Monday, December 4, 2017

Mudbound; processing NBR, NYFCC and LAFCA


Last night I finally watched "Mudbound," the incredible Dee Rees film starring Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Rob Morgan, Jonathan Banks and Jason Mitchell. I have to say that I wasn't quite prepared for it. Much of the early conversation around the film has been whether it will get awards recognition due to the fact that it is a Netflix film. Having now seen it, it is clear that we should be moving past that and talking about it's potential for wins.

The film has already begun to win ensemble awards and nominations, to the frustration of many due to the fact that it seems to be left out of other categories in lieu of that...but it is a true ensemble piece...more than any other film this year, reminding me of "Spotlight" and last year's "Hidden Figures."Each performance is equal in importance to the story, remarkably acted, and expertly interwoven into the narrative via a narration process that for once, I found organic, even if it did come from the novel from which the film is based.

But the real stars are Dee Rees, writer (with Virgil Williams)/director and cinematographer Rachel Morrison. Together they have created a poem of sorts. A poem unafraid to tell the truth. It is a delicate telling of the Mississippi Delta in the aftermath of World War II. It is painful/infuriating to watch at times. But a very, very necessary piece of storytelling.

The cinematography race is one that I have already been watching very closely this year. Deakins (Blade Runner 2049) does not and should not have this in the bag. And we should also consider the less "showy" work in "The Florida Project" (Alexis Zabe) as well as the more obvious, such as "Call Me By Your Name" (Sayombhu Mukdeeprom) and the almost already forgotten: "Wonderstruck" (Edward Lachman).

In regard to Netflix...considering "Mudbound" and the equally brilliant "Beasts of No Nation," we should take them more seriously in terms of awards. These films are unlike anything studios are making today and they should be recognized for that.



In other news...much has happened since I last published.

First, the National Board of Review. I made a valiant effort to briefly dig into the statistics of this body and how they award films, but what I learned after their announcement is that I know nothing about them.

In years past I have viewed NBR as an organization not taken seriously by people like me because they don't award who WE consider to be the frontrunners. I have often stood up for them, partly because the year I really started watching the Oscars, they awarded "Quills," a film I loved!

Looking at their history and the current Oscar buzz, I figured they would go with "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," "The Shape of Water" or "Mudbound." Right before they announced I remembered "The Post," and thought...maybe?! As we all know, "The Post," it was.

But those types of last minute revelations don't really fly here at Awards Wiz. Needless to say, none of my 3 picks even made it into their top 11 films.

Next we had New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Where NBR is supposed to be a bit "off the Oscar wall", NYFCC is supposed to award cerebly and importantly, while LAFCA is supposed to vote with a big Hollywood heart. That happened, kind of. "Lady Bird" won NY and "Call Me By Your Name" took LA.

It seems to me that we have a pretty clear consensus for frontrunners now. At least critical frontrunners. Remember, the Oscars are not critics. If they want to awards "Dunkirk" and Gary Oldman...they will, despite what the rest of us say. That being said, it was pointed out on Twitter that Colin Firth (the very early frontrunner in 2010) had already begun to win for "The King's Speech," winning both NYFCC and LAFCA, unlike Oldman. I would love for Gary Oldman to have an Oscar. But, it would be great to see Chalamet win for "Call Me By Your Name." We shall see.

Let's look at these recent wins together:

Picture/Film
The Post (NBR)
Lady Bird (NYFCC)
Call Me By Your Name (LAFCA)

Director
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird (NBR)
Sean Baker, The Florida Project (NYFCC)
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water (LAFCA)
Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name (LAFCA) - tie!

Actor
Tom Hanks, The Post (NBR)
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name (NYFCC)
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name (LAFCA) - James Franco, The Disaster Artist, runner up

Actress
Meryl Streep, The Post (NBR)
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird (NYFCC)
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water (LAFCA) - Frances McDormand, Three Billboards, runner up

Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project (NBR)
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project (NYFCC)
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project (LAFCA) - Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards, runner up

Supporting Actress
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird (NBR)
Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip (NYFCC)
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird (LAFCA) - Mary J. Blige, Mudbound, runner up

Cinematography
Rachel Morrison, Mudbound (NYFCC)
Dan Lausten, The Shape of Water (LAFCA), Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049, runner up

Breakthrough Performance
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name (NBR)

A couple of things of note from what I see.

"Dunkirk" and Gary Oldman have won nothing. That means something.

If Meryl wants to win, watch out. She might go for it and take it.

Willem Dafoe is probably our only slam dunk. "Coco" as well...although I'm not really looking at animation yet.

Tiffany Haddish might take that Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids")/Marisa Tomei ("My Cousin Vinny") slot.



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