Oscar 2019 Recap : Who Needs a Host?

If in the future, the Oscars decide to go with no host, may I be the first to say I am fine with that. Coming in at an ultra-lean 3 hours and 10 minutes, the show was watchable and didn’t have a lot of the awkward clunky moments of Jimmy Kimmel trying to be funny without offending anyone. Gone are the days of Billy Crystal nailing literally everything he did. There are few people if any that could pull off Oscar hosting and most of them don’t want to do it any more.

Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee

I was really shocked how much I did not miss the host.

As suspected there were plenty of surprises, right down to Best Picture.

Bohemian Rhapsody took home the most awards with 4, Green Book, Roma and Black Panther each had three. Its not unprecedented to the film with the most awards not to win Best Picture. The two most notable examples : Stars (6 wins) losing to Annie Hall (4) and Cabaret (8 wins) losing to The Godfather (3). More recently Mad Max Fury Road (6) losing to Spotlight (2).

When Roma was announced as winning Best Foreign Language Film, I wanted to change my ballot. It seemed like it was getting that as a consolation prize. I predicted a shut out of The Favourite and was right about that until …

The biggest shock of the night, and you could tell by the look on her face, was Olivia Colman winning Best Actress for The Favourite. Glenn Close was the odds on favourite in pretty much every poll and pundit site and it appeared that Olivia did not even prepare a speech. It was a great moment.

I am happy that I was able to see Spike Lee with  a well deserved, very overdue Oscar for writing BlacKkKlansman. His speech did not disappoint and neither did his jump hug with Samuel L Jackson. The two collaborated on Lee’s first major film, Do The Right Thing. Lee’s speech was like his screenplays, relevant and unapologetic.

I will scratch my head over Rami Malek’s win for a long time. We have an Oscar winner for lip syncing. The overdone false teeth kind of ruined if for me. Overall, I was too distracted by the grave historical inaccuracies of that movie to enjoy it.

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Ruth Carter beat the odds to become the first African American woman to win for Best Costume design. Period piece The Favourite was believed to be the frontrunner

Green Book is an odd Best Picture. It has a great deal of controversy regarding its historical accuracy, it was not in the top 25 critically acclaimed movies of the year and grossed under $30 million. Its an audience pleaser but had a very small audience. However it is very much an actor’s film and the Academy is more than 2/3 actors.

That said, even though I predicted it to win, I am glad Roma did not take home top prize. It is a triumph of style over substance and for the majority of film watchers (including me) a difficult slog. Its a least an hour into the film before anything happens. “Hard to get through” should not be a way to describe a best picture. I think a lot of voters like to look at the mark they are leaving on movie history and Green Book is the kind of film they want to be remembered for honouring.

If you check the movie and critic websites, you willl see “worst best picture in a long time” mentioned often, probably since “The Artist”.

Another shocker for me was First Man winning Best Visual Effects. The movie was not good, over long and dull.I actually nodded off at one point.  I feel the Oscar should go to a pic where the effects serve the film to make it better and in this case it did not.

If you look at the 8 best pic nominees by critical acclaim (weight average of about 300 certified critics top 10 lists they went as follows

Roma (1)

The Favourite (3)

Black Panther (6)

BlacKkKlansman (7)

A Star is Born (9)

Green Book (32)

Vice (37)

Bohemian Rhapsody (Not in the Top 50).

My favourite moments

  • Spike Lee’s Speech
  • Olivia Colman’s wonderful speech
  • Cooper and Gaga singing apparently the theme from “We have Sexual Tension”
  • Wayne and Garth
  • The Samuel L Jackson / Spike Lee hug
  • The great John Williams music during the memorial
  • The fact that there was not a host.

 

As for my pics, bad year. 14 for 24. Missed picture, actor and actress.

yeesh.

 

 

 

Dan’s Oscar Picks 2019

This could well be the dullest year in Oscar History, with Roma sweeping in the awards and a lot of disappointed faces. I don’t see that. In years like this, history tells us there is one movie shut out (I pick The Favourite) and the rest get spread out a lot. I am just going with my gut.
I am looking forward to Gaga and Cooper but nothing more than Spike Lee’s acceptance speech.
Here are my predicted winners with a brief commentary on each category and why I am making the pick. This is based on research from about 12 different reliable pundit websites and blogs as well as my own gut in a few areas.

