Tag Archives: Oscars

Oscars 2018: Nom Nom Nom

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

2017 was year marked by independents: original screenplays, original ideas, low-budgets, big returns. How beautiful is that?

Bearing his most intimate vision yet, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water swept up 13 Oscar nominations, impressing voters in nearly every category, from technical achievement through acting and directing.

And Get Out represents the first full-blown horror film to be nominated for Best Picture since The Sixth Sense in 1999. The powerhouse indie not only earned more than $250 million, it also nabbed a total of four nominations, including acknowledgments for Daniel Kaluuya for Lead Male Actor and Jordan Peele for Original Screenplay and Director.

Slights were few and far between. Here’s a recap of the morning’s events:

Best Picture:

The biggest surprise here is probably Darkest Hour, a film marked by an outstanding performance and not much else. Mudbound or Blade Runner 2049, both with three noms themselves, would have been stronger choices. We would have loved to see a real long shot—The Florida Project, The Killing of a Sacred Deer or even A Ghost Story—in its place, but we know that’s dreaming.

“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”


The unexpected exclusion here is not Steven Spielberg for The Post, but Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri—a film nominated for 5 Oscars: three in acting, one for film editing and McDonagh for the original screenplay. But it’s hard to pick nits with this list. We love the diversity here and wouldn’t change a thing.

“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

Lead Female Actor:

This list consists of Frances McDormand and everyone else. If there is a sure bet this year—and, let’s be honest, there are two—one of them is McDormand in this category. We’re thrilled to see Margot Robbie grab a nomination, and while it’s tough to ever argue the inclusion of Meryl Streep, we would not have been unhappy to see a woefully underappreciated Salma Hayak get the slot for her lovely work in Beatriz at Dinner or Michelle Williams for All the Money in the World.

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Lead Male Actor:

Not many surprises here and no real bones to pick. And when Gary Oldman picks up his statue and comments on the amazing talent in his category this year, we will agree.

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Supporting Male Actor:

As is often the case, it’s the supporting categories that are stocked to brimming, with an “I wish they would have considered” list that’s longer than can possibly be accommodated. Will Poulter (Detroit), Barry Keoghan (The Killing of a Sacred Deer), Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water) and Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name) all delivered performances that, in any other year, would have earned them a nom. But this list is beautiful.

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Supporting Female Actor:

Like the supporting men, the list of worthy contenders here is huge. We couldn’t be more thrilled to see Lesley Manville get this credit for her pitch-perfect turn in Phantom Thread, or for Mary J. Blige’s stellar work bringing more attention to the beautiful Mudbound. We would have loved to see Hong Chau nominated for Downsizing, but it’s hard to know which nominee to drop in her favor.

Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Original Screenplay:

Look how pretty! This list is suitable for framing. Glorious. The fact that so many others were worthy—The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Dunkirk, Baby Driver, The Florida Project—only proves that 2017 was an utterly spectacular year for original work.

“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh

Adapted Screenplay:

Here’s a category filled with surprises, which may represent a surprisingly weak year in adapted screenplays, but maybe that just means filmmakers took more chances on original work that paid off.

“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory
“The Disaster Artist,” Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
“Logan,” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
“Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin
“Mudbound,” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Animated Feature:

Boss Baby? Really? It was a weak year for animated films—clearly—but who knew it was “Ferdinand and The Boss Baby get Oscar nominations” weak? Best bet would be to eject both of those, nominate Mary and the Witch’s Flower and just go with four.

“The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
“The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

Best Documentary Feature:

Finally, bones to pick, and big ones: Whose Streets? and Jane. Sure, Faces Places has the upper hand in this category, but those two are glaring omissions. Boo.

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
“Faces Places,” JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda
“Icarus,” Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
“Last Men in Aleppo,” Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen
“Strong Island,” Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes

Best Foreign Language Film:

Most of these haven’t screened in Columbus, but The Square was fantastic.

“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)
“The Insult” (Lebanon)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“On Body and Soul” (Hungary)
“The Square” (Sweden)

The winners will be announced at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony March 4th


Let’s Talk Oscar Nominations…

By Hope Madden and George Wolf

2016 was a fairly weak, fairly bland year at the movies, but it still has surprises in store for us. Look at this…Suicide Squad is nominated for an Oscar! Okay, it’s for makeup and hairstyling – who knew that rolling around Hot Topic could translate to an Oscar nomination?

