The Hippo


Mar 17, 2018








Other categories
Adapted screenplay nominees: Call Me By Your Name, The Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly’s Game, Mudbound.
Prediction/my vote: Call Me By Your Name. If your movie is beloved but about to get crushed by bigger movies, this is the Oscar it wins. And, yes, Call Me By Your Name deserves it (this is one of the rare buzz-y movies where, the more I think about it, the more I like it, particularly for what it does with language) though is there some way Logan could also win?
Original screenplay nominees: The Big Sick, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Prediction/my vote: Get Out, see above re: belovedness and encrushment (Gold Derby also predicts both these writing wins). This category is even harder for me because while I dearly want Get Out to win, I’d very much like Lady Bird to also win.
How to watch: Molly’s Game will be on DVD on April 10, according to Amazon. Logan is available for home viewing now.
Live action short film nominees: DeKalb Elementary, The Eleven O’Clock, My Nephew Emmett, The Silent Child, Watu Wote/All of Us.
Prediction/my vote: DeKalb Elementary. Unfortunately, this short about a potential school shooting feels even more freshly relevant than when I first saw it a few weeks back. (Gold Derby also has it on top.) For me, the emotional gut-punch of it probably just edges out My Nephew Emmett, a strong, solid, anger-inducing look at the last hours of Emmett Till.
Animated short film nominees: Dear Basketball, Garden Party, Lou, Negative Space, Revolting Rhymes.
Prediction/my vote: Dear Basketball. This is the animated short that stuck with me because of its beautiful pencil-and-charcoal-like sketches that had a kind of fluid movement and seemed unlike anything I’ve seen before. I think its nearest competitor (and Gold Derby’s numbers agree on both my first- and second-place guesses) is Pixar’s Lou, which is sweet and makes fun visuals out of the idea of a creature made of lost-and-found items. 
Documentary short film nominees: Edith + Eddie, Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Heroin(e), Knife Skills, Traffic Stop.
Prediction/my vote: Heroin(e). I feel like this is the one that punches through this crowd of really solid entries and will stay with voters. Here, three tough, compassionate women in three different parts of the social services world (a judge for drug court, a fire chief answering overdose calls and a woman working with a nonprofit that tries to feed and get off the street women in need) work to save opioid addicts in their West Virginia town. 
How to see everything: The shorts are available via video on demand (see
Cinematography nominees: Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Mudbound, The Shape of Water.
Prediction/my vote: Dunkirk. Yes, I admit that Blade Runner 2049 is beautiful. But the more I think about that movie the less I like it (and I didn’t like it very much to begin with). Dunkirk has some purpose behind its visuals.
Costume design nominees: Beauty and the Beast, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Victoria & Abdul.
Prediction/my vote: Phantom Thread. As a movie that takes place in a fashion house, Phantom Thread puts its costumes front and center and they seem perfectly crafted for the time, place and class of all involved. This is, in my opinion, an acceptable win (the only acceptable win) for this somewhat maddening movie.
Film editing nominees: Baby Driver; Dunkirk; I, Tonya; The Shape of Water; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Prediction: Dunkirk, because the way it’s edited is such a key aspect of the story-telling of this movie. However, I didn’t love the way it was edited so … My vote: Baby Driver. This is the other movie where editing of film (and also pictures and music) is overtly part of what the movie is doing.
Makeup and hairstyling nominees: Darkest Hour, Victoria & Abdul, Wonder.
Prediction: Darkest Hour. One might even snidely argue that it is the makeup and not Oldman that does most of the work here. My vote: Wonder, because even though the appearance of its lead character is such a key part of the story the makeup does its job without carrying or taking over the whole movie.
Production design nominees: Beauty and the Beast, Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water.
Prediction: Dunkirk. If this does turn into the kind of Oscars where the love is spread around and every major nominated movie gets a little something, this might be where Oscar rewards the effort that went in to crafting the look of Dunkirk. My vote: The Shape of Water. The look of this film, the way the sets reinforce the dark fairy tale quality of the story, feels like one of its strongest aspects.
Visual effects nominees: Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kong: Skull Island, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, War of the Planet of the Apes.
Prediction: Blade Runner 2049. If it doesn’t take cinematography, maybe Blade Runner 2049 and the visuals I begrudgingly admit are very nice will get recognition here. My vote: War for the Planet of the Apes. Just consider that all of those scenes of a post-pandemic newly wild west were not just beautiful but also supported the emotional core of this movie. Then consider that those scenes featured horseback-riding apes and it never looked ridiculous.
How to watch: Baby Driver, Beauty and the Beast, Victoria & Abdul, War for the Planet of the Apes, Blade Runner 2049, Kong: Skull Island and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are available for home viewing. Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be available for home viewing on March 13.  
Original song nominees: “Mighty River,” Mudbound; “Mystery of Love,” Call Me By Your Name; “Remember Me,” Coco; “Stand Up for Something,” Marshall; “This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman.
Prediction: “Remember Me.” And when it wins (which, it’s, like, the crux of the whole movie, so), I’ll just pretend it’s for the superior Spanish version. My vote: “Mystery of Love.” Because it’s the one song of this group that I have actually purchased and listen to. Side note: If my neighbors hear me swearing at the top of my lungs on Sunday, it’s because “This Is Me” got a completely unwarranted win.
Original score nominees: Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Prediction/my vote: The Shape of Water. Like this movie’s visuals, the score perfectly captures the tone and time.
Sound editing: Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Prediction/my vote: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Maybe it should go to Baby Driver, for the way the action audio and the music are mixed together. But, yeah, I’m going Last Jedi, and yes it is entirely because of that one moment.
Sound mixing nominees: Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Prediction/my vote: Baby Driver. Since I’m still not super clear on the difference between “mixing” and “editing,” I’ll let my split appreciation for the sound work done in these two movies split my vote.

