Oscars 2018: My Nominations Ballot
If there’s one thing I’m very good at doing, it’s separating my subjectivity from my objectivity. Something I notice most people who talk or write about film are very poor at doing.
On Tuesday they’ll announce this year’s Oscar nominations. Tomorrow, I will write up what I think will be nominated. While that list is, to an extent, subjective in the sense that it’s what I think will be nominated, I’m not letting my personal preference dictate what I guess. But, since I am human and do have opinions, I allow today to be the day where I can voice them. So today’s all about what I would nominate, and tomorrow is about what I think will actually be nominated. You’d be surprised how many people allow their personal feelings dictate how they pick the Oscars. I get all that out now so I can just be honest about what I think is gonna happen, knowing it’s already clear where I stand on each of the films.
This article is basically — if I were somehow given a full ballot and told that I could put in nominations for every single category, what would I choose? Most of the time, it ends up being pretty close to what ends up being nominated, but I also will go off and select stuff I think was great that got no praise throughout the year. This year, I’m wondering how much my hands will be tied because of all the new shortlists they introduced. I guess we’ll see.
Here’s what my Oscar nominations ballot would look like:
We start with Best Picture.
We never know how many nominees there are gonna be. The Best Picture list will always have a minimum of 5 films, but after that, it can have anywhere from 5-10. They started this system with the 2011 Oscars, and since then, it’s either been 8 or 9 films (with 9 being the typical number).
But since we know there must be five at a minimum, the way I do this (and will for tomorrow’s list as well, to keep myself honest) is: I will put my top five there, in alphabetical order. Then, 6-10, I will rank. So that way, when the Oscar lists ends, my list ends. So if there are 9 nominees, my list cuts off with #9. Very simple.
Of course, the way the actual voting works, they have people rank 1-5, and then based on how many votes things get that dictates how many overall nominees there are. So yeah, I’m fudging a little bit, but this is all make believe anyway, so you’re just gonna have to live with that shit.
If Beale Street Could Talk
7. A Star Is Born
8. Bohemian Rhapsody
10. The Favourite
It’s pretty much my top ten list. I had a documentary at #1, so take that off, and it’s literally my top ten with the next non-documentary put on. Looking at this, there’s a decent chance eight of these movies can and will be nominated for Best Picture. Widows is the only outlier. So really it just comes down to my order versus the “official” order.
I’m doing this with the assumption that my nominees are not gonna dictate what will get on. So I’m free to vote my own personal feelings. Were I to try to sincerely influence the vote, I’d take Vice out of the top five and put on BlacKkKlansman. And then maybe slide Bohemian Rhapsody down below those two below it. But otherwise, these are 10 of my top 12 movies of the year, and apparently most people seem to agree because legitimately your Oscar list is gonna include at least 6 or 7 of these movies. Black Panther is the only other big contender that I didn’t put on this list. Otherwise, your Best Picture list is here.
Picking a winner from this list is tricker. Since while Green Book was my #2 movie of the year, I’m not sure I feel the compulsion to actually vote for it. If it came down to it now, I might say that Beale Street would be my vote. But this is just nominations. I’m comfortable with my ten.
I also am very pleased that most of my list will end up being nominated. And a lot of the big stuff I’m comfortable on. If I really cared, I don’t need Suspiria nominated for Best Picture. And while I’d like Widows to be nominated, again, I’m okay if it’s not. (Though the fact that no one’s talking about it is disgusting to me, because it’s so good.)
Really the one I’m gonna be upset about if they leave it off is Beale Street. They better not allow a 2018 Best Picture list without that movie on it. Usually I will just vote my highest ranked movie as Best Picture, but Beale Street just feels like it’s the choice this year. Otherwise, I feel confident that most everything else will be nominated. What’s the other possible cast off? Vice? Sure. It’ll be okay because McKay directed it and Bale will probably have won for it. Bohemian Rhapsody? Sure. Most of this list will get on and it’ll be fine. But Beale Street is the one that I will really shame the Academy over if they ignore it.
Damien Chazelle, First Man
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Lynne Ramsey, You Were Never Really Here
Honorable mention to Steve McQueen and Bradley Cooper. Cooper I know will be nominated so I didn’t feel bad about leaving him off. But I’d nominate the five I mentioned.
I think Chazelle and Ramsey are the two who took movies that really could have been made by anyone and been perfectly solid and really elevated them with their direction. They both definitely earned a spot on the list, even if I wouldn’t have nominated their films for Best Picture. I was very impressed by what Chazelle did with what could have been a very by-the-numbers, easily-ignored movie on his filmography. And Ramsey took what could have been a solid kind of thriller and really made it into art. That’s another one that, from its opening moments, really subverts expectations for what you’re watching.
