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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Original Song

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Original Song

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Original Song

Sufjan Stevens's nomination for Call Me by Your Name scratches an emo itch that this category hasn't truly felt since Elliott Smith's Good Will Hunting ballad “Miss Misery” was nominated two decades ago. Though some felt that Stevens's tunes were a mismatch to the surrounding soundtrack's volley between Maurice Ravel and the Psychedelic Furs, the meek “Mystery of Love” is the best song in the lineup both in and out of context, charting the impatient but hesitant undercurrent of the film's romantic leads, at the same time as it approximates their shared, vaguely pretentious cultural interests. In 1998, Smith found himself hopelessly drowned out on all sides by power pop (the eventual winner, James Horner's anthemic “My Heart Will Go On”) and cartoon showtunes. The more things change…

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Director

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Director

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Director

“Since childhood, I've been faithful to monsters. I have been saved and absolved by them, because monsters, I believe, are patron saints of our blissful imperfection, and they allow and embody the possibility of failing,” said Guillermo del Toro while receiving his award for best director earlier this year at the Golden Globes. It's a beautiful sentiment that goes a long way toward explaining the appeal of the filmmaker's The Shape of Water. Case in point, the comment left by one Marisa Damele to a Variety article announcing that del Toro had been selected to head the jury at the next Venice Film Festival: “Guillermo del Toro knows how to make us realize, with every one of his films, that some monsters have beauty inside, while some good looking humans are hiding a monster in their interior. Not everything is what it looks like. See through the package. This is the message. He is brilliant.”

Interview: Playwright Jordan Harrison on The Amateurs and Log Cabin

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Interview: Playwright Jordan Harrison on The Amateurs and Log Cabin
Interview: Playwright Jordan Harrison on The Amateurs and Log Cabin

If there's a constant in Jordan Harrison's body of work, it's his ability to surprise. For more than a decade, the 40-year-old Brooklyn-based playwright has conjured an amazing range of theatrical worlds: a house that shrinks around the characters in the mystery thriller Finn in the Underworld; the seemingly serene 1950s gated community to which a stressed-out contemporary couple retreat in Maple and Vine; and the near-future world of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist Marjorie Prime, where artificial intelligence has been harnessed to help overcome ageing and loss. For his latest, The Amateurs, currently at the Vineyard Theatre, Harrison ventures back to Europe in the Middle Ages. The play follows a valiant troupe of players as they tour medieval morality plays across a continent being decimated by the Black Death. We talked with Harrison recently about The Amateurs, as well as his forthcoming Log Cabin, which will premiere in New York this summer.

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Production Design

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Production Design

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Production Design

In a weird double-dipping twist of fate, the nominees behind Beauty and the Beast and Darkest Hour will be competing against themselves in two separate Oscar categories. That could spell hard luck for production designer Sarah Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer (as it could also for costume designer Jacqueline Durran in her category). Still, production design winners have traditionally skewed more toward the plummy and the plush, and both of Greenwood and Spencer's vehicles over-qualify in that regard. But neither film successfully amalgamates its overall look into the mise-en-scène itself; instead, both deploy their baroque sets to distract from the hollowness of their thematic surroundings. There's an argument to be made that Blade Runner 2049 is guilty of the same, just on the other, more Film Twitter-friendly side of the coin. But we're of the opinion that Dennis Gassner, a previous winner for Bugsy, actually finds cunning ways to walk back from the occasionally shallow excesses of the 1982 Ridley Scott original, adding gravity without sacrificing any dystopian opulence. (It's the 2046 to the original's In the Mood for Love, if you prefer.) The original Blade Runner infamously lost to Gandhi, and many other years would find us putting our money on Academy members voting to, like Quantum Leap's Dr. Sam Beckett, put right what once went wrong. But not this year, which will see the AMPAS going back in time for entirely different reasons.