Team Lady Bird/Get Out
Or maybe it’s just “Never Three Billboards” for my Oscar picks

By Amy Diaz

How do you pick between favorites?

This Oscar season, I am Team Lady Bird. I think Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age movie is expertly made. But I’m also Team Get Out — Jordan Peele’s use of the horror genre to talk about race is clever, original and fun as well as well-written and well-acted. 
When the Oscars are handed out on Sunday, March 4, starting at 8 p.m. on ABC, what I’m actually hoping will happen is that voters will spread the love between movies, giving several movies recognition instead of piling the accolades on just a few movies. Well, and I’m also hoping that very few of those accolades go to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the Oscar movie I’m most ready to never think about again.
What follow are my picks and predictions for what could happen on Sunday. A few disclosures: I checked out and their predictions based on some kind of aggregation of predictions by experts, editors and site users;’s model based on other awards handed down this season, and some other predictions out there in the predicting Internet universe and then made my best guesses based on what seems to have stayed the same since back when Golden Globe nominations were announced (I feel like Gary Oldman has been a lock since forever) and what may be shifting (I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of Laurie Metcalf stories in the last few weeks). 
And, since the whole point of movies is to watch them, I’ve tried to explain how you can see this year’s nominated films. Many are still in theaters but, delightfully, most of them are easily accessed at home. (A note on “home viewing”: some of these movies will be available for rent by the time you read this, some only for purchase and some only through Netflix.)
And now, the (correct) envelope please...
Best Picture
Nominees: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Prediction: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Vanity Fair’s Little Gold Men podcast had an excellent episode on Feb. 16 explaining Oscar’s “preferential ballot” voting for best picture, which gives the win not to the top vote-getter but to the movie that gets 50 percent of voters’ support (meaning second and third choices become important). On that podcast, writer Daniel Joyaux predicted that Dunkirk would be the consensus choice. Gold Derby had The Shape of Water favored for weeks before Three Billboards (which won the BAFTA on Feb. 18) pushed ahead; FiveThirtyEight keeps Shape of Water in front. My rough guess at how supporters of movies likely to get fewer first-place votes would vote in the second and third slot makes me think Three Billboards (which also won the Golden Globe in the drama category) might be the pizza topping everybody agrees on, I say hoping that I’m wrong.
My vote: Lady Bird. Or Get Out. No, Lady Bird — for me those two movies are thisclose in my ranking of the nine nominees. Lady Bird remains in my mind a perfect movie.
Shoulda been a contender: Wonder Woman, which was my favorite movie of 2017 and is a better movie than at least four (Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, The Post and Three Billboards) on this list. 
If you only watch one: Sorry, you have to see two — Lady Bird and Get Out. Both are excellent movies that are a welcome break from the kind of ponderous saga that the words “Oscar movie” usually imply. If you have more time, I’d add Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water and Dunkirk to your list. 
How to watch: By the time you read this, all but two of these movies should be available for home viewing in some form with the exception of Phantom Thread, which Comcast lists as available on March 13, and The Post, which whatever is estimates will come out sometime in April.
Best Director
Nominees: Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk, Jordan Peele for Get Out, Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird, Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread, Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water.
