people, more viewers, bigger TVs, bigger sound. They’re doing Dolby Cinema color correction, they do Dolby Atmos sound mixes. So they’re sort of synthesizing the theatrical with the home viewing experience in a kind of interesting way. It’s all changing very fast.


Netflix continues to work with big names in filmmaking, (One of Triple Frontier‘s executive producers is Kathryn Bigelow) and they’ve got Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman with its all-star cast (DeNiro, Pacino, Harvey Keitel) which will likely get an even wider release than ROMA. I personally think it’s an exciting time as a film fan as we have more options for content and how we want to see them.

So in conclusion, I’m glad there are streaming services like Netflix exists. I’m lucky that I live in a city where there are plenty of cinemas. But even so, there are always smaller films that I want to see that don’t get shown or they’re shown only in 1-2 theaters in Minneapolis for 2 weeks tops. I’d imagine people in rural or remote areas don’t even get that same privilege, but it’d be easier for them to subscribe to streaming services like Netflix.

In the end, I believe in options… I like to be able to see movies wherever and whenever I want. In the ideal world, the theatrical and streaming model should co-exist. Just because something has been done one way for so long doesn’t mean it has to be the ONLY way.


So what do you think of this Spielberg VS Netflix debate? Let’s hear it!

 

Oscars 2019 – Reflections on winners, memorable moments

Quick confession: I’m copying this post from 2015. Well whaddayaknow, four years later, I am still loyal to tradition of watching the Oscars in my PJs live tweetin’ with my laptop!!


Well, first things first…

How did I do on my predictions?

  1. Best picture: ROMA Green Book
  2. Best director: Spike Lee Alfonso Cuarón
  3. Best lead actor: Cristian Bale Rami Malek
  4. Best lead actress: Olivia Colman
  5. Best supporting actor: Sam ElliotMahershala Ali 
  6. Best supporting actress: Regina King –If Beale Street Could Talk
  7. Best animated feature: Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse
  8. Best adapted screenplay: Can You Ever Forgive Me? BlackKklansman
  9. Best original screenplay: The Favourite Green Book
  10. Best original score: Black Panther
  11. Best cinematography: A Star Is Born ROMA (Alfonso Cuarón)
  12. Best Foreign Language Film: Shoplifters ROMA
  13. Best original song: Shallow (A Star Is Born)
  14. Best Film Editing: BlackkKlansman Bohemian Rhapsody
  15. Best Make Up and Hair Styling: VICE
  16. Best Production Design: Black Panther
  17. Best Costume Design: Black Panther
  18. Best Sound Editing: First Man Bohemian Rhapsody
  19. Best Mixing: First Man  First Man Bohemian Rhapsody
  20. Best Visual Effects: Avengers: Infinity War First Man

Well, I did a pretty awful job this year, ahah. I only got 7 right out of the 20 categories I predicted.

The one I’m surprised by the most is Mahershala Ali as his first Best Supporting Actor win was just a few years ago, but hey I’m by no means disappointed.

 

Red Carpet Stuff

I didn’t actually watch this LIVE on TV, just following Twitter for the Oscars red carpet coverage, as I do year after year.

These are some of my favorite dresses of the night:

I LOVE seeing colors on the red carpet. There might be some I missed but of the ones I saw in my timeline, these are the ones that I think are the prettiest.


I feel like Cate Blanchett often wear sea-foam green color on the red carpet and she looks absolutely gorgeous in this floral number. Amy Adams looks like a mermaid in that pearl gown and it highlights her figure nicely. Michelle Yeoh & Angela Bassett both proof you can look perfectly glamorous at any age!

Dapper men on the red carpet!

Well, let’s just get to the main event shall we?

Favorite Speeches:

Olivia’s reaction when she heard her name was priceless… then came her speech. Endearing. Adorable. Humble. Hilarious. Moving. If there’s a Best Speech award, this Queen wins it hands down!

“God is Good ALL the time… and ALL the time, GOD IS GOOD!” – AMEN Regina King!!

I so wanted Ruth Carter to win because I adore every single one of those Black Panther costumes!!!

This is the one category I want A Star Is Born to win… Shallow is a beautiful, emotional song and boy… that Oscar performance was something else!


Fave Moments

Woo wee!! Captain America is my fave hero of the MCU… and Chris Evans is the absolute embodiment of him. Not to mention he’s looking dapper af!! 😉

I literally just watched BlackKlansman last night, just in the nick of time before the Oscars telecast. Thrilled to see it won Best Adapted Screenplay! But that great moment is topped by Spike Lee jumping Samuel L. Jackson on stage before he received his award. Yeah!!!

Confession: It’s only my second Spike Lee movie (yes I gotta rectify that soon, starting with Do The Right Thing!)

Is there a more iconic musical performance duo??

Final Thoughts

I know lots of people are upset with two of the categories… Best Actor (Rami Malek) and Best Picture (Green Book).

Haven’t seen BohemianRhapsody yet but can’t help but really astounded/baffled/ bewildered by Malek’s win. Was hoping anyone but him in this category, especially Bale.

As for Best Picture… well I actually enjoyed Green Book and didn’t learn about the controversies until later. I still stand by that it’s a good movie (it’s on my Top 10 of the year) though after having seen BlacKkKlansman last night, I think that Spike Lee film should’ve won over Green Book!!

We can debate endlessly about who should or more deserving to win, etc., but y’know what, it makes me glad to see the diversity of the winners. Here are four of the acting category winners…

Rami Malek, Olivia Colman, Regina King, Mahershala Ali – Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage

Let’s hope the diversity and inclusion extends to FEMALE FILMMAKERS in the future!! Come on The Academy, there are a plethora of great work by female filmmakers worth to be in the Best Picture category, especially Leave No Trace.

Lastly, about the host-less Oscars… I don’t really miss it, but hey if we have to have a host again, we should have these three funny ladies host next year!


So what’s your thoughts on the 2019 Oscar winners and what’s your pick of best/worst moments?

