Mid-Week Musings: My thoughts on the Oscar nominees for 2018!

Firstly, a brief note: I usually do my ‘Oscars Challenge’ at this time of year, aiming to get through as many nominees as possible before the awards are given out. However, this year I have booked a holiday in prime award season. So, with that increased level of busy holiday planning and actually going away, I doubt I’ll get through very many nominees this year, but I have been stockpiling a few reviews and will release them daily from February 1st onwards! You can download our OSCAR 2018 BALLOT SHEET here and our OSCAR 2018 WATCHLIST here to have a go at watching and predicting this year’s nominated films!

A few months ago I took a stab at predicting what would be nominated for Oscars which you can look at in full here. As the nominations were announced yesterday, I can now see how near or far off I was with my thoughts and maybe give a few thoughts on the films that did and didn’t get nominated in the end.

I’m really pleased to see that though some films didn’t make my list, I was largely right about what would and wouldn’t get nominated and why, so my finger isn’t too far from the pulse.

Where I was right:

My thoughts on comic book movies chances proved largely accurate. ‘Logan’ got nominated but not for lots nor in the very biggest of categories, just the single nod for adapted screenplay. It’s a shame that Patrick Stewart didn’t get nominated for his performance but it was a long shot. ‘Wonder Woman’ didn’t manage to get any nominations at all, though ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2’ did get nominated for visual effects which I said was likely.

‘The Shape of Water’ is not only nominated but more so than any other film this year and definitely a frontrunner in some categories. I thought it might do well, Guillermo del Toro is a fascinating filmmaker who occasionally manages to catch the attention of the Academy. With his excellent cast, this is one of the films I am most interested in seeing.

‘Blade Runner 2049’ did get nominated as I predicted it would, though not for the Best Picture award. It was the beautiful re-creation of Ridley Scott’s vision of the future that was inescapably deserving of plaudits, getting Roger Deakins his 14th cinematography nomination and hopefully this time his first win.

Also, I was sure there would be some nominations for ‘Dunkirk’ and indeed there are with 8 including Best Picture. I’ve heard a lot of disparity between each side of the Atlantic as to how well it has been received, with a far more muted response in the States, leading me to think it’s going to do very well at the BAFTAs though may only walk away with one or two Oscars.

Though the title changed after I made my predictions, Steven Spielberg was indeed on course to make an Oscar-worthy film, so it’s no surprise that ‘The Post’ (formerly ‘The Papers’) has a couple of nominations for Best Picture and Meryl Streep. Aaron Sorkin also didn’t surprise anyone by writing a nominated adapted screenplay for ‘Molly’s Game’, that’s his forte.

The other non-surprises are ‘War For the Planet of the Apes’ getting nominated for the visual effects, they have progressively been getting better and better through the trilogy. Also, ‘Coco’ and ‘Lou’ getting nominated in their categories was a foregone conclusion.

Where I was wrong:

There were no nominations for the much-maligned ‘mother!’. I did say it would grab attention, however, it wasn’t for the right reasons, the majority of people hated it apparently. Nor was there any love for ‘Wind River’ which I’ve heard excellent things about though only from film criticism sources as it seems to have gone unnoticed by everyone else.

What escaped my notice:

‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ had not been on my radar at all, even if I had seen trailers for them I’m not sure what I would have predicted, though both Saoirse Ronan and Woody Harrelson are actors I know can be counted on for excellent performances so I should have looked deeper at the possibilities and foreseen their films doing well.

As is the case each year there are so-called ‘snubs’ and omissions in the final shortlist of nominees but really I don’t think this is a bad year, the Academy seem to have nominated a lot of films that are widely-regarded as the best in their respective categories. There are also women nominated in directing and for the first time ever in cinematography which feels more timely than ever before given the events in Hollywood this past year and will hopefully inspire more women to take these prominent roles in productions. On that point, it’s worth reading up on Dee Rees the director of ‘Mudbound’ and how she aimed to give jobs to talented and skilled women in key roles, which clearly paid off.

I’m looking forward to watching the ceremony in full as soon as I get home from my holiday, I want to save some of the surprises until I can watch the awards being given out properly. Let’s just hope that the accountants this year are more careful with their envelopes!

Don’t forget, you can download our OSCAR 2018 BALLOT SHEET here and our OSCAR 2018 WATCHLIST here to have a go at watching and predicting this year’s nominated films!



Top 10: A look ahead at 2018

What I’m most looking forward to watching in 2018. I’m sure I have missed lots of great things off this list but these are just the 10 things that came to my mind when I stopped to think about it. This doesn’t include things that I’ll only get around to watching in 2018, that’s a whole different list including the Awards nominated films that are on release now but I won’t see in my local cinemas until mid-January.

1. Incredibles 2

When: June / July 2018

Why?: Whenever people ask me what’s my favourite film and they often do, I typically answer that I don’t have a favourite, it changes depending on what mood I’m in but the one film that would come out on top for most moods would be ‘The Incredibles’. It’s my favourite of all the Pixar films, my favourite superhero film, my favourite animated film, works for all ages, families, unfailingly uplifts my mood and is infinitely quotable. So, I’m beyond excited to see if Brad Bird can give it a worthy sequel, because this is the sequel I’ve been waiting over a decade for and all details released so far about when and how the story will be picked up are exactly what I was hoping for, so this should be ‘TOTALLY EPIC’. It’s the one film I know I’ll travel for the earliest available screening of on the opening day.

