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.

Describe the 2018 Oscars in One Word: “Safe”

Its not a surprise at all to me that this years show was the lowest rated Oscar telecast since the Neilsen Ratings started in 1974. Jimmy Kimmel was at best average last year. The two front running movies did not make $100 million between them. And, like it or not, TV audiences are tiring of being lectured, which seems to be an awards show staple.

This year’s Oscars had lower ratings than the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics. They were trying so hard to play it safe and not offend anyone and it showed in a rather dull telecast.

A few years ago, the Academy added more best pictures to the list of nominees to try and increase audience interest. If you look at the highest rated broadcasts of the last 30 years (1994 Forrest Gump, 1997 Titanic, 2003 Return of the King), they have well liked, financially successful movies at their forefront. This year, you have to go to 14th in the years box office to find a film with any Oscar possibilities (Dunkirk) and 47th for one with a real chance (Shape of Water). There were only about 7 nominations combined from the Top 10 films.

Gal Gadot and Luke Evans both gave performances worthy of Oscar consideration in blockbuster movies.

There was only one shock for me the whole night, that Kobe Bryant won an Oscar to a standing ovation in a MeToo world, which Hollywood wants to drive more than anything. Bryant was charged with rape and the charges dropped when his accuser, a 19 year old that Bryant admitted an extra-marital affair with, refused to testify in court. He later settled out of court in a civil suit. Casey Affleck’s accusations are very similar and was not allowed to even present.

There is an exceptional amount of hypocrisy in Hollywood that is emphasized by Bryant’s Oscar. MeToo voices like Meryl Streep and Oprah, some of the Hollywood’s most influential people, befriended and publicly praised Harvey Weinstein and cuddled up to him along with the Clintons and Obamas. They knew.

Ok, off my soap box.

All 8 major categories went exactly according to predictions. Maybe the only surprise of the night was Coco winning for best original song. (Same song writers that previously won for the ubiquitous ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen).

Their were two highlights for me. First was Roger Deakins. A brilliant, prolific cinematographer with 13 prior nominations, many for Best Pic nominees and a couple of winners, and no wins. Blade Runner 2049 was a superb film and he deserved this.

The second was Frances McDormand. She won her first Oscar in 1996 for Marge Gunderson, the plucky, pregnant policy chief in Fargo whose instincts both as a cop and a wife were uncanny. Also, that character has one of my favourite ever movie lines “I’m not sure I agree 100% with your police work there, Lou”. She created one of the most memorable characters in all of film.

McDormand is akin (in my books) to Daniel Day Lewis. Lately she is picky about her projects, few and far between and when she takes one on, she engulfs it

I loved her speech. When she called on Meryl to stand up knowing that others would follow. And then when she said “Talk to us, we have projects we want financed”. A punch of honesty right between the eyes.

She finished her speech by saying “two words … inclusion rider”.  This is relatively new to Hollywood and is really only at the disposal of A-list stars. Its a rider on their contract that stipulates that 50% of the cast (as far as it can serve the script) and crew must be women and minorities. For a self congratulating industry that seems to still largely be in denial of its problems with abuse, racism and sexism, this may have been the most poignant and effective of any speech given yet.

McDormand used her platform not to lecture and not to give a speech full of empty slogans and platitudes but as a direct call to action for people that wield her level of influence and higher. Bravo.

For the record, I was 7 for 8 on the major categories and 17 for 24 overall. I missed both music categories and Best Picture of all things.

I love the Oscars, always have and always will. There is a growing gap between films that audiences like and those the Academy chose to honour. The more this gap grows the more less relevant that long, languid show will seem. I am not sure how, but it needs to reinvent itself.

 

Dan’s 2018 Oscar Picks

This is going to be an interesting year for the Oscar’s. The first year without Harvey Weinstein. His influence on the Oscars was legendary, he could and did make a lot of unlikely films and actors nominees and winners. For 13 straight years he had at least one Best Picture nominee and his movies won over 140 Oscars over the years. If you ever wondered how mediocre films like Chocolat, Life is Beautiful and Shakespeare in Love had their Oscar success, its the Weinstein Factor. Good riddance.

