Who We Want To See Win The Oscar On Sunday Night
The 90th Academy Awards will take place this Sunday, doling out Oscars to the best in cinema of 2017. The big contenders this year include, Dunkirk, The Darkest Hour, The Shape of Water, Phantom Thread, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, The Post, Call Me By Your Name, and Get Out. But there’s more to the Oscars than Best Picture. So here’s who the Overlords will be rooting for this weekeend.
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
Remember when Leonardo DiCaprio was campaigning for Best Actor for The Revenant a few years ago, and the narrative was all like, “Oh, poor Leo, he’s NEVER WON AN OSCAR, what a SLIGHT upon the world and upon humanity!” Yeah, tell that to Roger Deakins, who has been nominated 13 times for Best Cinematography and has never won. Not for The Shawshank Redemption, not for Fargo. Not in 2007, when he was nominated for both The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford AND No Country for Old Men. Not for True Grit, or Prisoners, or Sicario. Which brings us to this year and Blade Runner 2049. Hot damn, give the man the award already. (Or, give it to Rachel Morrison for Mudbound. These are the only two acceptable choices.)—Roxana Hadadi
Best Film Editing: Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss, Baby Driver
This is an easy category to overlook, but if any film truly deserves to win for editing, it’s Baby Driver. Edgar Wright’s humor and style may be baked into his writing and directing, but it all truly emerges through the clever cuts that happen in the editing suite. It’s as if he knows from the outset that his vision is incomplete, and requires the steady work of longtime collaborators like Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss to bring it to life. It’s also worth noting that Wright always planned for the movie to be centered around the soundtrack, based on notes he included in his own script. But to really make the action match the beat? That takes the work of some good editors. So good, in fact, that Machliss and Amos have already won the BAFTA for it!—Tori Preston
Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
The frontrunner in this category is Three Billboards’ Frances McDormand, who gave a hell of a performance as a wrathful and grieving mother. But Hawkins didn’t have fiery monologues or furious circumstances to give her a meaty role. She had silence, grace, and a love story with an aquatic leading man. And she made every moment of it feel rapturous and real. Whether she was dancing in a dream, frantically signing words of love and warning, or falling hard for a fish man, she was mesmerizing. The Shape of Water’s interspecies romance made it seem impossible, even a bit silly. But by losing her voice, and baring not just her body but her soul, Hawkins made us believe in a love that cannot speak its name. —Kristy Puchko
Best Original Song, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s “This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman
There’s a reason why The Greatest Showman is one of the biggest word-of-mouth box-office hits of the last year, and it’s not Hugh Jackman or Zac Efron, or even because of the papered-over story of P.T. Barnum. The Greatest Showman is a huge hit because, for a few minutes, it’s a movie about marginalized people finding their voices, their identities, and finding comfort in who they are. The centerpiece of that movie within the movie is “This Is Me,” performed by Keala Settle, who — as the bearded lady — is also the anchor of that sequence. It’s an incredible song, and within the context of The Greatest Showman, it is one of the most crowd-pleasing, life-affirming, joyous movie moments of 2017.—Dustin Rowles
Best Adapted Screenplay: Dee Rees and Virgil Williams, Mudbound
A general complaint: MUDBOUND DESERVED BETTER. What I consider to be the best film of 2017— the strongest ensemble, the most meaningful writing, the emotional resonance, an ending that dares to hope for a better future out of a tainted, poisoned past — received four nominations for this year’s Academy Awards, including Best Original Song and Best Supporting Actress (making Mary J. Blige the first woman in history to snag those two nods in one year) as well as Best Cinematography (again, making history with Rachel Morrison, the first female nominee in this category ever) and Best Adapted Screenplay for Dee Rees and co-writer Virgil Williams. But Rees also deserved to be included in the Best Director category for helming a film that is fundamentally flawless; Mudbound should have scored a Best Film nomination; and how is it that none of its male ensemble was recognized for Best Supporting Actor? I will be salty about these oversights for the rest of my life. (Only being somewhat hyperbolic here.)—Roxana Hadadi
Best Production Design: Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola, Blade Runner 2049
Few movies have cast as long a visual shadow as the original Blade Runner, which is why the work production designer Dennis Gassner and set designer Alessandra Querzola did on Blade Runner 2049 is actually fairly phenomenal — they had to pay homage to the classic that came before while significantly expanding that world, creating new locations, new visual details, and new ambiance to set 2049 apart from its predecessor and its many imitators. They fucking aced it. Whether you thought 2049 was revelatory (me!) or boring (we Overlords are divided), I don’t know how you can deny its visual impact: the spooky skeletal outline of that tree and the sparse utilitarianism of the farm surrounding it; the dusty oranges and reds of the abandoned casino city and the squandered opulence inside its buildings; that final scene between K and Luv in the water outside of Los Angeles, their battle in the ceaseless onslaught of splashing waves, fighting over the future of a city that had walled itself off from whatever natural was left outside of it. Blade Runner 2049 was slow-moving and dense and gorgeous to look at, and a win for Best Production Design should be a no-brainer. (Get out of here, Darkest Hour.) —Roxana Hadadi
