Yesterday I posted a piece called “Strange Avoidance Mechanism.” It questioned a group decision by six contributors to an 11.29 L.A. Times Oscar Buzzmeter piece (Anne Thompson, Tom O’Neil, Glenn Whipp, Kenny Turan, Justin Chang, Nicole Sperling) to name six films — Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Darkest Hour, Get Out and Lady Bird — most likely to “lead this year’s Oscar race.”
What was wrong with that? Oh, nothing except for the fact that a very likely Best Picture nominee and, to go by the Oscar fortunes of Gotham and Spirit Award winners over the last five or six years, a likely Best Picture winner was more or less ignored — Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name. In fact Chang, Turan, Whipp, Sperling and O’Neil picked Call Me By Your Name as a leading Best Picture contender. But Anne Thompson didn’t, and so the other six films ranked higher.
I should have just written Thompson, but I wrote them all a letter instead. “I don’t think I went off the handle at all with this piece,” it began. “It was a measured, carefully phrased analysis that concluded with a head-scratcher. I simply pointed out the likelihood, given the pattern of the last few years, of a Gotham or Spirit Award winner ending up as Best Picture Oscar winner. It’s not an unreasonable presumption as it’s based upon statistical fact. And yet somehow you guys, in the aggregate, managed to exclude Call Me By Your Name from your list of the six most likely Best Picture contenders or winners. (“…which movies will lead this year’s Oscar race.”)
Can I ask something? Who among you is predicting with a straight face that Darkest Hour might “lead” the pack or win a Best Picture Oscar? It might be nominated, sure, but winning? C’mon.
Not only that, you also managed to avoid naming The Post, which is easily locked as a Best Picture nominee and, given the present political current, a likely winner — it’s safe, steady, boomer-friendly (Tom and Meryl), well-written, staunchly liberal, and it really, really doesn’t like Trump. Hello?
Warning: SPOILERS FOLLOW…
To those of who voted for the likelihood of Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri winning the Best Picture Oscar, I’d like to ask two questions. We all love Frances McDormand‘s performance and we all approve of the film’s third-act message about easing up on hate and building bridges with our enemies, etc., but can any of you explain (a) why an act of assault and battery by McDormand (i.e., jamming a whirring dental drill into the thumbnail of a dentist) results in exactly one verbal inquiry from Woody Harrelson (“Did you do this?), and when Frances answers “no” that’s the absolute end of it? No follow-ups, no civil lawsuit…nothing? And (b) can any of you explain how Frances tosses several Molotov cocktails into the local police station but in the aftermath is barely questioned about it by that older black cop? I understand and in fact share the affection for this Martin McDonagh film, but have you guys honestly concluded that Academy and guild types aren’t going to be asking themselves these same two questions?
End of SPOILER WARNING…
Oh, and Get Out isn’t a “lead“-er or a likely Best Picture winner. It’s a champagne toast. This is “the year of the strong tough woman”, and not “the year of the apology and make-up for OscarsSoWhite”, which is what last year was about & why Moonlight won. (This, at least, is what Spike Lee said a few weeks after last February’s Oscar telecast.) Get Out will probably be nominated for Best Picture because of a months-long pattern of liberal largesse (it’s basically a clever Larry Cohen or John Carpenter film from the ’70s or ’80s mixed in with some laughs), but if you think it has even a remote chance of winning you really need to take the needle out of your arm.
I’m sorry but you just don’t seem to be paying attention to what’s going on. The four hummers are Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird, Dunkirk and The Post. Period, end of story. Unless Ridley Scott surprises us all with All The Money In The World.