Oscars 2017: My Nominations Ballot
Oscar nominations are Tuesday morning. I prepare for them two-fold: first, to put up my personal nominations, and then put up my article guessing what I think the nominations will be. This is the former.
I do this to get all my subjectivity out so I don’t have to worry about making too many decisions based on personal feelings. That way tomorrow I can just guess what I truly think is gonna happen and not let my own ego and feelings get in the way. Tomorrow’s the good stuff. Today is just me getting my personal opinions out there so people can irrationally attack them. Which seems to be what the internet is for.
This article is simple — if I were given a blank card and told I could select every nominee at the Oscars, this is what I would nominate. It seems to work out that I end up having broadly what ends up being nominated. Though I will also occasionally go off and nominate a few things that I think are great that some people (because they are beholden to the Oscar mythos) think should never be nominated in a million years.
So here’s what my Oscar nominations ballot would look like.
We begin with Best Picture, as always. The thing to mention here is that we don’t know just how many films are going to be nominated. It hasn’t been ten since they had the set list in 2009-2010. Since then it’s been either 8 or 9 most years.
We know there will be five nominees minimum. So, the way we always do this (for today and tomorrow) — I’ll put 1-5 as is and then rank 6-10. So when their list ends, my list ends. If they nominate 8, I nominate 8. And my #9 gets left off. Not that complicated.
When the real Oscar nominations ballots go in, all they do is have people rank 1-5, and then the rankings are given weight and that’s what they use to figure out what the nominees list is. I’m not doing that here, since this is all magic wand shit anyway. If I knew there were definitely 10, I’d pick 10. Though if you saw my Top Ten list, you’d have a pretty good idea of how I’d rank them in a weighted ballot scenario.
The Florida Project
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
6. The Shape of Water
7. Molly’s Game
8. The Big Sick
9. I, Tonya
10. Blade Runner 2049
Nothing overly surprising. My entire top ten is here, save Coco (which I don’t think is strong enough that it needs to burst into the big boy race, as much as I love it. I nominated Kubo straight up last year… and Moana… so I’m not opposed to it if the situation calls for it ), replaced with my number 11, I, Tonya. Some slight ranking changes — Shape of Water jumps up to 6, just because I would want to see it nominated. If Molly’s Game or Big Sick don’t make it, I’m not heartbroken. And I, Tonya goes to 9 over Blade Runner for the same reason. I loved Blade Runner but I don’t need it to be a Best Picture nominee. (I’d have left it off entirely, but there’s nothing in the top 20 I loved enough to put on the list over it.)
I’m suspecting we get 8 or 9 this year, so I’m good with wherever this gets left off. This didn’t feel like an overly strong year to me in any regard, so there aren’t any movies I feel bad for not including. The Post, I don’t need. Call Me By Your Name I loved but wouldn’t nominate over what I have. If I did, it would just be because I know it will probably get nominated and want to seem like I’m in line with how the Oscars are gonna go.
Fortunately, for me, pretty much everything I loved is sort of in the conversation for awards, even if they might not necessarily get them, so nothing here is like last year, where I had The Nice Guys in my top ten but really didn’t need to see that be nominated for Best Picture.
Dunkirk, Lady Bird, Three Billboards, Shape of Water — those should all be Best Picture nominated. Big Sick is 50/50 but no one would be surprised if it made it on. Phantom Thread is firmly in that conversation. Molly’s Game and I, Tonya got PGA nominations and will get acting and/or below the line nominations. Florida Project is there and will get at least one nod, possibly more. Blade Runner’s the only possible ‘outlier’, and even that should end up with 3-5 nominations, for Sound and Visual Effects and things like that. So I’m feeling pretty good about my personal list, and I’m gonna be overall happy with what they do unless they make some egregious omission (likely coupled with an egregious inclusion).
And then, if I’m voting, Three Billboards gets the vote, just because, as is the case for the last… six out of seven years, my #1 of the year was nominated for Best Picture. So why would I not take it? (Note: The one outlier was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl in 2015.)
