There are 37 feature length films nominated for Oscars this year, and I’ve seen 21 of them (57%), slightly better than last year’s percentage of 52%. Those 37 films add up to 106 nominations in total, and thanks to me ticking off some of the bigger ones, I’ve managed 70% of the nominations in total, although that’s 7% fewer than last year. The two big ones that I missed are Vice (which I’m not that sad about) and Can You Ever Forgive Me (which I am a bit).
Picture – see yesterday’s post for the longer version
Black Panther – A great superhero film, proving something that didn’t need to be proved.
BlacKkKlansman – a ridiculous story that makes no sense, even if it is true. Muddled in tone.
Bohemian Rhapsody – brilliant fun to watch, but not brilliantly well done
The Favourite – gripping, charming, heartbreaking, startling
Green Book – a ‘nice’ film about the development of an unlikely friendship, but it lacks the heft required for a story addressing deep seated racism
Roma – beautiful to look at, but ultimately lacking in substance
A Star Is Born – entertaining in places, but problematic in others
Vice – the only one I didn’t manage to see.
Prediction – I’d like The Favourite to win, but it will almost certainly be Roma.
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma) – \the aesthetic is spot on, but I never got the impression there was anything going on beyond what I could see
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) – I didn’t really notice much in the way of direction I’m afraid.
Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) – haven’t seen it.
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) – the quirky tone of the direction brings alive the script and performances, adding nuance and changing perspectives all the time.
Adam McKay (Vice) – not seen
What’s missing – I would have like to see John Krasinski here for A Quiet Place for the way that he communicated so much with such restricted sound. I also always think that the directors on epic blockbusters like Black Panther or Avengers Infinity War deserve recognition for the immense juggling act to make massive set pieces, stunts, close ups and entire CGI worlds all blend together. And it would of course have been nice to see a woman here.
Prediction – Cuaron will probably win for Roma, but again, I think The Favourite is the more impressive achievement.
Christian Bale (Vice) – not seen. I do always feel a bit weird about the heavy prosthetics work, makes it harder to work out how much is acting and how much is just makeup.
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born) – he was good, but I was incredibly irritated with the ridiculous voice that made it hard for me to understand him.
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate) – not seen
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) – another case of a chunk of the work being done by prosthetics (mostly teeth!), but even with that, the performance shone through, not only as an impression but as a rich, complex and fascinating character
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book) – this was a good performance, making a comedic character grounded; there’s not much in the way of subtlety, but it’s still a rich performance.
Who’s missing – Journeyman was a film that no one seemed to notice and yet had a superb performance from Paddy Considine. A bit surprising that Ryan Gosling didn’t get a nomination for First Man, but maybe it was just too quiet a character. Joaquin Phoenix for You Were Never Really Here.
Prediction – I think Rami Malek has got this one in the bag.
Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) – a quiet performance, incredible for a first time actress
Glenn Close (The Wife) – not an amazing film (I haven’t reviewed it yet), but Close is phenomenal
Olivia Colman (The Favourite) – perfect casting, Colman is heartbreaking and hilarious
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) – I was really impressed at her performance, she was a wonderfully rich character with confidence and vulnerability, a joy to watch.
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) – not seen, but I’ve loved Melissa McCarthy since Gilmore Girls
Who’s missing – Emily Blunt for A Quiet Place, Jodie Whittaker for Journeyman, Viola Davis for Widows. I haven’t seen Mary Queen of Scots, but I’m surprised not to see Saoirse Ronan and/or Margot Robbie here.
Prediction – Glenn Close is fantastic and has miraculously never won an Oscar despite 7 nominations and this performance certainly justifies a win. But I would also be more than happy if the wonderful Olivia Colman or the impressive Lady Gaga won.
Mahershala Ali (Green Book) – an excellent performance that brings some subtlety to a slightly mediocre script, I’m just a little bemused that it’s considered ‘supporting’.
Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman) – Driver is more than capable of Oscar worthy performances, I just didn’t think he had enough material here.
Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born) – all I remember is the growling voice, not really the performance
Richard E. Grant(Can You Ever Forgive Me?) – I haven’t seen it, but how wonderful was the pure joy that he has for the nomination
Sam Rockwell (Vice) – not seen
Prediction – Mahershala Ali seems to be sweeping the boards, and I guess he was the most impressive of the ones I’ve seen. I’d kind of like to see Richard E. Grant win though, just because he seems so lovely.
Amy Adams(Vice) – not seen
Marina de Tavira (Roma) – I don’t think there was enough to this role to make it outstanding
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) – not seen
Emma Stone (The Favourite) – I liked this performance a lot, she’s sparky and has a great arc
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) – this role at first seems the simplest of the three women in this film, but that understates the subtlety beneath the surface which is a true achievement
Prediction: It seems like Regina King is a dead cert for this, although I would pick Rachel Weisz from the ones that I’ve seen.
The Favourite – there’s a lot packed into the screenplay here, building up layer upon layer of comedy and tragedy
First Reformed – not seen
Green Book – very formulaic
Roma – Everything great about this film is in the visuals and the performances, the story and script are insubstantial and unremarkable.
Vice – not seen
Prediction: I hope and think The Favourite will win
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – This is 5 short films stuck together, and I just wish it had been blended into one feature.
BlacKkKlansman – I didn’t think the events actually made any sense (why didn’t the white police man just talk on the phone?), and although that’s the history, I don’t think the screenplay did anything to address it.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born – I have real issues with A Star is Born, I think there are a lot of issues that could and should have been addressed that were just completely ignored and I don’t think it did enough to move the original storyline into a new century.
Prediction: Of the ones I’ve seen, I wasn’t particularly impressed by any of them. If Beale Street Could Talk?
Incredibles 2 – I thoroughly enjoyed this
Isle of Dogs – manages to be quirky but not irritating and really enjoyable
Mirai – not seen
Ralph Breaks the Internet – I was not impressed at this at all, it wasn’t doing anything new, riffs about pop-up ads are out of date before they started.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – the most comic book feeling comic book film yet.
Prediction: I’d be happy with either Isle of Dogs of Spider-Man, but I think the latter will win.
Foreign Language Film
Capernaum (Lebanon), Cold War (Poland), Never Look Away (Germany), Roma (Mexico), Shoplifters (Japan)
Prediction: Surely a slam dunk for Roma? The only other one I’ve seen is Shoplifters which didn’t blow me away, although I’ve heard good things about both Capernaum and Cold War.
Free Solo; Hale County This Morning, This Evening; Minding the Gap; Of Fathers and Sons; RBG
Prediction: Embarrassingly I haven’t seen any of these. I suspect the Academy will vote for RBG but that may be more about the subject of the documentary than the quality of it, but I’ve heard much better things about Free Solo.
Black Sheep, End Game, Lifeboat, A Night at The Garden, Period. End of Sentence. – I haven’t seen any of these I’m afraid.
Prediction: A Night at the Garden?
Live Action Short
Detainment, Fauve, Marguerite, Mother, Skin – Nope none of these either
Prediction: Shrug – Marguerite.
Animal Behaviour – cute and funny
Bao – I was a bit uncertain about it to be honest, but I spoke to someone to whom it is culturally very close and he adored it
Late Afternoon – this is only the trailer and it doesn’t give you much to go on, but the animation style is beautiful.
One Small Step – Absolutely beautiful, truly stunning.
Weekends – I wasn’t a big fan of the dream bits, but the rest of it was really lovely.
Prediction: A fairly tough category, but my choice would be One Small Step
Black Panther – everything in this film is an evolution growing from pan-Afican roots and the music is no different.
BlacKkKlansman – I didn’t notice it
If Beale Street Could Talk – not seen
Isle of Dogs – the music was really creative using traditional themes much like Black Panther, supporting the tone of the film perfectly, just quirky enough but not insane
Mary Poppins Returns – lovely, just lovely. Using the foundations from the original film and developing them.
Prediction: It seems a little unfair to compare musicals with non-musicals, they’ve got such different jobs to do, so while Mary Poppins is obviously the most memorable, I’m not sure it’s fair. I think Black Panther will win, but I actually prefer Isle of Dogs I think.