Prediction: Del Toro. FiveThirtyEight and Gold Derby have him out front and I agree that he seems to have the momentum (he took home the directing Golden Globe) and the body of work worth recognizing. Interestingly, Nolan feels like he occupies a similar space, straddling the line between “serious film” and movies people actually see. If he somehow sneaks past del Toro, I won’t be surprised.
My vote: Gerwig. If we’re using the Top Chef rules of prize-awarding (that the Oscar should be for this movie and not for cumulative work) then it should go to Gerwig, who truly put together an excellent film where all of the pieces serve the whole and everything works exactly as it should.
Shoulda been a contender: Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman. Watch Wonder Woman and then watch Justice League and then tell me Jenkins doesn’t deserve some recognition.
Best Actress
Nominees: Saorise Ronan in Lady Bird, Meryl Streep in The Post, Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Margot Robbie in I, Tonya.
Prediction: Frances McDormand. People (me) can disagree with Three Billboards acclaim but McDormand does turn in a solid performance and she is every predictor’s favorite. I wouldn’t vote this way but it won’t make me mad when she wins.
My vote: Saorise Ronan. She doesn’t do something big, she does something specific. Her Christine/Lady Bird feels like a fully formed person I knew at that age. 
How to watch: I, Tonya will be available for home viewing March 2, according to Comcast.
Best Actor
Nominees: Timothee Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name, Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out, Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread, Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Prediction: Oldman, whose win in this category has been conventional wisdom since before I knew this movie was coming out. It is such a standard Oscar-winning role (serious drama, World War II, historical person, prosthetics). Day-Lewis in his “final” (?) performance would be the dark horse. 
My vote: Kaluuya, and not just because I really liked his supporting role in Black Panther (a movie that deserves to be all over this list next year). Even though he’s in a fantastical situation, he plays a real person, with real-person reactions.
Shoulda been a contender: Andy Serkis (already!). He brings a grace to Caesar’s story that frequently had me forgetting I was watching a CGI chimpanzee.
How to watch: Roman J. Israel, Esq. is available for home viewing.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Mary J. Blige in Mudbound; Allison Janney, I, Tonya; Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread; Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird; Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water.
Prediction: Metcalf. FiveThirtyEight and Gold Derby have Allison Janney (Golden Globe winner for this role) and I agree that she’s probably the person to beat. But Metcalf turned in the more nuanced and heartfelt performance. This might be a spot where voters reward the solid performances of Lady Bird.
My vote: Metcalf. Because, also? It’s a totally awesome performance that captures so much about that specific mother-daughter relationship and also mother-daughter relationships in general. 
Shoulda been a contender: Tiffany Haddish. Using her for Oscar nominations announcements (with other “shoulda” Serkis) seems to telegraph both that she should be on the list and that she wouldn’t be. Good arguments could also be made for Sarah Silverman in Battle of the Sexes, Karin Konoval (the human behind Maurice in War for the Planet of the Apes) and Beanie Feldstein of Lady Bird.
How to watch: Mudbound is available on Netflix.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project; Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri; Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water; Christoper Plummer in All the Money in the World; Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Prediction: Willem Dafoe. Gold Derby has Rockwell in front (as does FiveThirtyEight, though it makes him look like less of a sure thing) and he is a totally decent actor whom I like in many things. (And he won a Globe for this performance.) But this is the only spot that the much-lauded The Florida Project has on the Oscar ballot and Dafoe also has a solid resume to support a win.
