Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Our Academy Award Winner Predictions for the 2017 Films

Comments by Ken Burke

 Here’s the 7th annual Oscar-predictions-posting from Two Guys in the Dark (with some repeated intro statements from past postings because certain situations don’t change much from year to year, but at least I’m admitting my self-plagiarization), although I’ll (Ken Burke, the “public face” of Two Guys reviews for the present—or Buzz Lightyear’s “infinity and beyond,” as the case may be with my good friend but so-far-silent-partner, Pat Craig) admit some of my “insightful predictions” are just wild speculations based on industry gossip (or even less than that).  All sorts of people have opinions as to who should win these upcoming Oscars—as opposed to predicting who will win (I do both in the lists below)—so your opinions are just as valid as mine, although if you’re trying to win money in an Oscar pool you might want to consult industry-insider-sources such as Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and/or Entertainment Weekly (issue of Feb. 23/Mar. 2, 2018, pp. 82-85 or here [although you’ll need to buy the issue one way or another to see all of their predictions because you must be a subscriber to get to this website; if you do go to this site digitally you may land on a page where you have to choose the Oscar issue or it will already be chosen for you, but once you’re on it you’ll have to scroll through that issue with the right-hand arrow to get to the “Who Will Win? double-page-spread on p. 82, followed by a second double-page-spread—tedious, I know, but each page display doesn’t seem to have a separate URL]).  However, you might find the Metacritic tally of which films have actually won awards or been nominated to be a more-tangible-indicator but only for the major categories not the many technical or more-obscure-areas not covered in their survey (further, Metacritic also charts various critics’ opinions with often little overlap on how Oscar voters might choose so tread carefully with the opinions you get from we ”learned” critics because our tastes are all over the movie map, no matter how it's gerrymandered).

 In consideration of all of the above, here are my predictions and preferences in the 24 competitive categories (with winners and other comments to be added soon after the ceremony).  Color coding key: red = my prediction, green = my preference of the nominees (plus a few other greenies in the additional remarks that are my real preferences but didn’t make the final list of Oscar contenders through some oversight by the Academy, whose members just don’t always see the wisdom of my opinions), red + green = prediction and preference (gold + bold at a later date = WINNER!).  In deference to my waning sanity and a desire to not clutter up this posting more than necessary I’ll skip my usual identification of directors, year of release, and date of a Two Guys review after most of the titles listed below, but you can see our Summary of Reviews to find that info if you like (if we’ve posted a review for a specific title after our debut in late 2011)—for nominees in many of the categories but not so much in Animated, Documentary, and Foreign Language features (with a couple of screenings a week I don’t claim to see everything that’s released, even when available) or any of this year’s Shorts—however, please note you do have to scroll through the various star clusters (each one alphabetized) in the Summary to find what you’re looking for so it does take a little time.  (But the results will certainly be well worth it; where else would you find such brilliance?)

3/5/18—This may be my best prediction year ever in that I got 22 of 24 correct, a whopping 92% (I'm usually somewhere in the 67% range) which puts me ahead of Mick LaSalle from my local San Francisco Chronicle and Scott Feinberg of the Hollywood Reporter each with 21 (88%)Christopher Tapley of Variety with 20 (83%).  I'd have had even one more in my tally had I stayed with my original thought of Feinberg's choice for Documentary Short instead of switching to Tapley's, but I hadn't seen any of the nominees anyway so it was mostly a crap-shoot there.  My other miss was for Live Action Short (I also didn't see these nominees), but no one I consulted got that right either. 

Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name (review posted on January 4, 2018)

Darkest Hour (review posted on December 14, 2017)

Dunkirk (review posted on July 27, 2017)

Get Out (review posted on May 11, 2017)

Lady Bird (review posted on November 23 2017)

Phantom Thread (review posted on January 25, 2018)

The Post (review posted on January 18, 2018)

The Shape of Water (review posted on January 4, 2018) WINNER!