2019 Oscars Winner Predictions – Who will win, who should win

The telecast is just one week away – and this year, the weeks leading up to it has been marked with one controversy after another. Starting with the plan to add a baffling Most Popular Film category (huh??) back in August (which is now delayed & hopefully gone forever); to the hosting debacle with Kevin Hart in December which leads to no host this year; to the audacity of actually planning to award four categories —Cinematography, Editing, Make-Up/Hairstyling and Live Action Short — during commercial time in order to shorten the telecast… boy it seems like the Academy is off its rocker!

Naturally there’s an uproar by the public as well as members of the Academy that made them to finally reverse the decision (d’oh!) so now ALL 24 Award categories will be presented on stage in the Dolby Theatre, and included in the broadcast. It was interesting seeing all the reactions on Twitter, this one illustrates it best just how ludicrous it is to exclude cinematography and editing category…


As for the no-host thing, I personally don’t mind that at all. I mean why is it necessary to have a big long opening monologue? They could even move one of the musical numbers to the beginning. If the goal is to shorten the telecast, the intro should be the one area to trim.

In any case, per usual, it’s time for me to post my predictions for the winner, as well as which one I’m rooting to win. Apparently 32 nominations went to 12 films on the list of the top 50 grossing movies of the year (per Useless Daily).

BEST PICTURE

Nominees:
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Roma
A Star Is Born
Vice

Who will win: ROMA
Who should win: A Star Is Born

Out of this list, I’ve only seen five but hopefully I’ll get to see Roma and BlackkKlansman before Oscar night. I have a soft spot for A Star Is Born and considering it’s from a first-time director, Bradley Cooper, it’s all the more astounding. However, though many thought that A Star is Born would be the favorite to win Best Picture, after the nominees were announced, the movie began to lose steam and the current favorite seems to be Rome from Alfonso Cuaron leading with odds at -110.


BEST ACTOR

Nominees:
Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Who will win: Christian Bale
Who should win: Christian Bale

I actually don’t mind anyone else winning in this category, though I have only seen Rami Malek in Mr. Robot and though he’s good there, I’m just not enthused about seeing Bohemian Rhapsody. VICE is not a perfect movie but Christian Bale’s performance was simply astounding, such a chameleon actor who once again proved his chops in disappearing into a role.


BEST ACTRESS

Nominees:
Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Who will win: Olivia Colman
Who should win:  Olivia Colman

I have been a longtime admirer of Olivia Colman and she’s truly astounding in The Favourite. Having won Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG (pardon my error, Glenn Close actually won SAG this year) but Colman also won British Independent Film Awards. I think it’s safe to say she’ll go home w/ the Oscar statuette this year too!


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees
Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Who will win: Sam Elliott
Who should win: Richard E. Grant

This is the first nomination for Sam Elliot, which I find hard to believe. I thought he was terrific in A Star Is Born, and I have a feeling he’d get the most Oscar votes. I was wowed by Richard E. Grant’s performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me? which mixes repulsion and pathos perfectly.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees:
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Who will win: Regina King
Who should win: Amy Adams

I can’t believe this is Amy Adams’ sixth Oscar nomination!! Now I don’t want her to win simply because of that, but I think her performance as Lynn Cheney is a worthy one. I have a feeling this might not be her year again, somehow I feel like Regina King would win this category. I don’t have a problem with that, she’s definitely memorable in If Beale Street Could Talk.


BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees:
Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Adam McKay, “Vice”

Who will win: Spike Lee
Who should win: Spike Lee

Firstly, I think Bradley Cooper is SNUBBED!! Apparently A Star Is Born directed itself as it garnered Best Picture nom and seven other categories 😉  Now, out of this list, the one I don’t think deserved to win is Adam McKay as VICE is such an uneven film, but my gut says first-time nominee Spike Lee (finally!) is likely to win Best Director.


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Nominees:
Incredibles 2, Brad Bird
Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson
Mirai, Mamoru Hosoda
Ralph Breaks the Internet, Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Who will win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Who should win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

After watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, I knew it would get major award nominations and really it’s the best of the bunch! In terms of technicality, the unique animation style AND the engaging, moving story, it kind of leads the pack by a long shot.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Nominees:
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
A Star Is Born, Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters

Who will win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Who should win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

It’s always so tough to predict the screenplay category, and I haven’t seen the first two on the list. I’m not as enamored with If Beale Street Could Talk as I did with Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. I love A Star Is Born, which absolutely moved me, but Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which centers on celebrity biographer Lee Israel, has such sharp wit and makes for such a compelling story of a flawed character. It’s won Writers Guild Award which usually is a good predictor for the Oscars.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Nominees:
The Favourite, Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
First Reformed, Paul Schrader
Green Book, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Vice, Adam McKay

Ethan Hawke in ‘First Reformed’

Who will win: The Favourite
Who should win: First Reformed

Now, I haven’t seen First Reformed yet, but again, I’m astonished that Paul Schrader has never been nominated for an Oscar before. I mean he’s written such classics as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, etc. It seems unlikely however, I think it’ll come down to between The Favourite and Green Book.


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Cinematography:
Cold War, Lukasz Zal
The Favourite, Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away, Caleb Deschanel
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born, Matthew Libatique

A Star Is Born – shot by Matthew Libatique

Who will win: A Star Is Born
Who should win: Cold War

I have yet to see Never Look Away, but six-time nominee Caleb Deschanel should’ve won for his work in The Passion of the Christ (which also should’ve been nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, etc). Out of the ones I have seen, I thought A Star Is Born and Cold War were visually ravishing. I put down Cold War as the one I’m rooting for, but I’d be equally thrilled if A Star Is Born wins.


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Nominees:
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Cold War (Poland)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)

A still from ‘Shoplifters’

Who will win: Shoplifters
Who should win: Cold War

I feel like if Roma won Best Picture, then the award in this category would go to Cold War. I have heard great things about Shoplifters however, so I have a feeling that one would be Cold War‘s biggest rival.


