So the Academy Awards are here again. Again. This year has been an especially fractious lead up, so it seems like they have been gestating forever. There isn’t, for example, going to be a best popular picture category, which is probably a good thing, as I don’t think there needs to be even more ways in which this ceremony is made longer and tries even harder to include Superhero movies.
The other thing that we’re not going to have this year is a host, which hasn’t happened in thirty years. I’m not sure why the Academy Awards would need a host, but they’re not going to have one, so I guess we’ll be spared a monologue, and the endless “tributes” to “old stuff” are going to have to be introduced by somebody else. This seems like a non-move, but, y’know, for something based so deeply in tradition, it’s also noteworthy that it’s what passes for a shake-up.
Of course, it could just be that it’s just another in a series of decisions, including the aforementioned popular film category, that is evidentiary of their problems making the right decisions. For example: there is a non-zero chance that Bryan “Serial Rapist” Singer could walk out with an Academy Award 1, which seems like, at the very least, an extremely tone-deaf decision, if not an actively hostile one.
A week or so ago, as of the time of this writing) the Academy has also come under fire for their decision to air fewer actual awards-grantings, and shunting some categories off to being given away during ad breaks in the interest of keeping the telecast length down, which seems like cutting off an arm to try to lose weight – your an awards ceremony that would rather spend more time watching people sing than give out awards 2. It’s turbodumb.
If the Academy themselves can’t be bothered to care thoughtfully about any of this, then I most definitely cannot and will therefore, as is my custom around this particular award show, be doing this speed-round style, and making only the most gut-level decisions, because the Academy Awards are very stupid and I hate them.
But I do like the spectacle, and I dig on the absurdity, so it’s not a total wash.
So here we go!
Best Visual Effects
True story: First Man is the only one of these movies that doesn’t give me weird uncanny-valley vibes at all, so it’s the winner. There’s lots to be impressed with in Avengers: Infinity War, as long as you never look at Thanos’s hands. It’s a real mood-killer.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: First Man
Best Film Editing
The only two of these movies I could condone getting any kind of award are Black KKKlansman and The Favourite, and I’m inclined to prefer The Favourite.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Yorgos Mavropsardis, The Favourite
Best Costume Design
On the one hand, period dramas are supposed to be what this is all about. On the other hand, how hard is it to “Design” costumes that are already designed? So The Favourite and Mary, Queen of Scots are out, although I’ll hand it to The Ballad of Lester Scruggs for being a period piece with some extra creative flair. Anyway, it’s Black Panther, which also mostly had pre-designed costumes, having been based on a comic book full of pre-existing costumes, but did some inventive things with both the pre-existing costumes and the ones they had to make up themselves.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Ruth E. Carter, Black Panther
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
There are only three nominees in this category. That’s weird. There’s the same number of films considered in this category as all the rest of them, but only three are nominated here. That’s weird, guys. I think it should be otherwise. However, I don’t know anything about the field, particularly, so I guess I should just be grateful to not have as many things to choose from.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher and Jessica Brooks, Mary Queen of Scots
Alfonso Cuaron has many, many talents, but even if he didn’t, and all he ever did was point cameras at things, he would still be a genius, and I believe this to my core.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Best Production Design
It really is Black Panther again. They made up a whole country, with a way of life and costumes and everything, and it all looks great.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Black Panther
Best Sound Mixing
I’m no fan of A Star is Born in any of its forms, but the sound mixing does seem challenging, and they did a good job with it, so I guess it’s the winner.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: A Star is Born
Best Sound Editing
A Quiet Place relies on its sound editing for almost everything about it that is compelling, so that’s the winner right there.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: A Quiet Place
Best Original Song
It’s been two weeks since I made the joke about it sounding like all the stars are kosher, is that enough time to make it again? I mean, it’s the best song here, so I feel like it is. I’m going to say that it is.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: SZA, “All the Stars” (f Kendrick Lamar)
Best Original Score
The best original score was for Mandy. I’m going off script. It’s not my fault that the Academy is made of dildos and doesn’t know a good score when they hear one.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Johann Johannsson, Mandy. Even though it isn’t, technically, nominated
Best Animated Short Film
Bao is great, and I’m happy to see it here.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Bao
Best Live Action Short Film
Let’s go with Mother, which does cool things with time and manages to cram a twist in there. I’m also looking forward to it being expanded into a full-length movie.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Mother, which is separate and distinct from all the other films called Mother in the last several years.
Best Documentary – Short Subject
A Night at the Garden is timely, compelling and feels like a genuinely-important reminder about the relationship between Americans and fascist racism. Plus Fox News decided they couldn’t possibly promote it, so points there also.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: A Night at the Garden
Best Documentary – Feature
There’s a lot of weighty, political material here, which is great. There’s also a really nice, moving documentary about the nature of interpersonal relationships and obsessive joy, and I’m kind of inclined to praise it to the damn rafters.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Minding the Gap
Best Foreign Language Film
I, like everyone else, think Roma is just swell.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Roma
Best Animated Feature Film
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse needs to be nominated for more awards in more categories. It’s amazing and just about perfect. It beats the rest of this category at a breezy walk.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Best Adapted Screenplay
I’m not inclined to think about this one much further than to say that If Beale Street Could Talk is based on the best source material – one of the very finest novels ever written, ever – and that by doing a credible job it should win. So I’m going with that.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Best Original Screenplay
I can’t really get over my generalized distaste of Paul Schrader, even when everybody loves his work, so I guess this one goes to Roma.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Best Supporting Actress
Man, Regina King is a damn national treasure. She should win all the awards for just being her, but she should especially win an Academy Award for If Beale Street Could Talk.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Best Supporting Actor
How cool is it to see ol’ Withnail himself finally nominated for an academy award? I think it’s just delightful.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me
I’m breaking my usual rule against even thinking positive thoughts about biopics to point out that the story of Lee Israel is super-great, and that people managed to work their heads around what Melissa McCarthy is actually good at 3, and she did excellent work. So there.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Well, regardless of my aforestated opinion of the remake of A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper isn’t playing a real person (well, he’s kind of playing Kris Kristofferson, but it’s not a biopic), and he isn’t in Green Book, so he’s the winner. I’m not any happier about it than you are.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Yorgos Lanthimos would have been such a strange candidate for this category a couple of years ago, that I’m pretty happy that he’s here and happy to say that it’s him, even if The Favourite isn’t precisely my cup of tea.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
For all the sound and fury, this is one seriously weak best-picture field. Most of the available options here are the kind of thing that will seem super-silly in a few years. Black Panther would at least be an interesting choice, and The Favourite and Roma are probably the best ones. But what the hell, why not stick to my lane and say the predictable thing.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Black Panther
And there you have, tune in next year unless my prayers are answered and the whole thing burns itself to the ground in a conflagration of stupidity!
- Bryan Singer is the wide-openest of missing stairs, with reports coming out every few years about how disgusting he is, everyone acting shocked and appalled, and then going back to the business of ensuring that he remains extremely rich and successful. It’s super-weird to me that he seems to be so immune to any of this. ↩
- actually, between the time the first draft of this piece was written and now, when I’m updating it on the nineteenth, there has been yet more controversy, as they have also abandoned the bumper spots that highlight the jobs of the little-known and/or little-understood behind the scenes people that have peppered the last couple of years, so clearly whatever it is they want to be on television, it’s not any of the interesting stuff. ↩
- For example, her character in Bridesmaids – the movie that started this whole thing – was not memorable solely for the big, loud over-the-top-ness, but for the reveal at the end that that’s a thing she has become by coming to terms with who she is. Most Melissa McCarthy roles leave that bit out, to their own detriment. ↩