I have not seen a lot of the movies this year. My pics are based on a lot of reading from Critics and Movie insiders and various websites.

Best movie for me this year, that I have seen, Get Out narrowly edging Logan.

This does not seem to be the year of a sweep or a runaway winner. Three Billboards with 3-4, The Shape of Water with 3-4 and the rest very spread out.

I thought Jimmy Kimmel was a weak host last year and I am quite surprised he is back. Perhaps he can do something this year other than Trump and Matt Damon jokes.

All that said, here are my picks.

 

THE 8 MAJOR CATEGORIES

Best Picture

It’s a two way race between Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and The Shape of Water. Vastly different films. There has been negative talk associated with 3BB of late and Guillermo del Toro is a much loved director. Also, in a two way race, never count out the third horse, which this year is Get Out. It is fashionable lately to given the Actors film best pic and the Special Effects film best Director. I see that continuing this year.

Dan’s Pick: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

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Best Director

Best-Director

Jordan Peele proved he belongs in this group.

What a strong category. I am still in awe that Jordan Peele is an nominee. Greta Gerwig made a well loved, touching real life movie. Christopher Nolan has the Midas Touch and should have an Oscar by now. Paul Thomas Anderson makes consistently interesting and original films. Guillermo Del Toro has made some questionable films but never a bad or dull one. Hellboy, Blade II and Pacific Rim and all super fun even if they are not high art. Pan’s Labrynth is among my Top 100 favourite films, its pure genius. He is well liked and will take home the trophy.

Dan’s Pick: Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

 

Best Actor

Here is one where you bet the farm.

Dan’s Pick: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

 

Best Actress

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Frances McDormand is the favourite but any winner from this group would not be a surprise.

There is more talk in this category than any other of the majors. Margot Robbie made a sympathetic character out of Tonya Harding. Sally Hawkins is a brilliant actress, long overlooked. Meryl is Meryl, perhaps the greatest of all time and can never be counted out. Saorise Ronan gained acclaim and her third nomination for Lady Bird and she is brilliant. Her time will come. Frances McDormand as an all new kind of grieving mother will win.

Dan’s Pick: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

 

Best Supporting Actor

For the longest time, everyone favoured Willem Dafoe in the Florida Project. I love his work but that small film did not mount much of a campaign. Sam Rockwell now seems to have momentum.

Dan’s Pick: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

 

Best Supporting Actress

Everything I read everywhere points in one direction. If there is a upset it will be Laurie Metcalf in Ladybird

Dan’s Pick: Alison Janney, I, Tonya

 

Adapted Screenplay

Logan created a superhero film that defies the genre with heart and pathos. It will not win but perhaps should. The Disaster Artist is out of the question. Look here for Call My By Your Name to win its one and only award.

Dan’s Pick: Call Me By Your Name

 

Original Screenplay

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Oscar Nominee Daniel Kaluuya in what has become an iconic shot from Get Out.

Wide open, I think. The Big Sick will not win, any of the outer four could. I see the Academy wanting to honour Jordan Peele’s fascinating and horrifying Get Out. Either that or Ladybird.

Dan’s Pick: Get Out

 

The Runner Up Categories

Best Cinematography

If you have seen more than 10 movies in the last 20 years, chances are one was filmed by Roger Deakins. Proflic and brilliant, he has 13 prior nominations and could have won for any of them. He should have won for Fargo and Skyfall and arguably Shawshank. He is long overdue and his work here is among his best. Possible upset, Rachel Morrison, the first ever-female nominee in this category for Mudbound. (She also filmed Black Panther).

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Everything about this short from Blade Runner 2049 is perfect. Deakins’ attention to the tiniest detail is legendary.

Dan’s Pick: Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049

 

Best Costume Design

I am going to take the easy route and pick the film about a clothing designer

Dan’s Pick: Mark Bridges, The Phantom Thread

 

Production Design

I almost always get this wrong so maybe I should go against my instincts. The team of Katie Spencer and Sarah Greenwood have done some brilliant work and are nominated twice this year. Blade Runner 2049 was close to perfect. The team from Shape of Water are all first time nominees in a category of Oscar veterans. I see them winning:

Dan’s Pick: The Shape of Water

 

 

Film Editing

Hard to pick here. For decades, editing and best picture went together. Not so much in recent years. Coin toss for Baby Driver, Dunkirk and The Shape of Water. Lee Smith should have won for The Dark Knight.

