In the 90th year of the Academy Awards, history has taught us that what can be expected is the unexpected. Movies are art; liked and disliked for any or no reason. Some films are cussed and discussed for years and that’s a good thing. 2017 brought an array of historical, fantastical and entertaining features. Oscar night is Sunday, March 4.
Reel People rarely agree with the Academy and don’t always agree with each other. Leigh’s 2017 favorites: “Wonder Woman,” “The Post,” “Darkest Hour,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Coco,” “Logan,” “Beauty and Beast,” “Fate of the Furious,” “Pirates: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” and “The Greatest Showman.”
Ron’s 2018 favorites: “Shape of Water,” “Darkest Hour,” “Three Billboards,” “Dunkirk,” “Wonder Woman,” “The Post,” “Greatest Showman,” “Coco,” “I, Tonya” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” Our “winning” Oscar predictions are below:
Best Actor: Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me by Your Name”) is a new Hollywood heartthrob and youngest nominee in 78 years. The great Daniel Day-Lewis has bid a final farewell in “Phantom Thread” while Daniel Kaluuya surprises everyone in “Get Out.”
And, the winner will be Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”). Far beyond an impression of Winston Churchill, Oldman makes us understand and believe how and why this peculiar politician was so passionately determined to save his country from Nazi Fascism.
Best Actress: Sally Hawkins (“Shape of Water”) is a silent damsel revealing a surprising inner strength and genuine inner beauty. Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya) claws her way to the top of the skating world while Meryl Streep (“The Post”) illustrates journalistic integrity.
And, the winner will be Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards”). With a dry sense of humor and steadfast defiance, nobody is more riveting than McDormand. She spins a tone of tragically dark comedy into a string of unexpected consequences.
Supporting Actor: Richard Jenkins (“Shape of Water) plays yet another everyman, which is himself, Richard Jenkins. Willem Dafoe is a motel tenant’s superhero in “The Florida Project” and Christopher Plummer pinch hits for Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty.
And the winner will be Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards”) as an immature mama’s boy with a penchant for violence. Rockwell, as Barney Fife’s evil twin, displays his “indie” instincts for ambiguity with a blatant racism masking a sincere empathy for his foes.
Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”) is a struggling mom with a wildly independent teen. Lesley Manville offers stares and glares in “Phantom Thread” while Octavia Spencer steals every scene as a mute’s best friend in “The Shape of Water.”
And the winner will be Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) as an abusive, potty-mouthed “Mommy Dearest” to a talented daughter she simultaneously supports and destroys. Janney scores for high degree of difficulty while skating on very thin ice indeed.
Director: Christopher Nolan returns us to the dark days of “Dunkirk.” Jordan Peele attacks liberal racism through a horror movie while Greta Gerwig tells of teenage angst through her semi-autobiographical account she insists on calling “Lady Bird.”
And the winner will be Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”), who also wrote the story. If you buy into this meticulously crafted fable, it can be mesmerizing and strangely poetic. Del Toro calls it the most difficult movie he has ever designed.
Best Picture: Hollywood has nominated nine films, of which several feature strong women, two feature the start of World War II and a few are exceptionally innovative or simply weird. Leading candidates are “Three Billboards,” “Dunkirk” and “Lady Bird.”
And the winner will be “The Shape of Water.” This adult fairy tale is a visually stunning creature feature that is simplistic, predictable and manipulative. It has a strange and wonderful romance; it’s a monster movie, silent picture, espionage flick, drama and fantasy. The story asks, “Who saved whom?” and “Who is really the monster?” We should ask that more in everyday life. The expected could be unexpected.