Best Original Screenplay: The Big Sick by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani — Look: It’s not just that Gordon and Nanjiani are incredible people who are amazing at marriage, or that The Big Sick introduced a person of color as a leading man. It’s also that Gordon and Nanjiani made my favorite genre of movie — romantic comedies — relevant again. They broke through the formula and created a funny, poignant, touching, sweet love story that felt genuine, that felt like two people falling in love and then dealing with real-life complications of that. There were a lot of great performances in this, and Michael Showalter did a fine job of directing it, but The Big Sick worked because of its terrific screenplay. — Dustin Rowles
Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Hey, remember when The Florida Project was a front-runner for every award? No? Okay, that never happened, but in a just world, it would have been the case. As it is, Sean Baker’s brilliant drama has one nomination to its name - a much deserved Best Supporting Actor nod for Willem Dafoe, who deserves to win but sadly won’t. Still, in a few years time, when this film is an undisputed classic, we’ll look back on these omissions and wonder what happened. Admittedly, The Florida Project is a tough film for many to love: It’s abrasive and unpolished and deals with discomfiting topics surrounding the pain of poverty in America. Yet, it’s also an exquisitely composed piece of work, with luminous performances from its mostly non-actor cast, and it’s a testament to Baker’s skill that it all holds together so well. It walks this very fine line in terms of tone and point-of-view, showing how this rundown swamp-land tourist trap of tacky could be magical to kids but never making the crushing reality of their circumstances into something cute or noble. Really, it should have swept the board - Best Picture, Best Director for Baker, Best Actress and Supporting Actress for the effervescent Brooklynn Prince and Bria Vinaite, Best Cinematography, and so on. And Dafoe’s Oscar would be in the bag. Ah, remember when he legitimately was the front-runner for that category?—Kayleigh Donaldson
Best Director, Jordan Peele, Get Out
Regardless of how you feel about the movies themselves, it’s indisputable that all five nominees represent the clear, specific vision of their respective directors. But of all these, Jordan Peele’s work on Get Out is the most nimble, blending horror, comedy, and social commentary into a complete, and completely rewatchable film. Peele showcases immense creativity and control without showing off, guiding the viewer without letting his presence be felt. Quite simply, it’s a masterful directorial debut that not only should make us excited for whatever Peele decides to tackle next, but also should be celebrated for what he accomplished here.—Dan Hamamura
Best Picture: What, What’s Nominated?
Hands down, Logan. The darkness, the sheer melancholy, the meditations on violence and what it does to those who are forced onto its path. Dear god, just tell her that there are no more guns in the valley. (Editor: sorry Logan wasn’t nominated.) But it was hand down the best film I saw last year. (Editor: *shrug*) Okay fine, Last Jedi. Everything a Star Wars movie always could have been. Somehow topped even Rogue One in my mind. The sacrifice, the heroism, the ripping apart of the mythology of what Jedi were and could be. What being a hero means, being the symbol, being the impossible thing standing to show the world how to do so. (Editor: sorry, not nominated either.) What about Blade Runner? I didn’t like it, but hell, it was art damned worth being made even if it wasn’t art I loved. (Editor: Nope.) Seriously, what the fuck? Okay, fine, what else did I love last year. OOH! Stranger Things. (Editor: Netflix limited series don’t count, why don’t you at least look at the list of nominees if you’re going to participate in this exercise?) Fine. *Looks*. I haven’t seen a single one of these movies. Fuck the Academy. If movies like these aren’t even in the running, then I don’t have the common basis to even talk to them about movies in the first place.—Steven Wilson
Most years I roll my eyes at the Best Picture category that is often overrun with predictable prestige pics. This year, I can’t believe my eyes! The Academy, who has long shunned genre and overlooked intimate stories of women in favor of bombastic biopics of white men overcoming adversity, has nominated Jordan Peele’s searingly political horror movie Get Out, Greta Gerwig’s refreshingly authentic coming-of-age tale Lady Bird, Luca Guadagnino’s sensuous yet challenging gay-romance Call Me By Your Name, and Guillermo del Toro’s monster-centered love story The Shape of Water. More thrilling yet, there’s no consensus on what might win. Oscar prognosticators are touting Three Billboards, Dunkirk and Get Out as possibilities. But with the Academy’s shake-up to its membership, it feels like anything can happen. Last year it was Moonlight, which seemed impossible in the face of La La Land’s popularity and overt fetishization of all things Hollywood. This year, I’m rooting for Get Out because its the nominee that hits me harder every time I’ve watched it. But I’m dizzy with excitement as I’d be happy with just about any of the winners! Well, except The Darkest Hour. Or The Post. Or Phantom Thread…—Kristy Puchko
Who do you want to see win on Oscar night? Sound off in the comments.