Dan’s Pick:      Lee Smith, Dunkirk.

 

Best Original Song

The year was short on musicals. This is Me from The Greatest Showman is the only real musical song nominated. Wouldn’t it be great to say “Oscar Winner Mary J Blige”?? That said, Common has won before, but Diane Warren is 0 for 8 coming into this show.

Dan’s Pick: Common and Dianne Warren, Stand for Something from Marshall

 

Original Score

There is zero change John Williams will win but the music for Last Jedi was perfect. Alexandre Desplat seems to score one out of very three movies these days. Carter Burwell has done most of the Coen Brother’s films but is rarely acknowledged. This is also a tough category.

Dan’s Pick: Carter Burwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

 

Animated Feature

I have not seen it yet but Pixar’s Coco got great reviews and seems to be the consensus pick. Could The Boss Baby win. Three words, Big Hero 6.

Dan’s Pick: Coco

 

Foreign Language Film

Dan’s Pick: The Insult (Lebanon)

 

Technical Categories

 Best Sound: Dunkirk

Best Sound Effects Editing: Dunkirk

 Best Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049

 Best Make-Up and Hair: Darkest Hour

 

The Educated Guesses

Documentary Short: Edith + Eddie, true story of a nonagenarian newlywed inter-racial couple

 Documentary Feature: Faces Places. Celebrated French Director Agnes Varda becomes the oldest winner of a competitive Oscar. She is receiving an Honorary Award as well.

 Live Action Short:: Dekalb Elementary. About a real life 911 call placed during a school shooting in Georgia.

 Animated Short: Dear Basketball (In a #MeToo world, I find it hard to see Kobe Bryant winning an Oscar but this is the popular pick).

Dan’s Oscar Picks – 2016

This is a pretty banal year for the Oscars again. Other than the controversy stirred up by Spike Lee (which I will not comment on) there is not much intrigue at all. When Ridley Scott, the deemed front-runner, was not nominated in the Director Category, the prognosticators were left scratching their heads. It always leave me curious as to how a movie can be nominated in 8 or 9 or 10 categories and not director (Argo, The Color Purple, Driving Miss Daisy, Dark Knight and many others).

What will be nice this year is to see a couple of “lifetime achievement” Oscars handed out.

So we are heading for a night of foregone conclusions or complete shocks. Maybe Chris Rock will drop a swear or two and shake things up. I will be disappointed if he does not go off script and bring up the fact that Spike Lee is at a Knicks game. I can only hope.

I see early front runner The Martian going home empty. Usually one major nominee does. Mad Max with a lot of trophies but The Revenant will be the big winner.

Here are my pics for this year

 

THE SIX MAJOR CATEGORIES

Best Picture

I have not seen a site that is not picking The Revenant. So I will go with that. If you want to pick a dark horse either Spotlight or my #2 movie of the year, The Big Short. Spotlight was the pervasive frontrunner but ended up failing commercially and critically.

Dan’s Prediction: The Revenant

 

Best Actor

Oh please, Leo, please use your speech to continue your little spat with Prime Minister Selfie and slag the oil sands. Please!!! I can’t stand Leo but he is a great actor and long overdue. This is his year. Mortal lock.

Dan’s Prediction: Leo, the Revenant

 

Best Actress

Charlotte Rampling kind of took herself out of the running by proclaiming that the Oscars are racist against whites. Not a solid career movie. Cate Blanchett is in a daring performance but has won twice and recently. Jennifer Lawrence who is my girlfriend and doesn’t know it is the new Kate Winslett, nominated for everything. Down to Brie Larson and Sariose Ronan.

Dan’s Prediction: Brie Larson, Room.