2. Avengers: Infinity War

When?: April / May 2018

Why?: Have you seen the trailer? ‘The Avengers’ films have been the culmination of each phase of films and they are awesome but this is the culmination of everything so far, it’s what the whole MCU has been building towards for over a decade and is the definition of epic (honestly, check the OED). There’s also a lot to be said for the Russo brothers direction in the MCU so far, ‘Winter Soldier‘ and ‘Civil War‘ are both excellent and bear repeat viewing very well indeed. It’ll be nice to see how their skills work with such an extensive cast and huge scale but ‘Civil War’ was not small and they do some wonderful things with that, including one of the most surprising and compelling antagonists.

3. Black Panther

When?: February 2018

Why?: One of the standouts from ‘Civil War‘ was Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, he got the two sides of the character perfectly right. The trailers look epic and it is building towards ‘Infinity War’ with a character we wanted more of in his homeland which stands out as distinctive. Director Ryan Coogler impressed me greatly with ‘Creed‘ so I have full confidence he will blow me away with this.

4. Ant-Man and the Wasp

When?: July 2018

Why?: I was surprised by how much I loved the first film, I think it got the tone exactly right and the humour was fantastic. Thanks in no small measure to Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, the film that was worrying fans with production issues managed to win me over with ease. There haven’t (yet) been any issues with the production on this sequel so it’s on a safer footing, there’s also a key romance plot being teased which the MCU hasn’t really got prominently at the moment in other films so this could be great for many reasons.

5. Glass

When?: January 18th 2019 (I know, it looks like it’s a 2019 highlight but I have a sneaking suspicion it’ll get moved up, plus I’m looking forward to seeing the trailer enough for that alone to make it into my top ten things I’m excited about in 2018).

Why?: Without spoiling ‘Split’ this ties in to a larger concept that M. Night Shyamalan has explored before. Casting is also very strong and it could be a full return to form for the director as the modest budget may refocus him on making the narrative strong rather than mistaken overreliance on special effects.

6. Aquaman

When?: December 2018

Why?: Despite being massively sceptical of DC’s movies, ‘Wonder Woman‘ proved they can make a good film, then months later ‘Justice League’ proved they can still make a bad film while getting closer to the right tone and being somewhat less of a disappointment. With ‘Aquaman’ I’m looking forward to seeing if they can do better, if there’s a glimmer of hope that ‘Justice League’ while a huge flop for DC might be able to get downgraded to a blip with a few really brilliant follow-up films. I remain sceptical, but it’s nice to hold on to a little hope.

7. Solo: A Star Wars Story

When?: May 2018

Why?: I’ve really enjoyed the new episodes in the Star Wars saga, and I actually quite liked ‘Rogue One‘ although it’s the easiest of the new three to pick apart as being riddled with problems. I loved the idea of Lord and Miller directing and though they were fired in favour of Ron Howard, I hope that there’s still little hints of their work that will make this an exciting and enjoyable film. Many are expecting this to be a disappointment, however, I’m not a huge Star Wars fanboy, I just enjoy the sci-fi action elements over any concern for the larger franchise or character legacy, so if it meets my expectations for a science fiction adventure film it’ll be great.

8. Oceans 8

When?: June 2018

Why?: I really love a good heist movie, especially the first Clooney-led ‘Oceans 11’. Sandra Bullock leading this seems like a great choice, the rest of the casting is excellent, the trailer is fun, all good signs so far. As long as the heist part is nicely twisty and has a bit of genius I’ll be happy. Due to my high expectations, this also stands a huge chance of being the biggest disappointment, so it really could go either way, but I will give it the benefit of the doubt for now and hope to be really please when I see it in the summer.

9. American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

When?: January 17th (onwards)

Why?: I was hooked by the first season that told the story of the O.J. Simpson trial. I binged the whole lot over about four or five days and it was some of the very best television I’ve seen in ages. This new season takes a different case, the murder of Versace, which I know even less about than I did with the Simpson case, so if it’s anywhere near as good as the first case I can imagine getting gripped again. It also stars Darren Criss (‘Glee’) who I’m a big fan of, so it’ll be nice to see him in a dramatic role.

10. X-Men: Dark Phoenix & New Mutants

When?: April and November 2018

Why?: I’ve merged these together as I don’t know which I’m liking the look of more and my reasons for being interested are largely the same for both films. I like the X-Men franchise and these are some of the last to be produced by Fox before being bought by Disney/Marvel. Because of that they could be considered the end of the franchise as it stands, or, if they are brilliant and do very well, they could potentially shape Disney’s way forward with these characters if these films are a foundation too good to do away with. Dark Phoenix has the chance to right some of the wrongs of the disappointing ‘Apocalypse’ and ‘New Mutants’ looks like it’s going to stand out as different from the rest of the franchise so may be a solid stand-alone ‘Hero Horror’ which could be incredible.

A few other honourable mentions:

The Meg (March): Jason Statham and a giant shark, that’s all I know, it’s all I need to know, though I did prefer the original title of just ‘Meg’ and I hope they go back to that. It should be somewhat ridiculous, hopefully in all the right ways, also it’s nice to see former professional diver Statham going back to the water.

Black Lightning (TV, January): The CW lineup of DC shows is already quite packed, I struggle to keep up with the four a week but this fifth show looks really good though apparently it won’t be tied into the ‘Arrowverse’ yet, I don’t know why other than it may be to see if audiences like it first, but the featurettes have already impressed me more than much of ‘Legends of Tomorrow’.

Venom (October): This should be out in October 2018 though it seems like the kind of film that could suffer delays. I’m reserving judgement because there are no firm details released about style or plot, it’ll be a while before we see a trailer. In its favour are Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson, so that makes me think it could be superb.