With 2017 officially over, award season has begun, and if there is one takeaway from The Golden Globes (which took place only a week ago), and The Critics’ Choice Awards (which was last night, January 11th, 2018), it is that each different institution of “award givers” has contradictory, opposing opinions on this years’ best films, however, they seem to be rewarding the same actors in the same categories. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the association that decides the winners of Golden Globes, seemed to love Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, as it won Best Drama Motion Picture, and its two leads, Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell, won their respective role based awards. The Critics’ Choice Awards, however, looked more favorably upon The Shape of Water, rewarding it with Best Motion Picture and awarding Guillermo Del Toro Best Director. Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand also brought home Critics’ Choice Awards in the same categories as their Golden Globes. Both The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and “the critics” also rewarded Gary Oldman as Best Actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Relatively, the two institutions awarded the same actors, however, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri are fundamentally different films which lend to different themes. Taking all this into consideration, The Oscars will be extraordinarily interesting, as they will settle these contradictions, for The Academy decides who truly is the best actor, actress, supporting actor, director, and the best film, or at least that is the general perception.
Firstly, I should state the current events are having a profound effect on award season. The entertainment industry saw huge revelations and changes this year due to respected actors and actress speaking out against sexual harassment and double standards. Whether or not you think awarding institutions are “overdoing it”, awarding actors and actress who portrayed characters in a film that had feminist themes, the effect is evident. At the end of the day, humans are awarding these awards, and humans come coupled with biases; even if these groups attempt to mitigate their feelings towards these developments in their industry, these developments would obviously still affect their decision whether or not they are aware. For these reasons, I am willing to bet Frances McDormand will win the best actress award.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a story about a rape and subsequent murder; this plot, therefore, lends itself to current events regarding the industry. Furthermore, McDormand’s character, named Mildred Hayes, is anti-institution, powerful female character. She is daring, takes risks, and definitely challenges the notion that women cannot undertake grueling tasks that require sacrifice and bravery. Needless to say, however, McDormand may have some competition; Margot Robbie was fantastic in I, Tonya, while Sally Hawkins played an emotionally compelling mute in The Shape of Water.Getting back to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, It seems likely that Sam Rockwell would take home the best supporting actor award; in my opinion, his only real competition is Armie Hammer, from Call Me By Your Name, and Richard Jenkins from The Shape of Water. Jenkins definitely has more potential, however, considering the themes of Rockwell’s movie, coupled with an amazingly written character, I’d say he takes the cake. Allison Janney, who won best supporting actress in a comedy at The Golden Globes, seems likely to win best supporting actress, in my opinion. She portrayed a somewhat villainous mother who pushed her daughter to extremes, however, she of course, near the end of the film, opens up, culminating in an emotional scene. Octavia Spencer will most likely be her runner up, being nominated for best supporting actress for the hundredth year in a row. Mary J. Blige will also, most likely, be nominated for best supporting actress. Considering her film deals heavily with racial inequality, she may have a shot. Reflecting on best actor, Gary Oldman, who portrayed Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, seemingly doesn’t have that much competition. Daniel Kaluuya, who was the lead in Get Out, is his only threat, however, The Academy doesn’t usually looked fondly upon sci-fi films. In my opinion, Christopher Nolan’s’ sci-fi epics Interstellar and Inception should have at least gotten the best picture nomination, but because of their genre, they did not. Granted, last year, The Martian and Mad Max: Fury Road were nominated for best picture, but that seems due to The Martian being directed by Ridley Scott, and Mad Max: Fury Road being a large action set piece that was essentially eye candy. Also, Mad Max had themes relating to some political issues, especially degradation of women. That said, it is very unlikely that Daniel Kaluuya will win. James Franco also has a claim for the award, but his film, The Disaster Artist, is too much of a fun comedy to outcompete Gary Oldman’s more emotional performance. Granted, Franco’s film had heart, but not enough, in my opinion.
Now, moving away from the big awards, let’s discuss scores. I would personally love to see John Williams win for best score on his work in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but Alexandre Desplat’s work on The Shape of Water is more likely to win. The Last Jedi may win best costumes and set design, as the majority of scenes were filmed at Pinewood Studios in London. The Shape of Water also had a great, classical design that encompassed the film’s time period. The other big films this year don’t have any special set designs, as most simply filmed in nature. Christopher Nolan’s war epic, called Dunkirk is likely to win best cinematography, as Nolan embraced obscure camera angles and attempted to truly tell the story through cinematography, which is why he opted to limit the dialogue. The film is beautifully shot, especially the over-the-top scenes, such as the sinking ship; Nolan actually had his actors enter a confined area while water flooded in.
All in all, the Oscars will be thought-provoking; whether or not the Academy continues with the political trend will be interesting to see. Furthermore, the Academy has the utmost say when it comes to film awards.