 

Best Supporting Actor

Really, could this happen?? I will jump out of my seat and scream for joy if Sly Stallone wins for this 7th incarnation of Rocky Balboa in Creed. This is a tough category with brilliance all around. Acclaimed stage actor Mark Rylance may upset here in his wonderful, understated performance in Bridge of Spies, but it looks like after Sunday we will have the phrase, Oscar Winner Sylvester Stallone. Rocky is part of our culture. This is one of three or four categories I am truly excited about.

Dan’s Prediction: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

 

 Best Supporting Actress

I have not seen The Danish Girl but all signs from all media point to Oscar newcomcer Alicia Vikander in Tom Hooper’s transgender drama. Hooper has directed Colin First to his Oscar

Dan’s Prediction: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

 

Best Director

Ridley Scott has directed one best picture winner and one nominee. He is also responsible for Bladerunner and Black Hawk Down. He was considered a shoe in for best director months ago and not nominated so I think this is wide open. That said, it looks like we are in for a rare repeat of Best Director. John Ford is the only director to accomplish this with Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley in 1940/41. That’s some pretty impressive company. Alejandro is yet to make a weak film, let alone a bad one.

Dan’s Prediction: Alejandro G. Innaritu, The Revenant

 

THE CONSOLATION PRIZES

 The Original Screenplay

Wouldn’t it be great to see Straight Outta Compton pull the upset. Won’t happen but we can dream, can’t we?? I would love to see Inside Out, the year’s best film and a work of writing genius win, but let’s go with a safe pick about Catholic Church corruption.

Dan’s Prediction: Spotlight

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

This is the only pick where I will use my emotions and hope the Academy honours a brilliant, original film.

Dan’s Prediction: The Big Short
Best Costume Design

Interesting category. Sandy Powell is nominated twice. She has been in this scenario before and won. But I predict a technical sweep for Mad Max, so let’s go there.

Dan’s Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road

 

Best Production Design

I will do what I usually do and go with the same movie as costumes. Not this year.

Dan’s Prediction: The Revenant

 

 Best Film Editing

The link between Editing and Best Pic has not been as reliable in the last 7 or 8 years so let’s break that convention. Mad Max – didn’t love it but it’s a wonderful mess and totally coherent.

Dan’s Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road

 

 Best Cinematography

A three-peat?? Looks that way. The great Roger Deakins will go home a runner up again and a man who is changing the way movies are filmed will win a third in a row. Watch Gravity, Birdman and The Revenant. They could not be any more different. He is a bona fide genius.

Dan’s Prediction: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant

 

Animated Feature

If Inside Out does not win, I will throw a shoe at the TV

Dan’s Prediction: The best movie of 2015, Inside Out

 

Foreign Language Film

Son of Saul. I have not seen this Hungarian holocaust drama but two reviews I have read both said it is on par with Schindler’s List for visceral impact. I want to see it but movies like this about the inhumanity of man tend to get under my skin and stick with me.

Dan’s Prediction: Son of Saul

 

 

TECHNICAL CATEGORIES

Sound Mixing: Mad Max Fury Road

 

Sound Editing: Mad Max Fury Road

 

Make-up: Max Max Fury Road

 

Best Visual Effects: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Really, can they let this film go with nothing?

 

Best Original Score: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful 8

This may be the most interesting category of the night, along with Song. On one hand we have the legendary, brilliant John Williams. A mind boggling 41 nominations and 5 wins. No wins since 1994. He just turned 84 and the music for The Force Awakens in awesome. Then you have Ennio Morricone. Also legendary and brilliant. 88 years old and scoring Tarantino movies. 6 time nominee and never a winner. Do they perhaps honour Mr. Williams one more time or finally give Ennio his due?? Expect Ennio to win and a five minute ovation.

 

Best Original Song: Diane Warren and Lady Gaga for The Hunting Ground

This is a controversial documentary and rape and cover up on college campuses. Joe Biden will introduce Gaga at the show tomorrow night. This is Diane Warren’s 8th nomination. A chance for the Academy to give her her due, make Gaga and Oscar winner and honour this film all at once.