“All the Stars” from Black Panther – I’m not a fan, but I think it works for the film
“I’ll Fight” from RBG – Solid, but I’m not sure how well it would have fit in a documentary, but not having seen it I can’t really say.
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns – beautiful. Perfect for the film and just lovely. Watching on Youtube has just reduced me to a sobbing mess again.
“Shallow” from A Star Is Born – I don’t actually like this song much, it seems unfinished, like they gave up writing lyrics for the chorus (“In the shallow, sha sha shallow…”). I prefer Always Remember Us This Way which seems much more connected to the film.
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – is this good? I mean it’s cute and fits the film, but seems pretty basic to me.
Prediction: I think Shallow will win, but I wish it were Mary Poppins.
Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, A Quiet Place, Roma
Prediction: A Quiet Place. For no other film is the sound so absolutely critical .
Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Roma, A Star Is Born
Prediction: Who knows… Bohemian Rhapsody?
Black Panther – the design is original, creative, grounded, detailed and absolutely critical to the film.
The Favourite – the world of 18th century court was beautifully created, I presume exagerated for comic effect in places and rich and colourful.
First Man – How much was ‘design’ and how much was just recreating history? I’m not saying that’s easy, but it’s not as impressive as creating from scratch.
Mary Poppins Returns – the fantasy worlds were all fun and vibrant, but I don’t think they had the depth that they need to be outstanding – I didn’t really believe any of them existed when the camera wasn’t rolling.
Roma – I don’t necessarily understand these things, but to me Roma is more about the cinematography than the production design, it’s not *designing* anything, it’s just real.
Prediction: Black Panther surely?
Cold War – not seen, I just know that it’s a weird aspect ratio and black and white.
The Favourite – this was doing something very interesting with lenses and the like, but actually I never felt like it was drawing attention to it, just making it a part of the film.
Never Look Away – not seen
Roma – I will aree that there are some beautiful shots in this film, and despite being in black and white it felt vibrant, BUT I also felt that the black and white was a little over-processed. The whole thing felt like it was trying too hard – look at me, I’m black and white and this long, lingering shot is beautifully framed. It didn’t add to the story.
A Star Is Born – can’t say I really noticed it.
Prediction: I think it will go to Roma, although I prefer The Favourite.
Makeup and Hair
Border, Mary Queen of Scots, Vice
Prediction: I’ve not seen any of them and not even heard of Border, but I think this is a battle of wigs over imitation prosthetics. It feels to me like there are a lot of options missing from here – The Favourite (the wigs!), and the prosthetic work in various sci-fi films. I suspect Vice will win.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – there were some fun designs here.
Black Panther – the costume designs were integral to the look of the film, evolving something new from multiple different traditions.
The Favourite – beautiful, but I’m not sure how much were based on existing historical designs.
Mary Poppins Returns – one of the only films I remember specifically noticing the costumes during the film, the drawn but real costumes in the ‘bowl’ sequence was fascinating.
Mary Queen of Scots – as for The Favourite, I’m not sure how much was just historical.
Prediction: Black Panther was doing the most interesting work
BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Vice
Prediction: I don’t think the editing really stood out on any of those that I saw, I suspect Vice may have been a bit more creative though.
Avengers: Infinity War – an huge amount of CGI, but not overwhelming and it all felt real
Christopher Robin – I didn’t get on with the un-canniness of the animation here, they were cute, they just didn’t quite ‘resolve’ into the environment.
First Man – the strength and weakness of the effects is the recreation of the experience of early spaceflight which is shaky and terrifying, and frankly made me nauseous and had to look away from the screen.
Ready Player One – from my recollection, this was a little overwhelmingly CGI, the bits that were set within a game that made perfect sense, but I’m not sure that made it outstanding.
Solo: A Star Wars Story – Unlike Avengers, I was always aware that everything was a special effect.
Prediction: It’s almost too easy to do incredible things in CGI these days, just rendering everything isn’t impressive anymore, it’s when things blend seamlessly that it’s impressive, which is why I think it will go to First Man, although I think Avengers demonstrated more different aspects.