91st Annual Academy Awards: Part Three – Acting Out
Yalitza Aparicio for Roma
Glenn Close for The Wife
Olivia Colman for The Favourite
Lady Gaga for A Star is Born
Melissa McCarthy for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
She’s won it all so far – Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA – and there’s no reason not to expect Olivia Colman to continue her winning ways. I love Colman in The Favourite, but Yalitza Aparicio’s performance in Roma does something even more special, conveying so much with little gestures and body language. Plus it would be nice for an indigenous performer to win an award. I suspect we will see Queen Anne getting an Oscar though.
Prediction – Olivia Colman
Preferred winner – Yalitza Aparicio
Christian Bale for Vice
Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born
Willem Defoe for At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen for Green Book
Bohemian Rhapsody had two elements that impressed me. One was the music, for which I will credit Queen. The other is Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury, which is pretty brilliant. After his victories at the Golden Globes and BAFTA, I see no reason not to expect Malek to add to his collection. But if it were me, I would vote for Christian Bale’s transformation into the devious, manipulative slug of Dick Cheney in Vice.
Prediction – Rami Malek
Preferred winner – Christian Bale
Amy Adams for Vice
Marina de Tavira for Roma
Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone for The Favourite
Rachel Weisz for The Favourite
Prediction – Regina King
Preferred winner – Rachel Weisz
The smart money appears to be on Regina King, and I am yet to see If Beale Street Could Talk (I suspect it can). Having seen the others, Rachel Weisz did do something special in The Favourite, and I’d be OK with her becoming a two-time winner.
Mahershala Ali for Green Book
Adam Driver for BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott for A Star is Born
Richard E. Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell for Vice
Having not seen Green Book (yet), I predict that Mahershala Ali will add to his collection. But personally, I was touched by San Elliott’s quiet gruffness in A Star Is Born, and of those I have seen, probably vote for him.
Prediction – Mahershala Ali
Preferred winner – Sam Elliott
91st Annual Academy Awards: Part Two – Pictorial Direction
Recently, I took on a new job which takes up rather a lot of my time. Therefore, I haven’t posted as much as I, and you, my devoted fans, would like. With the Oscars just around the corner, here’s my quick predictions for the awards, and a few of my own thoughts on them.
I’ve see all but one of these (hopefully get to Green Book one day). All have their strong points, some more than others. My personal favourite film of last year is up for multiple awards, but after its success at the BAFTA awards, I think this year AMPAS will, for the first time, award a film not in the English language the coveted prize of Best Picture. Roma is a magnificent piece of work that makes the ordinary extraordinary, all through the power of cinema. For that, I see AMPAS voting for Roma as Best Picture, and also Best Foreign Language Film for good measure.
Prediction – Roma
Preferred winner – BlacKkKlansman
Alfonso Cuarón for Roma
Yorgis Lanthimoss for The Favourite
Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay for Vice
Pawel Paliwkowski for Cold War
Much like Best Picture, I think the Academy will reward Roma, not least for the amazing direction and indeed multi-tasking of Alfonso Cuarón. I would personally vote for Spike Lee for his disruption of cinematic norms, but I see Cuarón picking up his second golden baldie.
Prediction – Alfonso Cuarón
Preferred winner – Spike Lee
Sometimes a film sells itself to you in its first moments. From its opening credits, Roma had me transfixed by a sequence of water rinsing a floor, while a plane passing overhead is reflected on the water. This prolonged sequence highlights the beauty in the mundane and the extraordinary appearance of the ordinary, as Alfonso Cuarón’s tale of domesticity is rendered epic through the magic of cinema. Covering the life of a Mexican family in the early 1970s, largely from the perspective of maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), writer/director/cinematographer/editor/producer Cuarón renders a story that is intimate and grandiose all at once. Domestic dramas are juxtaposed with political upheaval, familial fractures blend with social commentary. Cuarón utilises monochrome, deep focus photography, long takes and often pans to capture the full extent of the action. These long panning takes are the film’s great strength, as they convey the texture of life passing from one aspect to another, showing the shocking and gripping alongside the heartwarming and touching, the major flowing seamlessly to the minor. Roma is a true cinematic wonder, a reminder of what film can do using its essential elements, a work of art that recalls and reasserts the wonder of those early flickering marvels at the end of the 19th century.
Adam McKay’s Vice is based on, or at least inspired by actual events. The majority of its narrative, however, is speculation, and the film never lets the viewer forget this. Accusations of taking liberties with the truth are spurious because the film uses various devices to emphasise its own fictionality. Voiceover, direct address to camera, supertext, a weird Shakespearean interchange, and even, halfway through the film, premature credits highlight again and again that the filmmakers ARE MAKING THIS UP. Unfortunately, McKay is so focused on proclaiming the artifice of the film that he neglects to tell a coherent story. The career of Dick Cheney (played by an unrecognisable Christian Bale) is a remarkable one of political manipulation, Cheney’s apparent lack of regard for anyone outside his immediate circle something that is ripe for satire. McKay’s repeated interruptions to his own narrative blunt this satire, resulting in an incoherent mishmash where the events themselves are both hilarious and horrifying, but the presentation of these events is jarring to the point of being gimmicky. The film is a far less satisfying whole than the writer-director’s previous effort, The Big Short, which dealt with the presentation of similarly bizarre events. The first half of Vice, covering Cheney’s early political career, especially suffers from McKay’s approach, although the second half, focused on Cheney’s time as Vice-President of the United States under George W. Bush (an excellent Sam Rockwell), is more focused and succeeds in expressing the scale of Cheney’s Machiavellian manoeuvring that twists the US Constitution and other laws to his advantage. But considering the film’s overtly critical stance, the likely audience for Vice are unlikely to be bowled over by Cheney’s lack of ethics. The end result is a missed opportunity, that could have been an insightful dissection of a grim turn in US politics, but instead ends up a flashy but messy portrait of an unashamedly nasty piece of work.