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (review posted on December 7, 2017)

 Unless there’s a surprise with the winner here (hopefully, not a repeat of last year’s clumsy shock when La La Land was momentarily—but wrongly—announced as the winner over actual Best Picture Moonlight, with assurances from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences better safeguards are in place this year), it would seem to be a contest between … Water and Three Billboards …, but with this relatively-new-preferential-voting-system unlikely results can happen.  Both of these contenders are marvelous, hard to choose between, although for my personal preference I’m swayed toward Three Billboards … because it masterfully keeps shifting plot directions around hot social topics, resulting in an unlikely—but still quite plausible—semi-resolution (despite the possible growing backlash against the perception of Sam Rockwell’s racist character’s too-quick-transformation toward healing, as if the complainers are dismissing such an ongoing-character-turn found in popular fiction from at least the perennial-favorite-transformation of skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge—with strong biases even against most members of his own ethnicity—in Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol [1843] to the Best Actor Oscar-winning-role of racist Police Chief Gillispie [Rod Steiger] showing progressive insights in 1967’s Best Picture, In the Heat of the Night), while The Shape …, despite its marvelous atmosphere, unique concepts, and gorgeous imagery seems to me to be a bit predictable once all the plot points have fallen into place.

 Besides, if you check my 2017 Top 10 list you’ll find I have … Three Billboards at #2 for the year (scoring one of my infrequent 4½ star-ratings) while I’ve got … Water at #4 (behind Lucky), so if my own rankings mean anything, then Three Billboards … has to be my choice; other critics—if their influence has any impact either—are collectively higher on Lady Bird, offering a remarkable level of 99% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes (of 245 noted, with only 2 outlying-nay-sayers).  The bottom-line here, though, may be Three Billboards … is just a bit too raw (and honest) in its hatred (McDormand’s character’s never very likable) and racist aspects while … Water ultimately offers a healing option against such cruelty with a well-resolved interspecies (implying interracial?) romance.

 However, if yours truly were the only one making this big Oscar decision, then I'd gladly give the gold statuette to Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman; a review in our October 26, 2017 posting), winner of my extremely-rare-5 star-rating as it questions the circumstances of Vincent van Gogh’s death by the intriguingyet laboriousprocess involving the creation of about 65,000 oil paintings done in his distinctive style as this mystery-inspired-inquiry dramatizes the questions of a curious character's probing into the artist's untimely demise (at least the film did get a nomination for Best Animated Feature).  Continuing on with my unacknowledged-emperor-status, I’d create some heresy by dumping the Academy’s choices (all excellent, nevertheless) of Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Get Out, and Phantom Thread to be replaced (in addition to Loving Vincent and Lucky [John Carroll Lynch; review in our October 19, 2017 posting]) by I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie; review in our January 18, 2018 posting), The Big Sick (Michael Showalter; review in our July 13, 2017 posting), and (oddest choice of all my preferences, I’m sure) Ghost Story (David Lowry; review in our July 27, 2017 posting), but that’s about par for my usual semi-overlap with official Best Picture Oscar nominations.  However, if the Oscar honchos ever start taking directives from me for nominations their awards broadcast will likely face even more ratings challenges than it already does when huge-ticket-items such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman, and others above the $300 million domestic (U.S.-Canada) grosses achievement-line have no standing among the Academy’s most-coveted-categories.  I’m not saying these movies deserve the top honors going to more complexly-conceived, lingering-rumination films, but the absence of big-box-office-champs in contests for the notably-celebrated-prizes forces the Academy to draw massive TV viewers in with the presence of top-star-presenters rather than with interest among the more aesthetically-minded about whom the most-lauded-winners will be; if you’d put even more of my esoteric choices within the finalists’ lists I doubt that mainstream audiences would respond as the Academy desperately hopes they might.*

*Here’s a 7:56 video from Vanity Fair exploring the situations and marketing strategies going into the Best Picture victory march (of course it looks best if you go to full screen mode [little box icon in the lower right of the video image] in order to get away from all of the visual distraction of the site).