THE MAJORS

BEST PICTURE

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The race is wide open enough that none of these 8 would shock me.

This is probably the most open category and there was a great deal of late campaigning from a lot of movies. Roma is the favourite, but by no means a lock. I could see BR, The Favourite, Green Book, BlacKkKlansman or Black Panther winning. None would surprise me. Vice and A Star is Born both seem to be out of the race. All that said, Best Picture is voted with a very convoluted ranked ballot system which can produce unexpected results. (Moonlight, Spotlight). Also, there are rumblings that the Academy is not very fond of Netflix and sees them as a disruptive force. Still, the love is gushing all over Roma. If I had money on it, I would go with Roma. Green Book and BlacKkKlansman seem to be next on the list.

Who will win : Roma

 

BEST DIRECTOR

It stuns me that in a year with 8 best picture nominees, we have a Best Director nomination that is not on the best picture list. This appears to be a two-horse race between Spike Lee and Alfonso Cauron. Cauron has a win (Gravity) and Lee is way overdue. Cauron is getting wide praise for the extent of his work so my thought is that this will be the 5th year in the last 6 with a Mexican director taking home the big prize. A Spike Lee would not startle me, his film is very good and decidedly Anti-Trump.

Who will win: Alfonso Cauron, Roma

 

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

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Bradley Cooper is the only one here playing a fictional character. L to R Bale as Dick Cheney. Cooper as Jackson Maine. Dafoe and Van Gogh. Malek as Freddie Mercury. Mortensen as “Tony Lip’

Rami Malek? I have a tough time with and Oscar win for a role of exaggerated prosthetic teeth and lip syncing. (I viewed Bohemian Rhapsody as a historically inaccurate train wreck with some very good concert scenes, only one of which actually happened). Four of the five nominees this year are playing real life characters. Willem Dafoe (love him), Bradley Cooper and Viggo Mortensen, the nomination is the award. The pundits and predictors show a two-way race between Rami well in the lead over and Christian Bale for Vice. Rami is not a mortal lock but certainly the odds-on pick. I call a minor upset. (Even though last five years all acting categories have gone to the favourites). Final note, do NOT count out Bradley Cooper. Well loved 7 time Oscar nominee with a massive marketing machine behind him, and he sang his own music.
Who will win: Christian Bale, Vice

 

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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Glenn’s year this year.

Lady Gaga was the front-runner in this category for a long time, until awards season actually started and Glenn Close came to the forefront. This her 7th nomination and she has done a brilliant job voicing Homer’s long-lost mother on the Simpsons. It seems to be her year in a close race with Olivia Coleman. Close should have an Oscar now for her unforgattable role in Fatal Attraction but lost to Cher in Moonstruck.

Who will win: Glenn Close, The Wife

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Green Book has faced a mountain of criticism and deflected it all and done extremely well on the awards circuit. Mahershala Ali is close to a lock. But would it not be great to see Sam Elliot win an Oscar. I can dream, can’t I?? Adam Driver was excellent in Spike Lee’s film but not enough put him over the top. If there is an upset here, it’s the wonderful Richard E. Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me. I saw it on a plane but it was still a great performance! Plus he a very well liked.

Who will win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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Likely the year’s strongest category, the fact that Regina King was overlooked for a nomination from The Screen Actors Guild makes it far more of a race than it may seem.

Regina King has wiped the slate clean in awards season, but that said she was not nominated for a SAG award. SAG members make up about 2/3 of the Academy voters. So, this is not the lock that it seems. Both Rachel Weiss and Emma Stone received wide acclaim for The Favourite as did six-time nominee Amy Adams for Vice.

This, this s King’s to lose.

 

Who Will Win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Writing awards are often viewed as a Best Picture Consolation Prize. Original Screenplay is wide open this year with four of the five nominees a possible winner. The Writer’s Guild picked Eighth Grade which was not even nominated. Paul Shrader has written some extraordinary movies (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull to name but two) and has his first nomination this year for First Reformed. It seems to be a two-way race between The Favourite and Green Book. Co-writer Nicolas Vellelonga is the son of the character “Tony Lip” played by Viggo Mortensen.

Who Will Win: Nicolas Vellelonga, Peter Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie for Green Book

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREEN PLAY

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Best movie of the year and arguably the best poster too.

