Sunday, March 12, 2023


 [Oscar announcer voice] Before we get to the Oscar predictions, let us dispense with the last nominee. [/Oav] For my other Best Picture nominee reviews, see the previous post.

Entertainment Weekly did one of those annoying Anonymous Hollywood Insiders Talk Oscar things where the kibitzers are obviously miserable alte kakers who can’t understand why black people are so pushy and the world has passed them by. (The “marketer” who said he liked The Banshees of Inisherin for “the sense of community… Don't we all just want to move there right now?” is my favorite). But one of the oldsters did get me to laugh by calling Top Gun: Maverick a “big beer commercial” and that stayed with me as I was watching it. I kept imagining Spuds McKenzie in Cruise’s role, transmitting not only his aerial combat instructions but also his love talk with Jennifer Connolly via a voiceover by Don LaFontaine

And why not? Maverick was made to be taken unseriously. Look, I’m sorry, I recognize it’s a quality product, and I loved the zoom-zoom and pew-pew, and if the fun macho posturing ain’t Only Angels Have Wings, for our low, mean age it will do. But its emotional content, like the relationship between Maverick and Goose’s son, Pinball or Dipshit or whatever it is (oh, OK, Rooster, guess you caught on pretty quick – what a disagreeable old man I have become), is just cheap – though, like the beer this all seems to be a commercial for, effective to its purpose (which is to make you care about what happens to these guys more than you would, say, the puppets on Fireball XL5) if you get down enough of it. I give director Joseph Kosinski much credit for catching me up on the Top Gun backstory without cluttering up the movie. And if I were invested in that backstory, I guess Maverick’s and Jennifer Connolly’s sub-Hallmark dialogue and Maverick’s and Val Kilmer’s cheesy version of Jack Nicholson’s and William Challee’s scene in Five Easy Pieces (it would be parody material if Kilmer weren’t actually sick, dammit) might be moving. For me, they were carefully planted chokepoints to keep Maverick from becoming Starship Troopers without the self-awareness. OTOH the climactic air battle is a honey and the editing is boss, but Hans Zimmer’s score – ominous and ethereal at the same time -- is the secret weapon.

OK, now my predictions:

Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All at Once. Unlike in previous years, I’m not taking any sucker bets in major categories this year – if I’m to be wrong, let me be wrong with the mob! It’s good, it’s funny and weepy, it’s the magic of the movies. If not: Maverick: Top Gun.

Best Actor: Brendan Fraser, The Whale. I’m not gonna pay twenty bucks to see Fraser’s actual performance at current streaming rates (ditto for Nighy, alas) but the odds are too great and the competition, while brilliant, too thin: I loved Aftersun but Paul Mescal’s is surely the most low-key performance ever nominated, and Austin Butler is too young (and, unlike young’uns like Daniel Day-Lewis at the time of My Left Foot, not convincingly showing more than an uncanny ability to impersonate). That leaves Colin Farrell, whose work I fear is too subtle to distract voters from lobbing a love bomb at the maltreated Fraser. If not: Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at OnceLike I said, no sucker bets. Blanchett broke down my resistance to her austere craft with Tár the way Meryl Streep did for me with The Post, but the Yeoh love-fest seems unbeatable. If not: Cate Blanchett, Tár.

Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once. Nope, not fucking with this Tinseltown tidal wave of sentiment for Short Round’s comeback. If not: Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin.

Best Supporting Actress: Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin. Like everyone I love Angela Bassett but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a funny-book movie and hers is a funny-book performance, full of brio but unidimensional. And as Heath Ledger showed, you can win an Oscar for that if it’s unexpected – not if it’s General Zod. (Also, way too much screen time.) If not: Bassett.

Best Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once. If not: Todd Field, Tár.

Best Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin. It sure sounds like writing (Irishness helps!). Plus it’s got jokes. The Tár script is downright novelistic in its detail and ambiguities, so it could go Field's way, but look, I'm trying to win here! If not: Todd Field.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Sarah Polley, Women Talking. Making it a chamber drama and making it watchable is a helluva thing. If not: All Quiet on the Western Front. 

Best Editing: Eddie Hamilton, Top Gun: Maverick. Not just for the zoom-zoom, pew-pew, either; the high-intensity conversations really pop, too. If not: Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Best Cinematography: James Friend, All Quiet on the Western Front.  If not: Florian Hoffmeister, Tár.

Best Score: Justin Hurwitz, Babylon. If not: John Williams, The Fabelmans. 

Best Production Design: All Quiet on the Western Front. If not: Elvis.

Best International Feature Film: All Quiet on the Western Front. If not: EO. 

Best Costume Design: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. If not: Babylon.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Elvis. If not: The Whale.

Best Animated Feature: Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio. If not: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

Best Animated Short: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. I actually saw all five of these! And while I loved the wordless, two-color children’s book feel of Ice Merchants and the innovations of My Year of Dicks, I’m afraid the Apple Films Christopher Robin ripoff will get it. If not: My Year of Dicks. 

Best Live-Action Short: The Red Suitcase. If not: An Irish Goodbye. 

Best Documentary Feature: Navalny. If not: Fire of Love.

Best Documentary Short: The Elephant Whisperers. If not: Haulout. 

Best Sound: All Quiet on the Western Front. If not: Top Gun: Maverick.

Best Visual Effects: Avatar: The Way of Water. If not: Top Gun: Maverick.

See ya at the show! (PS I reserve the right to make changes until one hour to air time.)

UPDATE: Oh yeah that thing from RRR will win Best Song! OK, see ya at the show!

FINAL UPDATE: 16 out of 23 -- 70%, a passing score. I'll take it! 

No comments:

Post a Comment