My best of 2018 (and my Oscar picks)

I made a commitment near the beginning of last year to try and keep up with all the new releases in 2018 so that I could actually give some informed opinions once awards season rolled around–and while I didn’t get around to seeing all of the Oscar-nominated films, I think I did pretty good–26 out of the 32 feature-length non-documentaries–and I saw quite a few others in the conversation as well. At this point I want to give a shout-out to my brother Adriel over at media meum who joined me on my journey (and ended up getting much farther than me). His excellent and provoking list of “Oscar Opinions” can be found here. Make sure to check it out! What follows is my personal rankings for each Oscar category (minus the shorts and documentaries). I’ll rank the nominees, note who I think will win, and then add my own definitive rankings of films/performances whether nominated or not, along with my own honourable mentions.

BEST PICTURE
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Roma (9/10) – predicted winner
  2. BlacKkKlansman (8/10)
  3. The Favourite (7.5/10)
  4. Bohemian Rhapsody (7.5/10)
  5. Green Book (7/10)
  6. Black Panther (7/10)
  7. Vice (7/10)
  8. A Star Is Born (6/10)

My personal nominations:

  1. Paddington 2 (9/10)
  2. Roma (9/10)
  3. Eighth Grade (9/10)
  4. Manbiki kazoku [Shoplifters] (9/10)
  5. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (9/10)
  6. Zimna wojna [Cold War] (8.5/10)
  7. First Reformed (8.5/10)
  8. Hereditary (8.5/10)
  9. Sorry to Bother You (8.5/10)
  10. Isle of Dogs (8.5/10)

BEST ACTOR
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) – predicted winner
  2. Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
  3. Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)
  4. Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
  5. Christian Bale (Vice)

My personal nominations:

  1. Jonathon Pryce (The Wife)
  2. Ethan Hawke (First Reformed)
  3. Rami Malek
  4. Bradley Cooper
  5. Joaquin Phoenix (Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot)

Honourable Mentions: Christian Bale; Willem Dafoe; Viggo Mortensen; Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here); Nick Robinson (Love, Simon); John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)

BEST ACTRESS:
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
  2. Glenn Close (The Wife) – predicted winner
  3. Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
  4. Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
  5. Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)

My personal nominations:

  1. Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)
  2. Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Kindergarten Teacher)
  3. Melissa McCarthy
  4. Glenn Close
  5. KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk)

Honourable Mentions: Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place); Toni Collette (Hereditary); Olivia Colman; Claire Foy (Unsane); Charlize Theron (Tully)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) – predicted winner
  2. Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
  3. Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
  4. Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
  5. Sam Rockwell (Vice)

My personal nominations:

  1. Jonah Hill (Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot)
  2. Richard E. Grant
  3. Adam Driver
  4. Lily Franky (Shoplifters)
  5. Alex Wolff (Hereditary)

Honourable Mention: Casey Affleck (The Old Man & the Gun); Mahershala Ali

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Emma Stone (The Favourite) – predicted winner
  2. Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)
  3. Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
  4. Marina de Tavira (Roma)
  5. Amy Adams (Vice)

My personal nominations:

  1. Sakura Andô (Shoplifters)
  2. Mackenzie Davis (Tully)
  3. Emma Stone
  4. Rachel Weisz
  5. Anya Taylor-Joy (Thoroughbreds)

Honourable Mentions: Regina King; Amanda Seyfried (First Reformed)

BEST DIRECTOR
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Alfonso Cuarón (Roma) – predicted winner
  2. Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)
  3. Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
  4. Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
  5. Adam McKay (Vice)

My personal nominations:

  1. Alfonso Cuarón
  2. Pawel Pawlikowski
  3. Hirokazu Koreeda (Shoplifters)
  4. Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs)
  5. Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here)

Honourable Mentions: Ari Aster (Hereditary); Yorgos Lanthimos; Spike Lee; Anthony Russo & Joe Russo (Avengers: Infinity War)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Roma
  2. First Reformed – predicted winner
  3. The Favourite
  4. Green Book
  5. Vice

My personal nominations:

  1. Cold War
  2. Eighth Grade
  3. Shoplifters
  4. Roma
  5. First Reformed

Honourable Mentions: Isle of Dogs; The Favourite; Thoroughbreds

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Ranking the nominees:

  1. If Beale Street Could Talk – predicted winner
  2. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  4. BlacKkKlansman
  5. A Star Is Born

My personal nominations:

