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Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Rotundo’s Oscarology, 2018 Edition

Last year, Rotundo’s Oscarology performed abysmally—perhaps my worst year since I started doing these posts.  So, like Shaun White, I’m looking for redemption in 2018.  Here goes nothin’:

Best Picture

Kudos to you if you predicted Moonlight would win last year’s Best Picture award.  Not many saw that one coming—especially with most of the precursor guild awards (Directors Guild, Producers Guild, American Cinema Editors, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts) going to La La Land.  I picked that film to win in a walk.  Look where that got me.

This year, we have a lot more uncertainty up front.  The DGA and the PGA went to The Shape of Water, but the Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA gave their top awards to Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.  Unlike most years, we seem to have a genuine horse race going on.  Will the ever-stodgy Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences deign to give its highest honor to a fantasy film, even over a topical movie?  It wouldn’t be unprecedented (see The Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King), but it would be highly unusual.

You know what else is unusual?  For the director of a Best Picture front-runner like Three Billboards to get snubbed in the directing category.  It’s even more unusual for such a film to win Best Picture.  It’s happened before, though, and in recent memory (see Argo).

Or will all this uncertainty, coupled with the preferential ballot AMPAS uses for Best Picture, lead to an upset, with Get Out surprising everyone the way Moonlight did?  This has become a popular pick among Oscar prognosticators, but I think they’re putting too much stock in the Moonlight win.  Moonlight, at least, was a drama; Get Out is horror.  Only one horror film has ever won Best Picture—The Silence of the Lambs—and that movie benefited from the patina of respectability bestowed by Hollywood heavyweights Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Jonathan Demme.

I think we can also get a hint from the number of nominees each film has in the acting categories.  Get Out only has one.  The Shape of Water has three.  Three Billboards also has three, and two of them are likely to win (see below).

Oh, and one other tidbit about SAG—I mentioned Argo earlier, that Best Picture-winning movie whose director wasn’t nominated. You know which film SAG gave its Best Ensemble award to that year?  Right.

That’s it.  I’m leaning toward Three Billboards.

Best Director

Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) won the DGA—a very accurate predictor in this category.  And as mentioned above, Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards) didn’t get nominated.

Best Actress

Frances McDormand, SAG and BAFTA honoree for Three Billboards, looks to add another Oscar to her trophy case this year.

Best Actor

Normally, if Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated, I assume he’s going to walk away with the award.  Not so this year.  Gary Oldman won the SAG for Darkest Hour, and I think it very likely he’ll be taking home an Oscar.  This one checks all the boxes:  respected industry veteran, physical transformation, biopic.  Yep, this one goes to Gary, and it’s about damned time.  Oldman is one of our very finest actors, and this award is long overdue.

Best Supporting Actress

Allison Janney, for I, Tonya.  She won the SAG.  And how awesome will it be to finally see her pick up an Oscar?

Best Supporting Actor

The supporting categories are often fertile ground for upsets.  SAG gave its Best Supporting Actor award to Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards, a decision that has stirred some controversy.  So if there’s going to be a surprise in the acting categories, this seems the most likely place for it.  Add to that the fact that Woody Harrelson is also nominated in this category for the same movie, meaning he could split the vote.  And then there’s Willem Dafoe, nominated for The Florida Project, in seemingly prime position to swoop in and nab this one.  All the pieces are in place.

But I’m not buying it.  All those factors were in play at the SAG awards, too, and Rockwell won, anyway.  Actors, as I’ve said many times, are the largest voting bloc in the Academy.  I can’t see all the SAG voters who went with Rockwell suddenly changing their minds.  So I’m sticking by Sam.  (But if Dafoe wins it, don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Best Original Screenplay