BEST FILM EDITING

Nominees:
BlacKkKlansman, Barry Alexander Brown
Bohemian Rhapsody, John Ottman
Green Book, Patrick J. Don Vito
The Favourite, Yorgos Mavropsaridis
Vice, Hank Corwin

Who will win: BlacKkKlansman
Who should win: BlacKkKlansman

I feel like this is such an important category that no doubt people were livid that they were going to exclude this from the broadcast! I mean, people often say that in the editing room is ‘where the magic of filmmaking happens.’ Out of the ones I have seen, I really have no preference/inkling who’d win, so I picked BlacKkKlansman simply out of what I’ve read so far about it and pure gut feeling.


BEST SOUND EDITING

Nominees:
Black Panther, Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker
Bohemian Rhapsody, John Warhurst
First Man, Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan
A Quiet Place, Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
Roma, Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay

Who will win: First Man
Who should win: First Man

First Man is one of those films I saw this year that was a bit of a disappointment, perhaps because I had such a high expectations. But technically I thought it was a marvel so I predict it’ll win the two sound categories.


BEST SOUND MIXING

Nominees:
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
Roma
A Star Is Born

Who will win: First Man
Who should win: First Man

It’s always a challenge predicting the sound category, I just don’t feel I have the ear for it. So based on what I said above, I think First Man would get this one as well.


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Nominees:
Black Panther, Hannah Beachler
First Man, Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas
The Favourite, Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
Mary Poppins Returns, John Myhre, Gordon Sim
Roma, Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez

Who will win: Black Panther
Who should win: Black Panther

I have to say that even from the first time I saw Black Panther, I was in awe by its production design. It’s truly something to marvel at even the 2nd and 3rd time I saw it! The world of Wakanda is futuristic but still has the beauty and texture of Africa, I especially love the look of Shuri’s state-of-the-art lab. The world building in this fictitious country is truly astounding as it also looks and feel organic and real.


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Nominees:
BlacKkKlansman, Terence Blanchard
Black Panther, Ludwig Goransson
If Beale Street Could Talk, Nicholas Britell
Isle of Dogs, Alexandre Desplat
Mary Poppins Returns, Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

Who will win: Black Panther
Who should win: If Beale Street Could Talk

I love, love Black Panther‘s score and was humming it over and over after I saw it for the first time. But I thought Britell’s work in If Beale Street Could Talk is truly moving and adds so much to the romantic as well tragic moments of the film.


BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Nominees:
All The Stars from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
I’ll Fight from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
The Place Where Lost Things Go from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
Shallow from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice
When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Who will win: Shallow
Who should win: Shallow

Despite not being a fan of Lady Gaga (I just don’t pay attention to her music before this), I absolutely love Shallow. I couldn’t stop humming it weeks after I saw it. Having won a bunch of awards already (including Golden Globe and BAFTA, also nominated for a Grammy), this seems to be the one to beat this year. The Place Where Lost Things Go is my favorite from Mary Poppins, though overall the movie itself didn’t really leave a lasting impression on me.


BEST MAKEUP/HAIRSTYLING

Nominees:
Border
Mary Queen of Scots
Vice

Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’

Who will win: Vice
Who should win: Mary Queen of Scots

I wish Mary Queen of Scots would garner more nominations than this, but they truly deserved to be nominated just for the makeup on Margot Robbie alone, especially the chicken pox scene! I do think Vice might win this category though, for making Christian Bale look believable as Dick Cheney!


BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Nominees:
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Mary Zophres
Black Panther, Ruth E. Carter
The Favourite, Sandy Powell
Mary Poppins Returns, Sandy Powell
Mary Queen of Scots, Alexandra Byrne

Who will win: Black Panther
Who should win: Black Panther

I kind of have a feeling this category would come down to The Favourite and Black Panther. I love the look of Black Panther and the costumes are definitely intricate and unique, plus it doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen. Like the production design, it’s fitting that the clothes from a country with such cutting-edge technology would look revolutionary and futuristic, yet faithful to the African roots.


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Visual Effects:
Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Who will win: Avengers: Infinity War
Who should win: First Man

It’s the only category Avengers: Infinity War is nominated for and with a budget that’s practically infinite, it’s no doubt the visual effects is astounding. It’s entirely possible the Academy would give this one award to Disney, though I thought First Man did an astounding job making the journey to the moon so believable and so visceral.


Well, those are my predictions. Feel free to let me know who you think would/should win in the comments!

Musings on 2019 Oscars nominations

Well it’s one of those mornings that cinephiles always wait for year after year… the morning Oscar nominations are announced. I for one don’t go out of my way to wake up early to see it live, but when I woke up, of course I immediately tried to see who’s shortlisted.

Right away I noticed that it’s perhaps the most diverse lineup of nominees… though it’s by no means perfect. The Academy’s more-inclusive picks would likely keep those #OscarsSoWhite hashtags at bay… at least for now.

So here are some obligatory random comments (good & bad) about 2019 nominations:

• Not a single female directors nominated?? 😦

The UN Women twitter pic above is downright disheartening, especially since I think there are a bunch of worthy films from female directors… Josie Rourke with Mary, Queen of Scots and Debra Granik with Leave No Trace, among others. While you’re at it, check out my interview with Debra on making the film.

Granik directing Thomasin McKenzie in LEAVE NO TRACE

Netflix is becoming even more of a force to be reckoned with… rivaling big studios in raking in nominees. It’s got 15 nominations thanks to Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA leading with 10 nods, including the coveted Best Picture. How awesome that first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio got a nod in Best Actress, she’s apparently a preschool teacher who didn’t know much about the film industry and barely spoke any English at the time. [Note to self: gotta watch ROMA this weekend!]

Speaking of a Foreign Language film that’s highly-personal to the filmmaker AND set in black & white, glad to see COLD WAR getting recognition with 3 Oscars, including Best Director for Paweł Pawlikowski.


I LOVE this sultry, intensely-passionate romance drama, which was inspired by the love story of Pawel’s own parents!

Whoa! Sixth nominations!! I thought her performance as Lynne Cheney in VICE (once again co-starring with Christian Bale) was terrific. Sadly I don’t think this is Amy Adams‘ year yet, I’m convinced Regina King will take home the statuette.

