2019 Snubscars – My Annual Oscar Nomination Rant

Well, it’s been a ride leading up to the 2019 Oscar nominations announced this morning. With controversial crowd pleasers like Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody leading other award races, it was bound to be a bit of a shit show. And here we have it. I could be really vicious and pick apart the nominations that did come through instead of the ones that are missing, but that would be cruel to the folks who are celebrating today. What is done is done, but I am still not happy about these missing recognitions.

1. No love for Mr. Rogers and other leading documentaries….

The most glaring of snubs would be for Morgan Neville’s beloved Mr. Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? We all adored this film. The only explanation I can think of is that everyone thought everyone else was going to vote for it, so they picked an underdog?

Other critical favourites, Three Identical Strangers (which will be played on CNN on Jan 27th at 9pm) and The Silence of Others, also mysteriously missing from the list of documentary feature nominees.

2. Barry Jenkins’ Gorgeous If Beale Street Could Talk Only Got 3 Noms!!!

This is completely outrageous. It was a shoe-in for Best Picture, Director, Cinematography and possibly Production Design. I guess they couldn’t risk him stealing another Best Picture win.

3. NO FEMALE DIRECTED FILMS NOMINATED FOR BEST PICTURE OR DIRECTOR

This baffles me. Hello Academy? Anyone home? No one is walking the talk here on inclusion. They had sure fire films here to work with – You Were Never Really Here, Leave No Trace and Can You Ever Forgive Me (which I haven’t seen yet but have on faith is excellent) !! There is no excuse. NO EXCUSE.

4. Ethan Hawke….ETHAN HAWKE!!!!

He wrapped himself in barbed wire for Christ’s sake! It was the performance of a lifetime, anyone’s lifetime. We know people saw the film, because Paul Schrader has a nomination for his screenplay. Unless of course they didn’t see it and are just nominating him because he’s Paul Schrader. But come on. Ethan Hawke brings this complex character study / social commentary to LIFE!! This was not an easy role to play and the win was a lock. Or so I thought.

5. Editing Noms

I think I need to better understand the criteria for the editing award because I honestly thought You Were Never Really Here was one of the most brilliantly edited films I have seen in a while. The way that film was put together I could smell the streets of New York. I’m thinking no one saw the film.

6. Very Little Love for the First Man on the Moon

Every year you’ve got true stories where the truth is debated, yet the one that gets it right is passed over for the ones that arguably didn’t? Not only did this get it right, it’s an incredible film!. I usually hate space movies, but this worked for me. The Musical Score is glorious. Claire Foy was incredible. It should have a Best Picture, Best Actress and Musical Score added to its technical awards.

7. Nothing for Suspiria

Did anyone see this film? No? Didn’t think so. If they did they’d know it’s a crazy good reboot of the original arthouse film. From make up and hair, special effects, cinematography, performances from Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton, to Thom Yorke’s score, something should have been nominated. I do not get it.

8. John David Washington

Why no love for this man? He was brilliant in BlacKkKlansman.

I am happy about a few things though, but less usual unfortunately.

1. The Favourite has 10 Nominations

My daughter jokes about how all the critically acclaimed “lesbian films” are practically pornos. Well here we have one that is not. It’s vicious, campy, ridiculous and riotous and impeccably well made. I hope it CLEANS UP!!

2. Roma has 10 Nominations

Not everyone loved this one, but I did. It’s a beautiful film. Happy for Alfonso and hope he wins Best Director and Best Foreign Film.

3. SPIKE LEE!!!

I really like this guy and I loved BlacKkKlansman. Spike can take best Director from Alfonso. I could handle that.

4. Paul Schrader

First Reformed is a wicked screenplay and happy to see it nominated. There is tough competition here but a nod is worth a lot.

5. Never Look Away has 2 Nominations

I loved this film that no one else has seen. The Foreign Film nom was not surprising but the cinematography was a very pleasant surprise.

6. Paddington 2

One of the best reviewed sequels ever, loved by everyone who took the time to see it, could have easily been nominated for best picture, editing and production design but sadly no. Some say it came out to early. Those of us who saw it didn’t forget it!!

Deep sigh…. Always flawed, corrupt and suspect. And while I am reminded that these awards hold little weight over the years, I guess I can still have some fun waging who the winners will be.

My Favourite 2016 Films

2016 may have been a disastrous year on some fronts, but it was a stand out year for films.  I’m having a very hard time narrowing down the list to 10, so excuse me in advance for the honourable mentions.  Unfortunately I ran out of time to see 20th Century Women, Silence, Jackie, Allied, Hacksaw Ridge or Loving. According to many others, any of these could make a top 10 list.  But since the year is over, I need to make my list based on what I’ve seen.