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Edgar Wright, Baby Driver
Let me explain the thinking behind this list. I am not someone who automatically ascribes to the notion that a movie that is nominated for Best Picture has to be nominated for Best Director. As such, some of my absolute favorite movies of the year are not on here. To me, McDonagh is about the script and not the direction, as much as I think he did a great job there too. Gerwig, I thought about putting her on here, but in the end, I felt as though I’d be guilty of doing it for the sake of diversity. I’d love to see her get the nomination on Tuesday, but I’d rather focus solely on the effort itself rather than who did it. I know I’m a piece of shit for having five white dudes on there, but I just wanted to focus on the output rather than who made them. So sue me.
That fifth spot was tough. Anderson and Nolan were automatic. I felt like Baby Driver was such a tightly controlled experience that I had to give Edgar a shout out. Guillermo… the fact that he accomplished that film on such a small budget, to me, is worthy of inclusion.
The last spot, though… that was tough. I almost put Sean Baker, I thought about Craig Gillespie. Denis Villeneuve came close. Darren Aronofsky also got some consideration there as well. But in the end, I felt that Luca Guadagnino’s handling of Call Me By Your Name was so tender and so perfect for that film that I wanted to show him some love. Ask me again tomorrow and I could change my mind completely. Sean Baker was probably the one I’d have switched to. But today, it’s Luca, so here we are.
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Hugh Jackman, Logan
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
The interesting thing for me this year is that my list is basically the list. Because there’s not really a whole lot more than what the contenders are that I loved enough to say, “You know what? Let’s put them on.” This is legitimately a year where the female performances outweigh the male performances (for once!).
James Franco is the person I left off. And as much as I think he was hilarious as Tommy Wiseau, I was ultimately left with, “Franco or Hugh?” And on a personal level, I love Hugh more. (This is how people don’t end up as first ballot hall of famers.) Plus, this is like Stallone in Creed. You spent time with the character, and here he delivers a great performance with the weight of history behind it. Not to mention — it’s a really fucking good performance. Let’s not forget we were all really high on that performance back in April. And on top of that, he also had The Greatest Showman this year, which, while not good enough on its own to merit a nomination, definitely puts him over the top for me.
Outside of that, I wasn’t going out of my way to shoehorn people I think did fine but weren’t that exemplary. I know some people would force James McAvoy in there for Split. I wouldn’t go near that. Daniel Kaluuya was fine. Again, not for me. Jeremy Renner was admirable in Wind River, but again, nowhere near someone I’d want to nominate. Tom Hanks didn’t do much for me in The Post, as much as I love Tom Hanks in anything.
Robert Pattinson came close for Good Time. He was definitely someone I looked at, but ultimately he just missed. It’s a little more physical than you’d think, but I really liked Vince Vaughn in Brawl in Cell Block 99. But again, not someone who made the final cut. Gosling was good in Blade Runner, but nah. Branagh was very good in Murder on the Orient Express, but he wouldn’t make it past the top ten at best. I’m not sure where they’re pushing Idris Elba for Molly’s Game. I consider him more Supporting, so that’s why he’s not here. Bale is good in Hostiles, but he’s retreading similar ground from earlier roles and didn’t do much for me in the way of wanting to vote for him.
So I ended up with chalk, basically. Gary Oldman will win Best Actor this year for Darkest Hour. He was automatic. Daniel Day-Lewis was automatic. That’s one and two right there. Denzel delivers what I think is his best work in a while, so he’s on for me. Chalamet really impressed me in the latter stages of that movie, so I’ll give him the nod. That’s likely to be 4/5 of the final list. But yeah, once you get to your five, there’s not a whole lot past that.
Oldman is my vote, just because he’s got nothing and Day-Lewis has three. Plus, he’s really good. He doesn’t reach Day-Lewis as Lincoln level disappearing, but there were moments where I forgot it was him, which is more than enough for me.
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project
Florence Pugh, Lady Macbeth
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
I made a broad list (no pun there, you sick sons of bitches) of the people I’d vote for. It was ten names. The only major contender not on that list was Meryl Streep. I didn’t particularly love the flighty way she played that part. (I also don’t consider Judi Dench or Annette Bening major contenders, even if they are contenders.)