Happy to see documentary filmmaker Bing Liu getting an Oscar nom on his first film Minding The Gap, wow! I got to meet him last year when he received an award from MSPIFF, here he is with Minnesota’s own film legend Al Milgrom. I actually missed his film at the fest, that’s one I gotta watch real soon!

I know there’ll be all kinds of people hating on Black Panther getting a nomination. But you won’t be hearing it from me. I think it’s well-deserved… a masterful work by director Ryan Coogler that made it so much more than a superhero movie. I highly doubt it’ll actually win Best Picture though, but it’s already made history for being nominated. Oh and with seven nods, I have a feeling it’ll win a couple forBest Costume Design (Ruth E. Carter) and Best Production Design (Hannah Beachler). How awesome would it be if both black women win in those categories!!

It’s no surprise Bradley Cooper is an Academy’s favorite, but I thought he deserved a Best Director nod as much as his acting one. Can you believe it he’s been nominated for an Oscar four times?? Just like his former co-star Amy Adams though, I don’t think this is his year to win an acting Oscar.

Where’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? for Best Documentary??? The Mister Rogers biopic seems poised to be shortlisted… it certainly one of the most moving films I’ve seen all year! I’d say that’s one of the biggest snubs this year.

I know some people are outraged that If Beale Street Could Talk and First Man didn’t get more love. Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle were each other’s biggest rival two years ago with Moonlight & La La Land, and I heavily championed Moonlight to win. But this year, I wasn’t as in love with If Beale Street Could Talk though I find it far more moving and memorable than First Man. So no, no complaints from me that neither one of those movies get a nod.

Now I haven’t even seen You Were Never Really Here but based on what I read so far, sounds like Joaquin Phoenix AND writer/director Lynne Ramsay are both snubbed this year.

I have to catch up on three Best Picture nominees… BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody and Roma. Of the five I have seen, my least favorite is actually The Favourite [gasp!] Now, I didn’t hate the movie [please don’t resort to hyperbole like the rest on social media], I just don’t think it was as great as the critics made it to be and I actually find it irritating at times. My friend Cindy just did a post about it which highlights some of the things that bothered me. I do think all three actresses are terrific playing such hard-to-root-for characters. I’m especially thrilled to see Olivia Colman finally getting the recognition she deserved!

Olivia Colman in The Favourite

My last comment is on a highly controversial movie Green Bookwell, I’m glad it got nominated! I’ve mentioned it on my Top 10 list post that I see this movie as a beautiful story of friendship set during the dark times in American South ripe with racial discrimination. I’m also thrilled to see Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali each get an acting nod! I’ll be torn between Viggo and Christian Bale in the Best Actor race… my gut says this will be Bale’s year to get another Oscar.

Well, there are more that could be said about this year’s nominees but if I continue, I’ll never post this thing.


The 91st Annual Academy Awards will air on Feb. 24 on ABC.


Well, everyone’s got an opinion. What are your thoughts on the Oscars nominations?

Musings on 2019 Golden Globes nominations – and the egregious snubs

The award season is officially here… can you believe it? [I still don’t believe it’s Winter already, but well, whatchagonnado?] The Golden Globes nominations were announced this morning, and so the reactions for snubs and surprises have dominated social media. So why not add one more for the fun of it.

Before we go into my thoughts on the noms, let me say that I’m thrilled to see Sandra Oh will be hosting the telecast, along with Andy Samberg. Glad she’s amongst the nominees too, wahoo!!

Now about the nominations… per usual, in addition to my thoughts about the nominees, I thought I’d include my winner pick for some of the categories…

Here is the full list of 2019 Golden Globe nominees (via Variety)

Best Motion Picture – Drama

“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“A Star Is Born”

Ok so I’ve only seen three out of five, hopefully I can catch up with Bohemian Rhapsody and BlacKkKlansman later this month. Honestly, I’m not as enamored with Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk the way I did with Moonlight. I actually like the acting of the two leads and Regina King, but that’s about it. I am thrilled to see Black Panther breaking new grounds as the only superhero film getting nominated, yay! It’s absolutely well-deserved and of course I’m rooting for that. I loved A Star Is Born too, but I’d give Black Panther a slight edge because it’s not only a fun, entertaining film with substance, but it’s also immensely re-watchable.

My winner pick: Black Panther (my review)


Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”)
Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Rosamund Pike (“A Private War”)

I’ve only seen Lady Gaga’s and Melissa McCarthy’s performances, man what a list!! No doubt Close, Kidman and Pike all give worthy performances, but I was truly impressed by McCarthy’s sensitive and nuanced performance as Lee Israel. Balancing comedy and drama is so tough, and I thought she did a terrific job playing a rather unlikable character.

My winner pick: Melissa McCarthy


Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”)
Lucas Hedges (“Boy Erased”)
Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”)
John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”)

Gaaah I have only seen Cooper’s performance here 😦 I’m not going to pick a winner as I should at least see two performances of the list. But if Cooper does win, I’d be totally ok with it as I think he delivered a tremendous performance in his directorial debut (my review of A Star Is Born)


Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

“Crazy Rich Asians”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“Vice”

Ok so most of you know just how much I adore Crazy Rich Asians and how much representation of Asians (esp. Southeast Asians) in Hollywood matters to me. I have to say that Green Book also really moved me. Both films have wildly-different style and tone, but both speak about hot button issue of race with humor. I LOVE the cast in both films too, which made it all the more difficult to choose between the two!

My winner picks: Green Book or Crazy Rich Asians


Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”)
Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”)
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)
Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”)

Firstly, where in the world is Viola Davis??!??! Come on HPFA! She was simply phenomenal in Steve McQueen’s fantastic ensemble cast and she’s the heart and soul of that movie. The lack of love for Widows is truly mind blowing!

Ok now that’s out of my system… given that I’m actually rather lukewarm about The Favourite (which is NOT my favorite films of the year), I really love Colman’s performance as the decidedly unlikable and bizarre Queen Anne. The film’s also decidedly riddled with historical inaccuracies (esp. in regards to her lesbian affairs), yet Colman was mesmerizing in the role. I just think Colman is such a deftly talented actress and I’m thrilled to see her finally getting more recognition!

