By John H. Foote
I have a hunch the Oscars will not go as expected this year, the nominations certainly did not. With no real campaign Netflix film All Quiet on the Western Front amassed multiple nominations all well deserved though no directing nomination is a puzzle. I am leaning toward the film taking the top prize Sunday night.
Six months of “awards season” will come to an end next Sunday, mercifully with the presentation of the Academy Awards, still the award in cinema that matters most (even if it no longer does). Though I love the films released during this time, from September to December, I have come to loathe the jockeying for position and ever changing frontrunners. I am tired of Oscar season, it wears me out.
And then come the nominations.
The race accusations were damned silly when Danielle Deadwyler and Viola Davis were not nominated in the largest field of Best Actress contenders in three decades. I guess Margot Robbie (Babylon) and Olivia Colman (Empire of Light) were snubbed because they are white and foreign? After two consecutive years of the Best Director being a woman not a single lady was nominated, which for Sarah Polley and Women Talking must sting a little.
Snubbed also was Paul Dano, superb in The Fabelmans, the exquisite cinematography in The Fabelmans, Top Gun – Maverick and Women Talking, Damien Chazelle’s dazzling direction of Babylon, and so many other snubs. Instead, we focus on colour.
Stop, please stop.
Here are my choices for the winners, and then who should.
BEST PICTURE –Though I have hope Everything Everywhere All At Once will have worn out its welcome and NOT win, it likely will. If there are spoilers for the big prize, they are The Fabelmans and the German made masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front, which could pull off an upset. The best film I saw last year was The Fabelmans but I am fine with All Quiet on the Western Front winning.
- BEST DIRECTOR – Steven Spielberg deserves to win his third Oscar and I think he will.
- BEST ACTOR – It really is a three man race between Austin Butler in Elvis, Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin and Brendan Fraser in The Whale. Any one of them is a deserving winner but I think the true best performance came from Colin Farrell. In the end whoever wins will be deserving of the award, but they might also split the vote and see it go to Bill Nighy in Living. My call, and preference, Farrell for his beautiful, haunting performance.
- BEST ACTRESS – For one of the greatest performances ever committed to film, Cate Blanchett deserves to win for Tar. Will she though? The fools doing the voting might decide to do a sentimental vote for Michelle Yeoh in guess what overrated film? Blanchett deserves to get ever vote. Cross your fingers.
- BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Former child star Ke Huy Kuan, Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), makes a strong comeback in Everything Everywhere All at Once, and has collected many pre-Oscar awards. He is very good in the film and could be the winner. The best choice, however, is Barry Keough in The Banshees of Inisherin for his off kilter Dominick, mentally touched but often the wisest man on the island.
- BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – For the film I loathe Jamie Lee Curtis could win her first Oscar on her first nomination, or Angela Bassett could be the sentimental choice in Wakanda – Black Panther, both being popular choices. The best choice is Kerry Condon, brilliant in The Banshees of Inisherin as the sister who must leave home to find a life and herself. Superb.
- BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Snubbed for a Best Director nomination, Sarah Polley should win this one for her literate, powerful screenplay for Women Talking in which this gifted artist demonstrates the power of words. A stunning adaptation.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Martin McDonough for The Banshees of Inisherin. Period.
- BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Incredibly the years best cinematography, Top Gun – Maverick, was not even nominated, so I am going with the haunting work in All Quiet on the Western Front. Haunting, terrifying and startling in its realism it brought home the horrors of WWI brilliantly. A work of art.
- BEST FILM EDITING – Top Gun – Maverick should win this award but it might go to All Quiet o the Western Front which is OK too.
- INTERNATIONAL FEATURE (FORMERLY BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM) – All Quiet on the Western Front. Easy.
- PRODUCTION DESIGN – Babylon might win or it might go to All Quiet on the Western Front, either is worthy.
- BEST SONG IN A FILM – Lady Gaga gets her second Oscar for song writing for “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun – Maverick.
- BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – Should be Avatar unless the backlash against James Cameron spills into the awards. If not Avatar, All Quiet on the Western Front gets another.
- BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – Guillermo Del Toro’s magical Pinocchio, nothing else has a chance.
- BEST COSTUME DESIGN – Babylon is the likely winner.
- BEST MUSICAL SCORE – Babylon again and rightfully so.
- BEST MAKE-UP AND HAIR STYLE – Turing Brendan Fraser into an obese man was a remarkable feat, but they did it. The Whale takes this.
- BEST SOUND – All Quiet on the Western Front should take it, though Avatar might. All Quiet on the Western Front should be the one taking the award.
That is it for me, I did not include the docs or shorts because I did not see them all (for shame). Be back Monday to see how I did. Enjoy the Oscars!
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.