Of the ten names — I strongly considered Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread, but ultimately felt I wouldn’t vote for her. Jessica Chastain, while fantastic in Molly’s Game, didn’t do it for me, despite my love of the film. Jennifer Lawrence is the centerpiece of Mother! and delivers a really committed performance. But I don’t remember being blown away by it and haven’t seen the film more than once, so she got left off.
The other contender there was Sally Hawkins — who was quite wonderful in The Shape of Water. But when I thought about that performance, I wondered what exactly it was I was responding to — the work or my love of the film, the actress and the idea of the role itself. And I realized in that moment I should go with the choices who actually made me, while watching the films, go, “Oh, wow.”
Frances McDormand was a gimme, Saoirse Ronan was a gimme. Margot Robbie required very little convincing to put on. It was those last two I thought about long and hard before I realized, “Of course.” Brooklynn Prince is the centerpiece of The Florida Project and, while detractors will say the performance of a child actor is basically the child being the child and there’s no performance there, I will respond by saying — there weren’t many more performances that moved me as much as hers did this year. So it’s valid. (Those last ten minutes, though.) And Florence Pugh — I’ve been saying all year how much of a revelation she was in that movie and how much I loved it, so of course I should have her on my Best Actress list. I truly thought she gave one of the best performances I saw this year. So really the difficult part for me was leaving those other people off and reminding myself of which performances I really liked best.
I think my vote is McDormand, though I feel like that might be a bit of a shortsighted vote. Perhaps in a few years I could change my opinion. But I think she’s the right choice at this moment in time.
Best Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name
First off — major, major shout outs to Patrick Stewart in Logan, Sebastian Stan in I, Tonya and Idris Elba in Molly’s Game. And we’ll throw in Ben Mendelsohn in Darkest Hour. I really liked all of those performances a lot, and they just got squeezed for space. Stan gives one of the most underrated performances of the year, and brilliantly balances dramatic work with comedic (alongside actually looking and sounding like the guy). Mendelsohn has a thankless part, reprising a role already well known because of Colin Firth in The King’s Speech, and actually gives you a well-rounded portrait of the guy in limited screen time. He doesn’t make the speech impediment as pronounced (because it wasn’t as pronounced as Colin Firth played it), and really delivers great work in an overlooked part of the film. Idris Elba is amazing, and he’s great in that movie (also shoutout to Kevin Costner, who delivers great work in what is consistently the most attacked part of that movie), though I know well enough with Sorkin that the actors are so rarely delivering great performances so much as reciting his dialogue well. (Works well in TV, I notice, but in the films so much of it sounds like it’s exalting the dialogue over the actor.) Elba’s deposition room monologue is one of the best single scenes I saw this year and got him really close to me voting for him. And Patrick Stewart — how good was he in Logan? It’s almost a two-hander, him and Jackman, and he just barely missed making the list.
I think the only person I left out from the predicted contenders was Richard Jenkins, who was fine but his character felt all there on the page. I don’t know how to explain it. It just felt like that character was designed to be where it is and we’re mostly talking about how much we love Jenkins more than that performance actually being great. Fine with it, but wouldn’t have voted for it. (Of course, some may feel that way about some of the performances I’ve nominated, which I understand.)
In the end, the five I chose felt like the right five. Woody probably isn’t fully there for me — but I love Woody, and I love the movie. So sure. You wanna twist my arm, sure I should probably have someone else, but I wanna see Woody get another nomination. Hey, it’s my list, I can do what I want.
Rockwell and Dafoe were and are locks from the start. To me the two best supporting performances of the year. Plummer, I originally thought was getting nominations because they were making statements about Kevin Spacey. But he legitimately gives a great performance in the movie, to the point where you wonder why they didn’t cast him in the first place. I’m not even trying to make a statement, I truly thought that performance was great. And then there’s Michael Stuhlbarg. Everyone has been putting Armie Hammer on their lists, which I understand. But when faced with the choice, to Armie Hammer I said, “Later.” Because Michael Stuhlbarg, while present in the film and having a fair amount of screen time, delivers what I think is the greatest monologue of the year, in what might be the single greatest scene of the year. People have won Oscars on less, and I think we ought to recognize just how great that scene is and how underappreciated he is as an actor.
