I’ve always been a bit of an Oscar junkie. When I was a kid, and had to go to bed before the best picture winner was announced, I’d sit at the top of the stairs and listen to the announcement. Even in years when I didn’t even see most or even any of the nominated films (which is becoming more and more common), I’ve always had an opinion. And, I must say, my track record of predicting winners is quite stellar.
But over the past few years, the Oscars have morphed from a glittery, guilty pleasure to ‘Something Important’. Ever since the great #OscarSoWhite stink of 2015, where only white folks were nominated in the acting categories, the Oscar nominations have been elevated to an important socio/political/cultural statement.
This year, with the whole #MeToo and Time’s Up movements (throw gun control into the mix as a late addition), the entire show could become one insufferable moment after another. The vacuous ninnies who host those red carpet shows will have to skip their usual “Who are you wearing?” question in favour of “What are you whining about?” The only hope is that Jimmy Kimmel will keep the mood light enough that the whole production won’t go down like a dose of castor oil, and have us begging for the lighthearted relief of the In Memoriam segment. To avoid the worst of the pontification, I plan on PVRing the show for about an hour, then performing a ruthless and quite satisfying at-home edit. When France McDormand, the dour, perpetually angry actress guaranteed to win for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, begins her acceptance speech. I will simply jump ahead to the next award. That should reduce the total viewing time from three hours to about 30 minutes.
Even though my interest in the Oscars is at a low ebb, I still feel compelled to offer some predictions. So, here goes.
As mentioned above, McDormand is apparently a mortal lock for best actress. The other actresses are either too young, in films that not many people saw, or Meryl Streep (I’m pretty sure Streep will get Oscar nominations five years after her death).
Gary Oldman seems to be the odds-on favourite to win the best actor Oscar for his pitch perfect portrayal of Winston Churchill (aided by the most remarkable make-up job in movie history) in the excellent Darkest Hour. But he’s not a lock. Daniel Day-Lewis has announced that he’s retiring from film acting, so he could get what amounts to an honorary Oscar for something called Phantom Thread (I almost fell asleep during the preview of this film). The other possible winner is Daniel Kaluuya, the crying guy from the poster for Get Out, this year’s most wildly overrated film. That would be the politically correct choice.
In the supporting roles, it’s a crapshoot, and frankly, I don’t care. Again, the consensus seems to favour Sam Rockwell for that Billboards movie. But then again, supporting Oscars often go to veteran character actors, and Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water fills that bill, as does Willem Defoe in The Florida Project, but I doubt if half of the Academy voters have even seen The Florida Project. So, I guess this Rockwell fella.
Supporting actress is also wide open. Two veteran actresses, Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird, and returning to TV this month as Roseanne’s sister in the nobody-asked-for-this reboot of Roseanne) and Allison Janey (I, Tonya) could win, and no one would be surprised. (Janey, however, has to answer for starring in the dreadful TV series Mom.) Mary J. Blige wins the award as the most token nomination for her so-so performance in Mudbound, which is a Neflix flick which I’ve seen and recommend.
Then there’s best picture. I would have predicted Dunkirk after leaving the theatre, because it’s simply a great film, exactly the kind of movie that often wins Oscars. It’s big, bold, exciting filmmaking. But, remarkably, Dunkirk didn’t even win the British Academy Award, the BAFTA. Their best picture award went to the Billboards movie thanks to some slim connection to Britain. If the British are going to pass on Dunkirk and Darkest Hour, what chance is there that the American academy will choose either of them?
The battle seems to be between the polarizing Billboards movie (some people really hate that movie), and The Shape of Water, which, as I understand it, is an R-rated update of The Creature from the Black Lagoon. There is a chance that Get Out could win, but I doubt it. And hope not. It’s a passable entertainment, I suppose, although I thought it didn’t know what it wanted to be – comedy, horror, satire, or heavy statement. So, I’ll go with The Shape of Water.
But I really don’t care. Last year, I briefly got genuinely angry when the tedious Moonlight beat out La La Land. It was a stupid thing to get angry about, so this year, I’ve taken on a new attitude – I really don’t care. Neither should you. The world is full of stuff that we should care about. The Oscars are not on that list.
Sir Roger Bannister, 88, the legendary British track star who was the first to run the first sub-four minute mile … David Ogden Stiers, 75, veteran character actor best known as the prissy Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on M*A*S*H … Ronnie Prophet, 80, Canadian country singer … Urban Bowman, 80, former Winnipeg Blue Bombers coach.