 Christopher Nolan

Get Out, Jordan Peele

Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig

Phantom Thread
 Paul Thomas Anderson

The Shape of Water, 
 Guillermo del Toro  WINNER!

 This category could get a bit dicey too (especially after the fact, in our ugly-social media-troll-wars, if the sociopolitical-uplift of the encouraging situation of non-White-male nominees Peele, Gerwig, and del Toro gets deflated by one of the honky men winning, as is so often the Oscars result), but, focusing just on nominee probabilities, with Three Billboards … helmsman Martin McDonagh not in the race (I’d have taken him over Anderson, but, again, who cares what I think?) if Three Billboards … takes Best Picture there would be another one of those more-usual-in-recent-years-than-in-previous-times-splits between Best Picture and Best Director winners, with my prediction del Toro will triumph here to balance out Three Billboards … as Best Picture. (Of course, if … Water or any of the other nominated directors’ films wins the top prize then we’re back to what used to be expected-picture + director-harmony.)  However, in generally keeping with my personal Top 10 rankings I’d have to offer Kobiela and Welchman as nominees (and winners) for Loving Vincent, as well as McDonagh among the nominees, which would push Gerwig and Peele off my final choices, with a dump of Anderson as well in place of Darren Aronofsky for mother!, a bizarre film but one I think displays some masterful choices in directing.  I certainly have high respect for those 3 Oscar finalists I’d bump off in place of my options, but, truly, I feel the acting and scriptwriting are even stronger in their films, although when push comes to shove I wouldn’t be handing out awards to any of them in those categories either.  When there’s such an abundance of talent to decide among, it’s shameful so many brilliant accomplishments get left by the wayside when the actual Oscar winners are chosen, but hopefully at this level there truly is some satisfaction at just getting nominated or at least winning other accolades from various festivals, critics’ groups, and awards organizations.  While there’s no guarantee of a parallel between the Directors Guild of America winner (del Toro) and the Oscar voters (all 8,000+ of them, not that many of whom are in their Directors Branch but everyone in the Academy has input for the winner once the appropriate Oscar group has picked its nominees), the likelihood of the former influencing the latter is quite high, with Guillermo benefiting from the overlap, likely making his way to the acceptance-podium (his win in this category at the Golden Globes doesn’t hurt either, along with what seems to be an existing embrace in Hollywood).  Whoever takes this Oscar will be a first-timer, as all the nominees are new to this category (although Nolan has had 3 previous chances as producer or screenwriter, del Toro had one as a screenwriter).

Actor in a Leading Role

Timothée Chalamet, 
 Call  Me By Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis, 
 Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Gary Oldman, 
 Darkest  Hour WINNER!

Denzel Washington, 
 Roman J. Israel, Esq.

 If there’s any category heading for a slam-dunk this year, I have to believe it’s this one with Oldman, who has been nominated before for a Best Actor Oscar (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)—a role which did get him a good number of other wins and nominations—but hasn’t taken an Academy prize yet, despite a career that’s seen him in roles as varied as Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK) and a famous vampire (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), although winning the Golden Globe this year for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama (along with a wealth of other wins/nominations for his work in Darkest Hour) has certainly raised his options for an Oscar win here, especially after taking the same prize from the Screen Actors Guild, with so many overlapping memberships in SAG and the Academy (still the largest group of voters within the Oscar-choosers).  Certainly, there’ll be some supposed (although I hope he’s not really bowing out just yet) retirement-honoring-votes for Day-Lewis, but he’s already won 3 times (My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown, There Will Be Blood, Lincoln) so I still see the pendulum swinging easily to Oldman’s magnificent embodiment of Winston Churchill in early 1940 when the newly-installed British Prime Minister faced the almost-insurmountable-task of rallying his country against the ready-to-invade-Nazi-hoards rather than accepting a peace treaty, which would surely have gone to Hitler’s advantage anyway no matter what the official terms might have been on paper.  I’d have put the late Harry Dean Stanton in for his career-finale in Lucky, thereby knocking out Chalamet, but this resourceful young man will likely get many other chances in his upcoming years.

