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

08 February 2018

Oscar Nominations 2018: Part 3 of 12

Back to Part 1 or Part 2.

Call Me by Your Name
4 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Actor: Timothée Chalamet 
  • Adapted Screenplay: James Ivory
  • Song – "Mystery of Love": Sufjan Stevens
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois, Vanda Capriola, Antonio Rimoldi

This is my favorite movie of the year. I love it unapologetically and unabashedly. One of my favorite things about it is that it is a deeply sensual film – like of all of Guadagnino's movies – but that when Elio falls in love with his idol Oliver, the film shows us this in ways other than the traditional male-gaze ways of doing this (normally the camera would focus on specific body parts and linger on them, and through this we would experience Elio's attraction to Oliver). But Guadagnino shows us that Elio sees Oliver not as a sex object but as a conquering hero, someone way cooler than him, someone free and unrestricted and confident, and it is this that attracts him. The novel on which this is based covers a great deal more area than this film; in the tradition of the coming-of-age movie, Guadagnino and Ivory's movie focuses on the one summer of Elio and Oliver's meeting, and only gestures toward the longterm effects of that summer. This is a choice that works well for the film. Movies need to cut down the plot elements in novels for time reasons (Mudbound ought to have taken a note about this). There is so much more to love about Call Me by Your Name. I think I loved every single scene. I found the whole thing deeply moving. I love this film, and so I also think it is ridiculous that it didn't get a best director nomination, that Michael Stuhlbarg didn't get a supporting actor nomination, that Walter Fasano isn't nominated for editing, and that Sayombu Mukdeeprom didn't get a cinematography nomination. Apparently this connected with Academy members fairly well, but they weren't as overwhelmed as I was. Oh well. As for winning Oscars, James Ivory is going to win. Although he has been nominated for directing A Room with a View, Howards End, and The Remains of the Day, this will be his first Oscar in his more-than-fifty-year career. I can't wait for his speech.
Will Win: Adapted Screenplay
Could Win: Actor, Song
My Rating: #1 out of 78

Mudbound
4 Nominations
  • Adapted Screenplay: Dee Rees & Virgil Williams
  • Supporting Actress: Mary J. Blige
  • Cinematography: Rachel Morrison
  • Song – "Mighty River": Mary J. Blige & Raphael Saadiq & Taura Stinson
Director: Rees
Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan, Mary J. Blige, Jonathan Banks, Kerry Cahill

This movie is a real disappointment, and I continue to be surprised that of all the Netflix movies that would actually break through, that it is this mess of a film that managed to do it. (Beasts of No Nation, which appeared only two years ago, easily deserved six nominations and got zero.) I guess what maybe is even more disappointing to me is that Dee Rees, whose first film was the lesbian coming-of-age drama Pariah made this rather boring movie that is mostly about straight white folks. I hope her next movie is a return to something interesting. I don't think I'll say anything more about the film; I've already written about how wooden I think Mary J. Blige is and what a mess the screenplay is, but I will say I recently saw Hostiles, and that film's cinematography is much, much, much better than the work in this movie. So now I'm annoyed about that nomination, too. Sigh. Who knows why the Academy likes what it likes.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Song
My Rating: #62 out of 78

Star Wars: Episode VIII – the Last Jedi
4 Nominations
  • Score: John Williams (Star Wars: Episode VII - the Force Awakens, The Book Thief, Lincoln, War Horse, The Adventures of Tintin, Munich, Memoirs of a Geisha, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Catch Me If You Can, Artificial Intelligence: A.I., Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Patriot, Angela's Ashes, Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Sleepers, Nixon, Sabrina, Schindler's List, JFK, Home Alone, Born on the Fourth of July, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Accidental Tourist, Empire of the Sun, The Witches of Eastwick, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The River, Return of the Jedi, E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, The Towering Inferno, Tom Sawyer, Cinderella Liberty, Images, The Poseidon Adventure, Fiddler on the Roof, The Reivers, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Valley of the Dolls)
  • Visual Effects
  • Sound Mixing
  • Sound Effects Editing
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Mark Hammill, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro, Andy Serkis, Frank Oz, Lupita Nyong'o

Yesterday I listened to a friend of mine go on a rant about why this movie was not good, but his points were related to the plot choices that the series is making – not enough Skywalkers – and then also a discussion of the silliness of the movie, its irony about its own cheesiness. Obviously I am not really a fanboy of this series, and so it does not matter to me what they do plot-wise. And because I already think these movies are really cheesy, I rather like it better when a film admits to being silly, when it knows it is silly. As pertains to Oscar, I will say that I was actually sort of shocked that John Williams' score for this movie got nominated. The music branch will nominate Williams every single year – this is his 51st nomination. That certainly is no surprise, but it is odd to me that they didn't opt for his music for The Post instead of the recycled scoring in this movie. It's sort of embarrassing that they do this every year.
Will Win: Visual Effects
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #34 out of 78

I, Tonya
3 Nominations
  • Actress: Margot Robbie
  • Supporting Actress: Allison Janney
  • Film Editing: Tatiana S. Riegel
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Paul Walter Hauser, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale, Ricky Russert, Anthony Reynolds, Joshua Mikel

This movie was not for me. It was fun for everyone I saw it with, but I was rather annoyed with its single note, its almost complete lack of stakes, and its missed directing opportunities. I never knew what the stakes were at any given moment – if she wins this competition what happens? Does she get rich? Does she get an endorsement deal? Does she think she'll be happy? The movie never communicates any of this. This is partly because of the perspective that the film takes, where we're listening to interviews about something that happened a long time ago, but it is partly because the film doesn't script these things into what its doing and the direction is unclear. I liked Margot Robbie in the movie well enough, but Allison Janney plays the same scene again and again; I found this a bit exhausting, actually. The more I've thought about it, the more I think this movie would've been better if it had been a better sports movie.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Supporting Actress
My Rating: #50 out of 78