It’s that time of the year again; a time when several critically acclaimed films are all in the cinema at once and the Academy Awards is a popular watercooler topic. It’s an exciting time for anyone interested in moves; a chance to celebrate recent works of art and achievements in the film business; even an opportunity for some to speak their mind, to stand up and challenge the status quo in famous speeches (Marlon Brando’s Oscar acceptance is still the thing of legend).

Important words spoken during speeches speak for themselves – even the jokes by returning host Jimmy Kimmel. I’m not writing about the show itself (for now at least). Rather, this is a list of personal opinions on the winners and nominees, from the surprises to the ones everyone predicted.


Best Sound Mixing / Sound Editing / Editing

Two/ three Oscars that often go together (which every wins one likely wins one or two of the others) yet again this year go to the same film: Dunkirk. It’s not the first time a film’s won this hat-trick – Mad Max: Fury Road and Gravity are just two others that have done the same.

This surprised me somewhat. Not that it’s undeserved – on the contrary, the sound in Dunkirk is exceptional and widely praised by critics for its strong effect. So it absolutely earned the Oscars, no doubt about that.

But there’s one exceptional film that seems to have been left out – Baby Driver. Unable to claim the age old excuse “It came out too long ago so everyone forgot about it” (they were both summer movies), it seems a bit unfair that Dunkirk swept up all three of these awards (although these were the only ones it won and it’s a film certainly deserving of multiple Oscars) when Baby Driver also was exceptional with regards to sound (well, music) and editing. Shot and edited almost like a music video with every action and cut perfectly timed to match the music, Baby Driver was absolutely worth of at least one of these Awards. Still, considering it lost to Dunkirk, you can’t really call it a proper ‘snub’.

The other one that caught my eye was I, Tonya’s editing. The cuts in that one perfectly merge documentary, 4th wall breaking and regular film styles. A strong runner-up.

 

Best Visual Effects

  • WINNER – Blade Runner 2049; John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • War for the Planet of the Apes

Blade Runner 2049 – no surprise there at all. It was an incredible film with phenomenal visual effects, absolutely deserving on the golden statue. Even when nominated among excellent blockbusters, such as War for the Planet of the Apes, there was something about Blade Runner 2049, how it sucks you into a world you can believe in, a world with so much detail and lovingly inspired by the original. Of course it won. It does seem strange, though (almost sad), that the mo-cap technology of which Andy Serkis has been a great pioneer is already over-looked and seen as normal. How far we’ve come in 90 years…

Best Production Design

  • WINNER – The Shape of Water; Paul D. Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeffery A. Melvin
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk

 

Honestly, on the whole any of the nominations could have won the award for production design. The detailed sci-fi world of Blade Runner 2049, the loving translation from animation to live action in the castle from Beauty and the Beast, the stunningly bleak and desolate beach from Dunkirk and the incredible vibrant and realistic recreation of WWII London in Darkest Hour… all of these were more than worthy nominations and all stood a good chance of taking the Award home. At the end of the day though, Shape of Water deserved an Award like this; so much of its style that we love comes straight from the production design and it’s good that it received the recognition it deserved.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • WINNER – Darkest Hour; Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
  • Victoria & Abdul
  • Wonder

Perhaps if it had come out another year, Wonder could have grabbed this one. But no one stood a chance against the makeup team from Darkest Hour. A real middle finger to over-reliance on CGI, the transformation from Gary Oldman to Winston Churchill was sublime and this is no surprise whatsoever.

Best Costume Design

  • WINNER – Phantom Thread; Mark Bridges
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Darkest Hour
  • The Shape of Water
  • Victoria & Abdul

Without Phantom Thread, this could have been a tough one to predict, perhaps Beauty and the Beast could even have nabbed it instead. But in a film all about a dressmaker, of course it won! A bit of a shame that this was the only Oscar for Daniel Day-Lewis’ apparently final film though…

Best Cinematography

  • WINNER – Blade Runner 2049; Roger Deakins
  • Darkest Hour; Bruno Delbonnel
  • Dunkirk; Hoyte Van Hoytema
  • Mudbound; Rachel Morrison
  • The Shape of Water; Dan Laustsen

 Finally! After 13 unsuccessful nominations, Roger Deakins finally gets lucky with his 14th nomination and wins his much deserved Oscar for cinematography after his first nomination back in 1995 with The Shawshank Redemption. Even two nominations in one year didn’t bring him any luck (No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James back in 2008). He is an incredible director of photography and with any luck this will be the first of many Oscars for cinematography coming his way.

A well-deserved first nomination also for Hoyte Van Hoytema, another incredible talented cinematographer who is bound to get more nominations and a win before too long. Another strong runner-up was The Shape of Water’s Bruno Delbonnel, celebrating his 5th nomination.

Best Animated Feature Film

  • WINNER – Coco
  • Ferdinand
  • Loving Vincent
  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner

 It’s almost a shame that Coco had no competition at all (apart from perhaps Loving Vincent). Perhaps even worthy of a nomination in the Best Film category, there’s no doubt Coco deserves every carat gold of that Oscar.

