The best in film – 2018

So much virtue signalling, so little time. It’s amazing it took this long to get rid of the host for the Oscars ceremony. Even with someone who is fully onboard with team #resist, there is only so much air time for these presenters and carefully selected “winners” to get across the rubber stamped message of coastal politics.

They say these words to a packed house, brimming with applause. And, for much of America, pro or not, this show has become less about movies and more about the obsession of what happened 11/9/2016. It’s not even funny anymore. It’s just a slog.

Having cut the cord last year, I have been living the ala carte life of the big broadcast stations. If its a show I want to see, I rent it for the day, the week or month. The jury is still out on whether we push through the Oscar ceremonies this year. At best, we’ll get a kick out of seeing how many people who were revered in previous years ceremonies are missing due to bad press or are headed for pinstriped pajamas this year. It should be it’s own segment, like the one where we honor those who passed away.

Alright, let’s cut the crap.

Best Picture:
Another great year for movies. Eighth Grade, Roma, A Star Is Born, A Simple Favor, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Isle of Dogs, Chappaquiddick and Black Panther all received the highest rating from CPE. Each film brought the audience exactly what the filmmaker intended.
A Star is Born wins for me, as the film managed to make the most common and overused trope appear to be the relevant story it always will be. The reason the film is so often redone (not always successfully) is because of its premise. There’s always someone on the way up as someone else’s star is shot down.

Of the nominees:
A Star is Born is not going to have a chance against Blackkklansman, The Favourite, Roma and Greenbook. Given the new ranking system, where one can rack up points without actually being the top film, Greenbook has a real shot at it. My guess is they’ll go with the costume drama The Favourite, even with the ribaldry.

Don’t belong:
Well, Bohemian Rhapsody is the obvious one here. We’re all high on the memory of Freddie Mercury. I am pretty sure he’s not real happy with the prospect that Singer could benefit from this average film that trades on his memory and doesn’t do much else accurately.

Best Director:
It has to be mentioned, as much as I don’t care for Wes Anderson’s live material, his work and attention to detail for essentially the same type of story works so much better when he’s animated. Every piece of scenery in Isle of Dogs is a moving work of art. I don’t know how it didn’t become a bigger hit. As good as Bradley Cooper and Alfonso Cuarón are (and they are great), Anderson’s work should have been recognized.

Of the nominees:
Spike Lee might walk away with this as payback for being completely ignored for Do The Right Thing. If most people haven’t complained about being ignored the rest of his career, it’s because nothing else he directed even approached his breakthrough. The Favourite is my backup for this category, for obvious reasons.

Don’t belong:
I could complain about Pawlikowski’s inclusion if I had ever heard of the movie prior to nominations. McKay did as good as one could do covering a someone who covered his tracks better than Danny at the end of The Shining. So much of the film is up to interpretation, it’s hard to give it more than a tip of the cap.

Best Actress:
Aparicio is one of those lightning strikes that should come through and grab the prize. Gaga is wonderful, truly. Just like, Yalitza, the film just seems to capture her in what was really just her life. Elsie Fisher should be mentioned too. Her harrowing portrayal of the most average beautiful human being in Eighth Grade is exceptional in it’s innocence on the verge of being lost.

Of the nominees:
I think Olivia Coleman is the best thing about The Favourite. Her role is a supporting one, however. Smart money is on Glenn Close, who’s been the bridesmaid many years. Chances are she has someone like Aparicio waiting on her at home the day she hugs her after winning the award. It’s a shot, I know. But it’s also as good a bet as Close taking the award.

Don’t belong:
I can say none of the work I have seen McCarthy do previously comes close to nomination worthy, but I haven’t seen this film, so I will reserve judgement out of ignorance.

Best Actor:
Christian Bale in Vice. So accurately is the most venomous man in post-2000 politics, he does the impossible by making Cheney almost sympathetic at times. It is the best performance of the year, by two authentically fat jowls. Malek is the haunting image of an icon. His performance made an average movie seem like a classic. Cooper nailed it by miming Kristofferson and his co-star Sam Elliot.

