The Comprehensive Forest City Film Festival Guide to the 90th Academy Awards

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Film buffs rejoice! It’s that time of year again. Awards season is coming to an end, all the best films of 2017 have finally been widely released in theaters or online. For film fans, it is not quite 2018 yet until we reach one more milestone of awards season. The Academy Awards (which air on Sunday, March 4th at 8:00 PM) marks the end of awards season and offer a transition into the next moviegoing year. Sure, some great 2018 films have come out in the past two months, namely Paddington 2 and Black Panther, however until the award for Best Picture is given out at the Oscars, 2017 is still the focus of our attention.

Every year, predicting the winners can be difficult. So we are here, at the Forest City Film Festival, to give you a little edge on your Oscar picks, so that you can come out on top at your Oscar party. Here is our comprehensive guide to who we think will win and who we are rooting for to win at the 90th Academy Awards.


BEST PICTURE

Following last year’s big mix-up with La La Land and Moonlight, the pressure is on. And like last year (and seemingly every year) the award for Best Picture is a two horse race. Despite there being around 10 nominees, it always comes down to two likely winners. In 2015 it was The Revenant and Spotlight vying for the award. (Spotlight won) It was between Birdman and Boyhood in 2014 (Birdman won), Gravity and 12 Years a Slave in 2013 (12 Years a Slave won). This year the two nominees out of the 9 up for the award that are likely winners are Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water. Both of these films are magnificent pieces of art, and either one would be a welcome winner in our eyes. They’ve both won all of the lead up awards which often forecast a winner. Three Billboards took the BAFTA, the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globe awards for Best Picture, while Shape of Water took the Producers Guild and Critics Choice top prizes.

Looking at the odds of a win reflecting these awards, it seems like the most likely winner is The Shape of Water just based on patterns of previous years.  We also love this pic, because much of it was shot in the Southwestern Ontario city of Hamilton as well as Toronto.

However, also don’t count out dark horses Get Out and Lady Bird, which could shock us and take home the big prize. The other nominees mostly don’t have a chance, despite how good films like Dunkirk and Call Me By Your Name are, it’s really a race between just a couple of the nominees.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: The Shape of Water

OUR PICK: The Shape of Water


BEST DIRECTOR

You might think that the winner for Best Director will always reflect the winner for Best Picture, after all, the Best Director makes the Best Movie, but that’s not always the case at the Oscars. This award usually goes to the most bold and brave movie, one that takes big risks and surmounts every challenge. Sometimes this will be the same film that wins Best Picture. But not in the past couple of years. Last year Damien Chazelle won for La La Land while Moonlight took home Best Picture. The year before Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won for The Revenant while Spotlight won Best Picture. The year before that, Birdman won both Best Picture and Best Director, which seems almost rare in this field. Look for a double win to happen again this year, because we’re counting on Guillermo Del Toro to win for The Shape of Water.

If we look at all of the precursor awards, from the Golden Globes to the BAFTAS to the Critics Choice awards, across the board the winner has been Guillermo Del Toro. Not only this, but of the nominees, Del Toro’s film is the most risky and exciting, it takes more challenges and a more bold direction than other films. 

But don’t count out Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk as a potential dark horse. Although you pretty much could count him out, because trust us, this is Del Toro’s award to win.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

OUR PICK: Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water


BEST ACTRESS

Despite a field crowded with very strong nominees, including the all-time greatest, Meryl Streep, as well as up and comers like Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, this award belongs to one woman and one woman alone.

Just like how Guillermo Del Toro has won every single lead up award for Best Director, every single lead up award has gone to Frances McDormand for her breathtaking and steel-hard role as a grieving mother in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Rightfully so, this performance hits all the right buttons for us. McDormand, who has previously won an Oscar for playing the polar opposite of this role in Fargo, finds a subtlety and a vulnerability in her character, who might otherwise be seen as a ruthless, cold hearted bee-yotch.

Still, despite loving Frances, our pick for who we want to see win has to be Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, who manages to give one of the most moving performances in years without speaking a single word of dialogue. Her portrayal of a lonely mute cleaning lady is magnificent, and would be a surefire winner if not for such strong competition.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

OUR PICK: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water


BEST ACTOR

Another category where all the previous awards point to one person. Ever since the movie was first announced, before any trailers or pictures were released, everyone has known that Gary Oldman would be taking home a little golden man for his performance as British prime minister, Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. This is just one of those performances that fits every category that the Oscars seem to love. Historical Figure? Check. Lots of yelling in huge empowering scenes? Check. A highly respected dramatic actor taking on this role? Check. Despite being among the best in Hollywood, Gary Oldman has only ever been nominated for an Oscar once before (for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy back in 2011), so this seems like his time to win.

