As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences countdown just the days left for voting, a few of the Filmotomy writers go to bat on some of their favourites. Stay tuned, there are more early tomorrow.
BlacKkKlansman for Best Picture
When the credits start to roll at the end of the new joint from director Spike Lee, you are left speechless. For most of the film, you are laughing, cringing and watching our character’s fight against hate and bigotry and right when it is about to end, the movie turns into something more, and that is an important film that deserves to win Best Picture of the year.
When we see every event up to this point taking place in the past, we start to forget that the same issues that we face right now in terms of our hate for one another. Then Spike Lee and company show us that footage of the events in Charlottesville and brings everything full circle. When we talk about movies of our time, that represent where we are as a country and a world, BlacKkKlansman turns from a cautionary film about the past to a rally cry for change for our future.
When I think about giving out the award for Best Picture, I think about a movie that is well written, acted and executed from behind the scenes, as well as being a movie that speaks to the time that it was made and released. Just as Spike Lee brought us an important film with Do the Right Thing, he has brought us just as important of a film in BlacKkKlansman and it deserves to be the film that we look back on as the Best Picture of 2018. – – – Ryan McQuade
Yalitza Aparicio, Best Actress for Roma
At first glance, Yalitza Aparicio’s Cleo might seem like a distant character. Almost willingly withheld from the audience. We want to see, hear and experience all the emotions going through her head and we feel we can’t or are not allowed to. To empathize with Cleo it is crucial to recognize what it means to exist at the margins of society. What it entails to fluctuate between two worlds.
Cleo swings between multiple realms: the contrasting class structures of Mexico City, the racial realities at odds, and most notably the two contradictory versions of a household. Cleo is intimate yet she has no voice. As a young indigenous woman brought into a family to work as a maid, she is still discovering her own self against the environments she’s been placed in.
Alfonso understands it is not his place to suggest what Cleo, in her vastly different worldview truly endures moment to moment. It’s an irreconcilable understanding of the intimate yet distant relationship he holds with her. The achievement of Cleo’s warmth and the closeness we feel to her belongs to Yalitza. She enriches Cleo’s humanity, communicating her pure love and apprehension for a family to which she never entirely belongs to. Her accomplishment goes beyond making Cleo real and palpable, but also disseminating the harsh layouts of Mexican society to which she belongs.
Beyond the Cinderella story she personifies or her historic nomination, there’s no doubt Roma would not fly as it does were it not for Yalitza. There’s a reason Alfonso Cuaron has highlighted her at every opportunity he could. It’s a monumental achievement of acting and one that hopefully voters will appreciate for everything it accomplishes. – – – Alex Dounce
The Favourite for Best Picture
Queen Anne, Lady Sarah and Abigail… There is a triangle in a sphere. The Favourite uses this image to explain Yorgos Lanthimos’ narration, because these three characters are connected with each other like a triangle, but as a whole, the story is created in a sphere (the palace). The Favourite is about relations of power in a specific period of the monarchy in England. And Queen Anne, Lady Sarah, and Abigail want to find their own way to survive, thrive in this period, and this palace.
These motives are about using power and their voices, which are shaped by their characteristics. A male dominated system can scratch out all the possible alternative ways of polity, so these three women have their alternative ways of create reasons for their very existence. Lanthimos’ camera movement and fish-eye lens show this palace as a sphere, an uncanny place – so this palace actually is a space which has its borders against these three characters. – – – Sezen Sayınalp
Black Panther for Best Production Design
While all of the nominees here are wonderful, what the other four each have in common is the intense research at their center. The Favourite, First Man, and ROMA were all expertly executed exercises in recreating specific moments in specific places, and Mary Poppins Returns was largely an exercise in recreating our collective memory of another film. These films all looked extraordinary, like world-class instrumentalists performing a piece of classical music.
But the production design team for Black Panther wrote the music. Yes, there was some research involved; the design integrated historical African tribal art and motifs, and 50 years worth of Black Panther comic books also provided several ideas. (Although every Black Panther artist over the years has drawn Wakanda differently.) But there was nothing being recreated here, no photographs from the ‘60s or ‘70s that a team was trying to bring wholly back to life. The Black Panther production design team was tasked with creating life from near-scratch.
And they nailed it. They perfectly threaded the needle of designing a nation that looked stunningly futuristic while being clearly indebted to a strong cultural tradition. And that may be the most impressive part. Most renderings of futurism look as though they have no geographic antecedent. But the Wakanda on screen in Black Panther looks like a utopian future that was actually borne out of the past. – – – Daniel Joyaux
Richard E. Grant, Best Supporting Actor for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
What do you want from a supporting performance that Richard E. Grant doesn’t bring to the table in Can You Ever Forgive Me? He’s a scene-stealer. He brings comedy and drama. He fully embodies his character, and he gives just a knockout performance. He should get the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor based on that alone.
But, as we all know, the Oscars are often about so much more than just the quality of the performance. Politics, celebrity, and an “of-the-moment” feeling often sway Oscar voters. With the Oscar voting period underway, the time to make these choices is now. Here’s the thing, Richard E. Grant checks all the non-performance-related boxes, too. Look at the way he has handled the awards circuit. Every other day I feel like there’s another “Richard E. Grant is living his best life” piece out there.
So, please Academy voters, gives us all what we deserve – an Oscar acceptance speech from the inimitable Richard E. Grant. – – – Aaron Charles
Sam Elliot, Best Supporting Actor for A Star Is Born
The relationship between Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) and his brother Bobby (Sam Elliot)
may not be the main focus of A Star Is Born, but it does lead to an incredibly moving scene
which should earn Elliot Best Supporting Actor at this years Oscars.
At the start of the film, the brothers have a strained relationship. As the older brother, Bobby cares for Jackson whenever he gets too inebriated. Both seem reluctant to address their wounded past, so they make do with small talk. All this leads to a fight where Bobby accuses Jackson of idolising their alcoholic father.
Later, they reconcile and, Jackson shyly admits that it was Bobby he adored and not his father. As Bobby drives away, we see him barely holding back tears at his brother’s admission. The gifted Elliot plays Bobby so well, but this scene stands out. It’s a restrained performance that perfectly encapsulates his love for his brother without any dialogue. – – – JD Grant