My winner pick: Olivia Colman


Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Christian Bale (“Vice”)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”)
Robert Redford (“The Old Man & the Gun”)
John C. Reilly (“Stan & Ollie”)

I’m still waiting with bated breath for the press screening of VICE (scheduled to be released on Christmas day). Just based on the trailer alone, I’m willing to bet that Christian Bale will disappear once again into his role as Dick Chenney, perhaps the unlikeliest role for the Welsh thespian even in his wildly diverse resume. It’s pure coincidence that both dreamboat actors (Batman and Aragorn) gained significant weight for their respective roles. I LOVED Mortensen’s comedic performance in Green Book, so I’d be truly happy if either one of them win!

My winner pick: Christian Bale or Viggo Mortensen


Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture

Amy Adams (“Vice”)
Claire Foy (“First Man”)
Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Emma Stone (“The Favourite”)
Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”)

Hmmm, the Hollywood Foreign Press clearly is enamoured (yes I’m using the British spelling here to match the film’s title, ha!) with The Favourite. I personally would love to see one of the ladies from Widows being nominated here (esp. Elizabeth Debicki). But if I had to pick one from THIS list, I’d go with…

My winner pick: Regina King


Best Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture

Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”)
Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”)
Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Sam Rockwell (“Vice”)

I have only seen Ali and Richard E. Grant who’s excellent as Melissa McCarthy’s randy bff. Everyone seems to be smitten with Timothee Chalamet (I haven’t seen enough of him to form an opinion) but Driver and Rockwell are such great character actors. I do have a soft spot for Mahershala, who’s so elegant and oh-so-regal as Dr. Don Shirley.

My winner pick: Mahershala Ali


Best Motion Picture – Animated

“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mirai”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

I’m going to refrain from picking a winner as I’ve only seen Ralph Breaks The Internet (see my review and interview with the filmmakers). I am excited to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse this weekend!


Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

“Capernaum”
“Girl”
“Never Look Away”
“Roma”
“Shoplifters”

I am ashamed to say I have not seen any of these!! I was hoping to go see ROMA last month at the Film Society, but the schedule just didn’t work out.


Best Director – Motion Picture

Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”)
Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)

Um, firstly… where are the female directors?? Hello???! FastCompany listed no less than 29 female directors that did some worthy projects eligible for noms.

Oh well.

Looking at this list… I was really impressed with Cooper’s directorial debut and not surprised at all he’s nominated. However, I don’t think he deserved to win in this lineup. I’ve heard nothing but tremendous praise for Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA, which chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s, starring unknown actors. If I were a betting woman, I’d put my $$$ on the Mexican filmmaker.

My winner pick: Alfonso Cuaron


Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”)
Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (“Green Book”)

Yes I know the movie hasn’t come out yet, but this movie’s already leading the pack with six Globes nominations. Adam McCay could very well score another big win in the screenplay category. He’d won in 2015 for The Big Short, which also had Christian Bale AND Steve Carell in it, both looked utterly convincing as Chenney and Donald Rumsfeld respectively. Physical transformation aside, this political satire has certainly become the one to beat this award season.

My winner pick: Vice


Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Marco Beltrami (“A Quiet Place”)
Alexandre Desplat (“Isle of Dogs”)
Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”)
Justin Hurwitz (“First Man”)
Marc Shaiman (“Mary Poppins Returns”)


Best Original Song – Motion Picture

“All the Stars” (“Black Panther”)
“Girl in the Movies” (“Dumplin’”)
“Requiem For a Private War” (“A Private War”)
“Revelation’ (“Boy Erased”)
“Shallow” (“A Star Is Born”)

This song was stuck in my head for weeks after I saw the movie. Even listening to it again it still moved me to tears. It has everything one wants in a romantic ballad, it has a Whitney Houston vibe to it (circa The Bodyguard) … a truly beautiful and highly-emotional song.

My winner pick: Shallow


Best Television Series – Drama

“The Americans”
“Bodyguard”
“Homecoming”
“Killing Eve”
“Pose”

I’ll refrain from making my pick as I’ve only Bodyguard in its entirety. I’ve only seen season 1 of The Americans and based on that alone, I can see why it’s become awards darling for years. I hope to catch Killing Eve just to see Sandra Oh, I’m thrilled to see her finally getting recognition after putting in great work all these years.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”)
Julia Roberts (“Homecoming”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)

As I mentioned above, I can’t wait to see Killing Eve. But given I don’t have cable, who knows when I can finally see the BBC America series. I just read this on the NYTimes“Spy thrillers almost never cast women as both the cat and the mouse, and this one also features an equally rare female presence behind the camera: The English writer and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge… is the series’s lead writer, showrunner and executive producer.” Just for this reason alone I’m rooting for this show to win! Miss Oh missed out on becoming the first woman of Asian descent to win an Emmy in the lead actress category, I’m hoping she has a better chance in snatching the Globe since Claire Foy is not amongst the nominees.

My winner pick: Sandra Oh


I’m going to refrain from picking my winner picks in these TV categories. Yes I have picked winners from films/shows I haven’t seen before, but I don’t have any strong hunch or feelings about the following shows and performers to make up my mind.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)
Stephan James (“Homecoming”)
Richard Madden (“Bodyguard”)
Billy Porter (“Pose”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

“Barry” (HBO)
“The Good Place” (NBC)
“Kidding” (Showtime)
“The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”)
Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”)
Alison Brie (“Glow”)
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Sasha Baron Cohen (“Who Is America?”)
Jim Carrey (“Kidding”)
Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”)
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
Bill Hader (“Barry”)

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

“The Alienist” (TNT)
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
“Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
“Sharp Objects” (HBO)
“A Very English Scandal” (Amazon)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”)
Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”)
Connie Britton (“Dirty John”)
Laura Dern (“The Tale”)
Regina King (“Seven Seconds”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Antonio Banderas (“Genius: Picasso”)
Daniel Bruhl (“The Alienist”)
Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose”)
Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”)


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Alan Arkin (“The Kominsky Method”)
Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Edgar Ramirez (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”)
Henry Winkler (“Barry”)


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Patricia Clarkson (“Sharp Objects”)
Penelope Cruz (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Ok so I have only seen Borstein and Newton’s (in S1 of Westworld) performances. I absolutely love Borstein’s performance as Susie in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that I kind of want her to win every time she’s nominated!