Cuaron is just a master filmmaker and Roma is an incredible piece of work. He had to make it on. And Barry Jenkins — that man. 2016 I felt so bad not being able to vote for him, and it was for no reason other than the fact that I, personally, loved La La Land slightly more than I did Moonlight. But here… not only does he match what he did with Moonlight, he may have even exceeded it. I cannot speak highly enough about his effort in this movie, and it’ll be a damn shame if and when they don’t nominate him for it. (My fingers are still crossed for a Phantom Thread situation with that movie, where it manages to get on in the end when people realize what a masterpiece it is.)
Those four were the ones that immediately jumped out at me as having “needed” to be nominated. The last spot was up for discussion, and in the end, I went with Spike. It wasn’t really that difficult a decision. It was my #7 movie of the year, and of all the directors before him — Farrelly was a no on pure direction, one was a documentary, Luca Guadagnino I didn’t feel compelled to nominate, as I said McQueen just missed for me (though admittedly I’d have put Bradley Cooper on over him), and then Adam McKay… I thought Vice was a bit more messy than The Big Short was, so I didn’t feel like he needed this one too. That brought me to Spike on that level. But also… I think he did a fantastic job. This movie could have just been okay, or just been a solid little movie, but Spike elevates it to a really fun time, that also manages to get its point across and also be deadly serious at the same time. It’s like a guided missile that somehow people don’t realize is a missile until it explodes in the last five minutes of the movie. I’m so impressed by this. And, I’ll admit that even though it doesn’t really factor into my decision-making, and shouldn’t, the fact that he has never been nominated in this category and was overlooked for arguably the best movie of 1989, Do the Right Thing, I’d like to see him get nominated. Still, I think he easily earned a spot on this list.
I think these five are the best five efforts of the year, even though there were some other very terrific ones to go around. I didn’t even get a chance to talk about how impressed I was with what Bradley Cooper did in his debut, or Jason Reitman with The Front Runner, perhaps the most overlooked movie of the season (because at least people were aware of Widows. It feels like no one even knows The Front Runner exists!).
And then, I think this is obvious, but if it came down to a vote, Barry Jenkins would be the person I took, were this the list (or any other category he makes, really).
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Ryan Gosling, First Man
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Honorable mention to Hugh Jackman. I ran out of spots. Still surprised at how universally ignored that movie was.
So the two that had to make it on for me — one of which I would not have suspected even while watching the movie — Christian Bale and Rami Malek. Bale is completely self-explanatory. He achieves what so few people are able to achieve — I forgot I was watching Christian Bale for a while. It’s not completely Daniel Day-Lewis level, but all things considered, it’s fucking close. Honestly the only thing that prevents him from being the biggest slam dunk winner since Daniel Day-Lewis (or, I guess, Gary Oldman last year, who did something similar), is the fact that his film is, in a lot of ways, a comedy. I still think he’s got it won, but I think that gives some people a measure of pause before automatically anointing him the winner. Still, for me, that’s the best performance of the year. And it’ll finally get Bale his lead Oscar, which has been a long time coming (even if you start after his last win).
Now, Malek — I didn’t think I’d find that performance all that special. And even while watching it, I didn’t catch myself going, “Well shit, he’s doing a fantastic job here.” But you know what? I got to that Live Aid sequence and I was watching Freddie Mercury. Didn’t even cross my mind that I wasn’t watching anything else besides the band performing that Live Aid set, which I’ve seen like fifty times. So as much as I wouldn’t want to admit it, he has to be nominated. You don’t always achieve that level of performance, where someone forgets that they’re not watching the real person.
Then, Viggo — he’s so good. Some years I don’t totally see what’s so amazing, like with Captain Fantastic (where I thought he was very good, but wouldn’t have jumped to nominate him the way everyone else did). Here, I totally saw it. His dedication to that role was absolute, and it got to the point where he overcame (along with Mahershala, who we’ll get to in Supporting Actor, despite the fact that he should be nominated here alongside Viggo) what could have been a very generic and on-the-nose movie. Also, playing an Italian… not something people can do easily without resorting to stereotypes and feeling like a one-dimensional cartoon. I had my doubts in the first five minutes myself. But honestly, by the end, no issues whatsoever. He pushed the boundaries a bit, but honestly, I grew up around these people…. some of them are in my family… there’s an element of cartoon character in real New York Italians. So yeah, Viggo’s on for me.
Cooper, I was impressed with all the way through that film, both as a director and star. He had me from the first fifteen minutes and sustained it throughout. My only minor issue with the movie has to do with more of a writing and editing issue than anything else (namely the sudden turn the movie takes when it decides, “Oh well, I guess we should get to that ending now,” and moves us toward that garage). But none of that has to do with Cooper’s performance. He’s terrific here. And you really get a sense of the dude’s self-loathing and dislike of himself for the first half of that movie. It’s a really terrific job, and I think of all the nominations the film is gonna get, this will be the most deserving.