Actress in a Leading Role

Sally Hawkins, 
 The Shape of Water

Frances McDormand, 
 Three Billboards Outside  Ebbing, Missouri 

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Meryl Streep, The Post

 (There’s getting to be more of a trend toward referring to this category as something like Lead Performance by a Female Actor in order to avoid implications of “Actress” as a diminutive term, but I’ll follow the Academy’s [and other awards groups’] terminology just for immediate clarity.)  Early buzz among these contenders was trending toward Hawkins but McDormand’s Golden Globe win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama has helped her candidacy, especially because she’s also taken a good number of other prizes or nominations for this role plus respect for her previous Oscar win for Best Actress (Fargo [1996]) has been long enough ago there's little hesitation to honor her once againHawkins was wonderful as well, having to confine herself for most of her performance to facial or body language as a mute cleaning woman in a secret government facility who falls in love with a captive Amazonian amphibian-humanoid creature, but the intensity McDormand brings as a mother demanding local police make better progress in capturing the rapist-murderer of her daughter is a monument to true fury, something seemingly inspired by eons-old-theatre in Greek tragedies.  The other nominees are splendid as well: Robbie does a marvelous job of creating a sense of concern for the dashed-Olympic-hopes and resulting life of Tonya Harding; Ronan captures the wandering aimlessness of a disengaged high-schooler desperate for a more fulfilling life; Streep plays against her usual imposing-on-screen-presence as Katharine Graham, the not-quite-ready-for-scandal-owner of The Washington Post during a 1971 crisis over publishing the Pentagon Papers, but given she’s also won 3 Oscars (Best Actress for The Iron Lady, Sophie’s Choice; Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer) along with 20 other Oscar nominations it’s doubtful she’ll win again unless she finds some role bringing her to the pinnacle of human experience as she displayed in Sophie’s Choice, although ongoing nominations for her already-record-setting-tally are quite likely assured.  

 As for my oddball tastes, much as I appreciated their performances, I’d nix Robbie and Ronan in favor of a couple of very-unlikely-choices (that still worked wonderfully for me): Kate Winslet in Wonder Wheel* and Jennifer Lawrence in the generally-dismissed mother! even though neither of these films were critical nor audience favorites (Wonder … made only $11.4 million worldwide, got 31% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, a 45% average score at Metacritic; mother! did considerably better at the box-office with a $44.5 million global take, as well as with the critics: RT 69%, MC a surprisingly-high for them 75% but it's lacking compared to the actual nominees’ films).

*I realize the problematic aspect of noting a film by Woody Allen (accused by daughter Dylan Farrow of molesting her as a young child but denied by him) in light of the ongoing controversies about repulsive male behavior within the Hollywood film community, so if you’d like a detailed discussion on art and controversy concerning Allen here's one from NY Times film critic A.O. Scott.

Actor In A Supporting Role

Willem Dafoe, 
 The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson, Three  Billboards Outside  Ebbing, Missouri

Richard Jenkins, 
 The Shape of Water

Christopher Plummer, All  the Money in the World

Sam Rockwell, Three  Billboards Outside  Ebbing, Missouri 

 Rockwell’s my personal favorite here (although having his co-star, Harrelson, also nominated could draw some votes away from him, along with that emerging backlash against his disgustingly-racist-character who begins to renounce his grotesque ways, even though that’s part of the film’s intention); however, despite Rockwell’s win at the Golden Globes in this category, much of what I read previously indicated favoritism for Dafoe, with The Florida Project getting a lot of critical acclaim, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor from my local San Francisco Film Critics Circle (even though they don’t have the insight to include me among their ranks, the snobs).  Neither Rockwell nor Dafoe have ever won an Oscar so how the sympathy vote might shake out is hard to predict securely.  As best as I can ascertain, the other 3 don’t likely stand a chance against the 2 primary contenders, but if sympathy carries enough weight in this category it’s possible Plummer might be an upset winner or at least get a lot of attention, given how marvelously he filled in for the disgraced/erased Kevin Spacey in All the Money …  after the latter’s accusations of sexual misconduct made it unlikely for the film to even be released with his presence in it so Plummer redid all of the scenes as J. Paul Getty (another unlikeable billionaire, just like someone now living—occasionally—in Washington, D.C. for a bit over a year) in just a few days, giving no sense he wasn’t the primary choice for the role during the previous production.  If it were up to me, I’d replace Harrelson (good scenes but not that impactful) with Steve Carell in Battle of the Sexes, but the Oscar should easily go to Rockwell, especially with the boost of SAG already honoring his role.

