Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

28 February 2018

Oscar Nominations 2018: Part 12 of 12

1 Nomination
  • Makeup & Hairstyling
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Cast: Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Noah Jupe, Izabela Vidovic, Danielle Rose Russell, Sonia Braga, Nadji Jeter, Daveed Diggs, Millie Davis, Mandy Patinkin, Bryce Gheisar, Elle McKinnon

I love Julia Roberts. I think we should start with that. I am just happy to see her, and I am mostly willing to watch her do absolutely anything. She's just. So. Lovable. I love me some Owen Wilson, too, and the two of them are delightful in this. Wonder is about a kid with facial scarring who is about to start the fifth grade. Roberts and Wilson are the little boy's parents, and the little boy himself is played by Room's breakout star, Jacob Tremblay. As you might imagine, this is a very sentimental film with a lot of heart and a lot of hugs. It's also the kind of movie that is obviously based on a novel. It tries to give us a bunch of different perspectives as a way to disrupt standard narrative structures. All in all, Wonder is fine. You will probably like it if you are a mom. And I am not trying to be dismissive or derisive, but this film is a hug-your-kids-tighter, Hallmark-card, we're-all-beautiful-on-the-inside, if-we-could-only-just-all-be-a-little-nicer-to-one-another kind of thing. It's very well made; it's just not designed with me in mind as its ideal audience member.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #66 out of 84

The Greatest Showman
1 Nomination
  • Song – "This Is Me": Benj Pasek (La La Land) & Justin Paul (La La Land)
Director: Michael Gracey
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely, Keala Settle, Sam Humphrey, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Byron Jennings, Eric Anderson

Sigh. This is almost impossible to take seriously. It's a musical version of the story of P.T. Barnum (not to be confused with the musical Barnum by Cy Coleman), but it is so different from the actual story of P.T. Barnum and so far removed from the realities of the 19th century that it consistently feels absurd. The movie conveniently leaves out the story of Joice Heth (I was waiting for her!), but it also seems not to take place in the real world at all. Nothing in the film feels the least bit realistic. A central storyline of The Greatest Showman, for example, is that Barnum imports a world-famous opera soprano to the United States. But when she performs for the audience in the U.S., she sings a pop song. The crowd goes wild. It's very strange. I know it's pretend and all, but  I just couldn't get my brain to let go and start pretending along with everyone else. Maybe it's because The Greatest Showman is just a parade of clichés. Barnum has a dream, he leaves behind his wife and children to pursue his dream, he (of course) is focusing too much on work and forgetting the important things in life like "family" and "love" and "friendship" and, like, being a dad. But Barnum learns his lesson, and once he decides to be a family man, the show is (miraculously) better than ever. Still, in terms of music, The Greatest Showman's is fun, and everyone in my theatre department is obsessed with this cover of "Never Enough" by John Pinto Jr.. I am also delighted that Keala Settle will be performing "This Is Me" at the Oscars. It's sure to be a rousing number, and maybe this song will even win.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Song
My Rating: #65 out of 84

1 Nomination
  • Song – "Stand Up for Something": Common (Selma) & Diane Warren (The Hunting Ground, Beyond the Lights, Pearl Harbor, Music of the Heart, Armageddon, Con Air, Up Close & Personal, Mannequin)
Director: Reginald Hudlin
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, James Cromwell, Keesha Sharp, Roger Guenveur Smith, Barrett Doss, Derrick Baskin, John Magaro, Jussie Smollett

I quite like Common and Diane Warren's tune "Stand Up for Something". Warren is seemingly nominated every year these days. It is a return to her 1990s glory days when she penned songs that were made into worldwide hits by Céline Dion and Gloria Estefan and LeAnn Rimes and Aerosmith. Overall, this crop of original song nominees is pretty good, to be honest. But Marshall is not. This movie is yet another Hollywood cartoon version of history. This time it's Thurgood Marshall arguing a particular case in Massachusetts as a lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1940. Almost no one in this movie behaves like a real person. We, instead, get caricatures of Thurgood Marshall, Walter Francis White, and Langston Hughes. Thurgood Marshall is basically a superhero in this movie: the coolest person you've ever met, slicker than a movie star, smarter than a Rhodes scholar, with the ability to fight villains like Iron Man. We also get equally silly cartoon versions of white racists in a Northern state, men who can be destroyed easily by a witty comment or the well-timed turn of a fedora. I have become very tired of these glossy, cartoon versions of U.S. American history, particularly stories happening during Jim Crow. I feel beat over the head with them, mostly because they never seem to take history seriously, glossing over the real violence of Jim Crow with an anodyne, rose-colored, PG-13 gaze.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #77 out of 84

Final Predictions:
Best Picture The Shape of Water
Best Director – Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
Best Actor – Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Best Actress – Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Adapted Screenplay – James Ivory, Call Me by Your Name
Best Original Screenplay – Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Supporting Actor – Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Supporting Actress – Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Best Film Editing – Lee Smith, Dunkirk
Best Cinematography – Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
Best Production Design – Paul Denham Austerberry, Jeff Melvin, Shane Vieau, The Shape of Water
Best Original Score – Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
Best Costume Design – Mark Bridges, Phantom Thread
Best Foreign Language Film – Lebanon, The Insult
Best Visual EffectsWar for the Planet of the Apes
Best Sound Mixing  Dunkirk

Best Sound EditingDunkirk
Best Animated Feature Coco
Best Animated Short Film Lou
Best Live-action Short Film The Eleven O'clock
Best Documentary FeatureFaces/Places
Best Documentary Short Film Heroin(e)
Best Makeup & Hairstyling Darkest Hour
Best Original Song – "Remember Me", Coco