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#OscarsSoWhat?

The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and a tossup between Laurie Metcalf and Allison Janney.

Those are my predictions for the Oscars. I wish I cared more. For the first time, to paraphrase the late, great Peter Cook, the Oscars fill me with inertia.

Not that I think the people I've named, or those nominated with them, are undeserving. I'm actually pleased about Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand. But this year it's become a little too obvious that Academy Award nominations are a crap shoot for actors, directors and producers, and that they are motivated by a number of factors, of which the actual quality of the work is not primary.

I won't go into details, lest I end up saying something my readers will misunderstand. I will merely mention, first of all, that I do not understand why Miranda Richardson is not a Best Supporting Actress nominee this year. Granted that the two movies she appeared in, "Churchill" and "Stronger," were not hits. But the parts she played were so astonishingly different from each other, and the power she brought to both films so great, that the Academy was acting like a spoiled brat not to even consider her.

It was also very disappointing that Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg did not receive Best Supporting Actor nominations for "Call Me by Your Name," a film that Oscar smiled on otherwise. Along with Timothee Chalamet, the youngest Best Actor nominee in nearly 80 years, Hammer and Stuhlbarg added immeasurably to the impact of an unforgettable film. And although Willem Dafoe eminently deserved his Best Supporting Actor nomination for "The Florida Project," I wish Oscar had had some love for Brooklynn Kimberly Prince, giving in the same film one of the greatest performances ever by a child actor.

I'll just go down my list of other actors I thought were robbed:

Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad, "Marshall."

Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi and Ben Foster, "Hostiles."

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany, "Stronger."

Emma Stone, Steve Carell and Sarah Silverman, "Battle of the Sexes."

Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff, "The Big Sick."

Judi Dench, "Victoria and Abdul."

Tom Hanks and Bob Odenkirk, "The Post."

Granted that there are not nearly as many slots for Oscar nominees in any given year as their are Oscar-worthy performances. Yet, except for Hanks, Dench, Stuhlbarg and Hammer, none of these actors was even talked about as possible nominees at the end of the year. "Marshall," "Hostiles," "Stronger," "Battle of the Sexes," "The Big Sick" and "The Post" all struck me as movies that would stand out in any year. "The Post" got two nominations, for Best Picture and Best Actress for the undeniably great Meryl Streep; "The Big Sick," a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon; "Marshall," a nomination for Best Song; the rest, nothing.

Along with the movies that weren't even allowed to be also-rans, there are little reminders that the Academy isn't the happy, cohesive little group it pretends to be. We all remember the previous brouhahas--Marlon Brando sending a Native American actress to refuse his Oscar for "The Godfather," or Vanessa Redgrave denouncing "Zionist hoodlums" in her acceptance speech for "Julia." Somehow, this year seems just a little more sour. Casey Affleck, who won Best Actor last year for "Manchester by the Sea," will not be present at the ceremony this year to present the Best Actress Oscar, as is traditional for the previous year's Best Actor winner to do. If Affleck has done a fraction of what he's accused of doing, I can't imagine anyone would want him there. But his absence still casts an unpleasant pall over the ceremony; the Oscars' gaff is blown. How many other disgusting facts have been elided or ignored over the Academy's history?

Finally, though I have no authority for this except a hunch, I am half-expecting a big surprise in one of the major categories. I dare not discuss it here and now. If it doesn't happen, or if there is a surprise but not the one I anticipate, you will not hear more about it. If it does happen, you will.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 15, 2018 7:07 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Farewell to IOTA.

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