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Oscars® 2018 Recap: My Best Score Since 2015

For those who say we’re all out-of-touch Hollywood elites – Ill have you know that each of the 45 million Swarovski crystals on this stage tonight represents humility. 

I spent last night at the Rialto Theatre in Raleigh watching the 90th Academy Awards broadcast and enjoyed the show a lot more than the last several years. 

It felt like there was more of a purpose to the proceedings this time largely via moments like Frances McDormand’s impassioned speech, Emma Stone saying that four males and Greta Gerwig were up for Best Director, Daniela Vega being the first openly trans actress, Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph joking about #oscarsowhite controversy from a few years back, and rapper Common calling out President Trump: A president that chose with hate/He don’t control our fate/Because god is great/ When they go low we stay in the heights/I stand for peace, love and women’s rights.

Jimmy Kimmel did a good job as host touching on some of the same topics, and I liked his bit about giving away a jet ski to the Osacr winner who makes the shortest speech (see Helen Mirren showing it off above). 

Anyway, I had my best score in years as I bested the last two Oscars (at least by one) with a tally of 17 out of 24. Here’s the ones I got wrong:

BEST
PICTURE: 
My prediction: GET
OUT / What won: THE SHAPE OF WATER


While I got wrong that Jordan Peels excellent film would win the big one, I was right that hed win for Best Screenplay – another great moment as hes the first African American to do so.

BEST DOCUMENTARY:
My prediction: FACES PLACES / What won: ICARUS


BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: My prediction: EDDIE+EDITH / What won:
HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405

FILM EDITING: My prediction: BABY
DRIVER / What won: DUNKIRK

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:  My prediction: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES / What won: BLADE RUNNER 2049


I really didnt expect BLADE RUNNER 2049 to win more than one Oscar (it won for Best Visual Effects, and Best Cinematography). I predicted Roger Deakins would win for his masterful work on BR 2049, and was happy that after over a dozen nominations over the years that it finally happened.


ORIGINAL SONG
: My prediction: “This Is Me”
from THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (Justin
Paul & Benj Pasek) / What won: “Remember Me” from COCO

LIVE ACTION SHORT: My
prediction: DEKALB ELEMENTARY / What
won: THE SILENT CHILD



Lastly I was disappointed that the In Memorium segment left out John Mahoney, Robert Guillaume, Tobe Hooper, Powers Boothe, Adam West, and Tom Petty (sure Eddie Vedder covering Petty’s “A Room at the Top” worked as a tribute, but I would’ve loved seeing a clip of Petty in THE POSTMAN in the montage).


Okay! That’s it for this year. As I’ve said before, now back to watching movies for fun and not for sport.


More later…

SICARIO: A Superbly Dark Cartel Counterinsurgency Thriller

Now playing at multiplexes from here to the borderline:

SICARIO (Dir. Denis Villeneuve, 2015)


Emily Blunt proves her action star turn in last year’s terrific Tom Cruise vehicle EDGE OF TOMORROW was no fluke in this superbly dark cartel counterinsurgency thriller in which she plays a tough as nails F.B.I. agent named Kate Macer.

After a gripping opening that has she and her partner Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluyya) storming a Mexican drug lord’s safe house in Arizona, Kate gets recruited by Department of Defense advisers Matt Graver (a typically brash Josh Brolin) and Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro) for a high-risk CIA-led drug operation across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Kate increasingly senses that the system behind the mission is incredibly corrupt, partly because she can’t figure out who the task force actually works for (particularly De Toro’s ultra shady Alejandro), and if their tactics are doing more harm than good, especially in the chaos of a traffic jam shootout on the outside of Juarez, Mexico.

The team is following a bloody trail that leads to drug kingpin Fausto Alarcon (Julio Cedillo), who it is revealed brutally murdered Alejandro’s wife and daughter. Kate learns this following a raid of the cartel’s secret cocaine-smuggling tunnel that runs beneath the border – one of several stunning, standout set pieces on hand.

SICARIO, which is Spanish for “hitman,” is Villeneuve’s most fully realized work. The director’s previous films, including INCENDIES, PRISONERS, and ENEMY were intriguing and fairly solid, but this intensely driven treatise has really seared itself into my psyche in a much more profound way.

Working from a well crafted screenplay by Taylor Sheridan (Sons of Anarchy), Villeneuve keeps us up close with the characters, but knows when to give us distance via striking long shots impeccably filmed by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins. Incidentally, Villeneuve and Deakins have been both tapped to do the long awaited sequel to BLADE RUNNER. Their riveting work here makes me think they could seriously do that project justice.

Justice is what Blunt’s Kate desperately wants here in the murky, immoral terrain that makes up SICARIO, and the actress puts forth a lot of power in both the pulse pounding action moments, and in the edgy confrontations with those she doesn’t trust. People who don’t know the British actress (her American accent here is spot on) by now are really missing out – the woman has mad range.

However, as good as Blunt is, Del Toro steals every scene he’s in, and he does it by barely speaking. His cold yet fascinating presence has us questioning his motives as much as Blunt does, and when he does speak – every word has disturbing weight.


SICARIO may stir memories of such like-minded thrillers such as Steven Soderbergh’s TRAFFIC and Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY, but it has something those otherwise fine films were strongly lacking: a real conscience.

More later…