 

 

The Educated Guesses

 

Documentary Feature: Amy (not a guess here, pretty much a lock)

 

Documentary Short: Claude Landmann: Specters of the Shoah

 

Animated Short: Sanjay’s Super Team

 

Live Action Short: Shok

Dan’s All-Time Top 100 – The Complete List

Dan’s Top 100 Movies

The Complete List

(Jan 1 2015)

Happy 2015!!! I am often asked for movie recommendations. Here is a good place to start. There are likely some titles here you have not seen or some that could really warrant a revisit. I will update this list from time to time, probably annually, as new movies come out or as watch older films for the first time or gain a greyer appreciation for them. I also added my “runner’s up”, the last 10 movies I cut, in order. Over time, as I add titles, the Top 100 will grow.

The blog will continue. I will add new movie reviews, essays on older films, more complete reviews of some of my Top 100 films and Oscar commentaries. In addition, I will add film retrospectives by year and decade from time to time.

Completing a public Top 100 has been a long standing goal of mine. Thanks for joining me!

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Dan’s Top 100 Movies (Jan 1 2015)

  1. The Godfather Part II (1974 – Coppola)
  2. Goodfellas (1991 – Scorsese)
  3. The Godfather (1972 – Coppola)
  4. Amadeus (1984 – Forman)
  5. Singing in the Rain (1952 – Donen)
  6. Pulp Fiction (1994 – Tarantino)
  7. Raging Bull (1980 – Scorsese)
  8. West Side Story (1961 – Wise & Robbins)
  9. A Fish Called Wanda (1985 -Chricton )
  10. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001,2002,2003 – Jackson)
  11. This is Spinal Tap (Reiner – 1983)
  12. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1983 – Spielberg)
  13. Citizen Kane (Welles – 1941)
  14. Fargo (1996 – Coen)
  15. Platoon (1986 – Stone)
  16. Casablanca (1943 – Curtiz)
  17. Vertigo (Hitchcock – 1958)
  18. Schindler’s List (1993 – Spielberg)
  19. Apocalypse Now (1979 – Coppola)
  20. WALL-E (Stanton – 2008)
  21. Taxi Driver (1976 – Scorsese)
  22. The Empire Strikes Back (1980 – Lucas)
  23. Tootsie (1982 -Pollack)
  24. Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1974 – Gilliam)
  25. Moonstruck (1987 – Jewison)
  26. Inglorious Basterds (2009 – Tarantino)
  27. All The President’s Men (1976 – Pakula)
  28. The Silence of the Lambs (1991 – Demme)
  29. A Clockwork Orange (1970 – Kubrick)
  30. Patton (1970 – Schaffner)
  31. Mississippi Burning (1988 – Parker)
  32. The Incredibles – (2004 – Bird)
  33. The Color Purple (1985 – Speilberg)
  34. Midnight Express (1976 – Parker)
  35. Being There (1979 – Ashby)
  36. The Searchers (1956 – Ford)
  37. Dog Day Afternoon (1975 – Lumet)
  38. Breaking Away (1979 – Yates)
  39. Some Like it Hot (Wilder – 1959)
  40. Stop Making Sense (1984 – Demme)
  41. Nashville (1975 – Altman)
  42. Smith Goes to Washington (1939 – Capra)
  43. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006 – del Toro)
  44. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962 – Mulligan)
  45. Robocop (1987 – Verhoven)
  46. Young Frankenstein (1974 – Brooks)
  47. High Noon (1952 – Zimmerman)
  48. Jaws (1975 – Spielberg)
  49. Bladerunner (Scott – 1982)
  50. Saving Private Ryan (1998 – Spielberg)
  51. The Third Man (1947 – Reed)
  52. Scarface (1983 – DePalma)
  53. The Up Documentaries (1966 to present – Apted)
  54. Do the Right Thing (1989 – Lee)
  55. The Dark Night (Nolan – 2008)
  56. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love the Bomb (1964 – Kubrick)
  57. Alien (Scott – 1979)
  58. Aliens (Cameron – 1986)
  59. Duck Soup (1933 – McCarey)
  60. On The Waterfront (1954 – Kazan)
  61. The Departed (2006 – Scorsese)
  62. Glengarry Glen Ross (Mamet – 1992)
  63. Die Hard (McTiernan – 1988)
  64. E. T. The Extra Terrestrial (Spielberg – 1983)
  65. City Lights (Chaplin – 1931)
  66. The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont – 1993)
  67. Gravity (2013 – Cauron)
  68. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Zemekis – 1985)
  69. 2001 A Space Odyssey (Kubrick – 1969)
  70. The Little Mermaid (Clements/Musker – 1991)
  71. Psycho (Hitchcock – 1960)
  72. The Producers (Brooks – 1968)
  73. Hannah and Her Sisters (Allen – 1986)
  74. Hoop Dreams (James – 1994)
  75. Army of Darkness (Raimi – 1992)
  76. The Big Lebowski (Coen 1998)
  77. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Burton /Sellick – 1993)
  78. Bride of Frankenstein (Whale – 1935)
  79. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006 – Eastwood)
  80. The Wizard of Oz (Fleming – 1939)
  81. The Fog of War (Morris – 2003)
  82. Moulin Rouge (Luhrmann – 2001)
  83. Terminator 2 – Judgment Day (Cameron – 1991)
  84. Millers Crossing (Coen – 1990)
  85. 12 Angry Men (Lumet – 1957)
  86. 21 Grams (Gonzales Irraitu – 2003)
  87. The Princess Bride (1989 – Reiner)
  88. The Philadelphia Story (1940 – Cuckor)
  89. Ghostbusters (1983 – Reitman)
  90. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry – 2004)
  91. Juno (Reitman – 2007)
  92. Star Trek: First Contact (Frakes – 1996)
  93. Avatar (Cameron 2009)
  94. Wall Street (Stone – 1986)
  95. When Harry Met Sally … (Reiner – 1988)
  96. Belle Epoque (Treuba – 1992)
  97. Say Anything (Crowe – 1989)
  98. Planet of the Apes (Schaffner – 1968)
  99. The Breakfast Club (1983 – Hughes)
  100. The Blues Brothers (1980 – Reitman)