My vote, though, is Rockwell. I just loved everything about that performance.
Best Supporting Actress
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Julianne Nicholson, Novitiate
Just like Best Actress, I had ten names here. Too many choices to go around. So to begin — shout out Tiffany Haddish, shout out Bridget Everett in Patti Cake$, shout out Hong Chau in Downsizing. Bigger shoutout to Tatiana Maslany in Stronger. Also bigger shout out to Dafne Keen in Logan.
I wouldn’t go anywhere near Mary J. Blige in Mudbound (I barely register her presence in the film, let alone feel like there’s anything there to warrant a nomination), and Octavia Spencer just feels like she’s giving the same performance she gives all the time. Which is always good, but it’s the same thing. It’s like nominating Thelma Ritter as much as they did. You know she’s just doing the Thelma Ritter thing, right? So no on her. Kristin Scott Thomas was solid in Darkest Hour, but was underutilized, Michelle Pfeiffer disappeared too early in Mother! and didn’t have that extra big scene in Orient Express for me to go there, and as you can see I went a different way than the obvious performance in Novitiate, as good as Melissa Leo was.
In the end — Holly Hunter, Laurie Metcalf and Allison Janney were the three that everyone pretty much had from the start. I almost went off Holly Hunter at the last second, but I love her and think she did great work. Then there’s Lesley Manville, who might have broken too late to make the final list, but delivers a fantastic performance as “my old so-and-so.” The amount she doesn’t show and conveys with looks is just wonderful. She’ll make some people’s lists and isn’t that surprising for anyone.
The last performance, however, will take most people by surprise. Because if you see Novitiate on a list (and Margaret Qualley did make my final ten for Best Actress too, even if she was the first one off), you assume Melissa Leo is gonna be the one getting the notice. But I was way more impressed with Julianne Nicholson in that movie. She gave three great performances that I saw this year. This was one, I, Tonya was the other, and the third was an indie movie called Who We Are Now, which was a rare leading role for her, where she is quite good. But in Novitiate, she gets to play the mother who is the opposite of the religious type, who is both dismissive of her daughter’s decision to join a nunnery but also very much concerned and loving of her daughter at the same time. The scenes later in the movie where she comes to visit, and then where she confronts Melissa Leo, are incredible. Truly one of most touching performances I saw this year and one that is criminally underappreciated.
Laurie Metcalf gets my vote, even though Allison Janney is a close, close second.
Best Original Screenplay
The Big Sick
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
I hated that Phantom Thread had to get squeezed from this. But what could I do?
Three Billboards and Lady Bird were never not getting on. The Big Sick was an easy third, and I truly appreciated what I, Tonya manages to do in telling its story. So that’s four. The last spot was either Phantom Thread or Darkest Hour, and I think Darkest Hour was the better effort in the sense that — there are a lot of really little moments in that movie that I think work really well, alongside the long dialogue pages. That scene in the middle where he’s in the back room talking to the people who oppose his plan must be like 15 pages of straight dialogue. That’s impressive. Plus, as much as it’s utterly implausible, I love the writerly flourish of that subway scene. So that’s my fifth choice.
The vote… yeah… that’s tough. It’s Three Billboards, even though my heart bleeds for both Lady Bird and The Big Sick. But favorite is favorite. What can you do?
Best Adapted Screenplay
Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
This one was six nominees for five spots. Molly’s Game was automatic. Call Me By Your Name followed not long after. The Disaster Artist had to go on. I don’t know how they managed that. And then… Wonder. That was a movie I thought was gonna be dog shit. And then about thirty minutes in when that movie stops and goes, “Now we’re gonna start telling you the story from the sister’s point of view,” I physically sat up in the theater and went, “Whoa.” I didn’t see that coming, and it made the movie completely take off for me in a much better direction. So I wanted to shout out both that moment (which is in the book, I’m aware) and the overall intelligence of the writing, which never felt like it sunk to almost any of the cliche’s you’d expect in a movie like this or talked down to adult viewers.