My winner pick: Alex Borstein


Biggest Surprises

Well, for me it’d be 15-year-old star of Eighth Grade, Elsie Fisher. I haven’t heard of her before this one, and the film wasn’t exactly on my radar. Well good for her, she’s actually done a ton of projects in her young career.

I think VICE being the leader of the pack at the Globes and possibly at the Oscars could count as a surprise to most people. I really can’t wait to see that movie!!

Most egregious snubs

Well firstly, the obvious… where are the female directors?? I mentioned it above in the Best Director category, and for one I thought Josie Rourke who directed Mary, Queen of Scots might have a shot. And there’s Mimi Leder, director of On The Basis of Sex, who hasn’t directed a feature film in ages!

As for the performers… let’s start with Viola Davis in Widows.

I mean… I was quite floored NOT to see her name amongst the Best Actress category. She’s truly amazing as the leader of a fantastic ensemble cast and her performance is simply outstanding. The lack of love for Steve McQueen’s Widows baffles me. There are themes of social, economical, political and racial divides, not to mention a female empowerment story that makes it SO much more than a cool popcorn thriller.

I haven’t seen the film yet but based on the reviews of Hereditary (including ours, by Laura S), I thought Toni Collette’s nomination is a shoo-in [shrug].


So what are your thoughts on the Golden Globes nominees? Who do you think are snubbed and who are you rooting for?

Quick thoughts on Oscars 2018 & the winners

It’s almost 10 o’clock when I started writing this post so this is not gonna be a comprehensive post. I have a busy day ahead tomorrow as my department at work is having a musical chair moment moving a bunch of us to new cubicles. Plus there’s also a snowstorm coming tomorrow (gah I sure hope I can still go to that Wrinkle In Time screening!).

Around this time last year, as I was watching the Oscar ceremony, I was still making changes to my short film Hearts Want for the zillionth time. So as a first time filmmaker, this year I got quite emotional as I heard the speech of Best live action short winner (The Silent Child), and she did the sign language as her film is about a deaf child.

Here’s the trailer for that short if you haven’t seen it already:


No comment on the red carpet as I tuned in rather late and I generally don’t care for red carpet stuff anyway. But there are some great frocks out there, these are some of my faves…

Well, the ceremony was ok overall, I enjoyed the retro-styled BW intro. ‘Armie Hammer was born when a witch puts a curse on a Ken doll’ ha!

I quite enjoyed seeing clips of classic films being used throughout the ceremony too!

It’s the 90th year of the Academy Awards, I love the segment celebrating 90 years of timeless movies!

I gotta admit I teared up a bit watching that… and it certainly made me want to go to the movies!!

 

As for the winners…

They’re all VERY predictable. I posted my predictions on Friday. I got ALL of the acting winners right so there was zero suspense in that department. The film I was rooting for this year, The Shape of Water, ended up getting FOUR Oscars out of the 13 it was nominated for, including Best Director AND Best Picture!

– Glad to see Sam Rockwell won, even though I have yet to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. To have THREE actors nominated from a single film is quite something and two of them won!

Dunkirk won for Best Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, as well as Best Editing. Well deserved on all three!! Dunkirk was a moviegoing experience like no other and largely because of the sound AND the way it was edited.

– Yaassss on The Shape of Water winning Best Production Design… the amazing, meticulously-designed set pieces truly transports me to 1960s Cold War era.

Allison Janney pretty much won every award there is for Best Supporting Actress…

– The one category I was rooting for Phantom Thread to win DID win!

– The venerable James Ivory (who made all those Merchant-Ivory films!!) won Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me By Your Name. Now, I’m even more surprised that this is his first win! Wait, what??

– And the one nominee practically everyone was rooting for… I bet even first time female DP nominee Rachel Morrison herself was probably ok w/ Mr. Deakins winning!

This tweet sums it all…

The Shape Of Water swept me off my feet in so many ways, including its beautiful, melancholic, romantic theme… so yeah, no problem whatsoever with it winning Best Score! Congrats Alexandre Desplat!

– I have been Team Shape of Water all the way, which happens to be the last film I saw in 2017! It’s films that I connect with emotionally that I love and remember the most, and this film did that and more. It was pure movie magic filled with amazing creativity and imagination… and heart. I LOVE his speech too, about dreaming big and believing in his own vision.

– This is the year for Character Actors!! Gary Oldman is a consistently-fantastic performer, an actor’s actor, who I’m always stunned to learn he’d never won an Oscar! Well, he FINALLY won one!

– Now, for the FINAL award of the night, I gotta say it was a bit suspenseful … but also humorous seeing Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty back on the podium presenting the same category they messed up so spectacularly last year!

But hey, they didn’t bungle it this year and I’m thrilled to hear the name of the film I’ve been rooting for…

I truly think The Shape of Water deserved the Best Picture win!

You can see full winners list here.


Fave Moments

Every year the host always does something fun that was rather unexpected, such as Ellen handing out pizza, Kimmel bringing tourists to the ceremony. Well this year Kimmel kind of did something similar where gathered a team of Oscar presenters/nominees to hand out snacks to unsuspecting moviegoers watching Wrinkle In Time. That was fun!

I haven’t really caught on who Tiffany Haddish was until recently. I can see why she’s so beloved, she is a hoot! I’d be down to have them present the Oscars next year!

This has got to be my favorite Oscar musical performance in a long time… not only was it a powerful performance by Mary J. Blige but the lyrics was like an anthem for the representation/inclusion/equality movement we’re having now. What a mighty performance!