Jordan Peele’s Get Out won the Writers Guild award in this category, and has been lauded as a savage commentary on race relations in the U.S.  But it’s also a horror film—as noted above, not generally a genre that Oscar loves.  (Exceptions include Best Screenplay wins for The Exorcist and The Silence of the Lambs—so, you know, it’s possible.)  Note, too, that Three Billboards was not eligible for a WGA nomination in this category, and that it won a BAFTA, which has some overlap with Oscar voters.  But I don’t know that it’s enough overlap to make the difference, and this award may well serve as Peele’s consolation prize for missing Best Director.  That’s a consolation prize I could live with.  My pick:  Peele, for Get Out.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Wait a minute.  You’re telling me that James Ivory has never won an Oscar?  Ever?  Not even during the heyday of the Merchant Ivory films?  And he won the Writers Guild award and the BAFTA?  That’s good enough for me.  Ivory, for Call Me by Your Name.

Best Animated Feature

Welcome to your Oscar Lock of the Year.  Coco has won accolades from the PGA, ACE, ADG, BAFTA, CAS, and it won the Annie.  Never.  Pick.  Against.  Pixar.

Best Foreign Language Film

Once again, your most wildly unpredictable category proves . . . wildly unpredictable.  I’m leaning toward Chile’s A Fantastic Woman.  Its transgender lead, Daniela Vega, is a presenter at the Oscars this year, which might indicate how AMPAS feels about the film in general.  Also, my tea leaves this morning formed the shape of Chile.

Best Cinematography

Man, I’m really torn here.  The American Society of Cinematographers once again gave its top award to Roger Deakins, for Blade Runner 2049.  Yet despite being nominated what seems like a few million times, he has never won an Oscar.  I’ve picked Deakins before on the basis that he’s really, really due—and I’ve been burned.  But sooner or later, the losing streak has to end, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, The Shape of Water was often gorgeous to look at, including that terrific opening shot.  And it’s a Best Picture contender.  And it got the most nominations overall.  One ignores these facts at one’s peril.

On the third hand, Rachel Morrison, for Mudbound, is the first woman ever to be nominated in this category, right at the same time as the #MeToo movement.

Some good news for Deakins this year:  None of his competition features groundbreaking 3-D work (as in past winners Avatar, Hugo, and Life of Pi) or flashy tracking shots (as in past winners Gravity, Birdman, and La La Land).  So maybe he’ll finally catch a break.  I’m taking a deep breath and going with Blade Runner 2049.

Best Production Design

I’m going with Art Directors Guild winner The Shape of Water here, mostly for that laboratory set.

Best Editing

ACE winner Lee Smith (Dunkirk) put on a bit of an editing clinic, juggling three separate plotlines, each with its own timeline, all intersecting at the climax.  I can see Oscar voters rewarding that.

Best Costume Design

Period pieces do well here, and the Costume Designers Guild gave its award for Period Film to The Shape of Water.  But then, Phantom Thread won a BAFTA.  And wouldn’t a movie about a fashion designer seem to be kind of a natural for this category?  It sure would.  Maybe.  I think.  Anyway, that’s what I’m picking to win.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Oscar Lock of the Year, part 2:  Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick turned good-looking Gary Oldman into Winston friggin’ Churchill, people.  Darkest Hour won a BAFTA in this category and the Makeup & Hairstylist Guild award, and will win an Oscar, too.

Best Original Score

Alexandre Desplat, for The Shape of Water, is my guess.  But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hans Zimmer win for Dunkirk.

Best Original Song

This category was originally created for musicals, which used to be a lot more common than they are these days.  So I always look for songs that are actually performed during the movie (as opposed to running over the end credits, say).  That would narrow the list to two:  “This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman, and “Remember Me,” from Coco.  And did you know that “Remember Me” was written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the team that won an Oscar for Frozen’s “Let It Go?”  True!  I’m going with “Remember Me.”

Best Documentary Feature

Jane, the documentary about Jane Goodall, has been wiping up the competition this awards season, including a PGA win.  Should be an easy pick for an Oscar, too—except that it wasn’t even nominated.  So who the hell knows?