Actress In A Supporting Role

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Allison Janney, I, Tonya


Lesley Manville, 

 Phantom Thread

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, 

 The Shape of Water

 Here again we seem to have an either-or battle for supremacy, with the primary clash emerging from the work of Janney and Metcalf.  Janney got the award for Golden Globe Supporting Actress along with a good number of nominations/wins for this role (plus a backlog of acknowledgement for her TV work); you could offer similar accolades about Metcalf, though, especially her Tony as Best Actress for A Doll’s House, Part 2 on Broadway (2017) and 3 Emmys for Rosanne (yet, Janney’s got 7 Emmys, primarily for “The West Wing”) so this to me is an especially tight race, although Janney’s win with the SAG voters may well indicate the direction of this outcome.  Were it up to me, I’d eliminate Manville and Spencer (quite good in their roles, for sure, but just not my finalists) in order to include Hong Chau as Ngoc Lan Tran, the Vietnamese political activist in the generally-forgotten Downsizing and Betty Gabriel as Georgina, one of the essentially-biracial-zombies in Get Out, having to emote in almost the same restrictive manner as Sally Hawkins in that Gabriel’s character is a Black maid's body housing the consciousness of the rich, manipulative White family’s grandmother, Marianne Armitage, in Peele’s bizarre, frightening satire of contemporary race relations.  No matter how you stack up the nominees, though, for me Janney’s portrayal of Tonya Harding’s icy mother is a performance that transcends all the rest, including Metcalf’s also-stern (but not nearly as extreme) Mom attempting to find any sense of common ground with her rebellious daughter.  In that I still haven’t seen Mudbound, I can’t really comment on it, so all I can say is my personal top 5 Supporting Actresses also include Holly Hunter from The Big Sick as yet another intense, difficult mother (Do some of our screenwriters need therapy sessions?) so whether Chau, Gabriel, or Hunter would persevere given Bilge’s to-me-so-far-unknown-impact is not something I can resolve yet (but I do hope to see Mudbound at some point).

Writing—Original Screenplay

The Big Sick, 
 Emily V. Gordon and 
 Kumail  Nanjiani

Get Out, Jordan  Peele 

Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig

The Shape of Water, 
 Guillermo del Toro and  Vanessa Taylor

Three Billboards Outside  Ebbing, Missouri, 
 Martin McDonagh

 I would have included I, Tonya in this group, at the expense of, I suppose, … Lady Bird (despite its successful aspects of witty dialogue and semi-tragic-scenes),* only because there are extraordinary options available in this category, making it hard to eliminate any, but if 5’s the limit then something—no matter how good—has to go.  Either of the Best Screenplay categories is a bit tougher to call than many others because what’s submitted to be shot doesn’t always come out that way.  (I’m in the process of reading some interviews with Martin Scorsese where he acknowledges that, despite the solid scripts available to him in his various notable films, he still gave his seasoned thespians—or even if they were young and emerging [like him], as with Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro in Mean Streets—opportunities to improvise upon the written word [one notable case is De Niro’s famous “You talkin’ to me?” soliloquy in Taxi Driver].)  So, within the initial nomination period do the members of the Oscar Academy’s Screenwriters Branch seek out the actual written original on which to cast their ballots or do they rely upon what appears in the final on-screen-version?  If it’s the latter, does this award fully belong to the scriptwriters or do the actors have a right to share in its glory?  Whatever their thought-process, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) chose Get Out for this honor (while Golden Globe voters took Three Billboards …, but they muck it up a bit by also lumping in the adapted scripts although the only one they included was Molly’s Game), which could be prophetic because I’m sure the Academy wants Get Out to come away with something notable** (Rightly so!  It's a bold, impactful picture.) but I don’t really see it taking anything else in its 4 other races, so I think there may be some quiet encouragement to line up for it behind this award, even as I find The Shape of Water rightly best of the bunch in its unique collection of ideas and dialogue.