Moonlight

Moonlight is by far the most surprising and beautiful film I saw in 2016.  The music, the cinematography, the screenplay, the performances were all absolutely perfect. It is a film that entranced me from the start and moved me through the three chapters of this human experience with a poetic elegance that captured my heart. I loved this film.

Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals has divided the critics, but I thought it was clever, wild, tragically beautiful, intelligent filmmaking and I cannot wait to see what Tom Ford does next.  Some have criticized it for being overly ambitious, a fashion shoot masquerading as a movie, but most agree that this is Tom Ford’s finest work. It does have a certain style that is Tom Ford. The man is an artist and his time spent as a designer is bound to influence his filmmaking.  This three layered tale has many sub layers and a beauty and facade that play a huge role in the story telling.  I do think this one will build a following with time.

Toni Erdmann

This film wins the award for most memorable side-splitting scenes. I cannot say too much about this heartwarming father daughter tale or I would spoil it for you. Save it to say this one is re-watchable. If I spoke German I would be reciting the lines. Give me time, I will get there.

Manchester by the Sea

I need a kleenex just to write about this one.  Its a heartbreaker.  Again, cannot spoil it.  The performances, screenplay, cinematography, music are all perfect.  This quiet film is the whole package and will no doubt be going head to head with Moonlight for the finish line.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

That “Ricky Baker, happy birthday, once rejected, now accepted, by me and Hector, a trifecta” is being sung around my house by my entire family is a testament to his heartwarming gem of a film.  Ricky and Hector, the wilderpeople, will have you laughing, cheering, crying and thinking there is happiness out there for everyone.   I absolutely loved this little film from New Zealand.

I, Daniel Blake

Daniel Blake is an important film, depressing as hell, but a reality that many face. Ken Loach is the man to bring these important stories to the cinema and get the conversation going. It helps that the audience will love Daniel, respect him for who he is and what he stands for.

Fences

Runs a bit like a play, but that works here. Viola Davis delivers an outstanding performance in this film that you will not forget, and Denzel is incredible as are the supporting cast members, especially Stephen McKinley Henderson.  Set in the 1950s, this story of an African-American family whose lives are dominated by the father who has struggled in coming to terms with his life.  Denzel Washington has done a magnificent job in bringing this play to the screen.

La La Land

La La Land is just a great film.  Its has all the feels and energy that a good movie should.  Visually stunning, great performances and great music, this film is a favourite of many.   Its not my absolute favourite of 2016, but it made my type 10.

Hell or High Water

Like I, Daniel Blake, this one is an important one. Rarely do we see films as stark as this.  From the tumbleweeds, to the run down diners, this film takes us to that rural America we’ve been hearing about lately, the fogotten part of America where dreams have been abandoned. Excellent film and I do hope it gets some Oscar lovin’.

Hidden Figures

While this film might have been a bit formulaic and may not have been 100% historically accurate it was really enjoyable, refreshing and enlightening.  With the success of this film perhaps producers will be more enthusiastic about telling stories about amazing women. Performances, music, cinematography, costumes, this film was the whole package. Theodore Melfi is on a roll with this after St. Vincent.  Looking forward to his next one.  I hope this baby goes all the way to the Oscars.  That would be great.

Honourable Mentions

The Handmaiden, Arrival, Paterson, Deadpool and Rogue One.

I May Die Historic Tonight on Fury Road

My Oscar picks are in, and I’ve gone very long on George Miller and Mad Max: Fury Road.

With all the chatter about Spotlight vs The Big Short and the love-hate people have for The Revenant, I thought I would go with Miller’s action packed, edge of your seat, crowd pleasing splendour. The only film I saw twice in 2015. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it won?

Who am I kidding? I never win the Oscar pool. I can never quite bring my self to select those most likely to win. Somehow in employing that winning strategy I fear I might be endorsing the politics that seem to cloud the Academy’s better judgements. Every year I hope really great films will receive the recognition they deserve and every year I am a little bit disappointed, even more so when some of my favourites do not even receive a nomination.

This year I think the films nominated for best picture are the right ones. Could there have been 11 or even 15, maybe?  But we haven’t got all night now, have we?

Regardless of the politics and disappointments, I have never missed watching the Academy Awards. For many it still represents the hallmark of film achievement. The carrot that drives the effort. More and more we are seeing filmmakers take risks that are recognized, pushing creative boundaries, inspiring innovation and bringing important stories to the forefront of audiences in cinemas around the world.

With high hopes that the Academy make immediate changes to eliminate bias next year,  I will sit and enjoy the evening with friends. I will enjoy the gowns, the tuxes, the speeches and the tributes. I will enjoy the tweets and texts with my movie nerd compadres. Here is  hoping for some surprises (Room and Lenny for the win?), that no one trips on the stairs and the winners remember who helped them win the wee man.

Jules