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3rd March
written by Mad Cow

Oscar Picks

Are you ready for Sunday night? Tuxedo – check. Gown – check. Champagne – check. For me it’s pajamas, crackers and cheese and yes, sometimes champagne. In any case, this year’s Oscar ceremonies should be interesting, and the Oscar prizes too. There will be at least two elephants in the room and all of the on-screen types will be carrying at least some guilt.

I don’t know if the women are wearing black again or if there will be any “Time’s Up” buttons, but the controversy that the #MeToo movement has stirred up will surely hang over almost all but the most innocuous jokes, presentations and speeches. The backlash has begun with none other than anti-feminist feminist Katie Roiphe getting a cover story in Harper’s. She’s mad that the “Twitter Feminists” are so mad and of course concerned with due process. To date, many men have been fired or resigned but somehow it’s supposed to be the fault of the women coming forward. No one seems to be demanding that the people in power – the ones who are doing the firing or pushing people out – use due process. But I digress.

Best Picture

Best Picture Nominees

Call Me by Your Name If this movie wins I may have to give up American movies altogether. The film is boring due to the lame plot and unimaginative script. Chalamet is good and I hope to see him again. (BTW, he’s also in Lady Bird.)


Darkest Hour This is a wonderful movie and worthy of the nomination. I will never get over how a director and writer can make a film suspenseful when everyone knows what is going to happen. The movie covers the time when Churchill (Gary Oldman) has been brought back into government as Prime Minister to oversee the war. Thousands of men are stranded at Dunkirk in France and they must be rescued, while the troops available elsewhere are also in danger. The movie illustrates once again that decisions made in war are excruciating. Oldman is amazing as is his make-up artist. Kristin Scott Thomas is also terrific as Clemmie, Churchill’s long-suffering wife. One gets to see what it took to be married to the guy.

Dunkirk This film is like a sequel to Darkest Hour as it depicts what happened to the troops on the beach in Dunkirk. The cinematography is very good, but the story lines and in-air fights are nothing new.

Get Out I greatly regret that I didn’t review this amazing movie. It’s a comedy and a thriller and a lesson in racism all rolled into one. The plot begins with a mild “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” theme when Rose Amritage (Allison Williams) invites her boyfriend Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) home for the weekend. They encounter the usual phony liberal parents and a bunch of other guests who speak racism in polite terms, all smiles and hospitality. Lucky for Chris, he can talk about all of this on the phone with his friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) who works as a TSA agent at the airport. But there is something even more wrong as Chris notices that the black maid and grounds keeper are extremely strange. A horror story emerges. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, this movie is a must see.

Lady Bird I reviewed Lady Bird  elsewhere  It’s an imaginatively stunning movie about a teenage girl (Saoirse Ronan) coming of age and her relationships with her parents (Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts.) There is nothing stereotypical about it. Greta Gerwig’s writing and directing forge a new path in storytelling about everyday people.

Phantom Thread The trailers don’t begin to give away this story. Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day Lewis) is a renowned dress designer in London in the 1950s. Talented but self-centered in the extreme, he demands that his every whim be granted. He has a series of model lovers with whom he tires until he encounters Alma (Vicky Krieps). She is different in ways beyond his imagination. The film is visually glorious. It’s also interesting to see the many seamstresses sewing gowns entirely by hand. The movie is slow and not for everyone but it slowly turns into a surprising thriller of sorts.

The Post In another piece of history over a relatively short span, The Post examines the Washington Post’s decision about whether or not to print the Pentagon Papers and risk prison and bankruptcy. Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham is marvelous as usual and the film has a feminist bent in its depiction of how she manages as boss to be the boss. Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee is good but I will always visualize Jason Robards as Bradlee as he was in All the President’s Men. The movie is a lot of fun, especially in seeing how things used to be done with no cell phones or internet. Pay phones, typed copy edited with a pencil, and type-set newspapers seem ancient.

The Shape of Water In my  my review I marveled at the ways in which the film changes tone seamlessly. Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor created layers of meaning to what could have simply been a variation of Beauty and The Beast. They had help in the genius cast of Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer. Hawkins, a master of expressions, is flawless as a mute women.


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a very good but flawed  movie. Without Frances McDormand in the lead as Mildred Hays, it might have faded into oblivion.  She is upset because the Chief of Police (Woody Harrelson) has not yet solved the rape and murder of her daughter. Movie goers are meant to identify with her, and I think they do, especially in this day and age in which Americans want to blame everyone and get lots of revenge. But the movie can’t decide whether it’s a comedy or drama and ends up looking confused.

Which movie will win as Best Picture: The Shape of Water  – It has something for everyone. It is science fiction, intellectual enough to please the intellectuals, comic enough for the comics crowd, and accessible enough for those who see is just as a quirky love story.

Which movie should win as Best Picture: Get Out – It has everything that The Shape of Water has except the love story. It’s just as clever and has the added elements of education about racism and the horror story. It’s funny and serious and scary.

Note: Lady Bird is my close runner-up. It’s really magical in its own way. It’s not better but just as good as the two above and it has a woman writer/director. Why do white women and black men have to be pitted against each other so often? (I actually have a notion about this but that would be an enormous digression.)

Best Director:

Who will win: del Toro for The Shape of Water

Who should win: Jordan Peele for Get Out

Best Actor:

Who will win: Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out

Who should win: Daniel Kaluuya

Best Actress:

Who will win: Frances McDermand for Three Billboards…

Who should win: Margot Robbie for I, Tonya (If you haven’t seen this movie,  see it .)

Best Supporting Actor:

Who will win: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards…

Who should win: Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project

Best Supporting Actress

Who will win: Allison Janney for I, Tonya (She played the meanest mother in the world.)

Who should win: Allison Janney (although I’d love to see it go to Laurie Metcalf the “good” mother in Lady Bird)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Who will win: Mudbound I think the script was too linear.

Who should win: Molly’s Game

Best Original Screenplay

Who will win: The Shape of Water (del Toro and Vanessa Taylor)

Who should win: Get Out (Jordan Peele)





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