Friday, January 12, 2018

Changing Lenses, Part II: when you have to settle for a screenplay award


A few months ago, on October 15th to be specific, I wrote a piece called "Changing lenses: Gearing up for the Oscar Race." In it I tried to make sense of the fact that we were in October and I was feeling pretty much nothing going into the heart of Oscar season. I'd seen a few movies, but had only loved two. "Baby Driver" and "Get Out." Three if you count "mother!" OK, four if you also consider "Dunkirk," but who's counting. If you want to read the piece, check it out:

Changing Lenses: Gearing Up for the Oscar Race

In it, I surrendered to the fact that 2017 wasn't going to be 2016. And it isn't. Last year's Oscars were a true anomaly for me. Two brilliant films, the best two films I've seen since "Black Swan," were vying for Oscar's top prizes, and one was going to win, and I was going to be happy either way. In the end, I actually got to hear both films be called out for the Best Picture of the year. Yep...2016 was unique indeed!

The few years before weren't quite like that. In 2015, "Mad Max: Fury Road" was my favorite film of the year, followed by "Carol," a film whose exclusion in Best Picture/Best Director stung. Frontrunners, "The Revenant" and "Spotlight' were both in my Top 10, near the bottom, but still, in the Top 10, and I got to watch "Mad Max: Fury Road" win the most awards on Oscars night.

In 2014 my top films of the year, "Inherent Vice," "Under the Skin," "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," and "Wild," weren't even in the conversation for Oscars. It was a year of major growth in my life, and probably the year my Top 10 was at its most original. "Birdman" and "Boyhood" were there, but near the bottom. Again, I wasn't as invested. I would've been content with either film winning.

As the recent months have progressed, things have really taken a turn. When I saw "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" I became energized. This was an Oscar movie. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell were fantastic. The movie was highly entertaining. It had unlikeable characters saying racist things, but I found it to be fantastic, nonetheless. As with many great films, there was an adjustment phase while watching it. You think a film will be and should be one thing...but it turns out to be something else. No, I don't enjoy hearing the word "faggot" on screen. Twice! But people say that word! I have to remember that I loved the film when I saw it and not get wrapped up with the noise against/for it. I will say this: not all racist people are without redemption. I've witnessed it, especially since returning to the South.

I continued to see films that I loved including, "A Ghost Story," "The Shape of Water," "Mudbound," "Blade Runner, 2049." And then I saw "BPM," "God's Own Country" and "Call Me By Your Name." Suddenly a questionable year became one of the strongest years for film I've seen since covering the Oscars. 9 years officially and decades before amongst friends. Not two movies like 2016, but many.

But something happens when you have a film that you love above all else, like I do with "Call Me By Your Name." You get blinders. The closest thing I can remember to this was the year of "Black Swan." There were so many incredible films that year. "The Social Network," and "127 Hours," "Blue Valentine," just to name a few. I knew "Black Swan" didn't have a chance at Best Picture, but "The Social Network" did. Until it didn't. Everything was riding on the Best Actress win for Natalie Portman. My friends were on edge that night watching the show with me. Then she won, and life was good.

Last night after the "Critics Choice Awards" I read a tweet from someone I follow and follows me who said they couldn't wait to see the tears of the "Call Me By Your Name" mafia when Chalamet lost to Oldman on Oscar night. That tweet disgusted me beyond what I can say here. Every once in a while I read something like that on the internet and I want to stop doing this altogether.

Instead, it's time to change lenses again. Once the nominations are announced on the 23rd I will delve into foreign film and documentaries. I'm also working on a piece for Awards Daily where I touch base on the incredible year this has been for Queer Cinema, connecting it to films I've seen over the years, and I will probably write a supplement piece to it for this site, because it's hard to write about "Call Me By Your Name" without making it a For Your Consideration ad for Timothee Chalamet. It's hard to put into words the importance of that performance to me. The raw desire, sexuality...even obsession Elio experiences for Oliver is something I have experienced and never, ever seen on film. And the grief, remembrances, and more that we witness in that final scene. What gay man hasn't felt all of those things at once? I want Chalamet to win an Oscar for THIS role, not a straight role. Or a role in his 50s. Is that wrong?