*Some argue Best Picture, Best Director, and (one of the varietiesOriginal or Adaptedof) Best Screenplay should conceptually go together, but I believe each of these awards stands alone, despite there being reasonable-historical-connections of frequent convergence-wins among them.

**Of course, such a crass stance toward incidental-decision-making in lieu of judging on pure artistry would be like Olympics judges purposely evening up the medal-distribution among countries or being swayed more by the ice skaters’ fancy sparkling costumes instead of their skillful performances, but I’m convinced it happens all the time within the realm of these Oscars' annual votes.  If anyone’s willing to offer convincing arguments sentimentality wasn’t the deciding factor in Art Carney’s win for Harry and Tonto over Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II for 1974’s Best Actor or that Pacino’s 1992 Best Actor honor for Scent of a Woman wasn’t compensation-recognition for a worthy-overlooked-actor instead of choosing the astounding work of Denzel Washington in Malcolm X, I’ll buy the first round of drinks as part of the discussion (of course you’ll have to come to Hayward, CA for such a conversation).  However, if you even hope to extend that argument as to why How Green Was My Valley (John Ford) was truly 1941’s Best Picture over Citizen Kane (Orson Welles), you’ll have to buy at least one round to even get me in the room.

Writing—Adapted Screenplay

Call Me By Your  Name, James Ivory


The Disaster Artist, 
 Scott Neustadter and 
 Michael H. Weber

Logan, Scott Frank, James Mangold, 
Michael Green

Molly’s Game, 
 Aaron Sorkin

Mudbound, Virgil 
 Williams and Dee Rees

 I’m basically in agreement with the nominees for this category, taking the Academy’s word on Mudbound, as there weren’t as many adapted screenplays catching my attention as do the Original ones.  I think any initial interest in The Disaster Artist, Molly’s Game, and Logan have mostly cooled by now, so unless Mudbound’s got more going for it than I’m aware of, I’ll assume this will be the one place for Call Me By Your Name to shine, especially because it was being lauded so loudly some weeks ago when it was just bursting onto the scene (deservedly so, given it’s one of the few mainstream films ever to celebrate homosexual love without melodramatic consequences, but given Moonlight’s win [in spite of the silly situation of an incorrect announcement at last year’s Oscar broadcast]) I doubt there’s much impetus to push this theme again so soon (despite its validity), so I’d see a win here as a vote for achievement not an award for an award’s sake.  Further, regarding this category, given it’s an area I’ve taught for several years at Mills College (Oakland, CA) I always have to wonder if the Oscar voters (even at the Branch level where the nominations originate) really look carefully into the original work from which an adapted script emerges to see how one medium was transformed into another or do they confine themselves to the best scripts (based entirely on on-screen-presence) that just happen to be adapted?  Even if the scriptwriters make such efforts during the preliminary decisions I can’t believe the Academy membership as a whole makes such an investment into this difficult process, so what ends up being “Best” is likely support of a superior script that happens to come from another source rather than the best result of laboriously transforming a published (usually) medium’s story into a cinematic form worthy of recognition.  I must admit, beyond a few classics such as The Grapes of Wrath, I don’t explore the original material that inspires this category either (I react to what I see on screen as the final result), but I have to wonder—year after year—what it is the Oscar voters actually do in this circumstance.

