Well, it’s that time of the year again when Hollywood plays host to the elite creators of the film world, the culmination of awards season, the cherry that every nominee wants to add to their personal cake, the 90th Annual Academy Awards. With this year’s ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel set to be politically and emotionally charged for many different reasons, it feels like audiences around the world are more excited about the content of acceptance speeches than the names of the people who will be giving them! I can honestly say that this year, my personal opinion has never been so seemingly different to that of the general consensus. Continuing the tradition I started for this blog last year, here are my head vs. heart predictions for some of the night’s biggest categories.
Head says: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri / Heart says: The Shape Of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has certainly been the favourite for the majority of voting bodies across awards season, and if history can tell us anything it is that the frontrunner for the night’s biggest prize usually comes through. I liked Three Billboards, but I didn’t love it, something I did love was The Shape Of Water. I found it to be the most captivating and cinematic experience of the nine nominees, enchanting and and magical in all the right ways, with a crazy violent edge that makes it incredibly unique. The one thing it does have going for it is it’s ‘ode to cinema’ tone, which academy members do love on occasion. I’d be delighted it The Shape Of Water were to cause a Moonlight style upset on the night.
Head says: Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) / Heart says: Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
The Oscars love to reward a performer when they believe it is ‘their time’, and Gary Oldman’s turn as Winston Churchill seems destined to be that ‘time’ for him. There is no doubting that his work in Darkest Hour was impressive and transformative, but if I’m totally honest, it was probably my least favourite of the five nominees. It is the most ‘Oscar baity’ performance in the shortlist, and perhaps I’m inclined to buck against those kinds of turns. Someone who has most definitely had ‘his time’, on more than one occasion, is Daniel Day-Lewis, but that doesn’t change the fact that his performance in Phantom Thread was my favourite by a leading actor all year. It isn’t until you see Day-Lewis back at work that you realise how masterful he is, and as the controlling, obsessive, sensitive, eccentric fashion designer at the heart of the film, he has given us all the kind of career send off that most other actors could only dream of.
Head says: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards) / Heart says: Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
My head most definitely says Frances McDormand on the Best Actress front, she seems destined to pick up her second Oscar for playing an unhinged, revenge bent, grieving mother in Three Billboards. Her performance is brassy, ballsy and the inspiration for most of the year’s best quotable film lines, but no matter how much I enjoyed the vulgarity of McDormand’s character, my heart in this category belongs to vulgarity of another kind, the kind displayed by Margot Robbie in I, Tonya. As Tonya Harding, Robbie is absolutely sensational. Hey, it may very well be recency bias, but when I shut my eyes to think about which leading performance by an actress impressed me the most this year, all I see is Margot Robbie in tacky sequins.
Best Supporting Actor
Head says: Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards) / Heart says: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)
I’ll be honest, I didn’t like Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards at all. Not only did I find his character to be the one disparagingly problematic feature that prevented my from truly loving the film as a whole, but I also didn’t buy in to the sloppy drunk, slurry style of acting that he employed throughout, regardless, my head is with him as he seems to have captivated the people who matter! My heart in this category is unequivocally with Willem Dafoe for his fascinating, understated performance in The Florida Project, which overall was one of the most fascinating and underrated films of the year. As the manager of a run down Florida motel, Dafoe has to be all things to all people, father figure to feral children, disciplinarian to unruly parents and enforcer to unwelcome and unsavoury predatory guests from time to time. He is charming, endearing and succeeds in being so with his usual quirky presence and brand of performance.
Best Supporting Actress
Head says: Allison Janney (I, Tonya) / Heart says: Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
At last! My head and my heart are finally in sync! If there were any award outcome to bet your life savings on at this year’s Oscars, it is most certainly Allison Janney for Best Supporting Actress. Playing Tonya Harding’s mother LaVona in I, Tonya, Janney is officially the most monstrous parent committed to screen since Monique in Precious! She both delights and disgusts the audience in equal measure with her wicked tongue and jet black humour, the darkest of comic figures in a darkly comic picture. Personally, I’m delighted that Janney is finally about to receive the recognition she has deserved in the film industry for a long time. She will finally have an Academy Award to sit alongside, her, what, 349 Emmys?