In an era of fake news (Philippines included), Spielberg’s direction is at most a searing commentary on media power and machination and the crisis besetting the Fourth Estate, the world over.
The heat is on for the Oscars Awards Night 2018! The annual event that the world is looking up to will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California at 5:00 p.m. PST on March 4, 2018. The live Philippine broadcast is on March 5, from 9:00 a.m. onwards on HBO cable channel.
On its 90th Academy Awards rites, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will honor the best films in 2017. It will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel for the second time to air live on ABC.
In the past years, the Academy Awards ceremonies were aired straightaway from Hollywood live to the Philippines’ ABS-CBN TV station for free. That has stopped due to exclusivity of broadcast in countries outside the North American continent.
Incidentally, film critique and an unrelenting follower of the annual Oscars Awards Tony V. Aguilar, has opted to watch the three hours or so rites live in a hotel setting over an exquisite or exotic array of snacks or perhaps while wolfing down brunch in a luxurious way.
Aguilar will be joined by some colleagues in the biz like film director Francis Villacorta, Radyo Inquirer talk show host Fernan De Guzman and others of like-minded fascination for Oscars Awards watch.
A brief from Variety Magazine pointed out that Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water continued its awards show streak, leading the pack with 13 nominations. Dunkirk followed behind with eight nods and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with seven.
All three films earned best picture nominations. The rest of the category was rounded out by Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Get Out, Phantom Thread, Lady Bird, and The Post.
My easy choice for Oscars Best Actress is Meryl Streep for The Post in her role as the publication’s top stakeholder. If Streep gets the Academy nod, this will be her third Best Actress trophy. She previously won Best Supporting Actress.
In hindsight and to digress a bit from the Oscars fever at the moment, the same newspaper (referring to The Washington Post) in the early 30s through their columnists Drew Pearson and Robert Allen had threatened to expose Gen. Douglas MacArthur of “I shall return” fame for having kept a Filipino mistress by the name of Dimples Cooper (the first Filipina to have been kissed in local cinema), at Chastleton Hotel around the White House in Washington D.C.
For fear of discovery, Gen. MacArthur had gagged the two reporters (Pearson was awarded a Pulitzer prize later in his career) into keeping his secret affair after agreeing with the two columnists to make an out-court settlement. Gen. MacArthur gave money to Cooper to leave Washington but the mistress opted to move to the West where she opened a hair dressing salon instead. She later moved to Los Angeles to try her luck in Hollywood, but failed. At the age of 46, she committed suicide from an overdose of barbiturates.
Now back to Streep as my shoo-in for Best Actress. Her most likely rivals, except Saoirse Ronan whose film (Lady Bird) is overrated, are Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), and Margot Robbie ( I, Tonya).
The Lady Bird nominee for Best Actress is not exactly bad but she was stereotyped in a screenplay whose theme is highly circumscribed to the angst of the usual dysfunctional American family, hence, wanting in some universal appeal.
The lead nominees for Best Actor are Timothée Chalamet for Call Me by Your Name, Daniel Day-Lewis for Phantom Thread, Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out, Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour, and Denzel Washington for Roman J. Israel, Esq. My shoo-ins are either Gary Oldman or Denzel Washington. No one else.
As for my Best Picture, my preferences have it in that order, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and The Shape of Water. It’s a bit bad that Steven Spielberg was not cited for Best Director. Coco is my shoo-in for Best Animation award, including “It’s Me” from the underrated The Best Showman for Best Original Song by Rebecca Ferguson who was most memorable, enthralling, and luminous in breathing life into the song.
In hindsight, I would have included here in my forecast the breathtaking American musical drama The Greatest Showman as most likely a landslide winner in all departments. The film is sewn together seamlessly with such profundity, real entertainment and fun performed with such ennobling intensity in the hands of a debuting director Michael Gracey.
Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, the iconic stage show impresario and Michelle Williams as the ever patient and supportive wife, sparkled brightly in all their moments backed up as they were by a cornucopia of incandescent ensemble who comprised the perfectly balanced acts of postmodern dance beats in their unparalleled perfect pitches.
To quote our colleague Tony Aguilar who is himself a Jury Prize award-winning short filmmaker (Ianfu at San Francisco Int’l. Film Festival), and member of the country’s popular singing group Ambivalent Crowd of the 80s, The Greatest Showman is by far to him in the history of Hollywood filmmaking the best and unparalleled musical to come in a long time since Chicago.
In any case, Aguilar had it on his reliable assessment why The Greatest Showman did not make it to more than one nomination at this year’s Oscars.
Said musical with a hauntingly classical Broadway template was theatrically shown only last December. Apparently, it did not have much time to lobby. So it lacked the needed leverage to get the special notice from Oscars’ stakeholders and influencers who at that time had already their top shoo-ins in their minds.
In any case, the musical was arguably a virtual hit worldwide even living up much to its caption and leaving a mantra at the end of the film which said something to the effect that the greatest form of art is that which entertains and makes people happy at heart. Applause!