My Thoughts on The Oscars of 2018

As you may know from my thoughts on The Oscars of 2017 (link here), award shows aren’t my thing. I was fully planning on just siphoning the news about the winners from all the people I follow, like I did last year. But since I was planning on writing an article about it, I figured I should actually see it. And it was more fun than I expected… in that I had some fun instead of none.

 

…Now, if you were happy with the Best Picture nomination, and if you’re happy about The Academy in general, then this article may not be for you. You can read it if you want, but the Twitter shrieking I’ve been seeing going on right now tells me that my criticisms of (not limited to, but especially) The Shape of Water will be met with completely closed minds.

In the end, the only real reason I’m talking about The Oscars in the first place is because its value and importance are perpetuated by a large portion of the population.

 

Anyway, I didn’t get any annoying celebrities to block me like last year, so here are some highlight thoughts I have about the Oscars of 2018:

 

–I don’t understand how anyone thought Jimmy Kimmel was funny last night. Half the time, the man made really obvious, cringey jokes. The other half of the time, he was doing this virtue-signaling schtick that was painful to watch.

“The ideal man doesn’t have a penis.” “I wish I was a woman.” He mischaracterized the Mark Wahlberg payment scandal, because of course he did. He also had a few jabs thrown at Matt Damon even though they were really good friends like five minutes ago.

 

–Does anyone else think that the Star Wars presenters (Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, and Mark Hamill) were really awkward and cringey? Like who wrote their lines? It was almost as bad as Rian Johnson’s script.

 

–The idea to offer a jet ski to the winner who spoke the least was golden.

 

–I could take all of these people saying “no borders” more seriously if they all didn’t live in big houses in gated communities. Ah well. Make hay while the sun shines.

 

–Hey, good on Emma Stone for that “Four male directors and Greta Gerwig” comment, but it would’ve been more stunning and brave if she said “Two white male directors, Guillermo Del Toro, Jordan Peele, and Greta Gerwig”. Maybe she’ll be more woke next year. Fo real.

By the way… Lady Bird was only nominated because Greta Gerwig is a woman. Now I love Lady Bird, but if this exact same film was directed by a man, it wouldn’t have been nominated. That’s why it didn’t win a single award last night.

 

–There were two different acceptance speeches where someone thanked someone important to them, and then followed it up with “but this isn’t for you, this is for [someone apparently more important]”. And both times, I thought “Why couldn’t it be for both? What do you gain from putting a backhanded compliment in your speech?”

 

 

 

OKAY. Here are my thoughts on most of the winners. I will say nothing about a few of the categories because there are some categories where I saw none of the nominees (like Best Documentary and Foreign Film).

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 7.54.40 AM.png

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

SAM ROCKWELL (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Out of all the nominees I saw, Sam Rockwell was easily the best, so I have no complaints about him winning an award. That said, I wouldn’t have been upset if any of the other nominees won.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING

Darkest Hour

This race was basically two impressive face make-ups (Darkest Hour, and Wonder) and one that had a lot of makeup, but no huge standout piece (Victoria & Abdul). So I’m not surprised Darkest Hour won.

Would’ve been nice if Wonder won, but who are we kidding?

… At least it wasn’t Suicide Squad (Thanks, Oscars 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

BEST COSTUMES

Phantom Thread

The movie about making beautiful dresses wins best costumes.

Good for them. I’m kind of disappointed Phantom Thread didn’t win anything else, but what can you do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEST SOUND EDITING AND SOUND MIXING

Both Dunkirk

I would have been fine with any of the winners as long as they weren’t The Last Jedi, which deserves no awards (as evidenced by the fact that it won no awards).

I loved the sound editing and mixing for Baby Driver and Blade Runner 2049 as well, but I would be pretending if I knew what made sound editing and mixing exceptional, so I’ll just congratulate Dunkirk on their wins and not say anything else.