Of the films that did get nominated, the buzz seems to favor Faces Places, based largely on the appeal of veteran documentarian Agnès Varda.  But you know, Last Men in Aleppo is about the White Helmets, the internationally recognized rescue organization.  And can you name last year’s winner for Best Documentary Short?  Hint:  The White Helmets.  Coincidence?  I think not.

I dunno.  I’ll follow the buzz, I guess.  Faces Places.

Best Documentary Short

My neighbor’s dog told me to go with Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405.  When my neighbor’s dog speaks, I listen.

Best Sound Mixing

I’ve noted in previous years that war movies do well in this category.  To be a little more precise, loud movies do well in this category (as you might expect).  Do we have any loud war movies among the nominees?  Maybe one that won the CAS and the BAFTA in this category, and is also a Best Picture nominee?  Hmmm . . .  could it be . . . Dunkirk?

Best Sound Editing

I’m thinking Dunkirk here, too.  See above.

Best Visual Effects

What to do, what to do.  Blade Runner 2049 took home a BAFTA in this category, but the Visual Effects Society gave its top honor to War for the Planet of the Apes.  VES did the same thing for both previous Apes films, though, and Oscar stubbornly (and bafflingly) refused to follow suit.  What to do, what to do.  Will AMPAS finally recognize the tremendous work Weta has been doing in the Apes saga?  I have my doubts.  I’m going with War for the Planet of the Apes, but I would not at all be surprised to see it go to Blade Runner 2049.

Best Short Film (Live Action)

DeKalb Elementary tackles the subject of school shootings.  Can’t get much more topical than that, can you?  It’s my pick.

Best Short Film (Animated)

The Pixar entry in this category is Lou, but Pixar doesn’t do nearly as well here as it does in the Animated Feature category.  Dear Basketball, on the other hand, won an Annie, and was drawn by Disney vet Glen Keane.  So that’s my pick.

And there you have it—my bid for Oscarology redemption.  If I bomb out again this year, maybe I’ll just hang it up.

Nah, probably not.  See you next year.

Current Music: "Pushit"--Tool

Rotundo’s Oscarology, 2017 Edition

If anything can bring this blog out of its state of suspended animation, it would be my annual Oscar prediction post.  That’s how seriously we take the Academy Awards here at fabulous Chez Rotundo.  So here goes.

I’ve seen 3 of the 9 Best Picture nominees this year, for what that’s worth. (Hint:  Not much.)  For the record, those films are ArrivalHidden Figures, and La La Land.  My personal favorite of those three?  Arrival, by a rather large margin.  But I can’t vote, so let’s get into predicting how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will.

Best Picture

I’ve said in the past that the Academy rarely nominates bad pictures, but it does sometimes honor overrated ones.  Take, for example, 2011’s The Artist—a fluffy confection telling a story done much better decades earlier, in Singin’ in the Rain.

And speaking of fluffy confections, this year we have La La Land.  It’s an entertaining film, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go.  The songs are largely forgettable, the singing merely passable, the plot simply cliché.  Best film of the year?  Not even close.  But remember the wit and wisdom of William Munny:  “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”  It’s won top honors from the Directors Guild, the Producers Guild, the American Cinema Editors, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.  A lot of those voters are members of the Academy, too.  And the way Best Picture votes are counted favors a film that many people think is good over one that a few people think is great.

So there you go.  Even though you’re likely to hear a lot of heated political rhetoric on Oscar night, the Academy’s top award will go to an innocuous, nostalgic embrace of old style Hollywood.  La La Land in a walk.

Best Director

The DGA went to Damien Chazelle for his work on La La Land, and that award is a very accurate predictor of this category.

Best Actress

Emma Stone, for La La Land.  Isabelle Huppert has a very outside chance of an upset, for her performance in Elle, but Stone won the Screen Actors Guild award, and that’s enough for me.

Best Actor

This one looked like Casey Affleck’s to lose, for Manchester by the Sea.  But then the SAG went to Denzel Washington (Fences).  And the press Affleck has gotten recently certainly won’t help his cause.  Washington, on the other hand, is highly respected in the industry.  I’ll go with SAG here, as I so often do, and pick Washington.

