Best Production Design is not necessarily the easiest Oscar category to predict in any given year, but there are clear signposts that make a film’s production design “Oscar worthy.” Period settings. Visually-striking set dressing. Something lavish, or else something historical.
The costume design in the 2019 race is, all around, very good. And the nominees run the gamut of generic representation. Fantastical period piece musical. Western pastiche. Semi-futurist science fiction. 18th century British period piece. A 16th century British/Scottish period piece, as well.
It is a varied field with a lot of talent.
Four of the five Oscar nominees for Best Cinematography have received nominations before. Alfonso Cuaron has won two, albeit not for cinematography. Caleb Deschanel has been nominated a whopping six times. The only outlier here is Robbie Ryan, who makes a convincing case for himself in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite.
It is a category stacked to the gills with talent. Somehow, though, I believe it is not that close of a race.
Editing can be a tricky category to judge when it comes to the Academy Awards. The Academy likes flashiness. It likes showmanship. But often the best editing constitutes a lack of flash and show.
The Best Editing Oscar winner often splits the difference in this regard: visible yet functional. Dynamic editing that doesn’t hinder the film itself. Films with challenging editing tasks, like war films and action films. Editing that is visible enough for the Academy at large to understand and, thus, vote on, yet subtle enough for the Editing branch to nominate in the first place.
Best Costume Design is an award that traditionally has gone to the most showy, flowery, and baroque costuming. Of course, there are always exceptions to this idea. Nominees are often period piece films. But not always. There is a fairly clear formula, but there is wiggle room therein.
The 2019 Oscar race for Best Picture seems surprisingly cut and dry. There are a handful of films that would be baffling to see not make the cut, and there are only a couple of films that have the campaign strength to move into the race.
If the race comes down to a final eight, then the films are already accounted for. The few films that could take up the rear and fill a ninth or tenth slot don’t necessarily have the consensus support needed to raise to the top of voters’ ballots.
All in all, there are only a few potential surprises in this year’s race. Might as well dig into them, anyway, right?
The arduous task of movie list-making has never been my forte. I am too prone to adjusting my opinions and tweaking grades up or down a half-letter grade. Most years, I shuffle my list around until a breaking point is reached and I publish impulsively.
This year is no different. With almost 200 films from 2018 in my head, it is difficult to narrow it down to 25. It is harder to take those 25 and rank them in any meaningful way. Each film in my top five could be number one. There are films in my top 50 that could have moved into the top 25 (for now, Avengers: Infinity War is at the 50-spot, and that was an enjoyable film which I saw twice in the theater). It pains me a little to not be able to give a blurb to Sorry to Bother You, which narrowly missed the top 25.
Long story short, 2018 was a very good year in film. I may not have seen a standout, A+ film. But I witnessed many, many A-/B+ films.
The following 25 films are, as of this writing, my favorite of the year. But there are many other noteworthy films out there. You can see my full ranking of 2018 films (subject to continual change) at Letterboxd.
Honorable Mentions: Sorry to Bother You, Shirkers, Roma, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Won’t You Be My Neighbor Continue reading Top 25 Best Movies of 2018
Lady Sarah: Love has limits
Queen Anne: It should not
Those unfamiliar with the work of Yorgos Lanthimos may be surprised to hear that The Favourite is the man’s most accessible film to date. A court drama about the shifting power dynamics between three women—Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), her long-time confidant Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), and new arrival Abigail (Emma Stone)—this feverish portrayal of high society at its lowest states of depravity is Continue reading The Favourite (2018) Movie Review