 

Runner Up List

  1. The Conversation (1974 – Coppola)
  2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982 – Meyer)
  3. Fight Club (1999 – Fincher)
  4. Being John Malkovich (1999 – Jonze)
  5. Rear Window (1954 – Hitchcock)
  6. Minority Report (2002 – Speilberg)
  7. The Sweet Hereafter (1997 – Egoyan)
  8. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951 – Kazan)
  9. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946 – Kapra)
  10. Nosferatu (1922 – Murnau)

Please offer comments, feedback, suggestions….

Dan’s All-Time Top 100 – #1

#1 The Godfather Part II”

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo

Stars: Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Lee Strasburg, Robert DeNiro, Michael V. Gazzo, John Cazale, Talia Shire

Original Release Date: 20 Dec 1974

gf21

Oscars: 6 (Picture, Director, Supporting Actor – Robert DeNiro, Score, Screenplay, Art Direction), 6 other nominations

Critics and Users

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%                    Berardinelli: 4.0 , #47 All time Top 100

Metacritic: n/a                                   Ebert: 3.0 original, 4.0 re-review in 2008, Top 10 of the 70’s

IMDB Top 250: #3

 

The Godfather Part II is my single favourite film and has been for over 20 years. It’s a bit of a curious choice because it cannot stand on its own without the original film, whereas The Godfather is a complete film in and of itself. The first film makes the second one great and the second one adds immeasurable depth to the first. (Let’s not mention Part III).

While there is a theme running through my top three films (gangster film, set within a certain era, long running time, sweeping story lines) there is a darkness and sadness to The Godfather Part II that gives it an timeless appeal.

You cannot discuss this film without reference to the first. At the end of Part I, we see Michael, now in iron fisted control on the Corleone Empire, his enemies vanquishes and his power absolute. We have watched him transform from disinterest outsider to a man who will do literally anything to maintain his power.

Robert DeNiro as young Vito Corleone. A brilliant performance, one where we can see the character transformations in his expressions.

Robert DeNiro as young Vito Corleone. A brilliant performance, one where we can see the character transformations in his expressions.

