Friday, December 8, 2017

Oscar musings: Academy recognition v/s the best of the rest; AFI and 15 advancing doc features

I haven't managed to watch anything since my last post, other than "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." A total distraction from Oscar, I know. But a fun revisit nonetheless. That being said I do have a plan for the next few days. A plan that actually got me thinking about why I watch movies.

I love this time of year not only because of the quality of the films, but also because of the rush I get from deadlines and unknowns. Right now, I have absolutely no idea if I will publish a Top 10 by the end of the year. As I mentioned last time, some of the biggest contenders won't be released anywhere near Oxford, MS until early to mid January. I joined Film Independent yesterday, but those screeners won't arrive until mid January as well. I've reached out for some help from the various PR peeps and the studios and so far have only received a couple of things and no other responses. Oscarproblems, indeed.

I did receive links to some of the films that were on the longer short list for both Best Documentary and Best Foreign Film, and was planning to dig into those a bit. I was thinking I would watch "Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992" and "Icarus" but yesterday, with the announcement of the Academy's 15 titles that will now be in contention, I began to second guess that decision. Sure, "Icarus" made the cut, but "Let It Fall" did not.

That got me thinking. Am I only watching films to have a leg up on the Oscar race? When this season began I lamented on the fact that I wasn't quite as inspired by this year's race as last year's. Sure, I'm excited about "Call Me By Your Name," but not like I was last year with "La La Land" and "Moonlight." I'm not even excited to either discount or wade into the lukewarm debate on whether "Lady Bird" has enough scope/gravitas to be a frontrunner alongside "Dunkirk." Just not invested. Which may be the factor that helps me predict worth a damn this year. Will that change if I rewatch "Dunkirk" and when I finally see "Lady Bird?" Who knows?  I do know that I got into this not only because I have loved the Oscars since I was a kid, but because I love films, and if I'm going to stop watching films because the Academy doesn't recognize them, there is a serious problem.

Over the next couple of days I will shift my focus briefly to foreign film and watch "First They Killed My Father," the latest from Angelina Jolie. I listened to a fantastic podcast with Scott Feinberg of the Hollywood Reporter interviewing Jolie, and she seemed such a delight. Maybe I could watch that film along with South Korea's "A Taxi Driver" and Germany's "Into the Fade" and do a foreign film piece. Then I can watch "Lady Bird" (finally!) and "Coco" in the theater.

A few other things to note, AFI released their Top 10. It has many of the usual players. This time, they went with "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" and "The Big Sick" and not "Phantom Thread" and "Mudbound." And also "Wonder Woman." Something is going to be left off this year, that's for sure. Will it be a shock? Maybe "Dunkirk?" Or will it be something like "Mudbound." While I enjoyed "The Big Sick" as a piece of entertainment, the idea of it being nominated for Best Picture, particularly over "Mudbound"is utterly baffling to me. I understand why they would leave off the brilliant "Blade Runner 2049." It was a "bomb." But not "Mudbound." Get over the Netflix factor and nominate this brilliant film. That being said, I'm totally into the idea of "Wonder Woman" sneaking in. But every year we talk about the possibility of the 10th slot going to a big studio film and it never happens.

AFI Top 10 
The Big Sick
Call Me By Your Name
The Florida Project
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Wonder Woman

15 Documentary Feature finalists (taken from indiewire)

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” Mitten Media, Motto Pictures, Kartemquin Educational Films and WGBH/FRONTLINE

“Chasing Coral,” Exposure Labs in partnership with The Ocean Agency & View Into the Blue in association with Argent Pictures & The Kendeda Fund

“City of Ghosts,” Our Time Projects and Jigsaw Productions

“Ex Libris – The New York Public Library,” Ex Libris Films

“Faces Places,” CinĂ© Tamaris

“Human Flow,” Participant Media and AC Films

“Icarus,” Netflix Documentary in association with Impact Partners, Diamond Docs, Chicago Media Project and Alex Productions

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” Paramount Pictures and Participant Media

“Jane,” National Geographic Studios in association with Public Road Productions

“LA 92,” Lightbox

“Last Men in Aleppo,” Larm Film

“Long Strange Trip,” Double E Pictures, AOMA Sunshine Films and Sikelia

“One of Us,” Loki Films

“Strong Island,” Yanceville Films and Louverture Films

“Unrest,” Shella Films and Little by Little Films

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