The 90th Academy Awards take place this Sunday night, and a number of films stood out amida scandal-ridden year for Hollywood. From the controversy surrounding “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” to the dreamlike romance with a fish-man seen in “The Shape of Water,” there’s no a lack of opinions about who deserves to win, and who got snubbed.
On Point guest host Ray Suarez was joined by Shawn Edwards, film critic for FOX 4 News in Kansas City, and co-founder of the African American Film Critics Association (@sedwardskc), as well as Alissa Wilkinson, film critic at Vox (@alissamarie) to discuss the best films of the past year.
Best picture, best director, actor, actress and screenplay. Who are your picks?
Edwards: I'm going with “Get Out.” Best director Guillermo del Toro. Best actor is going to be Gary Oldman and best actress is going to be Frances McDormand. Original screenplay, I'm going for “Get Out.” This is the most competitive category out of all of them because you have “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” All three deserve to win. But I think at the end of the day when they open the envelope it's going to read “Get Out.”
Wilkinson: I'm hoping for “Get Out” for Best Picture. I'm pulling for Jordan Peele (for best director) but I think it will be Guillermo del Toro. I think we get Gary Oldman. I think we get Frances McDormand. And if we're in the original screenplay category I will not at all be shocked if “Three Billboards” wins but I'm pulling for “Get Out” or “Lady Bird.” I'd be equally happy.
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On the list of Best Picture contenders
Edwards: They selected nine out of a possible 10 best picture movies and out of those nine maybe three of them really don't belong. They got maybe six of them right. If I had it my way I would have added “The Florida Project.” I would have added “Wonder Woman” and I would have added “Mudbound” easily. I would have definitely gotten rid of “The Post.” I think “The Post” is the weakest of all the nine nominees. I'm not a huge fan of “Dunkirk” and I'm not a huge fan of “Lady Bird.”
Wilkinson: I agree that “The Florida Project” should have been on that list. I'm pretty sad that it wasn't. I loved “Lady Bird” but I definitely would have pushed “Darkest Hour” off the list as well and I agree with “Mudbound” that was quite a film.
On how the new rules affected the Oscar picks this year
Edwards: The large percentage of the movies that were nominated for best picture, you can tell are still from the old guard of the Academy. These movies all skew sort of middle of the road. You can tell that older people voted on them. They didn't take very many chances with the nominees. There are only two or three movies out of a nine that you would consider movies as sort of groundbreaking or deserved maverick status. But a lot of these movies are so run of the mill.
On “The Post”
Edwards: I was just in shock that people liked the post as much as they did — it's the world's most boring movie ever. It's like Steven Spielberg cloning himself and directing a movie. It was just so stale and non-eventful...If they had a category for best cinematic sleeping pill, "The Post" would win.
Wilkinson: Meryl Streep can get nominated for literally anything she does.
On “Get Out”
Wilkinson: There's so many great things about this film I love it so much but one thing was just that people weren't expecting it to be what it is. You know, we thought oh it's a comedy, it's from Jordan Peele, I saw “Keanu” I've seen “Key and Peele” — and this is just on a completely different level, with an amazing performance from Daniel Kaluuya. But then also these amazing supporting performances and the fact that it stayed in the conversation the whole year I think tells you a lot about how good this film really is.
Edwards: The fact that this movie created a new dialogue among people who saw the movie and even people who didn't see the movie. It took our culture by storm. And I like when a movie can do that which is why if there's going to be a surprise on Sunday night at the Oscars. This is it.
On the controversy surrounding Sam Rockwell’s racist character in “Three Billboards”
Edwards: I think the many controversies surrounding the film are way overblown. I just don't get what people are talking about. Because it's been sort of like this decisiveness about the movie in terms of like racism and races particularly with the Sam Rockwell character. And I just feel that it's all overblown. I thought it was a well done movie. I liked the point of view. I love the perspective the performances were fantastic and the the movie delivered.
Wilkinson: I think most film critics wound up having to write a lot more about this movie than we ever wanted to this year. I personally think some of the problem lies in the actual writing of the film, not the not on the granular level but more on the arc. I think it doesn't quite accomplish what it says it sets out to do. And so I understand the criticisms...I think a lot of people saw the movie wanting one thing and got something else, other people went in with no expectations and were perfectly happy with it. And then I think there's a critique to be made but I agree that sometimes you know tempest grow larger in teapots and this is definitely one of those situations.
From The Reading List:
Vox: 'Get Out' Was 2017’s Most Biting Social Critique. Is It Also This Year’s Best Picture? — "Seeing Get Out was something of a revelation, which was clear from literally the start of the film. I’ll never forget being in a room full of critics at its first advance screening and feeling it dawn on everyone that we were about to see something major."
Fox4 via CNN Wire: Oscar Nominations Are Here — Did Your Favorite Films Make The Cut? — "Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday amid what’s proving to be an unpredictable and highly political awards season."
What’ll it be, Oscar? A sweet romance between a night janitor and a hunky fish guy? Cabinet intrigue making Winston Churchill Britain’s man for a crisis? Coming of age in Sacramento with a girl who named herself Lady Bird? It’s been a year of creativity and great performances, but not everybody gets to walk away with the little gold guy on the movie canister.
This hour, On Point:
Pass the popcorn. It’s your Oscar preview.
This program aired on March 2, 2018.