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.05.57 AM.pngBEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

ALLISON JANNEY (I, Tonya)

I think this was the only category that I, Tonya had any chance in anyway. I would’ve been happier if Lesley Manville or Laurie Metcalf won it, but that’s only because I think Phantom Thread and Lady Bird were better movies than I, Tonya. In truth, I think all three of these women did great, so I’m not upset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.24.19 AM.pngBEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

COCO

 

 

Is anyone surprised? Nobody took Ferdinand or Boss Baby seriously. Loving Vincent was an artsy, indie film. And nobody saw The Breadwinner (because it wasn’t made by Disney). Coco was the only viable candidate.

Now I plan on seeing The Breadwinner soon, so if I think it deserved it over Coco, I’ll let everyone know, but I was completely fine with Coco winning. It wasn’t some dumbed down allegory like last year’s winner, Zootopia.

 

 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

The Shape of Water

Of course, I’m not the biggest fan of The Shape of Water… but the film does have some amazing production design. And let’s be real, it not only had amazing production design, but it also did so with the smallest budget.

So I’m okay with it winning Best Production Design.

 

 

 

 

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Blade Runner 2049

Obviously.

Now, there’s a lot of people I know who thought War for the Planet of the Apes should’ve won it because of Caesar and all the apes, and although I admit that it was impressive, it is not as impressive as EVERYTHING in Blade Runner 2049.

I wouldn’t have been too upset if Planet of the Apes won, but the obvious winner is Blade Runner 2049. It’s not even close.

Besides, War for the Planet of the Apes was only an okay movie anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

BEST EDITING

Dunkirk

Honestly, it would’ve just been nice if they gave Baby Driver this. Now, it’s not that I loved Baby Driver. In fact I think it’s one of Edgar Wright’s weakest movies, but Baby Driver is a technical marvel.

The entire movie is edited to subtly match up with the beats of the entire soundtrack.

Now Dunkirk is also strong technically, so I’m not upset… I’m just saying.

 

 

 

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Blade Runner 2049

Yes. Yes yes yes yes. Every frame of Blade Runner 2049 is breathtaking. None of its competitors came even close to how amazing the cinematography was.

Now there were a lot of people who were primarily happy because Roger Deakins FINALLY got his Oscar. And I can agree with that, but frankly, I was rooting for Blade Runner 2049 because it was objectively (yes, objectively, you cretins) the best cinematography.

 

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The Shape of Water

I can’t really complain.

I mean, I would if I had a decent point, but as great as the scores were for Dunkirk, Three Billboards, and Phantom Thread, I can’t objectively say that any of them were obviously better than The Shape of Water, which was also really good.

I want to laugh and point out that The Last Jedi got a Best “Original” Score nomination by basically having the same score as every other Star Wars movie. Whatever.

 

 

 

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Remember Me”, Coco

Sure. That’s fine. I didn’t really care about this category.

Coco’s music truly made the film that much better, so I’m down.

 

 

 

 

BEST WRITING FOR ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Get Out

I don’t know about you guys, but I would’ve voted for Get Out three times…

… kidding. I love that Get Out won. The key word for this award is “original”, and as much as I love The Big Sick and Three Billboards, I can’t say that they’re anywhere near as original as Get Out. I enjoyed it. I’m glad it won.

 

 

 

 

BEST WRITING FOR ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Call Me By Your Name

Oh, Call Me By Your Name won?

Isn’t that the movie where a 24 year old man fucks a 17 year old boy?

Oh yeah. It’s a movie where a man fucks a boy.

Just to reiterate: it’s a movie that not only shows pederasty, but glorifies it.

Neat. I’m very glad a movie that has a man fucking a boy won an Oscar.

It wouldn’t have won if it was the exact same movie, but had a 24 year old man fucking a 17 year old girl. Then it would’ve been creepy and exploitative, especially in 2017. But hey. Reverse the gender. Get an award.

 

 

 

 

Best Directing

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 9.43.15 AM.png

GUILLERMO DEL TORO (The Shape of Water)

 

 

 

You can bitch at me all you want for what I’m about to say, but here it is: The Shape of Water was one of the weakest films in this category, and that weakness was done with Guillermo Del Toro at the helm. I know me saying this will make many of you upset because a lot of you have a very strong connection to this movie because you guys can relate to it. In fact, most of the people arguing at me that I’m wrong about The Shape of Water typically have very vehement, emotional arguments for the movie.

