Sunday, March 04, 2018


I saw Phantom Thread and The Shape of Water — couldn’t get to Call Me By Your Name before the Big Show, but I’ll take a stab at the Oscar thing anyway.

(As to those last two movies: I’ve been trying to figure out whether the last part of Phantom Thread is meant to be taken literally, which inevitably gets me to wondering whether the first part was meant to be taken literally. The odd meet-acute in the Blackpool tearoom, in retrospect, looks like someone, or two, acting out their first meeting, either as a sentimental gesture or for therapeutic purposes; and the integration of Alma into the House of Reynolds, from his sister sniffing her over to her near-erasure among the other white-coated votaries, seems like a highly distilled version of experience, at least. I started out, perhaps influenced by the writing about it, thinking Phantom Thread was about gender roles, but I’m willing to consider that it’s about the weird power of love itself. Definitely the most rumination-worthy of the bunch.)

(Oh, and as to The Shape of Water: This is the Pan’s Labyrinth guy, alright, and another fable, but without the hard fatalism of the Spanish Civil War one, because we’re in America and Americans aren’t fatalists — though if you like you can think of the ending as non-literal, but if you do what’s that make the rest of the movie? [Publicity for the 1978 Superman said, “You’ll believe a man can fly”; The Shape of Water can boast, “You’ll believe a fish can fuck!”] It was thrilling to see the magic realism blend so seamlessly with the caper-suspense elements, and also to see the good guys and bad guys — though, as fable demands, clearly assigned and starkly painted — all get their little bit of humanity; even the Michael Shannonical scumbag moved me when he asked his general for permission to be just decent. [The general, however, can go fuck himself. I hate that guy.] I can see now why kulturkampfer Kyle Smith hated it so much — the black and the gay and the sex vs. The Man! — and, well, that’s just the icing on the fishcake.)

OK, let’s have a crack at these nominees:

Best Picture: The Shape of Water. Sure it’s odd — but it feels like what we used to call a movie-movie. I think Three Billboards has a chance, but Moonlight’s victory last year probably has voters thinking that would be just too much Quiet Brilliance in an industry mostly devoted to producing special effects extravaganzas.

Best Actor: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour. You get old and play a British Prime Minister in heavy makeup, they have to give it to you.

Best Actress: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I was thinking Johnny Belinda II but great as Sally Hawkins is, voters may be wondering why Hillary Swank has two Oscars and McDormand only has one.

Best Supporting Actor: Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water. This is my sucker bet, some everyone expects either big prize-taker Willem Dafoe or Billboards’ Sam Rockwell to win, but my instinct, such as it is, is that the collision of the two favorites (and Woody Harrelson, who they’d love to give an Academy Award to sometime) will make an opening for a dark horse. Plus Jenkins’ arc is deeply moving.

Best Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird. I haven’t seen Allison Janney, but Lady Bird needs an award.

Best Director: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water. I thought they were going to give Christopher Nolan this but

Best Original Screenplay: Get Out.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name.

Best Cinematography: Dunkirk.

Best Production Design: The Shape of Water.

Best Film Editing: Baby Driver.

Best Foreign Language Film: The Square.

Best Costume Design: Darkest Hour.

Best Original Score: Phantom Thread.

Best Original Song: “Mighty River,” Mudbourne.

Best Makeup: Darkest Hour.

Best Sound Editing: Dunkirk.

Best Sound Mixing: The Shape of Water.

Best Visual Effects: Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

And in the Who The Fuck Knows categories:

Best Documentary Feature: Last Men in Aleppo.

Best Documentary Short: Traffic Stop.

Best Animated Short: Garden Party.

Best Live Short: Watu Wote/All of Us.

And now -- magic time!

UPDATE, 8:18: I'm already losing!

UPDATE, 8:32: 1 for 3. There goes the rent money.

UPDATE, 9:30: [tears up his tickets and walks away slowly, in the rain]

UPDATE, 11:50: Well, I got the Big Five right, but otherwise wiped out -- 11 of our 23. I'd like to blame the Academy -- huh, Best Costume Design for a movie about fashion! So predictable! -- but really my mistake was paying attention; I always do better when I've seen like three movies all year. 

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