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???

 

2019 Academy Awards nominations: Some disappointments and some pleasant surprises

The 2019 Academy Award nominations were announced today! I’ll write a longer post with my own personal picks and snubs as we get closer to the date of the ceremony, but for now, a few initial “yays and nays”:

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Yalitza Aparicio in Roma

YAY! The noted presence of non-US films in categories other than “Best Foreign Film” was a nice surprise. Critical darling Roma (Mexico) was of course at the top of the pack snagging a whopping 10 nominations. People figured it might be up for Best Picture and Best Director, but Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira also managed to snag well-deserved nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. Elsewhere, Zimna wojna (“Cold War”) (Poland) got a nod for Best Director and Best Cinematography, while Werk ohne Autor (“Never Look Away”) (Germany) was also nominated in the latter category and Gräns (“Border”) (Sweden) got a nomination for Makeup & Hairstyling. Mirai no Mirai (Japan) also got a nomination for Best Animated Feature after getting a Golden Globe nomination in the same category.

NAY! Nothing for Eighth Grade? It’s tied for my highest rated movie of the year with an amazing 9/10 but didn’t even manage to grab a nomination for best original screenplay, which seemed to be its only hope going in. Young Elsie Fisher really did deserve a best actress nod too for her amazing work.

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Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried in First Reformed

YAY! Eighth Grade’s slot for best original screenplay seemed to have gone to a different smaller release from the year- First Reformed. A well-deserved nomination for a heart-wrenching meditation on hopelessness and hypocrisy. Still, would’ve liked to see both of these smaller releases on the list instead of, say, Green Book, a pretty conventional if heartwarming film that came nowhere near the aching authenticity of the other two in its script.

NAY! Annihilation was one of the first films of 2018 that I was really excited about.

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The “Shimmer” in Annihilation

I had a few troubles with its script and considering its weirdness, smaller scale, and early release, I figured it wouldn’t be in too much Oscar talk come awards season. I had held out hope for a visual effects nod though thanks to its incredible, beautiful, and terrifying images throughout, but alas, it was not to be.

YAY! Did not expect The Ballad of Buster Scruggs to get so many nominations after its mixed reception upon its release to Netflix. I found it good, not great as well, but its nomination for Best Original Song (“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings”) I’m quite happy to get on board with. It was a hilarious, dark, and oddly touching musical number that wrapped up chapter 1 of the Coen brothers’ anthology film beautifully.

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Jonah Hill in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

NAY! None of the awards-predicting posts I’ve read in the blogosphere so far have even come close to mentioning Gus Van Sant’s quietly-released Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, but I just have to say one final time that if I had my way, Jonah Hill would’ve been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. His turn was a thing of beauty, tragic and mysterious. And while I’m at it, how about giving Jaoquin Phoenix some love too? He could’ve been nominated for either Don’t Worry… or Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here. And speaking of (I’m almost done complaining), a directing nod for Ramsay also would’ve been well-deserved.

That’s all for now! I want to hear from you- what were some of your initial reactions to today’s Oscar nominations? Surprised? Disappointed? Let me know in the comments!

Green Book (2018)

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A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South. (IMDb)
The film’s attempts to address racial issues are flimsy, formulaic, and awkward, but when it focuses on the positively hilarious and often heartwarming odd couple dynamic of the crass but warm blue-collar Tony and the classy yet aloof Dr. Shirley, it succeeds (see the chicken-eating, letter-writing), though considering Tony’s relatively flat arc, the latter should’ve been the lead (see his speech on identity in the rain and hints of a troubled backstory that receive no further treatment).
7/10 (Good)