The 90th Academy Awards will be taking place this Sunday at 5PM PST and we couldn’t be more excited to see how this year will play out. Being lovers of film, we have serious opinions about this years nominations and feel as though we should share opinions with the world. Being a company that makes films, we know all of our opinions are that of fact and feel as though we should share these facts with the world. For each category, we have chosen what we feel should win and a dark horse choice that we feel would be a great underdog win. So give it a read and let us know which picks you agree with or disagree with.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Pick: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Naturally, I gravitated towards Sam Rockwell as a winner because I feel as though he not only is underrated and deserves more attention, but also clearly hates playing Sam Rockwell. I feel there’s definitely a group of actors that pretty much just play themselves (which is cool), but Rockwell looks like he purposefully tries to find interesting characters to inhabit. He’s a very interesting cross between a character actor and a leading man because he steals the show in a good percentage of movies he’s supporting in. This goes the same for Three Billboards. If Frances McDormand wasn’t doing the best performance of her recent career, I would say he stole the show here, but really it’s a tug of war that I think Frances barely wins. In this film, he takes on the very difficult task of playing a character that the audience shouldn’t like, and Rockwell embraces it.
Dark Horse: Richard Jenkins for Shape of Water
Richard Jenkins is one of those actors that always catches me off guard. He looks like just an everyday-person, but his acting proves that there is much more going on. He can be scary, funny, serious, or all the above at once. He really doesn’t have a type and every movie continues to build a library of different characters he can play. In Shape of Water, he plays a lonely gay artist who shares an apartment unit with the main character, Elisa. A straight person playing a gay person is a difficult task for an actor/actress because they might be tempted to simply play a caricature of what they think being gay looks like (a lot of movies/shows makes this mistake and end up with artificial, non-believable characters). Richard Jenkins acts natural and doesn’t draw attention to himself as a gay character, but just as a character.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Pick: Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird
It’s not surprising that Metcalf is a mother because she plays a believable and noteworthy one. Metcalf plays the “trying-her-best” mother that feels like a real representation of the relationship between many mothers and daughters. I think the opening scene really sets the tone for her character. The way her head is tilted to the side and she never takes her eyes off the road really show the type of person she is: she’s a worrisome mother that seems more interested in sheltering her daughter than caring for her daughter. I think that is an extremely nuanced, but common type of mother/daughter relationship, and Laurie communicates that to the audience immediately.
Dark Horse: Allison Janney for I, Tonya
Continuing the theme of mother/daughter relationships, we have Allison Janney’s character. She is a “knows-best” mother that isn’t far off from the dynamic between mother/daughter in Lady Bird. Allison Janney’s character cares enough about her daughter having a good life, but she isn’t very caring. What’s amazing about her performance is her eyes. It almost looks like she’s done something to suck the soul out from behind them because she looks and feels incredibly cold throughout this film.
Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Pick: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour
I don’t think Darkest Hour was a crazy-good movie or anything, but he melted into the role and made me forget I was watching a Gary Oldman film. And that’s really what you want in an actor. Moving on.
Dark Horse: Timothee Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name
I know this kid had been in other movies, but he really broke out this year with Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name. Chalamet gives his characters a nuance that is unique to them. He plays (kinda) the same character in both movies: a teenage boy growing up and looking for love, and he plays these two characters completely different and keeps them true to their stories. I feel like any aspiring actor should take note of his work because you can tell he isn’t scared to go for it. A lot of bad acting stems from timidness, but you can tell he takes on a role without fear of failure. He is comfortable in his acting, and that’s what makes his performance feel real.
Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Pick: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards OUtside Ebbing, Missiouri
Frances McDormand is such an approachable and relatable actress (probably because she is in real life). Throughout her filmography, she has managed to really channel the americana/small town spirit from movies like Blood Simple to Fargo, and now this. Her performance is great because she still plays the small town woman, but this small town woman is pissssed off. Her character is a culmination of feelings a lot of people are having right now: I’m done with this. Frances McDormand not only acts this part but also looks this part. I like to think she told the makeup artists to get lost every morning because she looks like a real, distraught mother throughout this entire movie. I cannot say enough how believable she was as a pissed off mother in this film. The way she walk, talked, or just simply held her face felt incredibly natural and on point.
Dark Horse: Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird
Very similar to Chalamet, Saoirse plays all of her characters so differently with a carefully crafted nuance that can only be attributed to skill and talent. In Lady Bird, Ronan masterfully portrays a high school kid coming to grips with the reality that life never really goes as planned. With how believable her performance was, I feel like Ronan began to realize this harsh reality during filming as well.