I guess I just try to look at a movie’s presentation and judge it on that. Oh well.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 10.00.54 AM.pngBEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:

GARY OLDMAN (Darkest Hour)

I’m okay with this. I personally did not have any true person I was rooting for for Best Actor. I thought Daniel Day-Lewis was the best performer, but giving it to him would be like an underdog movie where the team that practiced the most and had the most talent won.

It would’ve been boring, so I knew Day-Lewis wasn’t going home with the Oscar.

But from what I’ve seen, Gary Oldman was amazing as Winston Churchill, so I’m good.

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 10.09.24 AM.pngBEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:

FRANCIS MCDORMAND(Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

 

Aside from Blade Runner 2049 winning Best Cinematography, this was the happiest I was all night. Francis McDormand was absolutely perfect in Three Billboards. In my opinion, no other actress this year came close, not even Sally Hawkins.

If you Shape of Water peeps get upset at that too, then maybe you should tell Guillermo Del Toro to write a better script, and then maybe Sally Hawkins would’ve been able to shine even brighter.

 

 

 

 

BEST PICTURE:

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 10.14.33 AM.png

 

Listen guys, if The Shape of Water winning Best Picture made you happy, that is great. I’m glad your movie won.

Maybe you shouldn’t read this next part.

 

Final Warning: I’m about to rip on The Shape of Water up and down for paragraphs upon paragraphs, so you do NOT want to read this.

 

Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

 

So obviously, I was rooting for Three Billboards because, to me, it is objectively the best movie of 2017, when thinking about every single film element. However, ever since the idiots in the “Three Billboards is racist” camp came out, I knew it wasn’t going to win. Because The Academy is a political entity.

So I took a look at all the other movies.

I saw every Best Picture movie except Darkest Hour (because I wasn’t interested) and Call Me By Your Name (because of principle). And out of all the movies I’ve seen, all of the films are generally better than The Shape of Water.

Yes, the Shape of Water has great visuals and really good cinematography.

But it has the weakest characters of all of the nominees because it decided it wanted to waste time with stuff that didn’t matter instead of developing the characters in an exceptional way. The script was cheesy and unsubtle as hell, and Michael Shannon, bless him, I have no idea how he was able to pull off a good performance with such a poorly written character.

Excuse me Guillermo Del Toro, I think we all could pick up on The Shape of Water’s disdain for “Traditional American Values” without being so fucking obvious. And that’s the thing with this movie: it’s so clumsily obvious about a lot of stuff. A LOT of stuff.

Maybe he could’ve skipped out on that and instead tried to humanize the monster a little bit more… you know, instead of making it a characterless creature with workable autonomy for your edgy sex scenes. So stunning and brave, that Guillermo del Toro.

Maybe you could’ve done that instead of those meaningless, distracting musical bits.

 

I’ve stated all of these critiques before, and the most common rebuttals I get are either

A. “I personally think the romance did work” (typically pointing to Sally Hawkins’s performance and pointing away from the monster. Needless to say, I’m not convinced).

or

B. “Well, the movie is supposed to be fairytale-like” (which is one of the most disingenuous defenses I’ve heard in my entire life. Let’s give the new Beauty and the Beast an Oscar since being fairytale-like debunks all criticism. Holy shit.). The Shape of Water is very serious when it wants to be, and its “fairytale-like” when it wants to be. If this wasn’t a movie by Guillermo Del Toro, then they would be honest and call it “lazy writing”.

 

In the end, The Shape of Water won because of politics, because The Academy is a political entity. It’s why Moonlight won last year. Moonlight was a backlash win against #OscarsSoWhite, and The Shape of Water is, in many ways, seen as a backhand towards Trump and Hollywood’s lack of diversity. Both of these movies have very beautiful aspects to them, but they were both chosen as winners from among better movies.

As the years go by, just like Moonlight, everybody except the most ardent of film enthusiasts will start forgetting more and more about The Shape of Water. The Academy just prolonged the process.

 

stevejdonahue.com

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