And the Oscar for best live action short film goes to...who cares?
Look, I'm sorry, but who in the world has seen all the short films and cares enough to vote on them or care for them?
With no offense to those creators, let's get to the juiciest part of the steak. Unlike the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards are not a laughing stock where films like The Martian are nominated for Best Comedy/Musical. To actors and filmmakers, this is Game 7 of the World Series.
I didn't see all the short films, but I saw plenty of other films in the past year that still rock me to this day.
Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Post feature two of the most powerful stories told in film over the past few years and feature dynamic lead performances that demand your respect and attention. Get Out and Call Me By Your Name weren't Oscar worthy, but were timely enough to nudge their way into the still crowded nine film Best Picture group.
If there is any justice in the world, Gary Oldman will need to clear new space on the mantle come Monday morning. Allison Janney should also take home the gold, along with Sam Rockwell.
I don't expect much from politically safe host Jimmy Kimmel, who will light a flare without actually seeing it blast off into the corner of the room. He's just boring and digestible, so thankfully the movies are worthy enough to make up for the lack of live entertainment.
Without further delay, let's break into the predictions. I won't cover every category; only the spots that meant something to me.
Who Should Win-The Post. Steven Spielberg's film is the timeliest tale, with President Donald Trump's need to impose his will on the free press. Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, and a load of power-packed actors carry the story of the Pentagon Papers and how the Washington Post had the courage to put freedom of the press and the knowledge of the people over government security and secrets. You'll leave this film enlivened and empowered.
Who Will Win-The Shape of Water. Guillermo del Toro's fantasy about a mute janitor falling in love with a government imprisoned amphibian is cinematic as it gets in Hollywood-and a well-executed film that sweeps you off your feet. Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer are good, but Michael Shannon and the Oscar nominated Richard Jenkins are marvelous. If this film wins, it's a win for the true DNA of the make-believe business.
Who Should and Will Win-Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. You can't take your eyes off Mildred Hayes, and McDormand holds nothing back in the performance. She shows it all in nearly every scene. You'll follow her avenging mother anywhere for two hours and some of what she does isn't even lawful. An all-encompassing performance.
Who Should and Will Win-Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour. The moment this film was screened, every critic could agree on one thing: Oldman was going to be nominated. A day later, you knew he should win. There are some awards that are won in October instead of March. This is one of them. Oldman made me fall in love with Winston Churchill all over again, creating a portrayal that should live on for decades without an appeal. If Timothee Chalamet wins for Call Me By Your Name, I'll protest in the streets. Oldman made history sexy again.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Who Should Win: Allison Janney for I, Tonya. It wasn't easy picking Janney over the brilliant Laurie Metcalf, but you won't find a performance that combines dark humor, vindictive behavior, and quiet power like Janney's mother. She belittles the young Tonya Harding from a young age, sipping whiskey on the ice while screaming profanity at her kid. Whether it's chirping at a bird on her shoulder or cutting down anyone standing in her path, Janney's unapologetic mother was a force of nature.
Who Will Win: Metcalf for Lady Bird, and who can blame them? Let's be honest. Metcalf's brutally honest mother wasn't a spring angel either, and her interactions with Saoirse Ronan's Christine are as relatable as it gets between an aging mother and her college bound daughter. There's menace and judgment in her words, but we all know deep down that her mother loves her girl too much. She just can't process it correctly.
Who Should Win: Steven Spielberg for...oh wait, he wasn't nominated for The Post. What a steaming pile of nonsense, because please name me another director who could have pulled off that film in a year and be so diabolical. Who should win among the nominated? It's del Toro. If anyone in the town tried to make a movie about a mute woman falling in love with a dangerous fish, it would have been dreadful. He did something few could even dream of: create true romance with an outrageous concept.
Who Will Win: Guillermo del Toro. Once again, I'm feeling a beatdown from The Shape of Water on Sunday.
I wouldn't be mad if Christopher Nolan took home the award, because his unconventional Dunkirk was so polarizing and still underappreciated.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Who Should Win: Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon for The Big Sick. Comedy is extremely hard to write and even harder to be recognized for these days. Nanjiani and Gordon told their true story in a relentlessly funny way and added a beating heart to the center of it. I can watch this movie any day of the week and appreciate it more.
Who Will Win: Guillemoro del Toro and Vanessa Taylor for The Shape of Water. Once again, when you create a story and make it this imaginary and original, it's hard to be ignored. The Academy could restore some dignity with some Shape of Water adoration. It's a timeless tale.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Who Should Win: Aaron Sorkin for Molly's Game. When it comes to rapid fire dialogue laced with acerbic tones, Sorkin can't be beat. Molly Bloom's tale was the perfect seasoning for his cooking skills, allowing him to talk fast and entertain. He writes dialogue that actors adore, because it lifts their talent or unveils it for perfect display. You leave the story satisfied yet wanting more.
Who Will Win: James Ivory for Call Me By Your Name. This will be the Academy's consolation prize for an indie that did well on the awards circuit. As mediocre as Armie Hammer and overrated as Chalamet's work is, the script had its moments, including a powerful monologue for Michael Stahlbarg's embattled dad. It's a complete Oscar move to give it to Ivory for this self-indulgent script.
I won't list every category out and bore you away from your night. Dunkirk deserves the sound awards and Blade Runner: 2049 has the visual effects, production design, and cinematography down. I loved the Hans Zimmer score in Dunkirk, but adored Jonny Greenwood's work in Phantom Thread. Last Men in Aleppo still won't let me go weeks later, and Loveless kicked me in the stomach emotionally without trying too hard. I couldn't care less about Best Song, but I would like to see Phantom Thread win for Costume Design and Darkest Hour for makeup due to Oldman's Churchill alone.
2017 was an outstanding year in film. Love or hate the nominees, but a look at Best Picture shows a versatility and disparity that was missing in recent years. 2016 was rather weak overall, so this past year rescued the movies in a lot of ways. Before we debate the Best Picture chances for Black Panther, let's celebrate a great year in film.
Seriously, though, what about Spielberg for The Post?!?