My vote: Rockwell, I say tepidly (though I feel like the work he’s doing is much better than the rather thin and, as they say, problematic character he was given). I feel like these performances are all shades of solid Bs, with no particular standout.
Shoulda been a contender: Lil Rel Howery is the cracked peppercorn on the steak that gives Get Out that extra kick of delight. The more I think about Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg in Call Me By Your Name, the more I agree with the “they was robbed” argument. (Stuhlbarg was also pretty solid in The Shape of Water and The Post; is there a year MVP Oscar?)
How to watch: The Florida Project is available for home viewing. All the Money in the World is slated for viewing on Amazon and iTunes for March 27, according to
Animated Feature
Nominees: The Boss Baby, The Bread Winner, Coco, Ferdinand, Loving Vincent.
Prediction: Coco. It’s Pixar. I’m sure the internet prognosticators agree but who even needs to look?
My vote: Loving Vincent. This is the last of this year’s Oscar nominated films I watched and I was truly blown away by the artistry of it. This story, which takes the Citizen Kane interview-style approach to looking at the last days of Vincent Van Gogh’s life, is illustrated with hand paintings that essentially set the action of the story inside images reminiscent of Van Gogh’s work.
If you only watch one: Loving Vincent (which is rated PG-13 and is definitely PG-13 in terms of content).
If you only watch one with your kids: Ferdinand, with your, maybe, elementary school age and up kids. With your, say, 12- or 13-year-olds, I’d say The Bread Winner, which mixes beautiful visuals and a story about a girl in 2000-era Afghanistan.
How to watch: All of these movies are available for home viewing. 
Best Documentary
Nominees: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail; Faces Places; Icarus; Last Men in Aleppo; Strong Island.
Prediction/my vote: Faces Places. This is also the front-runner on Gold Derby and FiveThirtyEight, probably for the same reason I think it will win, which is that it stands out from the other four. It is light, fun, rompy — director Agnes Varda (who is 89) and photographer JR (who is 34) relaxedly travel around and make public art together. It is such a palate-cleanser from the good but serious-themed (financial crisis, Russian doping, Syrian civil war, race in America) other documentaries in the category.  Also, as a piece of film, I feel like it’s the best made and is my “if you see just one” pick as well (though Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is a solid second place, capturing not just one small bank facing  prosecution but the family dynamics of its founder and his three strong daughters). 
How to watch: Icarus, Last Men in Aleppo and Strong Island are all available on Netflix and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail and Faces Place are available for purchase. 
Best Foreign Language Film
Nominees: A Fantastic Woman, The Insult, Loveless, On Body and Soul, The Square. 
Prediction/my vote: A Fantastic Woman, about a transgender woman navigating her own grief and society’s cruelness after her beloved boyfriend dies unexpectedly. This is another category where the winner seems to stick out well above the other entries. A Fantastic Woman feels like the most relatable movie with human relationships at its core and is the one I definitely would recommend.
If you only see one: A Fantastic Woman. I would also strongly suggest The Insult, which looks at the relationships between Lebanese Christians and Palestinians living and working in Lebanon. It has specific historical context as well as universal themes. It also does a good job of keeping its characters as people, with their own flaws and motivations, and not just making them mouthpieces for an argument.
How to watch: The Square is available for home viewing. On Body and Soul is on Netflix. A Fantastic Woman is currently screening at Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge, Mass., as is The Insult, which, if you’re looking to see it but not drive so far, is slated to open on March 9 at Red River Theatres in Concord. Loveless is scheduled to open at Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge, Mass., on March 9.

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