Yesterday I posted my full reviews of 8 out of the 9 nominees for best picture and my thoughts on what should and will win (tldr – I think Dunkirk should win, although I didn’t see Ladybird which might have been a contender, but I think Shape of Water will win). By my count there were 4 films which received at least one nomination, and I saw 23 of them, a very respectable 52% (the same as last year). In terms of nominations there were a total of 106 slots, and I saw the films that contributed to 82 of them, 77% which I’m very happy with (7% higher than last year). I’m just kicking myself I haven’t seen Ladybird which is the only film with more than one nomination that I haven’t seen (plus it looked good and I really want to see it). Below are my thoughts on the nominations, occasional mentions of missed nominations and my predictions for what will win.
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name – He did a good job with a very mediocre script, forced to talk in a way that no real human person would ever talk.
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread – I never got a sense of what this character was really like, whether he really loved or cared about any of the other characters or was even self aware of what he was like. Not sure if that’s script or performance, but either way, it didn’t make for a strong nomination.
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out – Interesting. This didn’t occur to me while I was watching, but there’s a huge range to the performance from quite cheesy comedy and the kind of ridiculous situations that appear in horror films, but also there’s real depth to the character and the quality of Kaluuya’s performance make this more than ‘just’ a cheesy horror.
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour – unrecognisable physically and completely inhabiting the role, far from just a caricature
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq. – Sorry Denzel, I haven’t seen it. Although I’m sure he’s superb as usual
Wouldn’t it have been something to see Hugh Jackman here for Wolverine in Logan. It really was an impressive performance in Logan, that delivered incredible emotional punch. Tom Hanks gave a storming performance in The Post as well, maybe that’s just what is expected from him now though. Of course it wouldn’t have mattered because the award should and will go to Gary Oldman. For the record my runner up would be Kaluuya.
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water – an impressive performance with the restriction of zero dialogue
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – McDormand for me was about the only thing that truly worked in this film.
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya – Just like her character, I don’t think she’s got as much attention and praise as she deserved. It’s a brash performance on the surface, bordering on comedy sometimes, but there’s also depth to it.
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird -I haven’t seen it, but she’s 23 and this is her third nomination (this, Brooklyn and one for supporting in Atonement 10 years ago!)
Meryl Streep, The Post – I was expecting a powerful character and performance and was hugely surprised and impressed that the character was nowhere near as forceful as expected, but the performance was exquisite as usual
Again, it’s bad luck to be nominated this year against Frances McDormand, but Robbie is the runner up for me. I would have put Jessica Chastain in for Molly’s Game too, seems odd that Vicky Krieps wasn’t nominated for Phantom Thread given she actually had a more interesting character than Day Lewis. I’m also a bit surprised that Judy Dench wasn’t nominated for Victoria and Abdul.
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project – not seen.
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – a quiet performance, mostly quite unremarkable, but with some very nuanced scenes in the middle. Shame his character didn’t make much sense. The nice guy he played didn’t go at all with his actions – why did he not do a better job of communicating with the family of a murdered girl, or dealing with an out of control subordinate?)
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water – wonderful as ever. Many of his scenes look on the surface to be the comic relief, but there’s a depth to him that’s heartbreaking.
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World – not seen, but it’s an impressive achievement to turn in a performance at such short notice
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – he played all the extremes of his character expertly, despite the fact the plot made very little sense for him.
I think Sam Rockwell will win, and I don’t think I disagree. I could also have put Patrick Stewart in here for Logan
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound – I didn’t think there was much nuance in the role or the film as a whole.
Allison Janney, I, Tonya – hilarious and terrifying, this is a long way from CJ and a great comedic and dramatic performance all at once.
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread – a performance as someone restraining their feelings is only impressive if they also reveal what it is they’re restraining. I didn’t know whether Manville’s character loved or loathed those aorund her, or just didn’t give a crap and was thinking about her pay cheque or what was for lunch.
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird – She’s one of the reasons I’m annoyed I haven’t seen this.
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water – sorry, but there wasn’t enough here to warrant a nomination for the always excellent Octavia Spencer.
I align with popular opinion again and will be happy to see Allison Janney lift the award. Wouldn’t it have been lovely to see Carrie Fisher in here for Star Wars
Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan – the scale of the filming was phenomenal. The sheer number of extras, special effects and visual effects, stunts, sets and locations that required coordination breathtaking. And then to not lose the individual stories in there, was a true marvel.
Get Out, Jordan Peele – was there anything outstanding in the direction of this? I don’t really think so. The script and performances, yes. But the direction, while well done, wasn’t anything special that I recall.
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig – I wish I’d seen this so that I could offer comment beyond “only the 5th woman to be nominated for best director”.
Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson – It was stylish, in the way that you’d expect a story set in 1950s about fashion to be stylish. The richness and attention to detail, focus on stitches and the perfection was very real.