Then, I almost had Blade Runner as my fifth, but then I realized I didn’t need it. The film is all about how they build the universe. So it’s more directing than writing. Plus… I really think they accomplished something great with Jumanji. That movie is so clever and fun that I had to give it something. I’m sure the script isn’t as good as the finished product, but FUCK IT. I’m nominating Jumanji.
Molly’s Game is the choice. No question.
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
This had strong chance at being the actual five of the category. Except there is no credited cinematographer for Phantom Thread, so that can’t be the fifth choice, unless there’s some weird loophole that allows it to get nominated. But not even BAFTA went there, which leads me to believe there isn’t. They’ll probably nominate Mudbound or something in that spot, which didn’t particularly do it for me.
Dunkirk, Blade Runner and Phantom Thread are the three most gorgeous movies of this year. Shape of Water looked amazing (as all of Guillermo’s films do), and Darkest Hour was so classically done and so beautifully framed that I had to make it the other choice. This is one of those categories that required no effort because these were the five and there were no other real alternatives. Call Me By Your Name is a very distant sixth for me. Other than that, all I’d think of is maybe Mother! just because of how they shot that movie. Lost City of Z maybe, as an eighth choice. Then maybe Detroit ninth. But I like my five.
(NOTE: If Phantom Thread truly cannot be nominated and me nominating it is like trying to click ‘next page’ on a form without filling in a required section, then I’ll put Call Me By Your Name as the alternate.)
I would take Phantom Thread, if I’m able to, but barring that not being allowable, Dunkirk is the choice. Dunkirk might still be the choice. I know Blade Runner is Deakins and I’ve been a champion for years of him finally getting that Oscar, but the idea of him winning for a film he shot digitally and not on film just feels wrong to me. I’ll be thrilled if he wins, but I personally put him as third choice in the category.
Blade Runner 2049
Baby Driver and Dunkirk — nuff said. Blade Runner… I think all of Villeneuve’s films are immaculately edited. So that was a great pairing of filmmaker and material. I, Tonya is all about the editing, and that’s a tough pace to pull off. Especially when the film slows down toward the end as things come crashing down. Big fan of that. And Phantom Thread — it’s like Kubrick. It’s so deliberate in its choices, you have to show it some love. (Plus, there’s a line cross in that movie! In the scene where they meet in the restaurant, they cross the line they tell you to never cross, and you barely even register it because it feels so perfect. They cut that together so well you don’t even realize what they did.) So yeah, those are the choices. Barely any thought required.
The vote is probably… oh, you know what? This is tough. I’m gonna give it to Baby Driver over Dunkirk. I think, with the music and all that — yeah, let’s go Baby Driver. Happy to see either win, though.
Best Original Score
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I’ll never not nominate a John Williams Star Wars score. To me, that’s the cornerstone of what this category is all about, and if he keeps composing them, I’ll keep nominating them. The Shape of Water is probably the best film score of the year and is gonna win the Oscar handily, so that’s on without question. Jane is the only other film score of the year that made me physically go, “Whoa, shit.” The Shape of Water I heard during the opening credits and said, “Oh, that’s lovely.” Jane’s score actually made me go, “Wow.” So that was automatic. Phantom Thread — I just needed to make sure a lot of the stuff I loved in the film was Jonny Greenwood and not classical music being repurposed. And it was. So he was an easy add. Loving Vincent has a gorgeous score and I’m a huge Clint Mansell fan, so he made fifth. I’m still listening through other scores, so this could change by the time I post my Scores article.
But yeah, these five were gorgeous. And if I was gonna put an alternate, it wouldn’t be what you guys are expecting (The Post, Dunkirk, etc), so I’ll save it for my Scores article.
I think my vote is Jane. Shape of Water will win easily, but Jane is the only score that made me really emotionally engage with its film. As much as Desplat is my favorite working composer, he’ll get his second one for this, so I’m good.