Best Supporting Actress

This is a category that has been historically prone to upsets, but not this year, I think.  Viola Davis looks to be a lock.  She’s been nominated twice before, her role in Fences is a lead rather than a supporting one, and she won the SAG and the BAFTA.

Best Supporting Actor

The SAG went to Mahershala Ali, for Moonlight, so that’s the way I’ll go.  And hey, after last year’s complaints about lack of diversity at the Oscars, how about a year when three of the four acting awards go to people of color?

Best Original Screenplay

Here’s one award that I don’t see going to La La Land.  Its charms come from sources other than its script.  I’m figuring BAFTA winner Kenneth Lonergan for this one, for Manchester by the Sea.

Best Adapted Screenplay

If I had a vote, it would go to Eric Heisserer, for Arrival.  The Writers Guild agreed with me.  But I don’t get a vote, and we all know how AMPAS feels about science fiction—in a word, icky.  Interestingly, the WGA winner for original screenplay, Moonlight, has been classified as an adaptation for the Oscars, due to some rule quirks.  So I see Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney winning, for Moonlight.

Best Animated Feature

The general rule here is Never Pick Against Pixar, except that Pixar didn’t get a nomination in this category.  However, its parent company did, for Zootopia and Moana.  Given the near-universal acclaim for the former film, and the fact that it has won the PGA, ACE, and Annie awards, I think it takes home the animated prize.  Kubo and the Two Strings could pull an upset, but I don’t see it happening.

Best Foreign Language Film

The critics adored Germany’s Toni Erdmann.  But Asghar Farhadi has a previous win in this category, for A Separation.  And the attendant press regarding Farhadi’s boycott of the ceremony this year in protest of the Trump administration’s immigration policy has put something of a spotlight on him.  I’m picking The Salesman to win.  But as always, one could throw a dart at a dartboard and just as easily nail this category.

Best Cinematography

The American Society of Cinematographer’s top award went to Grieg Fraser for Lion.  But ever the rebel, I’m picking against the precursor guild winner here.  Oscar has an odd fascination with long tracking shots—cf. Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman.  Guess which nominee opens with a long tracking shot?  Why, that would be La La Land.  All that kinetic camera work by Linus Sandgren seems more likely to nab the Oscar.

Best Production Design

Your watchword for this category (and several others) is flashy.  The Art Directors Guild loved those Golden Age sets for La La Land, so expect it to win here, too.

Best Editing

Here’s an award that historically goes hand-in-hand with the Best Picture winner—except that it hasn’t lately.  In the 2000’s, Best Picture and Best Editing went to the same film 7 of 10 times.  So far in the 2010’s, it’s only happened once, for 2012’s Argo.  Maybe I’m reaching, and maybe I’m a letting my heart overrule my head, but I’m thinking Joe Walker’s skillful handling of the myriad time jumps in Arrival will be enough to garner an Oscar, beating out La La Land.  And Arrival won an Eddie, too. What I’m saying here, it could happen.

Best Costume Design

La La Land won the Costume Designers Guild award in the Contemporary category.  But the Contemporary CDG winner has never won an Oscar.  This one always goes to either period pieces or flashy (there’s that word again) SF/fantasy films.  So I see BAFTA winner Madeline Fontaine winning, for Jackie.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Again, look for flashy to win the day.  That would favor either Suicide Squad or Star Trek:  Beyond.  Both films won Makeup & Hair Stylist Guild awards.  Toss up.  I’m picking Star Trek:  Beyond.

Best Original Score

So there’s a musical that’s about to win Best Picture.  What do you think the odds are that its score will also get an Oscar?  Pretty good, I’d say.  BAFTA winner Justin Hurwitz, for La La Land.

Best Original Song

So there’s a musical that’s about to win Best Picture.  What do you think the odds are that . . .