Barry Jenkins has already won for Moonlight. Spike Lee, mortal lock. As silly as the Oscars are, there is always on award this per year that makes me jump out of my chair, this is it.

Who will win: David Rabinowitz, Charlie Watchell, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Runner-Up Prizes

BEST FILM EDITING

In past years, this award always went with best picture, not so much lately. There is no clear fave here and no long-term Academy stalwarts running. Most are first time Editing nominees. There is a lot of editing in Bohemian Rhapsody but its not good.

Who will win: Hank Corwin, Vice

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The voters will love the fact that Alfonso Cauron filmed his own movie in black and white. If there is an upset here it could be Lukas Zal in Cold War

Who Will Win: Alfonso Cauron, Roma

 

BEST ART DIRECTION

Usually goes with costume design. Not this year. Hard to call this one. You have Best Picture nominated Period Piece in the Favourite which usually wins here. I think it goes for the recreation of 1970s Mexico City.

Who will win: Eugenio Callebrero & Barbara Enriques, Roma

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Sandy Powell is a legend. She has 14 nomination in this category (including 2 this year!) and three wins (The Aviator, Young Victoria and Shakespeare in Love).

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Five movies. 4 nominees. A combined 25 career nominations and 4 wins.

This is a category full of veterans with multiple nominations and wins. I am going against conventional wisdom (period piece) for the first African American winner here.

 

Who Will Win: Ruth E. Carter, Black Panther

 

ORIGINAL SONG

I can’t see this going any other way. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga will perform together and later Gaga will accept the award. If there is upset, maybe 10-time nominee Dianne Warren for “I Will Fight” from RBG.

Who will win: “Shallow” from A Star is Born

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Noteworthy: This is Alexandre Desplat’s 10th nomination since 2007! This award tends to go to a Best Picture nominee. That narrows it down to two.

Who will win: Ludwig Garrosan, Black Panther

 

THE “OTHER KINDS OF MOVIES”

Note : This is were the academy has the ill-conceived, silly, unnecessary and immediately withdrawn idea for Best Achievement in Popular Film. If you want a new category, how about the Stunt Crew?

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Into-the-spider-verse

Hyper-kinetic, original and just pure fun.

The Incredibles 2 is a heavyweight movie from heavyweight Pixar. I loved it. Isle of Dogs is without a doubt the weirdest movie I have ever seen. But this year, its gonna be Spidey, a movie that should have nominations in sound, screenplay and best picture and probably editing too.

Who will win: Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

 

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

This could get weird. Roma is the odds on for Best Picture so it may get overlooked here. This has another very strange balloting system and produces odd results. In 2006, the amazing Pan’s Labrynth had 6 nominations and 3 wins but did not win here. Cold War has three nominations.

Who Will Win: Cold War (Poland)

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

RGB is a sentimental favourite but the reviews called it more Hero Worship than true documentary. The year’s most acclaimed documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbour” was not nominated.

Who Will Win: Free Solo

 

TECHNICAL CATEGORIES

BEST MAKE-UP
Vice. Marking Christian Bale into a convincing Dick Cheney.
BEST SOUND MIXING
Bohemian Rhapsody. Concert Scenes were exciting and entertaining.
SOUND EDITING
Bohemian Rhapsody – see above
VISUAL EFFECTS
Avengers Infinity War – Since Black Panther for some baffling reason is not nominated.

 

SHORT FILMS (EDUCATED GUESSES)

Animated Short

Boa (going with Pixar)

Documentary Short

Black Sheep (pundit consensus)
Live Action Short

Margeruite (pundit consensus)Best-Picture-Oscars-2019

 

Dan’s Overall Predictions

The Favourite gets shut out

No runaway winner

This year’s very possible WOW moment : Black Panther for Best Picture

Count by Movie….
Roma – 4
Black Panther – 3
Bohemian Rhapsody – 2
Green Book – 2
Vice – 2
Let’s be honest, this is a weird weird year with a relatively weak set on nominees. I could very much be eating my words Sunday Night.

Oscar’s Weirdest Year

I have been following the Oscars for a long time. There has never been a weirder year.

I will post my annual picks on the weekend but this year … it requires a little more commentary.

The juggernaut of political correctness took hold of the show early on, when Kevin Hart (who would have been a great host) stepped down when he was criticized for a tweet he sent close to 10 years ago. Even Ellen Degeneres defended him and was vilified for doing so.