Best Original Song
“Mystery Of Love,” from Call Me by Your Name
“Never Forget,” from Murder on the Orient Express
“PBNJ,” from Patti Cake$
“This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman
“Tuff Love (Finale),” from Patti Cake$
Love picking this category. Though most years I’m like, “I have three… I don’t really care about the other stuff.” This year I pulled ten options, no problem. Not that they were all relevant to their films, but I was able to pull ten I’d be happy with.
Dealing with the five that didn’t make it — “The Promise” was one I really wanted to vote for. Just to get Chris Cornell some recognition posthumously. But if he didn’t die this year, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near the choice. It would have been same thing — “Like it, wouldn’t nominate it.” And then I’d make an “Academy Award nominee The Promise” joke.
Then there’s “Buddy’s Business,” from Brawl in Cell Block 99, which is just an awesome song and actually appears throughout the movie. But it’s not really something I’d nominate so much as it’s an awesome song from the O’Jay’s that you want to listen to.
“Remember Me” is a song that works well within Coco and is a very good song, but I just didn’t love it enough to put it on my list. It was sixth or seventh. Shit happens. I had stuff I really liked this year.
“Visions of Gideon” was a great song, but I already had one Call Me By Your Name song on there, and this one just felt unnecessary compared to the first one. Though granted, this song is the one that appears in the film over that very powerful final shot. Still, I much prefer “Mystery of Love” over it.
I had a real tough time of this one, because there were six songs I wanted to put on, and I had to decide which one was being left off. In the end, I left off Elvis Costello’s great “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way” from Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. I love that song and hated that I had to leave it off, but it was sixth. What can you do?
The song that took its spot was “Never Forget,” which I just love the more I hear it. Maybe it’s the fact that Michelle Pfeiffer is singing it, which I like a lot. It adds an emotional resonance, given how that film plays out. I’m sure that song won’t be on most people’s lists, but I love it.
Two songs from Patti Cake$ make it on, because they’re both incredible and are exactly what this category is supposed to be about. “Pbnj” is just catchy as shit and I don’t know how you listen to that and not groove along to it. And “Tuff Love” is the climactic song of the film and really is stirring when you see it. Had to put both on.
“Mystery of Love” is my preferred song from Call My By Your Name, so that made it on for me. I’m happy if either makes it on the final list. But that’s my pick.
And then “This Is Me.” Which is also a song that’s exactly what this category is about. It’s wonderfully written, catchy and from an original musical with quite a few memorable tunes.
The vote… shit… that’s tough. I guess “This Is Me,” just because it’s a stirring anthem and I’m all for supporting original musicals.
Best Production Design
Blade Runner 2049
Dave Made a Maze
Murder on the Orient Express
The Shape of Water
Tough category for me this year. A lot of possible contenders. Star Wars, I felt like too much of it was either CGI or real location (like Luke’s island). Dunkirk came close, but it’s dudes on a beach, on a boat or in planes. The Greatest Showman didn’t wow me with the sets like I thought it would. Downsizing was cute, but nah. Beauty and the Beast was nice, but I didn’t need to put it on there. I didn’t really care.
Blade Runner felt like they built real sets as much as they could, and I loved that. Murder on the Orient Express — the entire film is production design. Phantom Thread — the House of Woodcock, though. My god. The Shape of Water — I know how much effort Guillermo puts into his sets, and every interior felt perfectly designed for those characters. And I had to shout out Dave Made a Maze. Just because most of the production design is a cardboard box maze doesn’t make it any less deserving.
My vote is Phantom Thread, even though I was really tempted to pick Dave Made a Maze.
Best Costume Design
Beauty and the Beast
Murder on the Orient Express
I just went for which films felt the most memorable to me, costumes-wise. Phantom Thread, of course. Beauty and the Beast, of course. Those images from Lady Macbeth of her on the couch. I, Tonya has some great costumes from her routines. And Orient Express is all about the costumes. Greatest Showman just missed. That was really theo nly other one I was considering.
Do I need to tell you which film I’m voting for?