Well, hold on.  Crazy as it may seem, I’m picking against La La Land in this category.  For one thing, the songs just weren’t all that great.  For another, two songs from the film have been nominated—“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and “City of Stars.”  The latter has been getting a bit of a push from the studio, but for my money, the former is superior to it.  The point is that I see those two splitting the vote.  And for yet another thing, there’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, nominated for “How Far I’ll Go,” from Moana.  Seems like everything he touches turns to gold.  So I’m going out on a limb here, and picking Miranda to get his EGOT.

Best Documentary Feature

O.J.:  Made in America has won the DGA, PGA, and ACE awards.  I’m picking it to win here, too.

Best Documentary Short

You haven’t seen any of these films.  Neither has anyone else in your Oscar pool.  Don’t sweat it.  I’m picking The White Helmets.  You do what you want.

Best Sound Mixing

War movies (hello, Hacksaw Ridge) do well in this category.  But so do musicals.  The Cinema Audio Society honored La La Land.  It’s my pick here.

Best Sound Editing

La La Land.  See above.

Best Visual Effects

What to do, what to do.  Doctor Strange‘s mind-bending city folding, à la Inception?  Or The Jungle Book‘s photorealistic CGI animals, à la Life of Pi?  Coin flip.  I’m going with The Jungle Book.

Best Short Film (Live Action)

So I’ve managed to see this year’s live action and animated short film nominees.  You might think this would give me an advantage in predicting winners.  Not so much.  If anything, it makes the decision harder, and is no guarantee of accuracy.

Usually, the nominees in these categories are a mixed bag, but this year’s crop is pretty impressive, especially among the live action shorts.  I was genuinely moved by Silent Nights.  Sing (not to be confused with the animated feature of the same name) made me feel like cheering.  Timecode was charming, and featured a hilarious last line.  Ennemis intérieurs was tense and sobering.  Even La Femme et le TGV will bring a smile to your face.

So what to pick?  I have seen that whimsical stuff has fared well in this category in recent years, so I’m going with Palme d’Or winner Timecode.  But I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Silent Nights or Ennemis intérieurs win.

Best Short Film (Animated)

I mentioned earlier that the rule for Animated Feature is Never Pick Against Pixar.  But Pixar has not had anywhere near the same level of success in the Animated Short Film category.  Nevertheless, I’m taking a deep breath and picking Piper for the win here.  Water has been notoriously difficult for 3-D animation, but the sea foam in Piper is startlingly rendered.  The same goes for the animals.  The film also won an Annie.  And it’s friggin’ adorable.

And there you have it.  Best of luck with your own picks.  Enjoy the show!

Current Music: "Hellion"--W.A.S.P.

Rotundo’s Oscarology, 2016 Edition

Oscar time is upon us once again.  Here at fabulous Chez Rotundo, things are even more hectic than normal, which means my annual Academy Award post will be rather abbreviated.  But such Oscar analysis/wisdom as I have, I hereby impart to you.  You’re welcome.

I’ve only managed to see 2 of the 8 nominees (The Martian and Mad Max:  Fury Road) this year.  But as I’ve said before, I never let total ignorance get in my way.  So here we go:

Best Picture

And right out of the gate, we have a very tough category to pick.  This one is usually easy, especially if you look at the precursor guild awards.  But this year, the Screen Actors Guild gave its top award to Spotlight, while the Producers Guild and BAFTA went with The Big Short, and the Directors Guild honored The Revenant.

What to make of this mess?

Honestly, I have no idea.  The safest bet would probably be The Revenant, which garnered the most overall nominations. On the other hand, The Big Short‘s PGA win is significant because the PGA uses the same preferential voting system the Academy uses.  On the third hand, comedies fare poorly in this category.

The last time we had this much disconnect between SAG, PGA, and DGA?  Why, it was just two years ago, actually, when American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, and Gravity vied for the top honor.  We ended up with a rare split between Best Picture and Best Director, with 12 Years a Slave getting the big prize.  Because I’m feeling ornery, I’ll make a similar prediction for this year, and go with The Big Short.

