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

13 February 2018

Oscar Nominations 2018: Part 4 of 12

Back to Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3.

Baby Driver
3 Nominations
  • Film Editing: Jonathan Amos & Paul Machliss
  • Sound Mixing
  • Sound Editing
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jaime Foxx, Eiza González, CJ Jones, Jon Bernthal

This is the year's best musical – I think we can all agree on that – and it works very well and deserves all three of its nominations. Maybe it will even win one or two of them? The Academy has been much better about these categories lately, giving a very deserved film editing Oscar to Tom Cross for Whiplash just three years ago. The year after that the Oscar went to Mad Max: Fury Road, and last year it went, not to Moonlight or La La Land but to Hacksaw Ridge. So who knows. Maybe Baby Driver will win an Oscar. Somehow I don't think so, though. I don't think the movie will play well to most Academy voters (it's so young and hip and smug), and it also has the currently-anathema Kevin Spacey in a very large role.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
My Rating: #30 out of 79

The Post
2 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Actress: Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins, Into the Woods, August: Osage County, The Iron Lady, Julie & Julia, Doubt, The Devil Wears Prada, Adaptation., Music of the Heart, One True Thing, The Bridges of Madison County, Postcards from the Edge, A Cry in the Dark, Ironweed, Out of Africa, Silkwood, Sophie's Choice, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Deer Hunter)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, Jesse Plemons, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Cross

Sigh. Meryl Streep again. The Academy does this every year. This year, however, she deserves her nomination, even if she didn't deserve the last three. There is plenty to say about The Post, too. It's the Best Picture nominee with the least number of nominations, which means it was passed over in the Screenplay category, editing, other acting slots, and direction. I liked The Post a lot, but I think this is still the right decision. The film feels slightly unfinished, as though it was rushed into production and rushed (ahem) in post. It's a Spielberg picture, too, so it is mostly interested in feelings and not really invested in interrogating the material problems of the press's relationship with the U.S. government or the press's relationship to the public. Instead, Spielberg zooms in on his characters' emotional journeys, giving short shrift to intellectual exploration of any kind. And then he tacks on (as usual) an extra ending. The film can't just end once; it has to end a second time with an on-the-nose Watergate reference that anyone could see a mile away. Since this film has only two nominations, Best Picture and Best Actress, this is a good place to talk about something I noticed about this year's Best Picture nominees. Normally, commentators (correctly) note that Best Picture is generally linked very closely with Best Actor. But this year, the film's are split evenly: four films (Three Billboards, Lady Bird, Shape of Water, The Post) are nominated for both Best Picture and Best Actress, and four films (Phantom Thread, Get Out, Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour) are nominated for both Best Picture and Best Actor. No film shares a Best Actor and a Best Actress nominee this year. I am not sure this is a trend or anything, but I think it is worth noting.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #20 out of 79

Beauty and the Beast
2 Nominations
  • Production Design: Sarah Greenwood (Darkest Hour, Anna Karenina, Sherlock Holmes, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) & Katie Spencer (Darkest Hour, Anna Karenina, Sherlock Holmes, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice)
  • Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran (Darkest Hour, Mr. Turner, Anna Karenina, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice)
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan MacGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nathan Mack, Hattie Morahan

I hated at least six movies this year, and we could add to that another ten or eleven that I didn't like very much. But no movie this year was as useless as this Bill Condon mess, which is easily the year's worst musical while also being a complete waste of time. In the first place, this movie is simply a rehash of a film that is, if 25 years old, very very popular and widely remembered. In the second place, Condon brings absolutely nothing new to this remake. It is, to put it quite simply the same movie, with just a few things that are different – or rather they're out of place. I remember the original film so well, that anything that doesn't copy the original feels wrong, as though I am watching a nicely done but slightly off community theatre production of a play whose every word I've had memorized for twenty years. In the third place, they've treated Emma Watson's voice, which makes her singing sound strange and artificial. (What is the point of doing a live action movie if you're not going to let your actors sing?) In the fourth place, is this film even live action? Just like last year's Jungle Book, there's so much CGI in Beauty and the Beast that I can't imagine why anyone is bothering with this at all. (The number "Be Our Guest" is animated in its entirety, as far as I can tell.) The questions abound. Why is Audra McDonald using an Italian accent? Why is Lumiere's lover some kind of bird creature? Why is Emma Watson so bad in this? Why isn't Ewan McGregor Jerry Orbach? Why isn't Emma Thompson Angela Lansbury? (Thank goodness Céline Dion is still Céline Dion.) Poor Luke Evans, who I really really want to be in a good movie sometime soon, does a very good job trying to keep this movie afloat, but Beauty and the Beast sinks all the same. What a cynical, colossal waste of time!

Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Production Design
My Rating: #79 out of 79

Victoria and Abdul
2 Nominations
  • Costume Design: Consolata Boyle (Florence Foster Jenkins, The Queen)
  • Makeup & Hairstyling
Director: Stephen Frears
Cast: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard, Tim Piggot-Smith, Michael Gambon, Adeel Akhtar, Paul Higgins, Olivia Williams, Fenella Woolgar, Julian Badham, Robin Soans, Simon Callow, Ruth McCabe

The only thing I want to say about these two nominations is to brag about having successfully pregamed this movie. I don't think it can win either of these two Oscars and I don't think it should. I didn't think much of Victoria and Abdul, and I can't really figure out who likes things like this. I found the whole thing to be a kind of bizarre love letter to the British colonialism of India. But good for Consolata Boyle. I am glad she has gotten her third nomination, in any case.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #68 out of 79