And the fifth spot — it was tough. I wanted to put Hugh Jackman on there, but in the end, and having seen the movie twice more over the past month — Ryan Gosling really does a fantastic job with Neil Armstrong. He has to carry the movie with his eyes, essentially, since Armstrong was a man of few words. And Gosling conveys so much without having to say anything in most scenes. And he lets his emotions come out in the right moments, and even not come out in the right moments, and I was very impressed by what he did. It’s funny that he’ll probably end up having been nominated for La La Land and not nominated for this, because this is the far superior performance, and the one most worthy of the nomination.
Again, this is a category where most of my nominees will end up being nominated on the final list. Theoretically all five of these could end up being the nominees. We still don’t know where the fifth spot is gonna land. It could be Gosling, though signs seem to point to John David Washington based on the precursors. And if I had to put a vote now, it would be for Christian Bale. That dude was Dick Cheney for at least half that movie, if not more.
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Claire Foy, Unsane
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Helena Howard, Madeline’s Madeline
Amandla Stenberg, The Hate U Give
This was the hardest category for me to figure out this year. Because apparently we all decided the other two Favourite performances are supporting, so that’s where they had to go. Taking those out, I realized I wasn’t left with much that I particularly loved from this year. Legitimately three of my top lead female performances are being considered supporting for the sake of nominations, so I had to struggle from there to figure out what the hell else to do.
We’ll start with Helena Howard, who, for my money, gave the single best screen performance of 2018. It’s not unlike the Oscars to ignore a performance that I (and many) felt was the best of a given year (see: Rebecca Hall in Christine), but man… in a category like this where they might legitimately nominate Emily Blunt for Mary Poppins… this feels like the Academy is just unimaginative and doesn’t watch enough movies. I know people rail on that every year, but this one I really felt. Still, Howard is the only person where I saw the performance and had my hand over my mouth going, “Oh my god.” I couldn’t believe what I was watching, she was so good. And it’s her first performance! Me liking that movie wasn’t even a given, but holy shit though, was that performance something else.
Otherwise — Olivia Colman gets on, because everyone from The Favourite should get on. She’s the only one they’re deeming a lead, so on lead she goes. She’s amazing, and all three of them are. Lady Gaga — I mean, she might get left off in a stronger year. But I love the role and I think the performance is fine. It’s the singing that does a lot of the work, and without much else I’m able to put here (we’ll get to them in Supporting), I’m fine with her being nominated. I might have done it anyway. Who knows.
That leaves two spots, and I really had to struggle to figure out what to do. I thought about Toni Collette, but honestly, it felt like a cop out to just put her on there for no reason. Everyone has her on, and I can’t say I loved the performance to put it on a list. I’d rather put something else on that should get more notice. Like Claire Foy in Unsane. If there’s one “woman unraveling” performance I thought was deserving, it was hers. So she got on over Toni Collette. Plus, she’s kind of hovering around contention for a different performance, so I want to remind people what her actual best performance was from 2018 (one that actually gives her something tangible to do). Then that last spot… Amandla Stenberg was the only person I had left who felt like they would mean something. Charlize Theron was fine in Tully, but I didn’t need to nominate that. Kathryn Hahn was fantastic in Private Life, and I thought about it, but… ehh. Kiki Layne was great, not sure I feel the need to vote for her. Elsie Fisher, no, but nice performance. Viola Davis, not enough there for me to nominate, as much as I like her. It came down to Amandla Stenberg because I found myself watching her movie and going (several times), “Wow, she’s great.” So she became number five. I don’t feel any regret for her, while I would have some nagging doubts about anyone else.
So those are my five. Voting-wise, Helena Howard is the only person I would ever vote for on this list. She gives the single best performance of 2018 for me. It’s her and then everyone else is an also-ran.
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Robert Forster, What They Had
Matthew McConaughey, White Boy Rick
Brian Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk
I could have found three other performances to go on this list, but these felt like the right ones. This will also be the one that is wildly different from the Oscar category. Everything else will be at least 60% exact, if not more. This one will just be one, maybe two the same.
Also, four (not even three) more performances I could have easily put here but didn’t — Russell Hornsby in The Hate U Give (who JUST missed for me, owing to the fact that I got stuck putting Mahershala in Supporting), Colman Domingo in Beale Street, Armie Hammer in Sorry to Bother You, and Daniel Kaluuya in Widows. And a shout out to John Gallagher in The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I thought that was quietly one of the best supporting performances of the year. That character was so well-drawn.
But anyway, for this one — Mahershala should have gone lead, but if you make me put him supporting, I will. So here he is. He and Viggo are both tremendous and both deserve nominations. Then, Sam Elliott. He is the heart and soul of A Star Is Born and the fact that there’s even a chance they leave him off the nominations list is stunning to me. Those two are like, 1 and 1a for best supporting* (*I know) performances.
Then there’s Robert Forster. He’s someone who really hasn’t gotten a lot of due for giving great performances over the years, only ever being nominated for Jackie Brown (where he’s admittedly awesome). Here, though, he’s the best thing in a movie that’s designed to have standout performances. And absolutely nobody is talking about this one. He’s not even on those slideshow lists of “Under the Radar Performances That Should Be Nominated This Year.” No one seems to know anything about this movie, and he’s good enough that, if you nominated him, with the right push, he could have maybe won. (Obviously not really, with Mahershala the big fish in the little pond, but the performance is strong enough.)