 For most of the rest of the categories below I either have marginal interest in the winners (But all hail to them anyway!) or it’s hard to name a favorite (Let alone make a prediction!) when you’ve not seen all of the contenders, so if you find no further green in some areas below it’s because I’m not in a position to make an informed or embraced choice.  For example, in the Foreign Language Film group I’ve seen only The Insult and The Square, both excellent films, but different as day and night: the former’s a powerful sociopolitical drama about hostilities in the Middle East, the latter’s an esoteric exploration into the basic concept of aesthetics and how the world of art is impacted by the more sociopolitical-commercialized cultures surrounding it.  So, one’s hard-hitting and difficult to resolve, the other’s more abstracted, more contemplative, with it hard for me to make a choice between them especially having no awareness of what value may lie with the other 3, so I just have to make an educated guess as to the winner.  The only other category that matters much to me is Animated Feature Film where I put my support with Loving Vincent but I’m also a big fan of Coco, which I’d be shocked if it’s not the winner given all the enormous accolades it’s already achieved.*

*For you Oscar-trivia-buffs, I encourage a visit to this site for an enormous dose of that sort of info.

Foreign Language Film                                             Documentary Feature

A Fantastic Woman, Chile WINNER!                          Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
The Insult, Lebanon                                                    Faces Places
Loveless, Russia                                                         Icarus WINNER!
On Body and Soul, Hungary                                       Last Man in Aleppo
The Square, Sweden                                                  Strong Island

Cinematography                                                       Film Editing

Blade Runner 2049 
WINNER!                                     Baby Driver
Darkest Hour                                                               Dunkirk WINNER!
Dunkirk                                                                        I, Tonya
Mudbound                                                                  The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water                                                    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Animated Feature Film                                             Animated Short Film

The Boss Baby                                                            
Dear Basketball 
The Breadwinner                                                         Garden Party
Coco WINNER!                                                           Lou
Ferdinand                                                                    Negative Space
Loving Vincent                                                            Revolting Rhymes

Documentary Short Film                                           Live Action Short Film

Edith and Eddie                                                           
DeKalb Elementary
Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405 WINNER!            The Eleven O’Clock
Heroin(e)                                                                      My Nephew Emmett
Knife Skills                                                                   The Silent Child WINNER!
Traffic Stop                                                                  Watu Wote/All of Us

Production Design                                                     Visual Effects

Beauty and the Beast                                                   Blade Runner 2049 
Blade Runner 2049                                                      Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Darkest Hour                                                                Kong: Skull Island
Dunkirk                                                                         Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Shape of Water WINNER!                                     War for the Planet of the Apes

 What do these next 2 categories even mean as distinct from each other?  I’m sure the experts who nominated them can make the proper differentiation but for the rest of us (including most of the Oscar voters), this is really like staring into a dark hole hoping to find some light (or some sound) to help make better sense of these industry-specific-differences, but Dunkirk's gotten a lot of support.

Sound Editing                                                             Sound Mixing

Baby Driver                                                                  
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049                                                      Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk WINNER!                                                        Dunkirk WINNER!
The Shape of Water                                                     The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi                                              Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Costume Design                                                         Makeup And Hairstyling

Beauty and the Beast                                                   Darkest Hour 
Darkest Hour                                                                Victoria & Abdul
Phantom Thread WINNER!                                          Wonder
The Shape of Water
Victoria & Abdul

 This Original Song category is one that carries a bit more interest for me, having seen all but the Mudbound entry.  I’m truly moved by “Remember Me” (which should easily be the winner) but even more so personally by “This is Me,” so unless “Mighty River” is a real showstopper I think “Remember Me” will likely resonate more with the voters despite the powerful inclusive message of “This Is Me,” with the decision probably coming down to the more romantic of the emotions being stirred here along with a more likely overall embrace of what Coco accomplished at the box-office compared to a notable-but-not-spectacular run for The Greatest Showman.  As far as Original Score goes, I pay so much attention to the visuals and their editing the soundtrack rarely makes much of an impression on me unless it uses songs I'm familiar with so I have no favorite this time.