 

I love this trio from The Last Jedi! I hope this role isn’t just a one off for Kelly Marie Tran, she’s just a delightful woman and surely a good actress too if given a chance!

Well, speaking of which, I know someone who’d agree with me on that…

And THAT speech! I love Frances McDormand‘s defiant, feisty attitude and her powerful, inspiring speech of representation and inclusion.


If you’re like me and had no idea what she meant by ‘Inclusion Rider’ in her speech, well, she kindly explained backstage…

Bravo Frances!! And congrats!! I hope to see Three Billboards next weekend, hopefully!

Ok, THIS is just hilarious!! Thanks whoever captured this moment of del Toro double checking that he indeed won!!

 


Biggest surprises of the night…

… not exactly a welcome one it seems.

I didn’t know about Kobe’s sexual misconduct allegations, but still I find it odd that he’s now an Oscar winner. I mean, it took how long for people like Roger Deakins to finally got his?? And SO many talented filmmakers still has ZERO Oscars!

I think this category could very well be the biggest surprise of the night. I haven’t seen Get Out yet as I’m not a big fan of horror films, but now I’m really curious to see it! Definitely another historical moment for Jordan Peele, what a year for him for getting a trifecta nominations at the Oscars with Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Original Screenplay.

I’m quite surprised that Lady Bird won zilch! I thought it’d win at least the screenplay category for Greta Gerwig. Having just seen it this weekend, I thought it was excellent and well-written. I’m glad it lived up to the hype!


Anyway, here’s the tally:


So that’s it folks, I gotta go to bed at some point.

What are YOUR thoughts on Oscars this year?


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The obligatory Oscar 2018 predictions post: Who will win & who should win

Are you ready for the Oscars this weekend? Well like tax season, it’s not like we have a choice, it’s here whether we care about it or not. Well, it’s the year I have to do TWO filings, thanks to our short film Hearts Want, my hubby and I have to file business (LLC) tax on top of our personal one :\

What a year it has been for the film industry… I’m especially thrilled there are more discussions (that’s the start anyway before real change can take place) about women’s role and contributions that often constantly get overlooked. Before I get into more of that, check out this article on The Hollywood Reporter where THR commissioned A-list artists, sculptors and designers to reinterpret the coveted gold statuette for the #MeToo era. These are so cool, I especially LOVE #3, 11 and 12.

Jimmy Kimmel is back as the host of the 90th Oscars, I certainly hope he’d be entertaining. Check out the video of him poking fun of that crazy Best Picture mix-up, I certainly remember that moment as clear as day. Well mostly I remember how upset I was when I heard La La Land instead of the rightful winner, Moonlight! (you can see my reaction in last year’s Oscars blog recap)

Honestly, even though it’s Oscar week, I hadn’t really been thinking much about the Oscars. I didn’t even get a chance to see many of the Oscar-nominated films I’ve missed, though I did see The Breadwinner, which is one of the animated films nominated. Suffice to say, I think the nom is well deserved!


Anyhoo, I’m not predicting ALL of the categories though, and given that I haven’t seen ALL of the nominees, some predictions are merely based on what I’ve read and general buzz of the films/talents. Per tradition, I have my picks for who I think will win and the one I want to win. Click on this handy Oscar ballot from Vanity Fair if you want to see the full nominees.

So here we go:

BEST PICTURE

Who will win: The Shape of Water
Who should win: The Shape of Water

Every year I have one film I’ll be rooting for. Last year it was Moonlight (which deservedly won) and this year it’s The Shape of Water. A film that swept me off my feet and one I can’t wait to see again. Like my personal favorite I championed back in 2016, Mad Max Fury Road, it’s such a singularly unique film that’s spectacularly-crafted all around. So yeah, with 13 nominations, plus a Producers Guild Awards & Directors Guild Award win already in the bag, this Guillermo del Toro’s film is surely the one to beat.

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BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Who will win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Who should win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

I feel like this could very well be the year Oldman gets his due. He’s such a stellar actor that I’m astonished he’s only been nominated one other time before, which was in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Like McDormand, he’s won SAG, Golden Globes and BAFTA this year and Oscars always love actors portraying real life personas. I’ve only seen Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in Phantom Thread in this group, and there’s a chance they might give it to him since it’s supposedly his last role before he retires from acting. If it’s not Oldman’s year again, I actually would rather see Timothée Chalamet just based on what I’ve read about his performance so far.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

 Who will win: Frances McDormand,
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who should win: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

No doubt Frances McDormand is the frontrunner in this category, and her odds are strong here having won the Golden Globes, SAG, BAFTA and a slew of other awards. She is a fantastic actress and I’m glad she’s getting a meaty role here that merits all the praise.

I do have a soft spot for Hawkins’ emotional performance as a mute janitor in love with a sea creature in The Shape of Water. It’s such a sweet, poignant yet bold performance that tugs my heartstrings unlike anything I’ve seen this year. It made me think of Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in Her, which is also about an unconventional love story.

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BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Who will win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards
Who should win: Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Though I really want Jenkins to win this one, I certainly wouldn’t be upset if Rockwell win it. Most likely he would given he’s swept every other major award like Golden Globes, SAG, Critics’ Choice and BAFTA. He’s a consistently good actor, but like his co-star McDormand, doesn’t always get the credit he’s due. I have heard great things about Christopher Plummer so he might prove to be the upset of the night, especially given the short time span he had replacing Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World.

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BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Who will win: Allison Janey, I Tonya
Who should win: Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

I’m always glad to see character actors finally getting the recognition they deserved. So in this category, I’ll be happy with whomever walk away w/ the statue. My absolute favorite is Octavia Spencer, who always enliven everything she’s in, but despite her tremendous performance in The Shape of Water, I have to hand it to Lesley Manville. Her astute performance in Phantom Thread is simply amazing, an incredibly nuanced and quiet style of acting that is so difficult to pull off. It may not be flashy, but understated can be oh so unforgettable.