McConaughey, meanwhile… I think they pushed him lead, which is a bad idea. Because he’s as strong as he’s been the past couple years, and it’s really a supporting performance to the kid. And man, is he great. That scene alone where he sees his grandkid is stunning. For sure he’s a top five supporting performance for me.
Fifth spot was tough. Russell Hornsby really came close, and Beale Street has both Brian Tyree Henry and Colman Domingo. But Henry has that movie and Widows. He’s got a ten minute showstopping monologue and delivers a really solid performance in Widows (and he has White Boy Rick). So he was the #5 for me. Tough category, but he got on.
For the vote… it’s either Mahershala or Sam Elliott. I don’t really know which I’d take. Maybe Sam Elliott just because Mahershala has one already, but I’d be happy with either.
Best Supporting Actress
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Tilda Swinton, Suspiria
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Three of these are technically lead, but this is the game we play at Oscar time. If I really got down to it, I’d probably have nominated Weisz, Stone and McKenzie on my lead list. But it is what it is.
Everyone knows how good Weisz and Stone are, so there’s not a whole lot to add there. They’re deservingly gonna be nominated. McKenzie is incredible in her film, and while you can quibble about lead vs. supporting, she’s deserving. Sadly, she won’t be nominated. And then — Tilda plays three roles. One of which is a man! I had to put her on there. She’s awesome. And then I put Regina King as the fifth, just because I really had no one else I liked enough, and the only other real option I’d have considered was Natalie Portman in Vox Lux. But when you get down to it, I’d rather support Beale Street over that film. I can’t particularly differentiate past all my options, so the film became the tiebreaker. I truly don’t think Regina King had enough to do in that movie to truly be considered a proper nominee, let alone a winner, but fine. I’ve got nothing else, and she’s great. There’s Zoe Kazan in Buster Scruggs, who is admittedly fantastic in that, or Elizabeth Debicki in Widows, but fuck it. I’ll put King on, just because there’s a (slim) chance she might not even make the final category. Which, in a year like this, would be just an awful show by the Academy.
So yeah, not a great category. And voting? I don’t know. Swinton was my favorite performance, but I’m not sure I need to vote for her. Honestly I think I might give it to Emma Stone. I really liked what she did in that movie. So yeah, let’s vote Emma Stone. Why not.
Best Original Screenplay
Sorry to Bother You
Sorry to Bother You was the most original screenplay of 2018, so that had to get on. Green Book took what could have been a very generic/sentimental/insert adjective here story and made it really entertaining. So I had to shout that out. The Favourite is just hilarious and breathed life (or gave life) to what could have been a very boring period piece. Blindspotting was an incredible character study and a walked a really fine tightrope, pulling it off utterly in an impressive way for first time writers (who also starred in the movie). And Vice — I can only imagine what McKay had written that didn’t make the cut, and what was in the cut was impressive. So I wanted to shout that out too. Those five felt like the proper five.
Roma felt like it didn’t really have a screenplay and was just images and scenarios more than scenes. Nothing else I loved was an original screenplay, so that’s pretty much it. I’m very okay with this. Though shout out to Never Goin’ Back. More of an overall film than a screenplay, but this was really the only place I could shout it out.
As for a vote — Green Book or The Favourite. Maybe The Favourite. I’ll know for sure how I feel when I get to the final category. I think it’s probably one or the other there. But I feel like Green Book had a lot of the job done for it, and the actors elevated the writing. I think The Favourite had to put most of that on the page, so let’s say The Favourite for now. I may change my mind, but for now that’s the vote.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Death of Stalin
The Front Runner
If Beale Street Could Talk
Three of these are in my top ten, so that’s not much of a surprise. Beale Street I think is just a masterpiece and took a great adaptation to pull off. Because, that monologue in the middle, that apartment scene, the structure — that’s all in the writing. And then Widows — they took a miniseries and boiled it down to two hours. And most of the time you’d feel like they lost a lot of stuff or simplified a lot of it. But here, you feel like it could have been longer. Everything flows and it all works. I always like when movies give you side characters who feel like they could be the leads of their own movie. And everything in this movie feels like that, which to me is just as impressive having been pared down from 12 episodes as it is being written from scratch. And BlacKkKlansman is great because it takes a premise that could have gone so many different ways and turns it into something energetic and vital that has something to say. It’s Spike at his best.
The last two spots I had to think about. I thought about Suspiria, but that’s not about the writing. A Star Is Born — ehh. It’s fine. But to me it’s in the acting and directing more than the writing. Death of Stalin I struggled with because technically it’s 2017, but it counts for 2018 for the Oscars and it’s honestly one of the funniest movies I’ve seen. If The Favourite is gonna get nominated then so should Death of Stalin. So I put that on, because Armando Iannucci is a comic genius. And then The Front Runner — that’s a film where I think there’s so much more going on there than people realize, and that it does a fantastic job of capturing the history and making it relevant to today. That definitely needed to make it on for me.