Despite this, we would love to see this award go to the up and comer in the category, Timothee Chalamet, who at the age of 22 is the youngest ever nominee for Best Actor, starring in the film Call Me By Your Name. While Gary Oldman gives a very BIG performance in a historical drama, Chalamet seems to do the exact opposite in this romance, and portrays all the subtleties of a young man falling deeply in love. His final scene in the film, underneath the credits, will definitely make you cry, and is one of the strongest examples of film acting in one single shot. For this reason, we want to see him take home the Oscar, but we doubt he will.

Also worth noting Denzel Washington in this category is nominated for Roman J Israel, Esq. a film which was produced by BRON studios, which happens to be run by a Londoner, Aaron Gilbert. We don’t expect Denzel to take home the statue, but it’s worth noting that this film has a strong South-Western Ontario connection.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

OUR PICK: Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Just like Best Picture, this one is a two horse race. Count on either Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird or Allison Janney in I, Tonya to take home the prize. Both play mother figures on the opposite sides of the spectrum of caring. While Metcalf plays a very sweet and soft hearted mother who doesn’t know what to do in Lady Bird, Allison Janney is a cold hearted, evil, abusive woman who believes she has a method of pushing her daughter to be the best in I, Tonya. Both performances are hilarious and powerful.

All the precursor awards seem to be pointing to a win for Janney, with wins from the Screen Actors Guild, the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes, but there is still a chance for Metcalf. At this point, it’s really either woman’s award to win, though we would prefer to see it go to Allison Janney

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

OUR PICK: Allison Janney, I, Tonya


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Coming into awards season, it looked like Willem Dafoe was the one to beat in this category for his touching role in The Florida Project (a fantastic film which has been criminally underrated this awards season), but after win after win at every lead up award show, the obvious winner in this category is Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for his role as an ignorant and racist police officer. Say whatever you will about the politics of whether a role like this should be rewarded, but regardless of how you feel about Sgt. Dixon as a character, Rockwell’s performance is nearly perfect.

We also want to mention the outstanding work of Stratford legend, Christopher Plummer in his last minute role in All the Money in the World which breaks the record for the fastest time ever between filming ending and an Oscar nomination. Plummer was brought on to this movie in mid November to replace Kevin Spacey’s already completed performance. They filmed Plummer’s entire role in about 9 days, and the movie was in theaters a month later. Then, a few weeks after that, Plummer had an Oscar nomination for the role. As a past Southwestern Ontario resident, and an icon of our region’s theater, we would love to see Christopher Plummer take home this award.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

OUR PICK: Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

With only one of the nominees in this category being a Best Picture nominee as well, it’s pretty safe to say that Call Me By Your Name has this award in the bag. It deserves it too, as one of the most subtle and touching romances of recent time, with a script that manages to be engaging without any real conflict, or much happening throughout.

You can read the screenplay for Call Me By Your Name here: (http://scriptslug.com/assets/uploads/scripts/call-me-by-your-name-2017.pdf)

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Call Me By Your Name

OUR PICK: Call Me By Your Name


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

This category is VERY interesting. With four of the five nominees being Best Picture Contenders, the only screenplay that is out of the running for the win is The Big Sick. Outside of that, anything could win.

Despite it being one of our favorite scripts of the bunch, The Shape of Water will probably be seen as too much of an effects movie to win. More of a director’s movie than a writer’s movie.

This leaves Lady Bird, Three Billboards and Get Out. Any of these three films could take the win, although Lady Bird has not won any of the precursor awards, so you could say it’s almost out of the running.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has a very sharp and edgy script which has won the BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for Best Original Screenplay. While Get Out has won the Critics Choice Award and the Writers Guild Award for Best Original Screenplay. So it seems to be up between these two. Right now, our money would be on Get Out, although it could really go either way.

You can read the screenplay for Get Out here (http://scriptslug.com/assets/uploads/scripts/get-out-2017.pdf)

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Get Out

OUR PICK: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Cinematography is essentially the art of lighting and shooting the scene, and no one does this better than Roger Deakins. Deakins who has been nominated for the award for Best Cinematography 14 times now, has never once won the award. He is up again this year for Blade Runner 2049, which if you have seen even a trailer for this movie, is the obvious one to beat in this category. The use of light and colors in this movie is outstanding and makes for one of the most visually pleasing movies in recent memory. It seems like everyone is rooting for Deakins to finally get his Oscar, after so many years of stellar work, he deserves it.

However, you also can’t count out Dunkirk or The Shape of Water as dark horses in this category. All three films are visually stunning, and any of them could win, but it seems like Blade Runner 2049 has the edge.