Of the nominees:
This will be close, but not really. Malek will win. No one will or should feel bad about Bale. He will be back.

Don’t belong:
Mortensen shot himself in the goomba foot just doing press for the movie, but his performance is nothing even approaching his own best work.

Best Supporting Actress:
Blake Lively took a massive step forward in A Simple Favor. She steals every scene with the wit and intelligence she shows in her public relationship battles with husband Ryan Reynolds. I appreciated her more than anyone…except Letitia Wright from Black Panther.
Wright fills every scene she is in with a light of joy and intelligence, it feels like the first time we saw Tony Stark onscreen. The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in good hands if they figure how to include her as much as they did Iron Man.

Of the nominees:
This one is tough. I am getting the feeling this could be Regina King. I have not seen If Beale Street…, but the desire to credit Jenkins in some way could intersect in rewarding a renowned performance from a respected actress. Adams is great, but she’ll get eaten up by the split vote of the two from The Favourite.

Don’t belong:
Well, the two lead actresses vying for this prize are just trying to help out the better performance. De Tavira is good, but her performance is overshadowed by even the woman playing her the grandmother, Verónica García.

Best Supporting Actor:
Sam Elliott. For playing someone much different than himself while his cinematic brother approximated the real Sam Elliott. Seeing him without a moustache and then to see him emote so effectively is one of the most astounding memories of the cinematic year. An equally intriguing case could be made for Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. He created a menacing and sympathetic antagonist. The second best bad guy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Of the nominees:
This looks to be Grant’s to lose. I didn’t see the performance, but I have liked him ever since he stole the ending of The Player. Elliott is likely going to go home just happy to be nominated, but it sure would be nice to see him accept. Almost like one of us is up there.

Don’t belong:
Ali and Rockwell seem to have been nominated as tribute to prior wins, but the idea of the former winning is beginning to pick up steam. It must be due to the fact that the family of his character thinks the whole film is bunk. Rockwell’s performance is literally on par with an SNL skit. But then, so is the whole Bush Presidency.

Best Original Screenplay:
Eighth Grade is the best written story of the year. Bo Burnham completely immerses the viewer into the life of its subject even if said viewer is 35 years removed from the events. Even with new gadgets, the pain of growth is still the same. Special mention to Logan and Allen for Chappaquiddick. It takes a special liberal to tell the truth about the “Lion of the Senate.”

Of the nominees:
Paul Schrader should win a lifetime achievement award here. If the tide is high for The Favourite, this could be one of those that gets swept away.

Don’t belong:
Greenbook is this decade’s Driving Miss Daisy.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
As much as anything, I enjoyed the work done by the team of Markus and McFeely with Infinity War. They managed to take material that felt D.O.A. and give an incredibly huge cast something meaningful to do over the span of over 2 hours. Even though the ending has no meaning, the rest of the film stands up on it’s own merit.

Of the nominees:
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs never ceases to be interesting, and it feels like the kind of thing we may not have seen were it not for Netflix. If Lee doesn’t win for director, expect him to get the Oscar for his collective effort.

Don’t belong:
None that I can see.

The best things I saw this year were all Marvel. Every image was fun, except for a few scenes in Black Panther. Of course anything with that much animation will not compare to the work done in First Man. The IMAX portrayal is used to its fullest extent in the display of the confined spaces the brave companions had to endure on their way into history. Linus Sandgren utilizes the palette as well as anyone in recent memory.

Of the nominees:
Roma is the odds on favorite for the win here, even though The Favourite has many wonderful angles. I think as good as A Star Is Born is, the camera work doesn’t resonate as much as the rest.

Don’t belong:

It’s tough to stay interested in watching most blowhards take credit for their work by slandering those who they disagree with, but the desire to see good work rewarded will not get old. The best thing the Oscars have going for them is they’re not as bad as the other televised award shows. The gap is narrowing.

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