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Pretty easy. We had seven options, these three are my favorite. Darkest Hour is the biggest slam dunk I’ve seen here in years. Wonder is showy in the main character and is basically what this category is about. And I, Tonya is more about the hairstyling, but that and the makeup felt on point throughout the entirety of the film. Coulda went with Guardians, but that didn’t feel as fun as the other three. Was never taking Bright, never taking Ghost in the Shell, and Victoria and Abdul — ehh. I like these three.
Darkest Hour is the vote.
Best Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes
Blade Runner, Dunkirk and Star Wars would pretty much be on everyone’s list voting for this. As would Apes, most likely. That’s 4/5 of the category. That’s almost certainly the objective best four. It comes down to what the fifth spot is. I didn’t care for Kong’s effects, Okja was a no, Alien was a no. Guardians — ehh. It was either Shape of Water or Valerian. And Shape of Water was more makeup of the fish guy than actual effects. So I went with Valerian, which went overboard in creating a bunch of creatures and a universe. I know people hated that movie, but I thought it was good. Plus, Academy Award nominee Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
The vote is… oh, you know… this is tough. I think the vote is Blade Runner. I thought it would be Dunkirk, but actually… yeah, it’s Blade Runner.
Best Sound Mixing
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Blade Runner and Star Wars and Dunkirk — need I say more there? They’re all soundscapes. Baby Driver is a great mix of sound with the music and the car chases, so of course that made it on. And Shape of Water just sounded terrific. I’m sure if I thought way hard I could have come up with a fifth choice, like Greatest Showman or something, but I’m happy with these five.
The vote is Blade Runner. I think the entire sound design of that movie was incredible.
Best Sound Editing
Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
4/5 the same as Mixing. The only difference is I took off Shape of Water and put on Wonder Woman, because it was a war movie and I do think it did some nice stuff there.
Baby Driver is the vote. All the different sounds they had to put together there… that’s my vote.
Best Animated Feature
The Girl Without Hands
Mary and the Witch’s Flower
These were my five favorite animated movies of the year. And, I’d also like to point out — I saw everything that was eligible. 26 films, that was.
To quickly run down the list: Sword Art Online, The Star, Smurfs, A Silent Voice, Napping Princess, Lego Batman, Lego Ninjago, Ferdinand, Emoji Movie, Despicable 3 — never gonna happen. I’d submit a blank ballot before most of those went on. Then — Big Bad Fox, Birdboy, Captain Underpants, Moomins, Window Horses Cars 3 — not for me.
That leaves ten movies. In This Corner of the World was nice, but comes off immediately when left with all the other possibilities. My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea was very good, but I didn’t love it enough over the remaining possibilities to take it. Ethel & Ernest was lovely, but got squeezed by other stuff. Cinderella the Cat was awesome and could almost have made it, but the top five were too strong.
And then… The Boss Baby. You’d think I would straight up nominate The Boss Baby for this, but I’d rather have put what I actually thought were the five best animated movies of the year. Plus, The Boss Baby is so good, it transcends competition and wins at everything anyway. (Also, if I were to swap something off for it, it would be The Breadwinner, so there you have it.)
Coco is Coco. We all cried and we know it. The Breadwinner is a really terrific film that will rightly be nominated (and lose to Pixar, as they all do). Mary and the Witch’s Flower is like Diet Ghibli, which is not a bad thing. It’s like Sabrina meets Kiki’s meets Spirited Away, and it’s lovely. The Girl Without Hands features perhaps the most beautiful animation of 2017 and deserves a spot on the list. Loving Vincent, to me, is the greatest animated achievement of the year and would win if it weren’t for that goddamn Pixar doing what they do.
Coco is the vote. I really want to take Loving Vincent, but I can’t. Coco is amazing.
Best Foreign Language Film
A Fantastic Woman
In the Fade
I’ve seen 5/9 of the shortlist, but I feel lacking, mostly because I still haven’t seen two of the biggest contenders. I should be seeing The Square in the next ten days, but that still doesn’t help me for Tuesday. And then In the Fade I still haven’t seen.