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BEST DIRECTOR

Who will win: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Who should win: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

This is a really tough category to predict. The Academy seem to always give Best Picture and Best Director to two different films, so either The Shape of Water wins Best Picture or del Toro will get Best Director, but not both. Dunkirk is an amazing accomplishment mostly because of the way it’s directed, taking something that could’ve easily been a run-of-the-mill war action film into something cutting edge and a movie-going experience like no other. Paul Thomas Anderson could be the upset in this category, and though I admired Phantom Thread but not in love with it, I do think it’s an exquisitely-crafted filled with stunning attention to detail.

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Who will win: Blade Runner 2049
Who should win: Blade Runner 2049

I feel like every year I keep predicting that Roger Deakins will win and once again I was let down. He’s now on his 14th nominations (come on Academy!!), I mean what more visual mastery does the man have to produce to finally win this thing??! I am thrilled that this year we finally have a woman join the rank as a nominee in cinematography (Rachel Morrison for Mudbound), and she might as well be the wild card in this category. But as much as I love seeing a woman breaking new ground, I really, really wish Deakins would NOT walk away empty handed again.

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BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Who will win: Coco
Who should win: The Breadwinner/Loving Vincent

I think Pixar just might snatch the big win here, though I personally would rather see the female-directed, female-led The Breadwinner, a poignant tale about a young girl pretending to be a boy in war-torn Afghanistan. Loving Vincent is groundbreaking in that it’s the first fully painted feature film. It took a team of 125 painters to create 65,000 frames made of oil painting on canvas, using the same technique as Van Gogh. That’s impressive filmmaking in itself and it’s quite a beautiful film.

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Who will win: Phantom Thread
Who should win: Phantom Thread

This is the only category I’m rooting for Phantom Thread to win. And for a film that’s practically a love letter for the art of costume design, I’d think this is a shoo in. The attention to detail for each piece by Mark Bridges is exquisite, it’s almost every dress on Vicky Krieps tells a story, you could say the costumes are a character in itself in this film.

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BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Who will win: The Shape of Water
Who should win: The Shape of Water

This is Alexandre Desplat’s eighth nomination and he’s already won one for Grand Budapest Hotel in 2015. But his ethereal, romantic score is absolutely magical. It’s as magnificent and otherworldly as the film, a perfect complement to the beautiful visual and story. It’s my fave score amongst the nominees by far, and one of my faves of the year. My second favorite would be Phantom Thread, followed by Dunkirk.

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BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

Who will win: This Is Me, Greatest Showman
Who should win: Mighty River, Mudbound


The only one I have actually listened to is This Is Me, and it seems it has a pretty good chance of winning despite the song writers have already won for La La Land last year. It seems in terms of its message, it resonates well in the #MeeToo era, and it IS a catchy tune. I really don’t know who I’d want to win since I haven’t listened to the others, but for argument’s sake, how cool would it be to see Mary J. Blige win this? She has already broken ground as the first person to be nominated for acting and music in the same year for Mudbound!

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BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Who will win: The Shape of Water
Who should win: The Shape of Water

Oh man, this is this year’s Fury Road for me hands down. Though each nominee deserved its place for its amazing production design, this fantasy romance truly transport you to the Cold War era. Having just been to the del Toro’s exhibit at Museum of Arts in Minneapolis, here’s a filmmaker whose invested painstaking detail to create the universe in each film he created. I love this article how The Shape of Water transformed Ontario into 1960s America.

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VISUAL EFFECTS

Who will win: War for the Planet of the Apes
Who should win: War for the Planet of the Apes

I just realized Dunkirk wasn’t nominated in this category but Kong Skull Island was, huh?? Well, amongst the nominees, I am rooting for the excellent War for The Planet of the Apes. They should’ve created a special category for Andy Serkis for his spectacular mo-cap work! I’d have loved to see this amongst Best Picture nominees even, it’s THAT good. So I’d settle for it to win this category, as it truly deserved it.

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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

Who will win: Call Me by Your Name
Who should win: Logan

As a writer, the screenplay category is actually the toughest for me to predict. Though I haven’t seen it yet, I feel like Call Me by Your Name has the strongest shot of winning, given James Ivory’s practically an esteemed figure in the industry. I do admire the fact that Logan managed to score a nomination given the Academy’s usually ignore the comic-book genre. Well, I’m glad it did as it’s an amazing script about a scarred hero finding redemption. It felt more like a Western Noir than a superhero film, an emotional storytelling that’s concerned with character/story than mere spectacle.

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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Who will win: Three Billboards
Who should win: Lady Bird

I am ashamed to say I have only seen The Shape of Water out of the five nominees. So this prediction is purely based on what I’ve read so far, and Martin McDonagh seems to have a pretty strong chance of winning this. Of course I’d love to see a woman win this category, and it’s very likely Greta Gerwig will win for her screenplay rather than her directing work.

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I have a feeling this year there might not be a single film that’ll sweep all of the awards, but if that happens, I hope that’ll be The Shape of Water!


I LOVE Oscar trivia!

The GoldDerby site has compiled some interesting tidbits about this year’s nominations. Here are a few of my favorites …

  • Love LOVE Octavia Spencer in practically everything, including ‘The Shape of Water’

    Octavia Spencer‘s nomination for The Shape of Water makes her the first performer to earn three Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations in a single decade since Cate Blanchett did so in the 2000s.

  • Though Jordan Peele is not the first time an African-American director is nominated for their directing work (he’s the 5th), he IS the first African American to be honored with a trifecta nominations at the Oscars with Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Original Screenplay for Get Out!
  • Speaking of firsts, Dee Rees is the first African-American woman to be recognized for her screenwriting work for Mudbound in the Best Adapted Screenplay category!
  • Another ‘first’ for Mudbound, as DP Rachel Morrison became the first woman ever nominated for Cinematography!
  • And most people knew this already… Meryl Streep is an actor with the most nominations overall. Her work in The Post marks her 21st nomination, wow!

So that’s it folks. I’m only predicting 15 out of the complete 24 categories. We’ll see how many I’d get wrong Sunday night 😉

Ok, so what are some of your Oscar winner predictions for this year?