The vote is Beale Street for me. I’d be okay with any of these, honestly, but Beale Street was the one that felt special to me.
If Beale Street Could Talk
You Were Never Really Here
I think First Man was the one for me that had to make it. And Beale Street. I think the editing in those two films is incredible. And then, You Were Never Really Here, the direction works with the editing, so I put them both on. Widows, as I said… I don’t know how much they shot, but it feels like you could double the length and it would still be interesting. That had to make it on. And the fifth spot I went with BlacKkKlansman because it has all the fun Spike stuff while also maintaining a couple of different tones at once, which is not easy to pull off. So that’s the list. Could have put on Star Is Born, The Front Runner, maybe Vice (but I felt that was choppier and less consistent than Big Short was), or even Revenge, which was awesome. But I’m happy with my list.
I think First Man is the vote for me, but it’s possible that might change. But I think First Man is the choice.
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born
I almost had on You Were Never Really Here, but it just missed. This is almost exactly the ASC list. I just put on Beale Street instead of The Favourite.
Roma and Cold War are stunning films that are so good you could just look at them and not pay any attention to what’s going on and just be blown away. Beale Street is Barry Jenkins continuing the style he started in Moonlight but also making it fit the story he’s telling here. Loved it. First Man I think did an amazing job of not feeling the need to keep the frame intelligible in those space scenes. It evokes the feeling of being there rather than giving you a picture perfect image for the viewer. I liked that a lot. And then Star Is Born — I liked how they used the camera to mirror the emotional states of the characters rather than giving you glamour shots of the leads all the time. I probably could have found another choice I liked as much for the fifth spot (like The Favourite or You Were Never Really Here), but I think Star Is Born deserved it. So I went with that.
Best Original Score
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
If Beale Street Could Talk
Mary Poppins Returns
So for this one we had a shortlist, meaning I had to pick my five from the 15 I was given. So as much as I loved the scores from Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Mary Queen of Scots, The Sisters Brothers, You Were Never Really Here and some others, I couldn’t put them on.
But of the shortlist, the ones that I knew for sure I was not a huge fan of and would not be voting for were Annihilation, BlacKkKlansman, Crazy Rich Asians, Infinity War and A Quiet Place. So that’s five of the fifteen that were off the top. Leaving ten spots.
Of that remaining ten — The Crimes of Grindelwald is fun, but it didn’t feel particularly special, especially in a franchise with some great scores throughout its time. So that wasn’t making it for me. Death of Stalin was a fun score, but it wasn’t something I definitively liked over everything else that was left, so that was never gonna make it. Black Panther I thought was all right, but it felt like just another Marvel score. There was nothing really elevating that for me to the level of “must nominate.” So pretty much I started with seven choices to pick from. That’s where we’ll begin.
If Beale Street Could Talk is the greatest score of the year, and was 100% getting on my list (and it’s my vote, in case it wasn’t obvious). First Man is another one that’s absolutely incredible and a stunning piece of work. So that was also a given right off the top. So I have two spots taken and five movies left from which to choose for those remaining three spots.
As much as I love Alexandre Desplat (I’ve said for years that he’s my favorite working composer, and would basically nominate him every single year if I could), I’m not sure I’d nominate the Isle of Dogs. He’s been doing the same kind of thing for every Wes Anderson movie, and this just feels like a repeat of Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, Grand Budapest, take your pick. They’re all of a sort. If I didn’t have a shortlist, I probably would have nominated him for something else, probably The Sisters Brothers. But voting him on for this would just be a vote for Desplat more than a vote for the score. So he’s off first.
Which pretty much means I only have to take one more contender off. And I think it’s Ready Player One. I love Spielberg scores and I love Alan Silverstri, but there was nothing that blew me away about that score or made me go “I want to nominate that.” Everything else made me feel something as I listened to it. So that leaves me with my category.
As I said, Beale Street and First Man are already on. Mary Poppins is a whimsical, magical piece of music, and one I had to nominate. It makes me smile when I hear it. And I love Carter Burwell scores, and Buster Scruggs is such a fantastic piece of work. So he’s on too. And Nicolas Britell manages to double nomination with Vice, purely because I love how he mixes up his styles throughout it. You don’t necessarily realize it as you watch the movie, but his score is doing a lot of work there, and he’s really very quickly establishing himself as one of the absolute best working composers. So yeah, that’s the five. And the vote, once again, is Beale Street.
Best Original Song
“OYAHYTT,” from Sorry to Bother You
“Shallow,” from A Star Is Born
“Suspirium,” from Suspiria
“Trip a Little Light Fantastic,” from Mary Poppins Returns
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
I have to stick with their shortlist, though I’m sure with more options I’ve have gone another way. Like, maybe another Star Is Born song, had they submitted another one. Maybe something from Hearts Beat Loud. There are options, but without telling me what they are, this feels weak.