  1. Paddington 2
  2. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
  3. If Beale Street Could Talk
  4. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  5. The Death of Stalin

Honourable Mentions: The Wife

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Cold War
  2. Roma – predicted winner
  3. The Favourite
  4. A Star Is Born
    not watched: Never Look Away

My personal nominations:

  1. Cold War
  2. Roma
  3. The Favourite
  4. Unsane
  5. Hereditary

Honourable Mentions: Come Sunday, Shoplifters, Thoroughbreds

BEST EDITING
Ranking the nominees:

  1. The Favourite
  2. BlacKkKlansman – predicted winner
  3. Vice
  4. Green Book
  5. Bohemian Rhapsody

My personal nominations:

  1. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
  2. If Beale Street Could Talk
  3. You Were Never Really Here
  4. The Favourite
  5. BlacKkKlansman

Honourable Mentions: Vice

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Roma
  2. The Favourite – predicted winner
  3. First Man
  4. Black Panther
    not watched: Mary Poppins Returns

My personal nominations:

  1. Isle of Dogs
  2. Roma
  3. Shoplifters
  4. The Favourite
  5. First Man

Honourable Mentions: Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Paddington 2

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Black Panther – predicted winner
  2. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  3. The Favourite
    not watched: Mary Poppins Returns; Mary Queen of Scots

My personal nominations:

  1. Black Panther
  2. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  3. Paddington 2
  4. The Favourite
  5. Ocean’s Eight

Honourable Mentions: Sorry to Bother You

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Vice – predicted winner
    not watched: Border; Mary Queen of Scots

My personal nominations:

  1. Vice
  2. The Favourite
  3. Black Panther

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Ranking the nominees:

  1. If Beale Street Could Talk
  2. BlacKkKlansman
  3. Isle of Dogs – predicted winner
  4. Black Panther
    not watched: Mary Poppins Returns

My personal nominations:

  1. If Beale Street Could Talk
  2. BlacKkKlansman
  3. Annihilation
  4. First Man
  5. Isle of Dogs

Honourable Mentions: Black Panther; Can You Ever Forgive Me?

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Ranking the nominees:

  1. When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)
  2. Shallow (A Star Is Born) – predicted winner
  3. All the Stars (Black Panther)
    not watched: Mary Poppins Returns, RBG

My personal nominations:

  1. When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings 
  2. A Place Called Slaughter Race (Ralph Breaks the Internet)
  3. Shallow
  4. All the Stars

BEST SOUND EDITING/MIXING
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Roma
  2. First Man – predicted winner
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. Bohemian Rhapsody
  5. A Star Is Born
  6. Black Panther

My personal nominations:

  1. Roma
  2. First Man
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. You Were Never Really Here
  5. Bohemian Rhapsody

Honourable Mentions: Avengers: Infinity War; A Star Is Born; Black Panther

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Avengers: Infinity War – predicted winner
  2. Ready Player One
  3. Christopher Robin
  4. First Man
  5. Solo: A Star Wars Story

My personal nominations:

  1. Annihilation
  2. Avengers: Infinity War
  3. Ready Player One
  4. Christopher Robin
  5. First Man

Honourable Mentions: Ant-Man & the Wasp; Hereditary; Solo: A Star Wars Story

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Isle of Dogs (8.5/10)
  2. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (8/10) – predicted winner
  3. Incredibles 2 (7.5/10)
  4. Ralph Breaks the Internet (7/10)
    not watched: Mirai

My personal nominations:

  1. Isle of Dogs (8.5/10)
  2. Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse (8/10)
  3. Incredibles 2 (7.5/10)
  4. Ralph Breaks the Internet (7/10)

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Ranking the nominees:

  1. Roma – predicted winner
  2. Shoplifters
  3. Cold War
    not watched: Capernaum, Never Look Away

My personal nominations:

  1. Roma
  2. Shoplifters
  3. Cold War

Thoughts???