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Animated Feature

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Animated Feature

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Animated Feature

There's no use dragging this one out, not least of which because this category contains, by most accounts, the worst film nominated for an Oscar this year: The Boss Baby. That film, which will be lucky to engender goodwill even from fans of Alec Baldwin's impersonation of Donald Trump, did well at the box office, but we dare you to find someone who's actually not embarrassed to have contributed to that gross. Last year, Eric Henderson took Ferdinand to the library for not offering tomorrow's virtue signalers a better hero. That's something that can't be said about either Nora Twomey's The Breadwinner or Lee Unkrich's Coco, two films entirely populated by individuals who our boss baby in chief is committed to keeping out of the United States. The Breadwinner focuses on an 11-year-old girl who lives under Taliban rule in Afghanistan and experiences an unusual sense of freedom by dressing as a boy in order to support her family, while Coco concerns a 12-year-old Mexican boy who mysteriously enters the realm of the dead and discovers his family's history. These good-hearted, if programmatic, cartoons are kindred spirits, but even if Coco wasn't the product of a studio whose mojo is far from tapped out, you would have to agree that in a year where Americans are especially obsessed with the problems in their own backyard, Unkrich's film enjoys the so-called home-field advantage.

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Original Score

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Original Score

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Original Score

At 48 years old, Jóhann Jóhannsson tragically died last week. A still-flourishing talent in the field of movie scoring, Jóhannsson was nominated twice for an Oscar, and we predicted that he would take the trophy for his work on The Theory of Everything. But that he lost his second bid for his brilliant work on Sicario to Ennio Morricone, who at 87 years of age and on his sixth nomination was finally given his due, points to the tendency for this category to withhold making endorsements that only Rip Van Winkle would characterize as hasty. Which explains how John Williams earned a record-extending 51st nomination this year, and for now the fifth time lightly reworking his leitmotifs for the Star Wars franchise.

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Actress

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Actress

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Actress

Is Frances McDormand's Mildred in Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a film about a woman's vigilante efforts to get justice for her murdered daughter by publicly shaming the town's police for failing to sufficiently investigate the crime, made of Teflon? Case in point: After throwing Molotov cocktails into the town's police station, setting it ablaze, the only reprimand she receives after being provided with the flimsiest of alibis is the side-eye of the town's temporary police chief.

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Makeup and Hairstyling

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Makeup and Hairstyling

Focus Features

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Makeup and Hairstyling

What a difference 365 days make. Last year, the makeup and hairstyling category legitimized the phrase “the Oscar-winning Suicide Squad.” Now, the category’s second Trump-era Academy Awards slate is dominated by fusty prestige pictures, and to an extent that we haven’t seen since 1998, when Elizabeth bested Shakespeare In Love. In the midst of a four-alarm idiocracy, any move toward respectability, no matter how hollow, has to be commended.

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Documentary Short

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Documentary Short

Frank Stiefel

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Documentary Short

In a recent interview with Food & Wine, Brandon Chrostowski, who lost his bid last year to become mayor of Cleveland, is described as an ex-con. “I believe I am on borrowed time,” Chrostowski told writer Jillian Kramer. And yet, per Kramer’s own words: “The details are fuzzy, but he got lucky; a judge let him go instead of serving him a 10-year sentence. He’s made it count.” It’s at this point, then, that you may wonder if Chrostowski is actually an ex-con. The details are about as fuzzy throughout Thomas Lennon’s Knife Skills, which documents Chrostowski’s efforts to open a French restaurant in Cleveland, Edwin’s, entirely employed by men and women who had recently been released from prison. “The short of it is, a restaurant saved my life,” the chef tells his prospective employees, though you will never learn exactly why.

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Live Action Short

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Live Action Short

FINCH

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Live Action Short

It’s with only a slight tinge of disappointment that we report that Oscar’s live-action short category does not feature the year’s most awful nominee. This slate’s biggest “crime” may be that it mostly delivers its predictably left-leaning sentiments in straightforward fashion, unlike some of the year’s higher-profile Oscar nominees that couch message within metaphor or direct their intentions through the side door of vintage time periods.

Only Kevin Wilson Jr.’s My Nephew Emmett, in fact, takes place in an entirely different era, though one could forgive voters for assessing this elegiac portrait of Jim Crow-era Mississippi as a cautionary tale, what with a white supremacist-emboldener currently occupying the Oval Office. At its best early on, when conveying the sense of perpetual unease that blacks in the rural south of the 1950s felt, it ultimately undercuts its own sense of disquietingly pastoral dread by pulling virtually the same gear shift that Kathryn Bigelow attempted with Detroit. In other words, it turns a flash point in civil rights history—in this case, the abduction and unspeakably brutal murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till—into a high-concept home-invasion horror movie.