Best Music (Original Song)

  • WINNER – Coco (Remember Me); Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
  • Call Me by Your Name (Mystery of Love)
  • Marshall (Stand Up for Something)
  • Mudbound (Mighty River)
  • The Greatest Showman (This is Me)

Well, thank goodness The Greatest Showman didn’t win that one! ‘This is Me’ was a decent song, but clichéd and nothing compared to what we heard in Coco. Remember Me’ is a beautiful song, both heart-warming and heart-breaking, from the writers of The Book of Mormon’s songs that improved an already perfect film. Absolutely the most deserving in this category.

Best Music (Original Score)

  • WINNER – The Shape of Water; Alexandre Desplat
  • Dunkirk; Hans Zimmer
  • Phantom Thread; Jonny Greenwood
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi; John Williams
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Carter Burwell

John Williams and Hans Zimmer may both be masters of film soundtracks, but Alexandre Desplat’s never been one to ignore, scoring innumerable films, garnering a total of nine nominations, including this year’s. Desplat’s sweet, delicate score suits the film perfectly and is a solid victor.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • WINNER – Call Me by Your Name; James Ivory
  • Logan; Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
  • Molly’s Game; Aaron Sorkin
  • Mudbound; Dee Rees, Virgil Williams
  • The Disaster Artist; Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber

It’s refreshing to see a comedy like The Disaster Artist making the list of nominations – and even more exciting to see comic-book-inspired Logan on the list too (certainly one of the strongest superhero films of all time). And while Sorkin’s screenplay for Molly’s Game was witty and well-written as we expect from him, it’s wonderful to see James Ivory winning for Call Me by Your Name. What’s especially incredible is that Ivory is 89 years old (even older than the Oscars themselves by just over a year), making him the oldest Oscar-winner to date.

Best Original Screenplay

  • WINNER – Get Out; Jordan Peele
  • Lady Bird; Greta Gerwig
  • The Big Sick; Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon
  • The Shape of Water; Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Martin McDonagh

Honestly I thought Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was guaranteed this one. McDonagh has a way to write like no one else (except perhaps Tarantino) making poetry from expletives and black humour. McDonagh seemed like a sure-fire winner. Failing that, perhaps Greta Gerwig would have won for her Lady Bird screenplay, since that too has all the makings of a winner. But no, instead Jordan Peele won for Get Out, a horror satire of racial tensions in America, his debut in fact. Absolutely deserving of the Award, but more than that he’s made history being the first African-American to win in that category.

Best Directing

  • WINNER – Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
  • Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
  • Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
  • Jordan Peele (Get Out)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)

To choose between five such talented directors must have been a real challenge, especially with Peele’s ground-breaking film and Nolan’s incredible intricate recreation of the battlefield in Dunkirk. But it was always going to be del Toro to have taken this one. The Shape of Water shows a masterful director at work and it’s certainly deservedabout time he won a best director Oscar!

Best Supporting Actress

  • WINNER – Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
  • Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
  • Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread)
  • Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
  • Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)

Allison Janney beats Laurie Metcalf in the Battle of the Mothers. Both portraying different, but both cold, mothers, Janney’s win is unsurprising for such a worthy performance. Though not in the film for too long, she steals every scene she’s in and made herself noticed.

Best Supporting Actor

  • WINNER – Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  • Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World)
  • Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water)
  • Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)
  • Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Perhaps the Academy Awards are desperately trying to get as far away from Kevin Spacey as possible in light of recent allegations, hence Plummer not coming home with this award. But Sam Rockwell’s racist cop Dixon was an incredible character wonderfully acted by Rockwell, fooling us into hating him and then empathising with him, making the character’s change and development natural. A worthy win.

Best Actress

  • WINNER – Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  • Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
  • Meryl Streep (The Post)
  • Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
  • Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)

Meryl Streep is the beast that shall never cease – but it’s nice she gives some others a chance. With an incredible 21 nominations and 3 wins, she’s a common one to see on the list. That’s why it was good to see others there, particularly Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan for two wonderful performances that were both really the backbone of both movies. It was absolutely right to give the Award to Frances McDormand (especially after her brilliant speech) as her portrayal in Three Billboards really was stand out. But something really needs to be said for Sally Hawkins, who finally got the recognition she deserves. To have a part and really sell the character with no lines at all is impressive and to be nominated for an Oscar is incredible; were McDormand not to have won, Hawkins would have been a well-deserved winner.

Best Actor

  • WINNER – Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
  • Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
  • Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel,Esq.)
  • Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)

Daniel Day-Lewis has already broken history being the actor to win the most leading role Oscars (3, putting him right up there with Meryl Streep). So it’s fitting that he was awarded a nomination for what he has said to be his final role. But this Oscar was always going to Gary Oldman, no questions asked. Even without the Oscar-winning makeup his performance as Churchill would have won the Oscar anyway. His first Oscar – finally, a fine Award for a fine actor.

Best Film

  • WINNER – The Shape of Water
  • Call Me by Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Post
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 Practically of these films would all have been deserved and worthy winners. Were this to have been during the #OscarSoWhite year, Get Out could well have emerged triumphant. And there were people convinced that Three Billboards was going to come home with this one. But The Shape of Water was always the one I expected to win. A sweet, lovely film that will improve with every viewing, The Shape of Water is absolutely deserving of the ‘Best Film’ accolade.


One of the best things about the 90th Academy Awards is how varied the winners are. Even though The Shape of Water had 13 nominations, it only came away with 4; Dunkirk with 3; and Three Billboards, Darkest Hour, Blade Runner 2049 and Coco all with 2. Nicely spread out with a great selection of films. Next year has a tough one to beat!

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