 

Oscar-worthy films so far in 2018

You don’t know how thrilled I am to be writing a post like this.
I started this blog in April 2015. Being new to the avid movie-watching game, I concentrated on “catching up” with my peers and watching as many films as I could from various years and thus had little time to focus on keeping up with recent releases.
This year though, after three years of observing the countless delicious posts by my fellow bloggers listing their picks and predictions and snubs for the upcoming Academy Awards and wishing every time that I could contribute more meaningfully to the conversation, I made a resolution to focus as much as I could on watching 2018 releases so that by the time awards season came around I could finally do one of those fun posts of predictions and picks.
There still are quite a few films garnering Oscar buzz that I have yet to see–many of which haven’t had wide release in Canada yet, but a few that have (seeing First Man on Sunday though!)–but so far I’m quite pleased with the amount of 2018 flicks I’ve been able to see (44 so far) and I feel like I’ve watched enough to warrant at least an “Oscar picks so far” post! Keep in mind these are my personal picks and not what I think the Academy will choose. Comment below and let me know what you think! Click on the title to see my mini-review.

BEST PICTURE
I consider films rated 8.5/10 and up my top tier of films, ones which I’d consider worthy of a Best Picture nom. Here are the 2018 films I’ve ranked that high so far:

  1. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (9/10)
    – disappointed in the lack of buzz for this one. Two amazing performances by Hill and Phoenix in a great dramatic script that has a nice mix of straight-forward sentimentality and indie quirkiness.
  2. Paddington 2 (9/10)
    – That damn bear was just so beautiful.
  3. Hereditary (8.5/10)
    – Gut-wrenching in both its drama and its horror. Great performances, great visuals too.
  4. Isle of Dogs (8.5/10)
    – Anderson deserves more than just a Best Animated Film nomination with this one. It’s obviously visually outstanding, but the story’s great too.

 

BEST ACTRESS
Six standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    – In what is more of a character study than con-caper-flick, McCarthy shines as the tragic lead.
  2. Toni Collette – Hereditary
    – 
    The centerpiece of this family drama/horror, Collette has no trouble portraying the tortured soul of Annie.
  3. Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Kindergarten Teacher
    – Gyllenhaal’s turn is perfectly chilling and nuanced as the titular character.
  4. Emily Blunt – A Quiet Place
    – That scene walking down the stairs tho…
  5. Charlize Theron – Tully
    – A great natural performance by Theron of a touching, textured character.
  6. Claire Foy – Unsane
    – Foy’s intense turn carries this minimalist thriller.

 

BEST ACTOR
Four standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. John David Washington – BlackKkKlansman
    – The dry wit dripping from Washington’s great turn make for some of the film’s funniest scenes, and he excels in the dramatic moments too.
  2. Joaquin Phoenix – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
    – Almost could’ve nominated him for You Were Never Really Here too, but John Callahan is just a bit more of an engaging, layered character, and Phoenix does a fantastic job with him.
  3. Nick Robinson – Love, Simon
    – The lead in a romantic comedy/drama is a bit of an unusual pick, but just like the movie itself was far from your typical fluffy rom-com, Robinson’s turn showed refreshing emotional complexity and depth.
  4. Logan Marshall-Green – Upgrade
    – Marshall-Green’s performance in this revenge sci-fi/thriller crackles with zealous energy and wry humour.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Three standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Danai Gurira – Black Panther
    – Who wasn’t in awe of Gurira’s passionate and badass Okoye in the early 2018 hit Black Panther? Gurira’s presence on screen was strong and memorable.
  2. Anya Taylor-Joy – Thoroughbreds
    – Taylor-Joy’s performance is perfect as her character undergoes a subtle and creepy transformation throughout the film.
  3. Mackenzie Davis – Tully
    – Davis’ performance is effortlessly effervescent as the young and remarkable titular night nanny.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Six standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther
    – Jordan’s villain is intimidating, but not in the usual way, and he does well in portraying that.
  2. Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
    – You’ve got to have lots of depth to your performance when your character is also acting half the time, and Driver pulls it off with ease.
  3. Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    – Grant somehow manages to portray both eccentric joy and deep sadness within the same scene and even at the same time. A beautiful performance.
  4. Jonah Hill – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
    – Hill is just so good here in a character that’s effortlessly chill but hiding deep brokenness. Great hair too, obviously (but with long hair myself, I’m biased).
  5. Domnhall Gleeson – A Futile and Stupid Gesture
    – Gleeson seems to be one of those guys that elevates anything he’s in (see, for example, the otherwise bad Peter Rabbit, also from 2018). Here he plays the long-suffering business and creative partner to Will Forte’s frustrating free-spirit Douglas Kenney, and he’s great as usual.
  6. Alex Wolff – Hereditary
    – Wolff exudes great emotion as the troubled brother in this disturbing drama.