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro – if the director is to blame for a runtime, then I think this is where the film fell down. The pacing was too slow, spending too much time really drilling home every look, every bit of body language, until all subtlety was lost and I was bored.
I think this one should go to Christopher Nolan, it’s the bigger achievement to deliver a technically difficult film and make a film that’s more than just a technical achievement. The absolute cynic in me wonders if they’d give it to Greta Gerwig for political reasons, but I think they’ll award Guillermo del Toro. Missing – I wasn’t actually a big fan, but wouldn’t it have been fantastic for Patty Jenkins to be nominated for Wonder Woman and double the number or women director nominations
The Boss Baby – I didn’t like the trailers so didn’t bother. There seems some surprise it was nominated.
The Breadwinner – not even heard of it I’m afraid
Coco – There was a lot of good in Coco in terms of the bigger stuff – style, message and heart; but I was slightly underwhelmed with the ‘small’ stuff like plot and pacing.
Ferdinand – looked unremarkable
Loving Vincent – this looked like an incredible artistic achievement, although I’ve got no idea of the plot etc.
I rather hope Loving Vincent wins from the point of view of the greater artistic achievement, but I think it will go to Coco.
Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory – awful. No one talks or behaves like real human beings.
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber – Not seen
Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green – I was impressed at this film, a moving character piece about aging, while also still an entertaining superhero film.
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin – the master of dialogue is on fire here, except for a miss-step (on a park bench) that I found unforgivable.
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees – the dreary narrative was completely unnecessary and spoilt the film.
Of that list, I think I’d vote for Molly’s Game, but I suspect the Academy will go for Call Me by Your Name. Death of Stalin should have been nominated.
The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani – I know it’s based on a true story, rather limiting the creativity, but the structure didn’t work for me, I just didn’t see the couple in it, they had too little time together for this to feel like the romance was justified.
Get Out, Jordan Peele – both classic and original, a by the numbers horror film with the twists and turns you’d expect, but with a modern look at race that just adds to the horror.
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig – not seen
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor – solid idea, but I just don’t think there’s anything remarkable here.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh – sorry, but this didn’t work for me. I didn’t feel that the story made any sense, that the characters (including the off-screen ‘town’) behaved logically and threads were raised and dropped indiscriminately (particularly the race element and the criminally underused ‘black best friend’ cliché)
I would have like to see I, Tonya here, the creativity of mixing interviews and live action, and breaking the fourth wall was really innovative and worked incredibly well. Get Out is the winner for me, but I think the award will go to Three Billboards.
Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins – beautiful. I was bored almost to tears by the film, but at least that gave me plenty of time to appreciate the visuals.
Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel – I didn’t think there was anything special here
Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema – completely immersive in each of the settings
Mudbound, Rachel Morrison – the cinematography does stick with you, you can almost feel the mud and the rain and the dreariness of the environment. Also, the first ever woman to be nominated for cinematography. Yup, really.
The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen – the tone of water throughout was quite mesmerising, it did have a very interesting and immersive style to it.
Roger Deakins for Blade Runner surely, if for no other reason than this is his fourteenth nomination and he’s never won!
Best Documentary Feature:
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – not seen
Faces Places – not seen
Icarus – the revelations of the Russian state driven doping scandal were breathtaking, but the documentary structure was muddled and confusing given the filmmakers seemed to stumble into the revelation by accident.
Last Men in Aleppo – not seen
Strong Island – an incredibly powerful and personal account of the murder of the filmmaker’s brother.
Of the two I’ve seen, Strong Island would be hard to beat.
Best Foreign Language Film:
A Fantastic Woman (Chile); The Insult (Lebanon); Loveless (Russia); On Body and Soul (Hungary) The Square (Sweden)
I haven’t seen any of these, despite having seen several really great foreign films last year, but I suspect that the year of release is different. I’ve heard great things about both Loveless and A Fantastic Woman so i think I’ll guess at A Fantastic Woman.
Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss – the key thing about this film is the editing and the sound, keeping many of the sequences feeling like music videos without making it gimicky or annoying is an impressive achievement.
Dunkirk, Lee Smith – there was a huge amount to be pieced together here, but I wouldn’t think it was anything that other blockbuster action type films do.
I, Tonya, Tatiana S. Riegel – there are some clever edits for the ice skating segments, and some very well timed edits for the pieces to camera
The Shape of Water, Sidney Wolinsky – I didn’t notice the editing at all. Is he responsible for how drawn out it was?
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jon Gregory – Ditto
I think Baby Driver was the one that was doing the most interesting and original work here.
Sound Editing / Sound mixing – the same films are nominated for both and I still don’t understand the difference
Baby Driver – As for editing, the sound landscaping is integral to the film, perhaps the entire point of it.
Blade Runner 2049 – I watched this on one of the superscreens with the boosted sound system and I do remember a lot of deep rumbling noises that helped me not fall alseep
Dunkirk- the sound was absolutely key to the immersiveness of this film, the gunfire and explosions, the sound in the plane and the relative peace of the chugging boat engine.
