With some huge achievements and huger milestones, the Oscars 2018 had some surprises up its sleeve.
Wednesday 14 March 2018
by REUBEN MUIR
As predicted, the Oscars performed as planned, all the frontrunners took home awards, with THE SHAPE OF WATER being the big winner with four awards. Notable awards went to British cinematographer Roger Deakins whose Oscar for BLADE RUNNER 2049 was his first after 14 previous nominations; James Ivory, who won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, has became the oldest Oscar winner in any category at the age of 89; Jordan Peele is the first African American to win an Oscar for Original Screenplay for GET OUT; and Guillermo Del Toro’s win for Best Director has put him alongside the other members of the so called “Three Amigos” (including Alejandro Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón) and has made him the fourth Mexican to win the award in five years. MUDBOUND and THE POST failed to secure a win but the biggest loser was LADY BIRD, which caught some traction in recent months due to the growing #MeToo/#TimesUp movement.
However, while THE SHAPE OF WATER’s win for Best Picture was expected, it should not be forgotten how unusual this win is and how it could impact the future of awards season. Horror, action, fantasy and science fiction genre films are often overlooked by the Oscars. But in recent years the nominations have shown a change in perspective. MAD MAX FURY ROAD and THE MARTIAN were big contenders three years ago, as was ARRIVAL last year and GET OUT and THE SHAPE OF WATER this year. The latter has now become the first fantasy film to win since THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING in 2004 and its win could signal an opportunity for more genre fare to also achieve Academy Award success. Of course, the film still contains a lot of traditional Oscar elements, which undoubtedly made it easier for voters to support it. But the opportunities its win has opened up are undeniable and genre filmmaking might finally get the awards recognition it often deserves.
As for the ceremony itself, it was as average as it could be. Jimmy Kimmel was a fine host but it did feel like he was trying too hard. The most egregious part of the ceremony was when Kimmel took a group of celebrities across the road to surprise unsuspecting cinemagoers. Instead of laughs, the stunt produced groans and felt somewhat obnoxious. Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech for Best Actress for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI garnered the most amount of news coverage following the event. Asking all the female nominees in the auditorium to stand, she highlighted how they all have stories to tell and now is the time to make them. The speech has definitely stuck a chord and has added to the ongoing conversation of diversity in film.
This year has shown that traditional Oscar fare needs to up it game. THE POST is an interesting case in point. Entering the race with prestige talent and critical acclaim, so many expected it to dominate the Oscars. But very quickly people turned against it, for the exact reason people thought it would be successful; it is too conventional, it has the message but it is not explored in an innovative way. Who knows what Spielberg could have achieved if he had worked on it for a year longer, how he could have made the story more prevalent or made the drama more powerful. The race is wide open again but we will have to wait and see if these wins and the political discussion do have an impact.
Who were the big winners and what does it mean for the Oscars?
Thursday 22 February 2018
by REUBEN MUIR
The 2017 Awards season is close to its grand finale and the ending is looking more and more predictable, especially with the results of the BAFTA Awards. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (2017) was the big winner with five wins, including Best Film, Actress, Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay. THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017) had three wins for Best Director, Original Score and Production Design.
These wins prove the two films remain the unchallenged frontrunners going into the Oscars and now the chances of an underdog challenge have slipped. The four acting categories awarded their respective frontrunners, Gary Oldman for DARKEST HOUR (2017), Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell for THREE BILLBOARDS and Allison Janney with I, TONYA (2017) all of whom are first time BAFTA winners. With these victories they might as well prepare their Oscar speeches. Another notable winner was Roger Deakins who won his fourth BAFTA for cinematography on BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017) and looks set to finally win his long overdue Oscar after 14 nominations. An unusual statistic is that THREE BILLBOARDS not only won Best Film, it also won Best British Film and no film has achieved this since THE KING’S SPEECH (2010). and A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1967) before that. The win for Best British Film is odd as it would be expected that the voters would try and award a smaller and equally acclaimed film like PADDINGTON 2 (2017) or GOD’S OWN COUNTRY (2017).
