When most people put out lists like this, they choose films that they think will win or should win. My selections are based solely on which films affected me on an emotional level. Chances are high that my picks will not align with the actual winners. For example, the best picture I saw in 2017 was I, Tonya. But once again no one asked me. So, below are some brief comments along with my Oscar picks.
Call Me By Your Name – A lot of people liked this film. I didn’t see it. I did, however, read the screenplay, or at least I attempted to read the screenplay. I couldn’t get through it. I thought it was pretentious, boring, and lacked anything of interest plot wise that would make me want to actually spend money to go see it.
Darkest Hour – Great film. Great acting. Not enough conflict.
Dunkirk – One of the worst Best Picture nominations in history. Read my comments here.
Get Out – Original. Funny. Not a Best Picture.
Lady Bird – I Loved this film. I connected with the characters.
Phantom Thread – Did not see it. I’ll check it out once it comes to cable.
The Post – Strong film but the conflict at the center of the story just wasn’t strong enough. The New York Times had already printed excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, so printing the full Pentagon papers didn’t seem like that big of a deal.
The Shape of Water – Remember the film Splash with Tom Hanks? This film borrows heavily from that original idea. This was a good film, but the characters (with the exception of the lead character) and situations felt more like caricatures.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – I liked the central idea behind this film. I wasn’t crazy about some of the characters and dialogue. It felt like a first or second draft and no one pointed out to the writer/director that some of the scenes were unnecessarily offensive.
Winner – Lady Bird.
Actor in a Leading Role
Timothee Chalamet – Sorry. Did not see this performance.
Daniel Day-Lewis – Did not see.
Daniel Kaluuya – Good performance. Nothing worthy of a best actor nod.
Gary Oldman – Strong, believable performance.
Denzel Washington – Did not see
Winner – Gary Oldman
Note: The best acting performance that I did see in 2017 was James Franco in the Disaster Artist.
Actress in a Leading Role
Sally Hawkins – She carried the film.
Francis McDormand – Great role. Strong contender.
Margot Robbie – Powerful, funny, made you empathize with Tonya Harding.
Saoirse Ronan – I was with her all the way.
Meryl Streep – Another strong performance, but not enough to put her over the top.
Winner – Margot Robbie
Actor in a Supporting Role
Willem Dafoe – Did not see.
Woody Harrelson – Liked his character. Not strong enough for me.
Richard Jenkins – Nothing memorable.
Christopher Plummer – Did not see
Sam Rockwell – Likely winner, but the character was beyond unlikeable.
Winner – Sam Rockwell
I would have nominated James Franco’s brother Dave for the Disaster Artist.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Mary J. Blige – Nope.
Allison Janney – Yep. “Well, my storyline went to shit.”
Laurie Metcalf – Allison just edges out Laurie Metcalf
Octavia Spencer – Small role. Too small to make a splash.
Leslie Manville – Did not see.
Winner – Allison Janney
Dunkirk – No way.
Get Out – Great execution. Not enough here to win.
Lady Bird – She took a simple script and made something special.
Phantom Thread – Did not see.
The Shape of Water – Watch Splash. It was better.
Winner – Lady Bird
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – David vs Goliath. Make sure to see this one.
Faces Places – Could not find this film anywhere.
Icarus – A fascinating documentary that goes from ordinary to extraordinary. If you don’t believe that Putin is corrupt and that he isn’t directly responsible for murder, watch this film. Read my review here.
Last Men in Aleppo – Important story. Timely.
Strong Island – I liked this documentary. I thought there were some better choices
Winner – Icarus
I have always been of the belief that great films start with the screenplay. Without the screenplay there are no actors. No directors. No editors. But after reading or seeing all of the scripts nominated in the next two categories, I learned something important. A great film may start with the screenplay, but it won’t go anywhere without the collaboration of others. When I read the script for Lady Bird, I did not see anything special about it. That changed after I saw the film. I had a similar but negative experience with the script for Three Billboards. There are some scenes and dialogue in this screenplay that should have never made it past a script review. Here’s one example: Woody Harrelson’s character decides to fool around with his wife one last time before he does something terrible. Later they cut to a scene of him and his wife. The wife tells him that he has a nice c$#k. When I read that line, I was shocked for a number of reasons. For one, no woman would talk like that unless she was filming a porno. More importantly, the line sticks out like a sore thumb. Then Woody Harrelson repeats the line before his terrible deed. It did not work on the page. I thought for sure when I went to see the film that someone would have pointed out to the writer/director that the line doesn’t work But nope. Every scene and line of dialogue that should have been given more thought made it on to the screen.
Call Me By Your Name – So bad I could not make it past page 45.
The Disaster Artist – The combination of this screenplay and James Franco’s performance is a winner
Logan – Good script. Good film. But I’m not into super hero movies.
Molly’s Game – Well crafted. Creative use of flashbacks. Could win.
Mudbound – A good story that was elevated by the performances.
Winner – The Disaster Artist
The Big Sick – Very funny movie.
Get Out – Very good horror/comedy script.
Lady Bird – Comes to life on screen.
The Shape of Water – Stereotypical characters. Borrows too much from Splash.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – A solid first draft.
Winner – Lady Bird
Look out people: Oscar shock tonight. Woody Harrelson best supporting actor!