“Shallow” was a given for me, and I was definitely gonna put “Suspirium” on, because I could. I think one of the Mary Poppins songs deserved to be nominated, just because that is what this category is and should be about. So I picked the fun one over the “let’s sing about dead people” one. And of course I had to put “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” on there, because it’s hilarious and so perfect for that movie. And then, the fifth spot, I could have put the obvious RBG song on there from the shortlist, or the other Mary Poppins song, but I put the Sorry to Bother You song. Why? Because I remembered that more than I remembered the other ones. And because it’s my ballot. Just because I’m voting for it doesn’t mean it’ll get nominated.
So yeah, that’s my list. For those looking to pick their own list, here’s the rest of the shortlist I didn’t vote for: “All the Stars,” from Black Panther; “The Big Unknown,” from Widows; “Girl In The Movies,” from Dumplin’; “I’ll Fight,” from RBG; “Keep Reachin’,” from Quincy; “A Place Called Slaughter Race,” from Ralph Breaks the Internet; “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” from Mary Poppins Returns; “Revelation,” from Boy Erased; “Treasure,” from Beautiful Boy; “We Won’t Move,” from The Hate U Give
And the vote is “Shallow.” Because it’s the best song on this list.
Best Production Design
Mary Poppins Returns
There’s a really solid chance this is the Oscar category.
Mary Poppins and The Favourite are just obvious why they’re here. They’re amazing. First Man, they did a great job with those ships and the design of the moon. And Roma — you know he meticulously designed every inch of that house. So that’s on.
And you’ll note, this is my first nomination of Black Panther. While I wouldn’t nominate it most places, I think Production Design is one where admittedly they did a really terrific job. Now, there’s a LOT of CGI in there, but the scenes where they’re walking around Wakanda, or the palace and stuff — that all looked great. So I’m cool with putting it on here, especially since my only real alternatives were Crimes of Grindelwald (ehh) or Mary Queen of Scots (boring). I would have put Ready Player One, but I’m not sure if the production design counts as actual production design or visual effects. We haven’t really figured that one out. So until I can figure out what’s what on that front, we’ll stick with Black Panther. Otherwise, BlacKkKlansman was an honorable mention, and that’s really it. I didn’t particularly care for anything else enough to consider it.
The vote… good question. I think the vote may be Mary Poppins. It’s possible I switch to The Favourite come Oscar night, after I’ve seen the two again. But right now I think I wanna go Poppins. So let’s do that.
Best Costume Design
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary, Queen of Scots
This should be 4/5 the actual category. I’m thinking they go Bohemian Rhapsody or Fantastic Beasts over BlacKkKlansman, but otherwise most of these should be there. The Favourite, Mary Poppins and Mary Queen of Scots are no-brainers. And if there’s one category Black Panther should for sure be nominated in, it’s Costume Design. They did a fantastic job on those. And BlacKkKlansman I think was just really cool, so that was the fifth choice.
The vote is probably The Favourite, though Mary Queen of Scots or Mary Poppins could end up being the choice by Oscar night. I’ll look at the costumes more closely when I see them all again.
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Mary, Queen of Scots
There was a shortlist of seven. I haven’t seen Border so I can’t nominate it. Bohemian Rhapsody I would not nominate. Stan & Ollie I’d consider if I had space, which I ultimately don’t. Black Panther — take it or leave it. Suspiria and Vice are 100% on my list. Tilda alone gets Suspiria a nomination and Vice — it’s fucking Dick Cheney, so of course. And Mary Queen of Scots is one where, it’s both makeup and hair. The pock-marked face and all the hair stuff they do… I’d nominate that over everything else. So there you have it.
Suspiria is my vote, though Vice winning is absolutely an okay thing.
Best Visual Effects
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Avengers: Infinity War
Mary Poppins Returns
Ready Player One
The shortlist also included Christopher Robin, Black Panther, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Welcome to Marwen.
I don’t want Fallen Kingdom getting nominated, and I thought the Black Panther effects were some of the weakest Marvel has ever done. Solo — ehh. Kinda boring. Christopher Robin, cool, but nah. Welcome to Marwen was great, but ultimately fell off next to everything else. (P.S. I’d have gone Fallout, had they shortlisted that. Otherwise, kind of a ho hum year for visual effects.)
Ready Player One gets on because at least 60% of the movie takes place in the Oasis, and it looks stunning. It looks absolutely stunning and is the reason this category exists. Mary Poppins is a mix of CG animation, traditional animation, and old school effects, and it looks amazing. 100% that’s on my list. First Man is the most practical of the bunch, and they make you feel like you’re on the moon. So yeah, that’s on. Avengers — that did admittedly look great, and it was a CGI fest. So I’m fine with this one getting on, even though the last one I would not have nominated. And Ant-Man — I love all the shrinking fun they have, and the Quantum Realm looks awesome. So that’s what got that on. I’m fine with this category.
