Sunday, March 04, 2018

2018 Academy Awards: Shoulda, Coulda, Will Win Edition

The Oscars are upon us! The red carpet is laid, the designer duds form fitted. It's time to get to the nitty-gritty -- who's gonna win. 

Here's The Film Geek's Shoulda, Coulda, Will Win pick-ems for 2018:

Best Picture

Shoulda: "Call Me By Your Name" is beautifully shot and scripted, takes its time to tell a very emotional story, has remarkable acting and great cast chemistry. Contains at least three powerful scenes that move the audience. 

Coulda: "Get Out" is a real long-shot, but people love a long-shot. I'm hedging a bit, because it's not a close-to-perfect flick, but it could surprise us down the stretch.

Will Win: "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." Unforgettable individual performances and emotional content told simply. It's an academy member's dream movie. 

Lead Actress

Shoulda: Sally Rodgers, "The Shape of Water." Every moment she is on-screen is a jewel.

Coulda: Saoirse Ronan, "Lady Bird." How does one emote so well using a completely foreign accent? That's some acting. 

Will Win: Frances McDormand,  "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." The Bethany College (WV) and Yale School of Drama graduate is a powerhouse. 

Lead Actor

ShouldaTimothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name." He comes out of the gate fast and stays ahead of the pack through the finish line. A performance of a lifetime.

Coulda: Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” He carried a mediocre film on his back and turned it into something that was OK. 

Will Win: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour." This is Oldman's finest hour. He's so good, I forgot I wasn't really watching a bio-pic of Churchill. 

Supporting Actress

Shoulda: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

Coulda: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

Will Win: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

The first of only two categories where, I think, the person who should win will win. Janney wins in a battle of emotionally distant mothers.

Supporting Actor

Shoulda: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." His turn at a complicated, destructive deputy with a heart of gold was brilliant. 

Coulda: Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water." Funny, sad, desperate, enlightened -- all in one character!

Will Win: Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." Harrelson is one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood, and he's deserved nominations in many of the films he's starred in. The Academy often likes to reward actors like that with a supporting actor nod. This is his time.


Shoulda: “The Shape of Water,” directed by Guillermo del Toro, is from start to finish a masterpiece. In every respect. Period.

Coulda: “Get Out,” Jordan Peele. The academy loves first time nominees. But not for Best Director.

Will Win: “The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro. See above.

Finally, a shout out to “Heroin(e),” by Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon. This Best Documentary Short Subject nominee was shot in my hometown of Huntington, WV. It's focused on an increasingly bad opioid epidemic, yet illustrates hope. Watch the flick to see real heroes trying to save a city. 

I predict it will win, too. I'm a homer. 

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Call Me By Your Name

I didn't know anyone who was openly gay during the early 1980s, when I was growing up in central West Virginia.

Sure, I know now that some of my friends and classmates were gay. But back then -- in 1983, the year I graduated from high school and the year during which Call Me By Your Name takes place -- the idea that a classmate might be attracted to someone of the same sex was completely foreign to those of us who were straight. At least it was to me.

It wasn't that I was homophobic. I simply wasn't aware. 

I went about my life like most teens do: I spent time trying to figure out how to flirt with someone I liked; I retreated to my room to practice how I'd speak to, or act around, someone I wanted to impress; I experimented with sex and sexuality; and, I fell in love for the first time. 

I, and many of my friends, fell hard in love more than once. 

Its occurred to me, in adulthood, how lonely my closeted gay friends might have been in 1983, in that small town of less than 2,000 citizens. Not only because they had fewer romantic options and lived in a community that didn't consider their needs. But because most didn't get to experience as teens all those first-time events that help shape who we eventually become. 

And this was my greatest take-away from Call Me By Your Name. This is a coming-of-age film; the story of a young man exploring his sexuality, navigating the throes of first-time love, and using the lessons learned from that struggle to grow and mature.

It just so happens his first-time love is another male. 

Timothée Chalamet is remarkable as Elio, the teen who's trying to figure it all out. Watching Chalamet portray his character as confident and sexy while with his girlfriend, but insecure and sensual with Oliver, with whom he's fallen deeply in love, is like observing a rare masterpiece in an art museum.

It's so beautiful to watch that it feels like a privilege. 

What excites me most about Call Me By Your Name is that it's a coming-of-age romance any adult can understand. We've all been there at some point in our lives, whether we loved someone of the same or of the opposite sex. It should inspire and give hope to all of us, regardless of who we love.

Growing into adulthood is a tough path for anyone. But it's especially so for people who feel disenfranchised. The generation coming to age in the 1980s might have benefited by fewer Porky's flicks and more movies like Call Me By Your Name