Also we want to give a big shout out to Rachel Morrison, nominated for Netflix’s Mudbound, who is the first woman ever to be nominated in this category.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Blade Runner 2049

OUR PICK: Blade Runner 2049


BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Okay guys, this one is obvious. Phantom Thread is literally about someone making beautiful dresses for the rich and famous in the 1950s. I’ll be damned if anything can top the costume design in this film. It is literally about fashion and clothing. And the costumes are as stunning as one would expect.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Phantom Thread

OUR PICK: Phantom Thread


BEST FILM EDITING

Like last year’s winner, Hacksaw Ridge, this category usually likes to go to big budget war or action movies. Which is one of the reasons why Dunkirk looks like the frontrunner in this category. That film was cut together with such precision, to make three separate timelines flow together coherently. And using the editing to create tension. Incredible work. This movie also won the Editors Guild award for Best Editing in a drama.

However, we can’t count out the duo of I, Tonya and Baby Driver which use fast paced action editing as a tool to make the audience laugh and feel tension. Both movies are high octane dark horses in this category, and don’t be surprised if either of them pick up a win here.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Dunkirk

OUR PICK: Dunkirk


BEST MAKEUP AND HAIR

This category is a little different than the others, with only three nominees instead of five. We’re expecting this award to go to the Winston Churchill biopic, Darkest Hour which manages to transform Gary Oldman into a complete spitting image of Churchill himself. He disappears into the role half because of his acting, and half because of the makeup.

But don’t count out Wonder, which transforms little Jacob Tremblay into a young inspirational boy with a facial disformity. Either one of these movies could pick up the award, but we’re expecting Darkest Hour.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Darkest Hour

OUR PICK: Darkest Hour


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Production Design is the award about the sets and props. Everything we see on screen is production design, from the graphic design on various signs to the buildings in the background. So this seems to be a race between Blade Runner 2049 and The Shape of Water, which both boast some of the most interesting sets of the year. With The Shape of Water’s very memorable cold war laboratory up against some of Blade Runner 2049’s gorgeous landscapes like the orange Las Vegas.

This is a tough category to predict because there are only really three major precursor awards to this. Two of them being the Critics Choice and BAFTA (which both awarded it to The Shape of Water) and the Art Directors Guild Awards (in which Blade Runner 2049 and The Shape of Water both won in different categories). So we would say that the Critics Choice and BAFTA gives the edge to The Shape of Water

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Blade Runner 2049

OUR PICK:The Shape of Water


BEST MUSICAL SCORE

Music can be the most memorable part of a good movie, the thing that makes it really stick with us. This year is full of memorable movie music, with our two favorites being the scores from The Shape of Water and Phantom Thread. The Shape of Water uses very light, fairy tale-like music to underscore the strange beauty of the film it represents, and using whistles to give the main character a metaphorical voice. While Phantom Thread, with music by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, is a classical symphony that feels like pure bliss.

Also nominated are Dunkirk (which has an iconic ticking clock score, not quite melodic enough to get a win) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (which is just another Star Wars score).

Look for a win from The Shape of Water, which has won every precursor award in this category.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: The Shape of Water

OUR FAVORITE: The Shape of Water


BEST ORIGINAL SONG

This category makes me a little bit sad, because you have one of the genuine best songs of the year written by one of the most underrated songwriters of this generation (“Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens, Call Me By Your Name) which will surely lose out to one of the more accessible pop songs in the group.

Despite “Mystery of Love” being the deserving winner in our minds, this looks like a two horse race between “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman and “Remember Me” from Coco. 

“This Is Me” won the Golden Globe in this category and “Remember Me” won the Critics Choice Award. Which pretty much splits this, but I would assume that the Critics Choice holds more weight, as every single one of the past five years winners has gone on to win the Oscar, while the Golden Globes have some notable misses, like when they voted for U2 over Frozen’s “Let It Go”.

Still hoping that Sufjan Stevens can pull through and miraculously win.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: “Remember Me”, Coco

OUR FAVORITE: “Mystery of Love”, Call Me By Your Name


BEST SOUND EDITING AND SOUND MIXING

There are two sound categories. That is confusing for a lot of people because they’re both sound, and they currently have the same five nominees, so why split it? Sound Editing is for the editing together and the creation of different sound effects throughout the film. While Sound Mixing is for the way that these sounds all level together and create a mixture of everything we hear.

This is why we think that these two awards will go to different films. And deservedly so.

For Sound Editing, the award deservedly should go to Dunkirk, which is an action packed, LOUD movie full of perfectly placed explosions and gunshots, using sound to create an environment that is claustrophobic and terrifying. However, Dunkirk also had some criticism leveled at it for it’s sound mixing, which drowned out dialogue so it could not be understood.

This is why we believe that Sound Mixing will go to Baby Driver which uses sound mixing as a way to bridge the real world with the one inside of its main character’s head, as the environment around him blends into the sounds of his iPod.