(All of this led to my favourite tweet of the year. Ricky Gervais “I should host the Oscars because I don’t give a fuck what I said on Twitter 10 years ago”).

I will also quote here one of my heroes Bill Maher, “When did we become the fun police?? Remember when it was the Republicans that had the rod up their asses?”

If you ask me, the opening act of the Oscars should be Kevin Hart an RuPaul doing “Baby Its Cold Outside”.

The Academy can’t find a host. No-one will touch that job with a 39 ½ foot pole. So, for the first time in since 1987 we have no host. And not by choice.

This process of weirdness started last year when The Shape of Water, an artistic but flawed film, won best picture. Jimmy Kimmel was subdued and boring and the telecast had lower ratings that the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

In response, earlier this awards season came the quickly reversed decision to add a new category “Best Achievement in Popular Film”. They could have called it “Award for a Movie People have Heard Of” or even more accurately “We Better Get Black Panther Nominated for Something”. It was misguided and silly and thankfully, its not happening.

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A wide-ranging truly interesting group of best picture nominees. Black Panther with $700mm at the Box Office to Roma, whose official gross is $0.

Two of the legitimate front-runners, Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, puzzle me. Neither are among the Top 50 critically acclaimed movies of the year. Green Book was a flop financially. I can’t think of another movie that failed with critics and audiences getting this much awards attention.

There’s more to it with Green Book. The Family of Don Shirley (the character portrayed by Mahershala Ali) slammed the film as inaccurate and for leaving them out of the writing process.  Ali openly apologized to the Shirley family for his lack of research on the character and in spite of this, he is the front runner for Best Supporting Actor.  It also is a serious contender for Best Picture. (Note, the movie is written by the son of Tony Lip, the other main character in the story).

Bohemian Rhapsody is a contender for picture as well and Rami Malek is the likely winner for Best Actor. The movie was good, but by no means great and so full of historical inaccuracy that I found it hard to watch. If there is one person’s life that did not need embellishing, its Freddie. I found Malek’s performance to be a worthwhile impersonation and the stage scenes were very good, but overall, the movie is average at best. Oscar loves to award Actors who play real people (12 times since 2002) so I guess Malek’s success should come as no surprise. This year four of the five nominees are playing “real life” characters.

There was a point not a few weeks ago when A Star is Born seemed unbeatable. Bradley Cooper now has a staggering seven Oscar nominations and is likely to go home empty handed. Lady Gaga was all the talk for lead actress (thought she was excellent) but now that seems unlikely. That movie will take home one award for Best Original Song.

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My vote for the year’s best picture, Spike Lee’s audacious, entertaining, funny and very disturbing BlackKklansman finally got Lee the Oscar recognition he has long deserved. He will likely win for writing. When you look at his films, Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing, 25th Hour, Jungle Fever … this is his first Best Director nomination. I can’t wait for his acceptance speech.

That brings us to the two odds on favourites for Best Picture.

Roma is a great film, make no mistake. You will be hard pressed to find a film that has its level of artistic perfection. Cauron wrote, directed, produced, filmed and edited the project. It’s a NetFlix release so it has almost no Box Office numbers. And let’s be honest, the first hour is a tough slog, if not downright boring. Watching it, I ate an excessive amount of Pop Corners waiting for something to happen. The movie picks up and packs a wonderful emotional wallop at the end but I can’t call it a best picture. I enjoyed it, I appreciate its craft but I wouldn’t watch it again.

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It takes a long time to get to this final payoff scene in Roma. The 8 or 10 minutes leading up to this is film making skill of the highest order.

The Favourite is a period piece and the Academy loves this. But it failed to find an audience and would join movies like Spotlight, The Artist, Moonlight and The Hurt Locker in low grossing best pics.

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse (My #2 film of the year) should be on the list for Best Picture. It’s a genre-changing, ground breaking animated film that is also popular and extremely entertaining. But … not by Pixar.

You can make a case for any of the 8 Best Picture nominations to come out on top. Roma is the prohibitive front-runner, but The Academy does not like NetFlix and may pass it by. Green Book, Black Panther and The Favourite all stand a good chance of winning. (Black Panther could easily win two or three tech awards and Best Picture).

Stay tuned, full list of prediction is on its way.