The official Academy Award nominations had few other surprises in store. La La Land racked up quite a haul of noms, most of which are likely to translate to statuettes. What’s the lowdown? Who should have made the list? Who shouldn’t have? Let us walk you through it.


Best Film



Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land


Manchester by the Sea


Snubs: Zootopia, Jungle Book, The Witch, The Lobster, Jackie, Loving – there’s a bunch we’d have included instead of Lion, Hidden Figures or Hacksaw Ridge. Not that those are bad films – they are quite good. Just not as deserving.


Best Director

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Snubs: No question Mel Gibson is out of his league here. While Hacksaw Ridge was a fine piece of filmmaking, it almost works in spite of Gibson’s direction. He begins with a Hallmark card then descends into carnage few other filmmakers care to capture. But the performances and the genuine merit of the story keep the film interesting. It’s not the direction, which is why we’d have honored David Mackenzie and his glorious direction for Hell or High Water instead.


Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Snubs: It’s hard to even form this sentence, but Meryl Streep should not be on this list. We know! Blasphemy! But the pool for Best Actress is rarely this deep, and Annette Bening (20th Century Women) Rebecca Hall (Christine), or Amy Adams (Arrival) would have been better choices.


Best Actor

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen,  Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

Snubs: Not much to complain about here. The race is basically Affleck V Washington, with Affleck coming out on top, but we could have accepted Tom Hanks (Sully) or Nate Parker (The Birth of a Nation) in Garfield’s spot.


Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman,  Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams,  Manchester by the Sea

Snubs: Here’s a weird yet valid complaint: the smart money’s on Viola Davis to win, but how in the hell is this a supporting role? Not only is Davis the only female on the screen for 9/10 of Fences, she has more screen time than Denzel. It’s her story. She’s not just the lead actress, she’s the lead. And her performance is more than strong enough to take home the best actress Oscar.


Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali,  Moonlight

Jeff Bridges,  Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Snubs: First of all, amen to Michael Shannon. We could not be more pleased to see him hit this list. And halleluiah to Mahershala Ali – the likely front runner in the category.

We’d have given Dev Patel’s slot to Shannon’s Nocturnal Animals co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Ben Foster outshined his full slate of talented co-stars in Hell or High Water. He deserves Jeff Bridges’s spot.


Original Screenplay

Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Mike Mills, 20th Century Women

Snub: This is a very solid and admirable list. Mike Mills’s 20th Century Women is brilliantly written and performed. We might swap him out, though, and give his spot to Robert Eggers’s The Witch.


Adapted Screenplay

Eric Heisserer, Arrival

August Wilson, Fences

Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures

Luke Davies, Lion

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Snubs: Hidden Figures and Lion were well put-together, lovely films. But in this year of searing, searching, brilliant writing, they have no place in this list. In their stead? Whit Stillman’s wicked and wonderful Love & Friendship and Tom Ford’s story within a story Nocturnal Animals.




La La Land




Snubs: Chan-wook Park’s gloriously wrong The Handmaiden looked better than anything else that came out this year. It shouldn’t just be nominated, it should win. But it certainly should be perched in this category in Lion’s spot.


Foreign Language

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman


Toni Erdmann

Snubs: Again, where is the love for The Handmaiden? And the bigger surprise may be Elle, which nabbed a Best Actress nomination.


Documentary Feature

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

Life, Animated

OJ: Made in America


Snubs: Nope. Not a one. Every single one of these is required viewing. We’re hoping for some ties.


Animated Feature

Kubo and the Two Strings


The Red Turtle


My Life as a Zucchini

Snubs: No Finding Dory? We’re not sure that’s a snub, but it means no Pixar in this category, and we’ll call that a surprise.

We’ll have our official predictions a little closer to the Feb. 26th Oscar ceremony.

A Couple of Major Paynes For Your Queue

Nebraska – Oscar nominee for best film, best director, best actor, best supporting actress, best cinematography and best original screenplay – releases today on DVD. It should probably go without saying that the film deserves a look. Bruce Dern is Woody, a boozy old man who believes he’s won a million dollars and talks his son into driving him to Nebraska to pick up his winnings. It’s a lovely, surprisingly funny voyage and not only one of the best films of the year, but one of the best films in director Alexander Payne’s impressive arsenal.


After Nebraska, a quick look at one of Payne’s underseen early films is in order. How about Election, a subversive laugh riot about a high school presidential campaign? Oscar nominated for screenplay, the film proved Payne’s agility as a filmmaker and showcased Reese Witherspoon’s spot-on comic ability.