My vote would be either First Man or Ready Player One, but since I’m all about the practical, I’d go First Man.
Best Sound Editing
The Front Runner
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Ready Player One
Sound categories. I don’t really know from sound design, so I’m just thinking about what ones worked the most for me.
First Man had the best sound of any film this year, so it should be nominated in both categories and win both categories. Fallout — that always has amazing sound work, so I’ll put that on. Ready Player One also had great sound design, so that gets on. The Front Runner is all about overlapping dialogue and weaving in and out of conversations, so I thought I’d shout that out. If Roma or The Favourite could get on this, there’s no reason The Front Runner can’t. And Suspiria — what’s more memorable than that bone-breaking sequence? So I put that on too. And First Man is the vote. Clearly.
Best Sound Mixing
Mary Poppins Returns
Ready Player One
A Star Is Born
First Man, as I said, had the best sound design of anything, so that’s my vote, up top. And then Ready Player One I think had overall great sound design, so that made both categories as well. The other three are the musicals. I put those on because everything else seemed boring. At least I thought they did a good job of weaving the music in and out with everything else, especially A Star Is Born. So yeah, that’s it. Nothing overly complicated.
Best Animated Feature
Isle of Dogs
The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I’ve seen all 25 eligible films, and these are really the only five I’d allow to be nominated on my ballot. I either didn’t care or disliked everything else. I also refused to put Ralph Breaks the Internet on there. Fuck that movie. It doesn’t deserve to be nominated on my ballot. I’ll put Mirai on instead.
Isle of Dogs is my favorite of the films, but even that I just thought was fine. The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl was awesome and 100% is top two for me. Spider-Verse was really solid and deserves a spot on this list. Incredibles 2 — sure. It’s Pixar and I can appreciate the artistry, and in absence of anything else, fine, we’ll nominate it. And Mirai, yeah, it was fine and I don’t think it’s unholy like I do Ralph Breaks the Internet. So there’s the five. Weak year. Isle of Dogs is the vote, because I’d prefer Wes Anderson win it over anyone else.
Best Foreign Language Film
Of note: I have not seen Ayka, Birds of Passage or Shoplifters, but have seen the other six shortlisted films in this category.
Of them, Roma is on my Best Picture list, so I don’t see why I would leave it off here. Technically if it’s eligible and shortlisted, I can vote for it. I get why it feels like a wasted space for the people who’d want to get another foreign film on there, but if it’s in my top ten and I can vote for it, I’m gonna vote for it. Otherwise, Cold War was a gorgeous film and I’d totally put that on. Capernaum was very good as well and that definitely makes it on for me. Burning I liked but I’m not sure I’d nominate it. The Guilty is a really solid thriller that sustains itself in a relatively short run time. Never Look Away — ehh. Overly long, just okay. Wouldn’t nominate it.
So, having seen six, with only four I’d nominate, I looked at the trailers for the other three to see which one seemed like the one I’d like the most. And that looked like Shoplifters, so that became the fifth choice. Maybe I won’t like it so much and I’m wrong. Oh well. I can only control what I can control.
Roma is the vote, in case you thought I wouldn’t vote for it because of the Best Picture nomination. But no, I wouldn’t vote for it there, so this is a fine consolation prize for it.
Best Documentary Feature
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
There’s a shortlist of 15. I’ve seen 9 of them.
The films I have not yet seen are: The Silence of Others, On Her Shoulders, Of Fathers and Sons, Hale County This Morning This Evening, The Distant Barking of Dogs and Charm City.
I did not particularly care for Communion, Crime + Punishment, Dark Money or Minding the Gap.
So that leaves five documentaries I’ve seen and feel okay leaving on a list. And there they are. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is my #1 film of the year, so of course that’s on and of course I’d vote for it. RBG is incredible and should be nominated. Free Solo is terrific and I’d nominate that easily. And Three Identical Strangers is also very good. Shirkers — take it or leave it, but in the absence of something else I really liked, we’ll put that on. I don’t see enough out of the ones I haven’t seen to assume any of them will be liked as much as I like Shirkers. So I’m okay with this list.
Best Documentary Short
My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.
I’ve seen Black Sheep and End Game. Both were fine. Neither I’d nominate.
I also did see My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes and A Night at the Garden, which I did nominate.
Zion I saw and liked, but I’m not sure if the uplifting nature of it was enough. I kinda wanted to know more about the kid and his history before I’d want to vote for it. So I think that’s being left out unless I can’t fill enough spots.
Everything else I have not seen, and am basing my nomination/opinion that I wouldn’t nominate them based on the trailer or clips that I’ve seen. Lifeboat seems like all the refugee films that came out over the past couple years. Not really for me. ’63 Boycott seems interesting and like a film that captures the spirit of an era gone by and the spirit of today, which are more linked than they ought to be (which is exactly how A Night at the Garden is, but without needing to cut to today). Los Comandos looks awesome and that’s on my list. And the last spot is between Women of the Gulag and Period. End of Sentence. And I’m not sure which, if either I’d like, but let’s go with Period. End of Sentence. just because I like the title and it seems slightly more interesting based on the clip I saw. So there’s the list.
