My Academy Award Picks & Why I’m Not Watching

In Brief: Like last year, for this year’s Golden Globes and other awards telecasts, I’m not watching. Here’s why.

I suspect I am not alone.

I’m not going to watch the Academy Award telecast on Sunday night. It’s the 90th edition, a milestone and I hate missing it. However, like many of you, I have grown weary of the now common, out-of-place, political potshots by actors, producers, directors and all. I already know what the presenters and award-accepters think about President Trump and the Republicans in Congress and so do you.

Aren’t there enough rants about them other places?

Another focus will be the #Me Too movement. I’m also curious — but not curious enough to watch the broadcast — if guns and the school shootings will come up. If so, we will find it out of place since filmmakers rake in millions every year via violent gun-filled movies.

Isn’t this ceremony supposed to be about honoring movies? I — and a lot of you probably agree — just don’t want to hear any more political pontificating on this program or on any of the other gazillion awards shows.

Most viewers just want to see a side-splitting monologue, cheers and tears for the winners, and a show that honors last year’s best of the best in the movie industry. The pontificating adds to an already bloated telecast that these days always runs past three-hours.

By the way, to almost prove my point, Oscar’s viewership is down. In 2014 the telecast had 43.7 million viewers. Last year’s broadcast had 32.9 million. In the most important advertiser demographic of adults 18-49, last year’s show averaged a 9.1 rating. That’s off a dramatic 14 percent from the 10.5 rating of the 2016 telecast.

I suggest the growing focus away from movies and onto politics is one of many driving factors.

Politics aside and starting with the best picture, the Academy also made more nominating mistakes this year than in most others. There are 10 slots and only nine were filled. Left off are four great films that deserved at least a pick and the four — I, Tonya, The Big Sick, Logan and Beauty and the Beast — are far better films than Call Me by Your Name, Dunkirk, The Post and Phantom Thread.

The Academy also snubbed Martin McDonagh who did what will be this year’s best picture, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It dissed Jame Franco for best actor likely because of the #Me Too charges and skipped Hong Chau whose performance in Downsizing is certainly better than that of Octavia Spencer who was good but not great in The Shape of Water.

There are more problems but I’m tired of complaining. While I won’t watch the show, I am interested — as most movie fans are — in the results.

The best film last year is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. That’s where I start my take on this year’s awards. The best acting in any slot last year was in the supporting actor category. Sam Rockwell played a dangerous Barney Fife-like deputy in Three Billboards. It is the best acting by anyone last year.

Rockwell — like actors like Ed Harris, John Goodman, Viola Davis and a few others — owns almost any movie he’s in and can make a dull film a winner by just being in the cast. Also nominated for the same movie is Woody Harrelson. I left the critic’s screening and predicted that I’d just seen two performances that will vie for best supporting actor.

Like Rockwell, Harrelson can make a bad movie tolerable. He does Three Billboard’s sheriff as a guy with the patience of the bible’s Job. He is almost as good as Rockwell and any other year, he’s my pick.

This year the best supporting actor goes to Rockwell.

Best Actress in a Leading Role is a tough one and the deepest category this year. One quick comment. Does Meryl Streep have to be automatically nominated if she’s in a movie? Streep is always good and rocks it in The Post but it’s not close to an award-worthy performance.

I particularly loved the work of Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water and Margot Robbie’s inspired acting and ice skating as head case Tonya Harding in I, Tonya. They’re good but no one beats Frances McDormand’s Three Billboards anger personified performance.

Two films have a shot at best picture. Three Billboards is one and the other is The Shape of Water. In this case Shape is aced out and Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri takes home the Oscar.

The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro — who won the Golden Globe in this category — is a shoo-in for best director so at least his picture takes home something important.

Though the not-nominated James Franco gave last year’s best male acting performance in The Disaster Artist, best actor goes to Gary Oldman who finally gets his due for doing British icon Sir Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.

No one else has a chance.

Allison Janney of I, Tonya gets the best supporting actress. Screenplay winners are Call Me by Your Name for the adapted one and Three Billboards takes home the original. The special effects battle will be between Star Wars, Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk. Costumes and the like go to the should have been best picture nominated Beauty and the Beast.

Last, the Oscar telecast is on ABC, Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue will be hilarious because he’s the funniest late night guy since David Letterman and the program — even with so many shoo-ins — still goes over three-hours.

Gary Wolcott has been a movie consultant for KXL since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 25-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.

Got a movie suggestion or comment? Click here to email him.


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