Hollywood's biggest fashion show/awards ceremony goes down this weekend, but first let's burn some books.
HBO just dropped a trailer for
Fahrenheit 451¸ Ray Bradbury's 1953 dystopian novel about a future of state-based censorship and the dangers of an illiterate society dependent on a (digital) mass media. So kind of timely. Starring Michael Shannon (The Night Before) and Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) and directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes). This one is yet another example of big-time talent going directly to the small screen. Hit the theatre while you can kids, the times they are a changin'.
The big theatre this week, of course, is the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, home to the 90th Academy Awards, a.k.a.: The Oscars. The Whistler Village 8 has been excellent about bringing in Oscar contenders the past couple months so here are some predictions (from a guy with a smoky crystal ball who saw about half the films nominated) and a bit of insight on what the Back Row considers the best flicks of 2017.
Best Sound: Baby Driver
There are two categories (mixing and editing) and it's tricky because when sound is done right it's supposed to be unnoticeable. I say give both awards to Baby Driver because it was both an action adventure/love story and a musical with real music (instead of lame-ass song and dance numbers) and explosions, gunshots, dialogue, screeching tires and whispered soul perfectly occupying the same soundscape. (The dark horse is Dunkirk for the opposite reasons, a pure, raw and visceral sound mix.)
Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards
The fact that Three Billboards nabbed two nominations in this category help stack the deck and Rockwell deserves the golden statue even though his character — a racist, asshole, alcoholic smalltown cop/momma's boy — suffered from a problematic, undeserved redemption arc. (And did anyone else wonder why he was able to throw that innocent dude out of a second-storey window with no legal repercussions?) The acting was fine work though and Rockwell is due.
Best Supporting Acress: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
I will be bummed if anyone else wins.
Best Actress: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards
Toughest call of all, the list is stacked. I kinda hope Margot Robbie wins this one, but Frances McDormand will probably take it. Hard to count out Meryl Streep though, even though I don't think this is her year.
Best Actor: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
The Academy likes to reward people who can act their way through a bunch of make-up (so long as you don't try to do it in a Norbit-style fat suit) and Darkest Hour is exactly the kind of flick they traditionally favour (stiff-collared, white dudes 4eva!!). Oldman is great, but so was Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name. Daniel Kaluuya actually deserves it for the Get Out teacup scene alone.
Best Cinematography: Roger A. Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
Thing is, Deakins has been nominated 14 times and never won. Will he finally get one? Tough to say as Mudbound's DP Rachel Morrison is the first-ever woman nominated in this role (and deservedly so) and The Shape of Water Dan Laustsen, who is the favourite. Give it to Deakins, I say.
Best Directing: Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
This is a long shot (the category is stacked with talent) but Gerwig orchestrates such a touching dance of human emotion, with no explosions or effects or monsters or social tension to assist her. It's just really solid storytelling.
I'd give the Original Screenplay to Get Out and the Adapted Screenplay to Mudbound.
Best Picture: Get Out
Shot over 23 days for under $5 million, Jordan Peele's Get Out added fuel to an already smoldering cultural conversation about racial inequality in America. Peele called the film a "social thriller," where the villain is society itself. He explained it as wanting "to make a movie about what it felt like to be the only black guy in the room."
True art changes the world around it and while Oscar-favourite Dunkirk was certainly an impressive piece of entertainment, will anyone be talking about it in a decade?