Not sure what, if anything I could vote for until I’ve properly seen them all, but it’s hard not to want to vote for something called “My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes.”
Best Live-Action Short
There are ten shortlisted films. I have only been able to see three of them. So we’re basing this on trailers and clips, mostly.
Caroline was very good, even though I wish it had amounted to more (or more context was given for the situation). It works on its own, but it could have been way better with just a bit more information into the mother’s situation. I would probably nominate it on what’s there. Icare — I don’t know what the point of that was. The title tells you what’s going on and how it’s gonna go, and then it just kinda goes there. Definitely wasn’t for me. And Fauve was intense, and depressing. I guess I could nominate it, but I gotta see what the other trailers hold.
Chuchotage looks fun as hell, and I can guess what the payoff is. So that’s probably on. Detainment looks really intense and well-acted. Might need to put that on. Marguerite — I don’t know where that’s going. Could be on, could be off. Mother — that looks fucking intense. Skin doesn’t look for me. Wale could be good but it’s hard to tell based on that trailer. May Day also looks fun as hell.
So going by what’s there — I’ll take the two comedy shorts, I’ll take Mother, I’ll take Detainment, and I’ll put Caroline on there because there’s a lot to like even though it never really comes together. The other ones either looked whatever or were too fucking depressing for me this year. Fauve was admittedly really good, but I just couldn’t do it.
I’d need to see them all for the vote, so I can’t really guess. My guess is my favorite will end up being either Chuchotage, May Day or Mother in the end.
Best Animated Short
Lost & Found
One Small Step
I’ve seen all ten of these, so I can give you my entire opinion on this category.
Age of Sail is another Google 360 project. Like Pearl was two years ago (which was the best animated short of that year and was robbed at the Oscars). This was also directed by the guy who did Paperman. Ian McShane does the voice of the sailor, and it looks amazing. Story’s not there as much as Pearl’s was, but it’s cool.
Animal Behaviour is cute. The premise is fun. Not really for me. Animation style was fine. The writing was obvious. Didn’t go anywhere I wasn’t expecting. Not something I’d nominate.
Bao is Pixar, and on pure animation alone, it’s stunning. They’re getting more photoreal as they go along, and it’s crazy how advanced they are. Even when it’s clearly animated, they make it look completely real. And holy shit, this story. I’ve only seen three of the ten so far, but if this doesn’t win in a landslide, these people don’t have hearts.
Bilby is decent. Looks great. Fun little story. A nice story about what it is to be a parent. I’d definitely nominate this if it ends up as one of the top five for me.
Bird Karma is gorgeously animated. Very short, too. I’d nominate this on animation style alone. Not much of a story here. But this is one of those that’s on until I have too many alternatives over it. For all I know, they could all keep getting better as we go along. So it’s not as of yet on, but it’s up there.
Late Afternoon looks great. From one of the animators on Song of the Sea and The Breadwinner. This should get this director a feature sometime soon. It looks amazing. I think this is on for me. Let’s see how the last four go.
Lost & Found… oh shit. Stop-motion. This is on. Not even a question.
One Small Step — oh my god. Another one I thought wasn’t gonna be for me. I was so wrong. This short destroyed me. Not only is this one my list, this is probably gonna be my vote.
Pepe le Morse looks fantastic. And it’s funny. It’s like an indie movie except with animation. I liked it. Not sure I’d nominate it, but it’s fun. And it has a nice moment at the end.
Weekends is the kind of movie that appeals to me every year. There’s always one of these that gets shortlisted that feels just like this one does. And it always gets on my list. And it probably will again this year.
So yeah. After all that — didn’t care for Animal Behaviour, otherwise everything else was very good. Pepe le Morse and Bird Karma miss due to lack of spots. Bao and One Small Step and Lost & Found are 100% on. So that leaves four choices for two spots: Age of Sail, Late Afternoon, Bilby and Weekends. I think Bilby pulls up the rear there, through no fault of its own. It’s the closest to a Pixar short I’ve seen. Just… didn’t like it as much as I liked the others. And then, Age of Sail… while I loved it and I love the idea of the 360 shorts, Weekends and Late Afternoon were just so good. So those are the final two. And sadly, Age of Sail gets left off my list.
(Rankings, since this is the only place I’ll get to talk about all ten in a subjective way: 1) One Small Step 2) Bao 3) Lost & Found 4) Weekends 5) Late Afternoon 6) Age of Sail 7) Bilby 8) Bird Karma 9) Pepe le Morse 10) Animal Behaviour)
The vote is One Small Step. I just adored that short, even though Bao is a very close second.
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So those are my nominations. My guesses as to what actually will be nominated are coming tomorrow. That’s the list you want anyway. This is just telling you where my heart lies. Where my head is at is the thing that’ll help you guess nominations on Tuesday.