Best Original Screenplay:
Pick: Jordan Peele for Get Out
The whole screenplay is a skillfully interwoven, labyrinth of honesty, story, and jokes that stick with you and elicit repeated viewing. John Truby (Author of Anatomy of a Screenplay) writes about the idea of a story being told so well that it becomes a never-ending story, a story that people want to experience over and over again. Get Out achieves this honor through it’s writing that evolves with every viewing.
Dark Horse: Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird
A common irritation for me during “coming of age” films happens whenever the young characters open their mouths. It makes sense that the youthful characters in film usually don’t sound organic because their dialogue was written by someone not in their youth. Yet, Lady Bird avoids this misstep with characters who are nuanced enough to feel true, and honest enough to feel real. Greta takes the seemingly mundane story of a girl growing up at a catholic school, and creates a movie that any person can find meaning from. That’s why I think this movie elicits an oscar. Lady Bird says so much about family, religion, love, and growing up, without actually saying anything about those topics.
Pick: Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk
The production process of this film took so many risks and tried so many new things that I’m not sure if Nolan is a director or a war general. Nolan wanted to minimize the amount of CGI used (classic Nolan) and opted for more practical effects which everyone knows is the harder way to make a movie. Practical effects mean you have to focus on timing, choreography, and detail. All of which would be immensely easier to worry about in post. But Chris decided to do it live. These are but some of the crazy ideas that they decided to run with on this shoot that were the harder (but better) way to make this movie: 1.) Using real warships (“Yeah, back to one with the warship!”) 2.) Mounting an IMAX camera on an old war plane 3.) Using an IMAX camera like a hand-held camera 4.) Walking that hand-held IMAX camera into an ocean 5.) Opting for the real (cold and dreary) Dunkirk beach, as opposed to a nice beach in let’s say, California 6). Shooting with natural lighting. He put all he had in this film and it shows. With all that said, Dunkirk was a film that didn’t really have a main character or a linear timeline, and managed for the audience to still connect with the film. That is directing a film. He has complete control of every frame and deserves this award.
Dark Horse: Jordan Peele for Get Out
Jordan Peele is a tactful and natural storyteller, which makes him an amazing director. This movie has layers...like a lot of layers. And it never really stops. There was so much thought put into every single frame and sound bite of this film that only a seasoned director would even think of. Jordan Peele created a movie that is greater as a whole than as a sum of its parts. This movie radiates Jordan Peele and not in a stylized way (like a Wes Anderson way). You can tell he was making decisions not because they “looked cool” or “created a great moment.” He made decision based on what the movie needed and what made the movie better, using narrative techniques. Nothing that was shown or heard during this film was an accident. A director is a storyteller first, and a storyteller needs to understand things that go beyond plot, character, and dialogue. A director needs to be capitalizing on symbolism, metaphor, dramatic irony, foreshadowing, motifs, etc. Jordan Peele should win because he showed me what good directing looks like.
Pick: Three Billboards outside ebbing, missouri
To be honest, I picked this one because I have a very special place in my heart for prettttttttttyyyyy much everyone in and behind this movie. The director, Martin McDonagh, is a favorite of mine with such an interesting filmography. This is his third movie and I bet you couldn’t guess what his first two movies were about. OK, if you guessed that one was about a suicidal hitman running around a small town in Belgium and the other was about a screenwriter who gets mixed up with the mob because of a Shih Tzu, then I would be impressed. Three Billboards is such a difficult (but necessary) film to make and McDonagh didn’t pull any punches, and that’s why I like him as a filmmaker. He is brutal and brutally honest with his characters, but still manages to keep it funny. All of his films, including this one have refreshing and interesting stories. I never know how it’s going to end, and when it does end, I want to continue watching these characters on screen.
Dark Horse: Get Out
I really want Get Out to win because it’s such an underdog Oscar film: a horror movie, directed AND written by a first time black director. The movie is not only good, but it’s also such a triumph for filmmaking in general: 1.) Jordan Peele had never directed anything before. 2.) The premise of the film must have looked pretty risky on paper, but he executed the idea to the best version I think it could be. 3.) It proved that the best movies can be more than just movies when they are made for a reason. I feel like people tend to look at art and entertainment as mutually exclusive (to an extent, I think that is true most of the time when it comes to movies nowadays) but this movie was equal parts artistic (this movie bleeds Jordan Peele) and equal parts entertaining (because they need to get our attention somehow) without being a mess.
By Patrick Murphy