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
I guess all I’ve got here would be Isle of Dogs, because I sure ain’t putting Peter Rabbit here, Early Man wasn’t amazing, and I haven’t seen Incredibles 2 yet. Unless Paddington 2 is eligible?

 

BEST DIRECTOR
FIve standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo – Avengers: Infinity War
    – I didn’t know how they were going to pull off this kind of ensemble cast and culmination of storylines, but the Russo bros. did remarkably well.
  2. Spike Lee – BlackKkKlansman
    – A daring, radical outing from Lee.
  3. Gus Van Sant – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
    – I thought Van Sant perfectly walked the line between mainstream accessibility and indie quirkiness in this wonderful drama.
  4. Wes Anderson – Isle of Dogs
    – Anderson’s a true “auteur” of cinema who deserves acclaim for yet another great outing.
  5. Lynne Ramsay – You Were Never Really Here
    – Just brilliant directorial choices here by Ramsay who lets the strong emotion and violence bleed out “between the lines”.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Three standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Kunichi Nomura
    – Funny and quirky as expected from Anderson, but also dramatic, with interesting political undertones.
  2. Thoroughbreds Cory Finley
    – Darkly humourous, dryly witty, and it takes some interesting turns near the end.
  3. Tully Diablo Cody
    – I wasn’t completely convinced by the twist, but it was certainly engaging, and the dramatic/comedic scenes about parenthood leading up to it were on point.

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Five standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty
    – Amidst the con game is a unique character study touching on themes of social exclusion, loneliness, and personal fulfillment.
  2. The Death of Stalin – Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows
    – Hilarious, irreverent satire in the vein of Monty Python.
  3. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot – Gus Van Sant, John Callahan, Jack Gibson, William Andrew Eatman
    – an effectively emotional portrait of recovering from addiction and finding happiness, uniquely constructed.
  4. The Kindergarten Teacher – Sara Colangelo
    – A chilling yet nuanced character study.
  5. Paddington 2 – Paul King, Simon Farnaby
    – Hits all the perfect emotional beats without getting sappy.

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Five standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Come Sunday Peter Flinckenberg
    – A fairly average drama but I found myself often marveling at the gorgeous shots throughout.
  2. Hereditary – Pawel Pogorzelski
    – You know the cinematography in a horror movie is good when the movie wouldn’t be as scary if it wasn’t.
  3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Rob Hardy
    – That helicopter chase… drool.
  4. Thoroughbreds – Lyle Vincent
    – That one-take shot with Amanda sleeping on the couch = super cool.
  5. Unsane – Steven Soderbergh
    – No, it’s not just because he shot it on an iPhone- though I think that highlighted his literally picture-perfect framing and movement choices. It’s great to watch.

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Five standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Annihilation
  2. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  3. Avengers: Infinity War
  4. Hereditary
  5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

 

BEST EDITING
Five standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  2. BlackKkKlansman
  3. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
  4. Unsane
  5. You Were Never Really Here

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Four standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Black Panther
  2. BlackKkKlansman
  3. Ocean’s Eight
  4. Paddington 2

 

BEST MAKE-UP/HAIRSTYLING
Two standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Avengers: Infinity War
  2. Black Panther

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Five standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Annihilation
  2. BlackKkKlansman
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. Thoroughbreds
  5. Unsane

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Umm… I don’t think I’ve seen any with an original song yet? Correct me if I’m wrong!

 

BEST SOUND (sorry sound experts, the difference between editing and mixing is still a little unclear for me)

  1. Annihilation
  2. Avengers: Infinity War
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. You Were Never Really Here

 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Four standout possibilities in alphabetical order by the title of the film:

  1. Avengers: Infinity War
  2. Black Panther
  3. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  4. Isle of Dogs
  5. Paddington 2

 

Sorry, haven’t seen any documentary/foreign/short films… I’m a basic Hollywood bro.

What are your thoughts on my picks thus far for 2018?

 

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

blackkklansman-poster

Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate, who eventually becomes head of the local branch. (IMDb)
Jarringly constructed but–often as a result–always compelling: Great soundtrack and creative cinematography in tow, both director and protagonist “infiltrate hate,” at times with deathly seriousness and scathing condemnation and at others simply laughing in its face. True to its rollercoaster form, the devastating coda makes it clear that the undercover mission’s far from over (and possibly casts doubt on its effectiveness) but the gorgeous early dance scene provides a vision of a happy ending.
8/10 (Great)