Best Director

Despite the horse race for Best Picture, it looks like Alejandro G. Iñárritu will pick up his second Oscar in a row, this time for The Revenant.

Best Actor

Here’s an easy one:  SAG winner Leonardo DiCaprio will finally pick up his first Oscar, for The Revenant.

Best Actress

Brie Larson looks like a lock, for Room.

Best Supporting Actor

The SAG went to Idris Elba, for Beasts of No Nation.  But Elba wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar, which leaves this category wide open.  Amazingly enough, it appears Sylvester Stallone has become a sentimental favorite, reprising Rocky Balboa one more time in Creed.  I guess that makes as much sense as anything this Oscar season.

Best Supporting Actress

In a category that has been rife with upsets in the past, the best bet appears to be Alicia Vikander, for The Danish Girl.  That’s my pick, but I wouldn’t be surprised to be wrong here.

Best Original Screenplay

Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, for Spotlight.  Writers Guild winners.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, for The Big Short.  Also WGA winners.

Best Animated Feature

Inside Out.  Say it with me, kids:  never pick against Pixar.  At least, not in this category.

Best Foreign Language Film

Everyone seems to be talking about Hungary’s Son of Saul.  I’ll go with it, but for this category, you could just easily throw a dart at a dartboard and pick a winner.

Best Cinematography

I thought Emmanuel Lubezki’s win for Birdman last year was a bit of reach; the camera work struck me as too self-indulgent by half.  That said, he’s up for an Oscar again this year for The Revenant, and he has a new gimmick:  the film was shot almost entirely with natural light.  I’m guessing that will be enough to garner another win for him.  Certainly the American Society of Cinematographers thought it worth honoring.

Best Production Design

Period pieces tend to do well here.  Much has been made of Mad Max: Fury Road, and indeed, it did win an Art Directors Guild award for Fantasy Film.  But The Revenant won the ADG award for Period Film, and the Academy tends to pretend science fiction doesn’t exist.  So I’ll go with Jack Fisk, for The Revenant.

Best Film Editing

Nine of the past 12 Eddie winners for best edited dramatic film have gone on to win an Oscar.  This year, that would favor Margaret Sixel, for Mad Max:  Fury Road.  But again . . . it’s science fiction.  Ew.  I’m going with Hank Corwin, whose work on The Big Short won an Eddie for comedy.

Best Costume Design

Celebrated costumer Sandy Powell is competing against herself this year, for Cinderella and Carol.  And though Oscar’s disdain for SF is well established, flashy often wins in this category.  So I’m going with Jenny Beavan, for Mad Max:  Fury Road.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Score another win for flashy:  Mad Max:  Fury Road.

Best Original Score

What’s that you say?  Ennio Morricone has never won an Oscar?  That’s good enough for me.  Morricone, for The Hateful Eight.

Best Original Song

Lady Gaga appears to be the favorite, for “‘Til It Happens to You,” from The Hunting Ground.  But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sam Smith win for “Writing’s on the Wall,” from Spectre.  Still, I guess I’ll go with Gaga.

Best Documentary Feature

Amy looks to win this one.

Best Documentary Short

A pick ’em category.  I’m going with Body Team 12.

Best Sound Mixing

The Revenant, I think.  The Cinema Audio Society like it, and it’s Best Picture front runner.

Best Sound Editing

The Revenant could just as easily snap up this one, too, but I’m guessing it will go to Mad Max:  Fury Road.

Best Visual Effects

Mad Max: Fury Road.  It’s one category SF films are allowed to win, and Mad Max is also up for Best Picture.

Best Short Film (Live Action)

I’ve seen comedies win this category before, so I’m leaning toward Stutterer.

Best Short Film (Animated)

Um.  World of Tomorrow.  Because who knows?  Pixar’s Sanjay’s Super Team is also nominated, but Pixar doesn’t fare as well in this category as it does in Animated Feature.

And that’s all, folks.  Enjoy the show!

Current Music: "Stone the Crows"--Down