Now either of these awards could be interchangeable, Baby Driver could win Sound Editing and Dunkirk could win for Sound Mixing, or one movie could win both, but we guarantee it’ll be one or both of these movies that take home these awards.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Dunkirk/Baby Driver

OUR FAVORITE: Dunkirk/Baby Driver


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

This is a tough one, visual effects is routinely one of the hardest awards to predict, with past surprise winners coming out of nowhere, like 2015’s Ex Machina (which won over Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant and The Martian). This year it seems to be a race to the finish between War for the Planet of the Apes with its photorealistic army of monkeys and another breathtaking Andy Serkis motion capture performance, as well as Blade Runner 2049 which uses both practical and digital effects to create a dark and terrifying world of the future.

Planet of the Apes has won the precursor awards of the Visual Effects Guild and the Critics Choice (at which Blade Runner wasn’t nominated), while Blade Runner 2049 won the BAFTA. So it seems to be one of these two. We would vouch for Blade Runner 2049, although it really could be either.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Blade Runner 2049

OUR FAVORITE: Blade Runner 2049


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

One of the weakest lineups for this award in years, a year where The Boss Baby manages to be among the five nominees is not a good one for animation (although for our money, it’s one of the better nominees somehow). 

This award will be won by Coco, it is the only one deserving of the honor, despite how much work went into an oil painted film like Loving Vincent, it doesn’t have the script to keep it up. So Coco is the only possible winner. Pixar usually reigns supreme in this category, and this year will be no different.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Coco

OUR FAVORITE: Coco


BEST DOCUMENTARY

Best Documentary seems to always be a battle between the craze of the moment and politics with the occasional random win. Last year for example, seemed to be the year of OJ Simpson, with two popular TV shows about his trial, one of which was submitted to the Oscars as a documentary feature despite a runtime of 8 hours, this movie/TV show won. Previous political winners have been movies like Citizenfour which was about Edward Snowden in 2014. So if we go the “craze of the moment” route, the likely winner is Icarus, the Netflix documentary which reveals information about the Russian Olympic team which led to them being banned from the Olympics. Since the Olympics are happening right now, this might be the popular pick of the moment.

However a political counterpoint to this would be a different Netflix documentary, Last Men in Aleppo, which might gain the votes of some because the producer of the film has been barred from attending the ceremony because of Donald Trump’s strict visa regulations on the middle east. Last year’s foreign film winner The Salesman benefitted from its director being effected by the travel ban.

But our vote, and what we think the Academy will vote for based on it genuinely being the best film in the category is Faces Places, a French travel documentary, made by an 89 year old LEGEND of filmmaking, Agnes Varda, who not only is nominated for her first Oscar ever, but is also this year’s honorary award winner. Doesn’t it sound lovely to have the opportunity to give an actual Oscar to the woman who is already winning an honorary Oscar? The honorary Oscars often act as an apology that you never actually won, a career achievement for a career that never had the recognition it deserved. So this is why we believe that Faces Places will win.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: Faces Places

OUR FAVORITE: Faces Places


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Like Best Documentary, this is often a struggle between politics and great filmmaking. Last year’s winner in this category, The Salesman was not predicted to win the award until Trump’s travel ban effected the director’s ability to attend the ceremony. It was undoubtedly one of the weakest in the category, but the politics of the time made it an easy win.

This year has a similar battle up ahead, the political frontrunner, which is about transgender rights, Chile’s A Fantastic Woman vs Sweden’s irreverent crowd-pleaser comedy The Square. Either of these films could win, it just depends on whether the Academy chooses to go political or to go with the crowd-pleaser. Our guess would be that The Square will come out victorious.

MOST LIKELY WINNER: The Square

OUR FAVORITE: The Square


BEST SHORT FILMS (All Three Categories)

We know you haven’t seen these films, don’t lie. These three categories seem to be a guessing game every single year. Where everyone at your Oscar party puts down a random winner, and no one knows anything about any of these fifteen movies.

So here’s a little breakdown for every category.

ANIMATION

Looks to be a race between Kobe Bryant’s (yes you read that right) short film Dear Basketball which is an animated version of his goodbye poem to his beloved sport, and the claymation movie about suitcases and the treasures they hold, Negative Space, though Pixar is in the running for its short film Lou.

LIVE ACTION

Based on the politics of the moment and the climate of America based on the recent tragedy in Florida, the likely winner in this category is DeKalb Elementary which is about a real life school shooting, based on the 911 phone calls received.

SHORT DOCUMENTARY

Edith+Eddie is a lovely film with a striking message about the way we treat the elderly, being about America’s oldest newlywed interracial couple, who got married at the ages of 95 and 97. It has heart and a strong love trumps hate message, which should secure the award. However, we would love to see Knife Skills win the prize, as it is the most heartwarming and surprisingly fun movie in this category.

Forest City Film Festival