The ones I have seen are: A Fantastic Woman, Foxtrot, The Insult, Loveless and The Wound.
A Fantastic Woman was fine. Outside of a great central performance the film didn’t do a whole lot for me. The Insult felt like Asghar Farhadi-lite and also didn’t do much for me. Foxtrot was quite good. Those first twenty minutes are really powerful. It almost lost me a bit in the middle, but it ended up being quite solid overall. The Wound didn’t do it for me. That felt like them getting a more diverse country in there. And Loveless — currently the best film in the category. I love Zvyagintsev.
The two big ones I haven’t seen are The Square and In the Fade. The Square I should be seeing in the next ten days, but by that point it’ll probably be nominated and not matter. (Though I think we all know it’s probably gonna get on.)
Looking at the synopses for the remaining ones — On Body and Soul… ehh. Felicite feels like them getting a new country into the mix. Film doesn’t sound all that great. So my category are the ones that sound the best (or were the best).
Loveless is my vote, though that’s because I haven’t seen In the Fade or The Square. I could end up loving those more. Who knows?
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library
One of Us
15 documentaries were shortlisted. To this point, I have seen 14 of them. Missing Ex Libris.
Ones I did not care for: City of Ghosts, Human Flow, Last Men in Aleppo
Ones I was fine with but wouldn’t vote for: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Chasing Coral, An Inconvenient Sequel, LA 92, Long Strange Trip, Strong Island
Ones I liked but didn’t have room for: LA 92, Unrest
Fortunately, this year I liked enough documentaries to make a list. Ex Libris, while I haven’t seen it, is a four hour documentary on the New York Public Library, and I already know I like it better than the other ten choices, sight unseen. So that’s on. Jane was a beautiful documentary with never-before-seen footage and a stunningly good Philip Glass score. One of Us is incredible and is even better to me because I grew up in neighborhoods with Hasidic Jews, so the whole thing always fascinated me. Icarus was just amazing, and turns into two really good films by the end. And Faces Places was just lovely. So those are my five.
The vote… jesus, no idea. Based on what I’ve seen, I guess Jane, maybe? Though really, I feel like Ex Libris is the choice for me. So let’s be aspirational and say that.
Best Documentary Short
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Kayayo, The Living Shopping Baskets
Ten Meter Tower
Ten documentary shorts to pick from. I’ve seen four of them.
Alone did not do it for me. Heroin(e) was just fine. 116 Cameras didn’t really have anything that gripped me. Traffic Stop — I couldn’t even see a trailer for it, so I don’t know how I could vote for something I can’t even guess at. Ram Dass, at least I could see the trailer and know it wasn’t for me.
That left me with five choices. Edith+Eddie I already know will probably be my vote. Knife Skills is right up my alley. Kayayo looks great. Heaven Is a Traffic Jam — sure. And Ten Meter Tower got in by default even though it’s people jumping into a pool for fifteen minutes.
Sight unseen, Edith+Eddie is my vote. I already know that’ll be the one that works the best. And if it isn’t, I’m sure I’ll vote for Knife Skills when I see it.
Best Live-Action Short
My Nephew Emmett
Rise of a Star
The Silent Child
Purely guessing those would be the five. I have no idea. So here we are.
Can’t really vote, but if I had to guess, I’d probably like The Silent Child best.
Best Animated Short
In a Heartbeat
Lost Property Office
I’ve seen six of the ten. Of the six I’ve seen, I’d only nominate two of them. In a Heartbeat is adorable and should make it. Lou was nice, so I’ll put it on. Garden Party, Lost Property Office and Negative Space all look amazing, and since my other choices are Cradle (no), Dear Basketball (no), Fox and the Whale (ehh), Life Smartphone (no) and Revolting Rhymes (no), I’m happy with what I’ve chosen.
Based on what I’ve seen, the vote would be In a Heartbeat. But when all is said and done, the vote seems like it might be either Garden Party or Lost Property Office. Too early to tell.
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So those are my nominees. Tomorrow I’m gonna pick what I think the nominees are gonna be.