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.
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.
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.
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.