Original Score                                                           Original Song

Dunkirk                                                                        “Mighty River,” Mudbound
Phantom Thread                                                         “Mystery of Love,” Call Me By Your Name
The Shape of Water WINNER!                                    “Remember Me,” Coco WINNER!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi                                             “Stand Up For Something,” Marshall
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri                 “This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman

 In closing, I’ll note Lady Bird is such a marvelous film but I don’t think it’s going to win anything at the Oscars; however, I’d rather be wrong about that than find it will be completely overlooked.  If the nominations it’s now received don’t translate into any actual awards, though, maybe Gerwig and company will have to use the old Creedence Clearwater Revival tune “Stuck in Lodi Again” (from their 1969 album Green River) forlornly as a temporary theme song, given that the town’s only about 30 miles down US Highway 99 away from Lady Bird’s sad setting of Sacramento while CCR's lyrics are a perfect description of emerging artists who “set out on the road Seekin’ [their[ fame and fortune Lookin’ for a pot of gold [but] Things got bad and things got worse I guess you know the tune [so] Oh Lord, [they're] stuck in Lodi again.”  Therefore, unless Ms. Metcalf is able to pull off what’s now looking like an upset in the Best Supporting Actress category I’ll just wish Ms. Gerwig continued success on both sides of the camera while tossing in this little lyrical lament at to serve as one of my usual Musical Metaphors for what's been reviewed in the current posting but this time dedicated to all those worthy nominees who end their Oscar night with a forced upbeat public smile rather than a golden trophy.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
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*A Google software glitch causes every Two Guys posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to this Summary page; from then forward, though, this link is accurate.

AND … at least until the Oscars for 2017’s releases have been awarded on Sunday, March 4, 2018 we’re also going to include reminders in each posting of very informative links where you can get updated tallies of which 2017 films have been nominated for and/or received various awards and which ones made various individual critic’s Top 10 lists.  You may find the diversity among the various awards competitions and the various critics hard to reconcile at times—not to mention the often-significant-gap between critics’ choices and competitive-award-winners (which pales when compared to the even-more-noticeable-gap between specific award winners and big box-office-grosses you might want to monitor here)—but as that less-than-enthusiastic-patron-of-the-arts, Plato, noted in The Symposium (385-380 BC)—roughly translated, depending on how accurate you wish the actual quote to be—“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” so your choices for success are as valid as any of these others, especially if you offer some rationale for your decisions (unlike many of the awards voters who simply fill out ballots, sometimes for films they’ve never seen).

To save you a little time scrolling through the “various awards” list above, here are the Golden Globe nominees and winners for films and TV from 2017 along with the Oscar nominees and winners for 2017 films.

Please note that to Post a Comment below about our reviews you need to have either a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at if you truly have too much time on your hands you might want to explore some even-longer-and-more-obtuse-than-my-film-reviews—if that even seems possible—academic articles about various cinematic topics at my website,, which could really give you something to talk to me about.)

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.  But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"
—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come.


Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 59,193 (a terrific total still marvelously on the rise, so our thanks to our worldwide readers); below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:


  1. Mr. Burke hit a grand slam in the major categories! Nice work, Ken.

  2. Hi rj, Thanks for your support. I must admit I was a bit surprised myself at well my predictions entered the accuracy zone this year. Ken

  3. Wow Its my pleasure to read your blog post as your blog post has number of amazing horror movies and unfortunately I am horror movies lover and most of the time I Watch movie online. Horror and action movies are my favorite Genre. Here I found some awesome movies Like The shape of water. I add all these movies to my watch list and watch all of these later.

    1. Hi Deepak, Sorry I’ve been so long in getting your comment published and replying to it, but there was some kind of glitch so I wasn’t even notified you’d sent it in. In the future, I’ll go into my Blogspot mailbox once a week to make sure I’m aware of any submitted comments. Thanks for reading my blogs. Ken Burke