The Shape of Water – so much dripping that I noticed a higher than normal percentage of the audience taking bathroom breaks
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – a lot of created noises blending together
As usual, I’m going to completely guess here. Let’s go Dunkirk for mixing and Star Wars for editing.
Beauty and the Beast – if you’re just developing an animated film into a real life, I’m not sure you can really take credit.
Blade Runner 2049 – yup, lots of interesting design.
Darkest Hour – nothing special I thought, lots of recreating historical stuff and not much creativity that I could see.
Dunkirk – ditto.
The Shape of Water – Very beautiful and interesting to look at, the mixture of period industrial, with the detailed homes of the characters and the theme of water across absolutely everything.
I sometimes wonder whether animated films are eligible here, the design of Coco was absolutely stunning. I think Shape of Water was the most creative and original.
Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer – another one of the excellent and complex elements building this film
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood – sorry, I can’t remember the music.
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat – the tonal wateriness of this was impressive, blending with and supporting the style of the film.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams – still managing to bring something new to the Star Wars score after all these years. A legend.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell – I’ve got no memory of the music I’m afraid
I do love John Williams, but I think I’d have to vote for Hans Zimmer’s Dunkirk score. I suspect the academy will reward Jonny Greenwood, but for the There Will Be Blood soundtrack which was disqualified on a petty technicality a few years ago.
Mighty River from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige – unremarkable, and I’m not 100% sure that it went with the style/tone of the film, I think it just played over the end credits.
Mystery of Love from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens – I at least remember this song being in the film and the tone matches much better. I wouldn’t chose to listen to it, but I also wouldn’t necessarily switch the radio off.
Remember Me from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez – not only matching the film in tone and style, but a really integral part of the story. Not my favourite Disney song, but it’s a solid entry.
Stand Up for Something from Marshall, Diane Warren, Common – I’ve not seen the film, but I like the song and it seems to match the subject at least.
This Is Me from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul – a catchy tune, with a powerful message and the absolute heart and soul of the film.
This is Me should and will win.
Makeup and Hair:
Darkest Hour – I presume this nomination is all about making someone who looks nothing like Churchill a dead ringer for him. Which was impressive.
Victoria and Abdul – I have no memory of anyone’s hair or makeup.
Wonder – some heavy prosthetics work I understand, particularly challenging on a young child I would imagine.
I find this category baffling. Only 3 nominations, but where are films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars which have a huge amount of complex hair, makeup and prosthetics, requiring skill and creativity. Or even just Shape of Water for the monster design and making it something the incredible Doug Jones could work in. Guardians should win this one, but Darkest Hour will.
Beauty and the Beast – does it really count if you’re just re-creating something done in animation?
Darkest Hour – similarly, it’s all just straight period costume, and not exactly an exciting period (costume-wise) at that
Phantom Thread – given that the costumes were about as much a part of the film as any of the characters, there really was some outstanding work
The Shape of Water – unremarkable
Victoria and Abdul – more recreating period pieces, but they’re a lot more varied and impressive
What I think should win, and what will win – The Phantom Thread
Blade Runner 2049; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; Kong: Skull Island; Star Wars: The Last Jedi; War for the Planet of the Apes
By this point, I’ve lost the will a bit, I’m not sure how to really compare those films. I’m semi-randomly going to pick Star Wars. They turned puffins into porgs
I watched 4 out of the 15 shorts, which is pathetic to be honest, but I ran out of time to seek the documentaries and live action shorts out on youtube.
Dear Basketball – stunning. Stunningly animated, a beautiful poem and a powerful message. Less than 4 minutes long and so powerful.
Garden Party – odd. The animation is a little uncanny valley, but it’s cleverly constructed.
Lou – cute idea, nice animation on Lou and everything you expect from Pixar.
Negative Space – trailer only. The animation looks original and nicely animated.
Revolting Rhymes – based on Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake’s work, this trailer really made me want to watch.
Dear Basketball is the clear standout.
Best Documentary Short Subject:
Edith+Eddie – available on Youtube but I only watched the trailer. It looks heartbreaking
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 – as above.
Knife Skills – unlike some of the others here that I felt I should watch, I actually wanted to watch this based on the trailer
Traffic Stop – not sure that I feel I need to watch the rest of the film after watching the depressingly familiar trailer
Heroin(e) – availabie on Netflix. A fascinating case study of an American town that has a catastrophic drugs problem, but not with the standard from the point of view of the violence or criminality, but from the point of view of the people trying to save lives. Very interesting
A hard group to compare, particularly only based on the trailers, Knife Skills, because I think more people would watch it.
Best Live Action Short Film:
DeKalb Elementary; The Eleven O’Clock; My Nephew Emmett; The Silent Child; Watu Wote/All of Us
I’m out of time, so I pick The Silent Child entirely randomly.