What this double win proves is that the British Academy have thrown their weight behind McDonagh’s film. However, THREE BILLBOARDS has not yet got the Best Picture Oscar in the bag. The BAFTAs used to be a good indicator of what would go on to win Best Picture at the Oscars - between 2000 and 2013 they have had the same result eight times out of 13 - but since 2013 the BAFTAs have gone a different way to the Oscars. So, THE SHAPE OF WATER may well still have the edge over THREE BILLBOARDS.
Some notable losers on the night were LADY BIRD (2017), THE FLORIDA PROJECT (2017) and GET OUT (2017), which all failed to get any awards. Other big contenders like PHANTOM THREAD (2017), CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (2017) and DUNKIRK (2017) all disappointed with single wins. The underperformance of DUNKIRK might well be the nail in the coffin for any recognition outside of the technical awards at the Oscars and therefore Nolan will again lose out on his well-deserved Best Director award. However, it might not be game over for GET OUT or LADY BIRD as both seem to have much stronger supporters in the US and, with the continuing #TimesUp/#MeToo movement, LADY BIRD could still surprise.
#TimesUp and #MeToo featured prominently at the ceremony, with many of the attending women wearing black in protest. The matter continues to dominate and has become the political issue of this awards season. Considering the impact the #OscarsSoWhite controversy had, a response from the Oscars should be expected.
Now the dust has settled after the recent nominations, which films are likely to be rewarded by The Academy?
Thursday 8 February 2018
by REUBEN MUIR
At the end of last year, many news outlets were saying this was sure to be an unpredictable awards season, especially when compared to last year when LA LA LAND (2016) and MOONLIGHT (2016) had made themselves clear frontrunners. But by now it is clear what way most of the awards are swinging. THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017) leads with 13 nominations, closely followed by DUNKIRK (2017) with eight and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (2017) with seven. DUNKIRK was considered the original frontrunner for awards season back in the summer but unfortunately seems to be losing traction recently. It will surely dominate the technical awards and potentially the Best Director award. But it does seem to have become a two-horse race between THE SHAPE OF WATER and THREE BILLBOARDS, with the former being an unusual frontrunner. The Oscars have rarely favoured fantasy, especially a fairy-tale love story, and the latter being very prescient with the #MeToo movement but has been subject to some controversy over its racial politics.
It would not be the Oscars without some surprises. Paul Thomas Anderson’s PHANTOM THREAD (2017) had received little attention outside of Daniel Day Lewis’s performance but has racked up six Oscar nominations including a Best Director and Best Picture nomination. While it is unlikely to unseat any of the already predicted winners, this does raise the profile of a film that has mostly flown under the radar. Another surprise was the underperformance of THE POST (2017), a film that Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks reportedly rushed into production as they felt it was a story that needed to be told now. The film looked like it would dominate the awards season. But after receiving no nominations at the BAFTAS it has only received two Oscar nominations: Streep for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and Best Picture. So despite the anti-Trump message, it has failed to connect with voters. Other films that received little to no nominations were WONDER WOMAN (2017), THE FLORIDA PROJECT (2017), MOLLY'S GAME (2017) and THE BIG SICK (2017).
However, the key thing that stands out is diversity. The #MeToo movement exploded at the end of last year and heightened the call for gender equality across the film industry. It delighted many when Greta Gerwig became only the fifth female Best Director nominee for her coming-of-age drama LADY BIRD (2017), following Lina Wertmüller for SEVEN BEAUTIES (1977), Jane Campion for THE PIANO (1994), Sofia Coppola for LOST IN TRANSLATION (2004) and a win for Kathryn Bigelow for THE HURT LOCKER (2010). Other key milestones were that Rachel Morrison became the first woman to ever be nominated in the category of Best Cinematography for the film MUDBOUND (2017) and Jordan Peele became the fifth black Best Director nominee for GET OUT (2017), following John Singleton for BOYZ N THE HOOD (1991), Lee Daniels for PRECIOUS (2009), Steve McQueen for 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013) and Barry Jenkins for MOONLIGHT (2016).
It is no surprise that politics has once again taken centre stage at the Oscars. Women-fronted films like LADY BIRD, THE SHAPE OF WATER, THREE BILLBOARDS and I, TONYA (2017) stand out this year, as do films focusing on race like GET OUT and MUDBOUND. Now begins the month of anticipation until we witness who is crowned on Oscar night. While many of the winners already seem clear, the Oscars would not be complete without some surprises on the night.