In Part II, we get two intertwined stories. Set in the current time of the late 1950s, we see Michael’s vast empire increase as he takes control of gambling in Vegas and sets in motion a plan to do the same in pre-Castro Cuba. This story is woven with flash backs to the rise of his father, Vito. It stretches a timeline from 1901 when Vito escapes from Sicily, to the final shot of Michael, isolated, in 1964.

 

Robert DeNiro plays Young Vito in an Oscar winning performance that I consider the greatest of all time. DeNiro lived in Sicily for four months to learn the dialect and brilliantly adopts the Bronx accent and penchant to pepper in a little English here and there as well. It’s a school in method acting, subtlety, gesture and character.

 

John Cazale as Fredo. Cazale only ever appears in 5 films,all were nominated for Best Picture and three won. He was engaged to Meryl Streep at the time of his death at age 42 from Leukaemia.

John Cazale as Fredo. Cazale only ever appears in 5 films,all were nominated for Best Picture and three won. He was engaged to Meryl Streep at the time of his death at age 42 from Leukaemia.

In the opening scene, it is the first communion of Michael’s son Anthony and Michael is seeing supplicants in the same way his father did in Part I at Connie’s wedding. Michael is growing paranoid and distrustful of everyone, including his long time consigliore Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall). He embarks on a mission to find out who is loyal while expanding his empire. The screenplay gives us little information as we watch Michael joust with the various players in his life. He makes each move having to anticipate endless life or death outcomes.

The cast of this movie is flawless. As Roger Ebert pointed out in his 2008 essay, are there any other films in which you can name 6, 7 or 8 characters 40 years later? Michael V Gazzo as Frankie Penatangali is brilliant, tough, old school; easily confused but in his mind knows right from wrong. John Cazale reprises his role as Fredo, Michael’s witless brother. Pacino and Cazale were good friends and went on to make Dog Day Afternoon together.

"So, I want everyone to enjoy their cake. So, enjoy"

“So, I want everyone to enjoy their cake. So, enjoy”

Lee Strasburg, founder of The Actors Studio, comes out of retirement to play Hyman Roth,. On the outside, he is a soft-spoken even kindly aging Jewish man, but inside, a ruthless criminal with an empire to protect.

As we watch the flash back scenes, we see Don Vito rise from a street thug and killer to the man he became, still a criminal but a leader, a diplomat and a man loved by those around him. We watch Michael, unable to stay in his father’s footsteps, become a man who will do anything and lose everything he loves to maintain power. Vito Corleone’s empire was controlled by love and respect; Michael’s by fear.

What I love about this movie, what puts it atop my list and keeps it just a teeny bit ahead of Goodfellas is the vastness of the story arch and the depths of its themes. To dismiss this movie (and Part I) as glorification of the mafia is to miss the point entirely. This is a film about guilt, the secrets we carry in the deepest caverns of our souls, the transience of power and living in the shadows and expectations of our fathers.

"I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart."

“I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart.”

 

Best Quote:

Michael Corleone: There are many things my father taught me here in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

 

Trivia:

Francis Ford Coppola wanted to produce the movie and not direct. He chose Martin Scorsese to direct but was turned down by the studio and took on the project himself.

 Robert Deniro and Marlon Brando are the only two actors to receive Oscars for portraying the same character.

 The word mafia is never spoken in the first film. The Part II, it is spoken three times, each one at the Senate hearing.

 Legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman can be seen as one of the senators.

 Cinematographer Gordon Willis became known as the “Prince of Darkness” for his use of dimly lit scenes in these two movies.

 Nominated for 12 Oscars and winner of 6, including Director, Picture and Screenplay. The first movie sequel to ever win Best Picture. It was made for $13,000,000 and gross a very impressive $58,000,000. However, it never lived up to the expectations set by the original, which grossed $134,000,000 domestic and became the highest grossing movie of all time.

 Today, this movie routinely appears near the top of many “Best Of All Time Lists”. At the time of its release, it received tepid reviews and was considered too long and convoluted.

 

A beautiful shot of Michael, along and isolated. Note the lighting, the use of sepia tone, the point of view and framing. A perfect shot.

A beautiful shot of Michael, along and isolated. Note the lighting, the use of sepia tone, the point of view and framing. A perfect shot.