It is difficult to watch him lose. That does not make me or anyone else a mafia.

I've had years where my favorites had a shot and lost it, "Boogie Nights" and "Billy Elliot" come to mind. And I've had years where I had to settle for nominations only, "Secrets & Lies." And then there are the years where a screenplay win had to represent everything else. "Pulp Fiction," "The Crying Game," "Lost in Translation." It sucks. But at least you get something. In those cases, the auteur director is tied into the performance. If James Ivory wins, he and the win will have to represent the work Chalamet and Guadagnino crafted as well, not to mention Hammer, Stuhlbarg, Mukdeeprom, Piersanti, Sufjan Stevens and more.

Although "Get Out" won the original screenplay last night at the Critics Choice Awards, it might not win the Oscar. There is a strong chance Gerwig will win, although, her nomination might be her win. Let's face it...a nomination by the Academy isn't ever guaranteed for a woman. And a win is rare.

Maybe the "Call Me By Your Name" mafia (should I just embrace this derogatory descriptor?) have a chance to celebrate at the Independent Spirit Awards, but it's looking like that might go to "Lady Bird" as "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" battles it out with "The Shape of Water" heading into Oscar night. There is always the Dorian Awards as well. I'll be voting for both, so I will be able to play my part.

It's hard to be mad at the DGA when they nominate a woman and a black man for director. But if you ask me who would I replace for Luca Guadagnino, I would have to say any of them. Because I think he should not only be nominated, but win.

Here are the DGA noms:

Martin McDonagh, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Guillermo del Toro, "The Shape of Water"
Jordan Peele, "Get Out"
Greta Gerwig, "Lady Bird"
Christopher Nolan, "Dunkirk"

Here are the winners at the Critics Choice Awards:

FILM

BEST PICTURE
The Shape of Water

BEST ACTOR
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

BEST ACTRESS
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Allison Janney, I, Tonya

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

BEST DIRECTOR
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Jordan Peele, Get Out

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin, The Shape of Water

BEST EDITING
(TIE)
Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos, Baby Driver
Lee Smith, Dunkirk

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Mark Bridges, Phantom Thread

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP
Darkest Hour

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
War for the Planet of the Apes

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Coco

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Wonder Woman

BEST COMEDY
The Big Sick

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
James Franco, The Disaster Artist

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE
Get Out

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
In The Fade

BEST SONG
“Remember Me” from Coco

BEST SCORE
Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
TELEVISION

BEST COMEDY SERIES
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Ted Danson, The Good Place, NBC

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Walton Goggins, Vice Principals, HBO

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory, CBS

BEST DRAMA SERIES
The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us, NBC

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale, HulU

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
David Harbour, Stranger Things, Netflix

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu

BEST LIMITED SERIES
Big Little Lies, HBO

BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TV
The Wizard of Lies, HBO

BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TV OR LIMITED SERIES
Ewan McGregor, Fargo, FX

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TV OR LIMITED SERIES
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies, HBO

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TV OR LIMITED SERIES
Alexander SkarsgÄrd, Big Little Lies, HBO

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TV OR LIMITED SERIES
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies, HBO

BEST TALK SHOW
Jimmy Kimmel Live!, ABC

BEST ANIMATED SERIES
Rick and Morty, Adult Swim

BEST UNSTRUCTURED REALITY SERIES
Born This Way, A&E

BEST STRUCTURED REALITY SERIES
Shark Tank, ABC

BEST REALITY COMPETITION SERIES
The Voice, NBC

BEST REALITY SHOW HOST
RuPaul, RuPaul’s Drag Race, VH1

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