' ' Cinema Romantico: Countdown to the Oscars: Totally Unreasonable, Completely Legitimate Oscar Predictions

Friday, February 22, 2019

Countdown to the Oscars: Totally Unreasonable, Completely Legitimate Oscar Predictions

A reminder that Cinema Romantico’s Oscar predictions have no interest in getting anything right. I make Oscar predictions squarely with my heart, not my head. To paraphrase the Bodhisattva of “Point Break”, it’s not tragic to lose your Oscar pool picking what you love.

Best Film Editing: Barry Alexander Brown, BlacKkKlansman. For Christmas in 1992 my mom got me Ralph Wiley’s book “By Any Means Necessary: Trials And Tribulations of the Making of Malcolm X.” There were myriad filmmaking insights to glean but one that stayed with me was Spike Lee explaining all the elements the assassination sequence needed to contain and how he and Barry Alexander Brown cut said sequence to account for all those elements. And so, months later, when I ripped “Malcolm X” from one VCR to another (don’t tell!), I watched the assassination sequence over and over to put together in my own mind what Lee was saying. That was, more or less, my Intro to Film Editing 101. Not that I just want Brown to win for his work from twenty-seven years ago. No, “BlacKkKlansman” deserves this award for myriad reasons, not just the “Birth of a Nation” homage cum skewering late in the film nor the civil rights rally rendered as a moving Charles White exhibit but for that last phone call between Ron Stallworth and David Duke; that might be my favorite cut sequence of the year.

Best Picture: Black Panther. There were movies in this category I liked more, and though I’m a little leery of rewarding Marvel’s ongoing homogenization of the movie marketplace, “Black Panther” taking top prize would not only be righteously jubilant unto itself but might signal further tangible progress where the Academy’s increased youth and diversity is concerned.

Best Director: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman. I have written (and orated) some variation of this many times before, but Spike Lee was the first person who really made me, as an idiot teenager, stop and actually think about how movies were made (see above). That this is his first Oscar nomination is...what? Absurd? Cruel? An injustice? Vorshtein? Beyond words? I have a feeling it’s Cuarón’s award to lose, but what if Lee won? Wouldn’t it be something? Oh reader, wouldn’t it just be something?

Best Actress: Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born. My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife recently argued that while I, Little Monster, am undoubtedly rooting for Ms. Gaga in this category that secretly, on a pragmatic level, I know Glenn Close deserves to win for “The Wife” and that deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties I even want her to win. And My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife is probably right. Still, I’m not so much going down with Gaga’s ship, because this isn’t a ship, as soaring alongside Gaga’s space coffin, a la “Wrath of Khan”, as it is shot into orbit around Genesis.

Can’t wait until Ethan Hawke finally wins his Oscar for playing Duane Allman in a staid biopic.
Best Actor: I am sitting this category out in protest of Ethan Hawke not being nominated for “First Reformed.”

Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite. I would love to see Regina King, who has always deserved quality leading roles in cinema, win, yet my heart remains tethered to Weisz whose ability in “The Favourite” to emit such straight-faced macabre witticisms to so many oblivious male dolts makes her the hero we most need right now. And though in a just another second I will whine about a young actor potentially earning two Oscars already, well, Weisz is a legend in her own time. If awards are meaningless, as any incisive social media philosopher can advise, two-time Oscar winner Rachel Weisz nevertheless sounds right.

Best Supporting Actor: Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? If Mahershala Ali wins for “Green Book”, as he seems likely to do, then given his rightful victory two years ago for “Moonlight”, he will have as many Oscars as Grant and fellow nominee Sam Elliott for “A Star Is Born” have nominations between them. And though Ali is good in “Green Book”, it is nigh impossible to contend he is truly better than either Grant or Elliott (Elliott’s last moment when he drives away encapsulates the stormy emotions of a whole life lived), never mind Adam Driver for “BlacKkKlansman” (who I actually think is best in show). And though I understand Hollywood’s historically egregious attitude toward and recognition of African-Americans, the industry is also often ageist, and Grant and Elliott, I fear, have aged out of future It’s His Time Oscar possibilities. This is it; this is their shot. Go Richard E.

Best Original Screenplay: Paul Schrader, First Reformed. Can you believe this is Paul Schrader’s first Oscar nomination? How is this possible? And how can be possibly not win for “First Reformed”? Nothing else in this category is in its league. (He will undoubtedly not win.)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me? Can you believe this is Nicole Holofcener’s first Oscar nomination? Do people in the Academy even read the copies of these scripts that get sent to them during awards season? (P.S. I loved how uncompromising this script was at its conclusion.)

Best Foreign Language Film: Cold War. I’m a sucker for bleak and beautiful.

Best Animated Film: Isle of Dogs. As a staunch Andersonian, I must stand by my man.

Best Cinematography: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma. While I am grateful this category will be announced during the actual show rather than at commercial, I still hope when ABC comes back from commercial just before Cuarón’s inevitable victory that all the cameramen have momentarily abandoned their posts in a show of solidarity.

Best Production Design: I respect the authenticity of “Roma’s” production design though there is something about it being a recreation of Alfonso Cuarón’s own childhood that knocks it down a sentimental peg to me in comparison to the righteous Afrofuturism of Black Panther. 

Best Costume Design: Sandy Powell, The Favourite. Typically I pick the legendary Powell whenever she’s nominated because it gives me an excuse to employ her quote upon winning this award for “The Young Victoria” about honoring the costume designers on contemporary and low-budget films who rarely get as much recognition but period pieces but.....did you see that white jacket Powell put Rachel Weisz in to shoot pigeons? My God.

Best Makeup/Hairstyling: Mary Queen of Scots. Like Alvy Singer can’t help but rip up his traffic ticket, I can’t help but pick against “Vice.”

Best Sound Mixing: Roma. From the soft notes of suds being sloshed around the tiles as the credits unspool mixing with the jetliner reflected in the sky to the cacophony of city streets, the sound is just as layered as “Roma’s” mammoth depth of field photography.

Best Sound Editing: First Man. The film’s frightening veracity when it comes to space travel is due in no small part to the sound design placing us squarely in the noisy headspace of a tottering tin can.

Best Visual Effects: First Man. If the sound effects mentioned above convey the terror of space travel so do the visual effects, which manage to convey the awe-inspiring through early NASA’s more primitive prism.

Best Feature Documentary: Free Solo. Given the state of his amygdala, I hope Alex Honnold skips the ceremony, a la the late William Goldman, not to watch the Knicks but to, like, climb the High Sierra.

Best Live Action Short / Animated Short / Short Documentary. Yet again, for the third year in a row, this blog fell down on the job and failed to see most of the nominees for the short categories. Yet again, for the second year in a row, my Father-in-law is here to save me, having done his due diligence by seeing all the nominees. In Live Action he liked Marguerite and Detainment, and we will pick the former. In Animated Short he preferred Animal Magnetism and Bao, and we will pick the latter because what’s better than Liu Sha Bao? In Short Documentary, which my Father-in-law noted was a particular strong category this year, he singled out Black Sheep and Period. End of Sentence., and we are really happy he cited the latter because an Academy Award winning movie about Menstruation in the midst of the T*ump/P*nce Administration feels just right.

Original Score: BlacKkKlansman. Love how that electric guitar honors the era and evokes a police procedural while never emitting a whiff of processed cheese.

Best Original Song: Shallow, A Star Is Born. Come Sunday it will have been a decade and two days since Kate Winslet won her Oscar. No Academy Award will ever make me happier than that one. But this would come close (well...this, or Spike Lee). Put your paws up.

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