Buzz On The Oscars

I have a golf friend, Buzz Willard, who is a movie buff. I am not talking about someone who loves going to the movies purely as an escape. No, Buzz knows movies. He knows all about plot development, directors, actors and actresses, camera angles, editing, the importance of the musical score and pacing. 

All of this knowledge and passion has made him our club’s go-to guy for movie recommendations throughout the year. However, he has become a legendary club figure because he has the uncanny ability to pick the Oscar winners.  His Oscar numbers are GREAT, REALLY GREAT! Over the last 12 years, Buzz has an absolutely phenomenal 65-7 record in picking the TOP SIX Academy categories, including going 6 for 6 last year. (Even though he predicted it, I still can’t believe that The Shape of Water defeated Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for last year’s Best Picture.)

While I realize that many of our fellow club members read his annual Oscar column strictly for fun and entertainment, there are those of us who have taken advantage of his expertise over the years by placing a wager or two on his predictions. In other words, opportunity is staring you in the face. If nothing else, use the information below to impress your family and friends. Without further ado, I give you Buzz’s 2019 predictions. 

Dear Movie Lovers,

This was not a great year for movies, but a good one for some really terrific performances. The Oscars will not have a host in 2019 (although Feb. 24th was an open day on my calendar) and they are trying to figure out what categories are going to be shown on TV, so like the whole country, the Academy seems to be angry and divided. As that great American philosopher Rodney King once said, “Can‘t we all just get along?”

Below are my thoughts on the six key categories followed by my “Who should and who will win” predictions.

Best Supporting Actress: The Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and BAFTA chose three different winners in this category so one could say it’s totally up for grabs -- I don’t think so. I‘ve seen all of the nominated performances and this is a race between Regina King for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk and Amy Adams in Vice. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz who were both in The Favourite and were quite good, will most certainly cancel themselves out. Marina De Tavira in Roma has as much of a chance of winning the Oscar as I do, so no point in discussing her chances. While I thought Amy Adams channeling Lynne Cheney was terrific (and a bit spooky) this award is going to Regina King. I actually don’t think Ms. King’s was the best performance. However, the Academy will want to reward this movie in some way and there’s no other place for it to win, so the Oscar will go to Ms. King. Should win: Amy Adams. Will win: Regina King.

Best Supporting Actor: Once again, I’ve seen all the performances in this category. Mahershala Ali in Green Book, Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me and Adam Driver inBlacKkKlansman all gave performances worthy of their nominations. I think it’s cool that our own Mark Allen sounds just like Sam Elliott and I love Sam, but I really didn’t think his performance in A Star is Born was that noteworthy and Sam Rockwell’s nomination for Vice is a complete joke. Jonathan Pryce who I thought was outstanding in The Wife should have been nominated and this oversight should embarrass the Academy. Mahershala Ali was terrific and worthy of the statue, but I would put Adam Driver’s performance a very close second. This one is a slam dunk. Should and Will win: Mahershala Ali. 

Best Actress: The five women nominated for this award had very different roles to play. While I liked the movie Roma, I can’t say I fully understood or appreciated Yalita Aparicio’s role. She was fine, but I didn’t see anything that made me shout out that this is a remarkable performance (although she washes the floor of the garage exceptionally well). Melissa McCarthy was surprisingly good in Can You Ever Forgive Me, but her character is so despicable that it’s impossible to root for her. Further, the movie is such a downer that it took three months of therapy before I was able to function again. When it’s all said and done, this award is between Lady Gaga (just “Gaga” for her groupies) in A Star is Born, Oliva Coleman in The Favouriteand Glenn Close in The Wife. You’ll be happy to know that Ms. Close did not boil a rabbit in this flick, but she was equally intense. It was a great performance and I think she’s the odds on favorite to win despite the fact the BAFTA folks handed their award to Ms. Coleman (probably because she’s a Brit and with Brexit going on they need something to cheer for). She also won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, but not Best Actress in a Drama. She was very good and I won’t be surprised if she wins, but I’m going with Glenn Close. Should and Will win: Glenn Close.  

Best Actor: I think this race is wide open. Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born was the early favorite, but he’s fading faster than one of John Black’s drives. I did not see Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate, but much like last year when he was nominated for his role in The Florida Project, he was stuck in a movie that only 176 people saw, so it’s another strike out for the Bret Posten look alike. I thought Viggo Mortensen was awesome in Green Book, but they’re not going to give this flick two big awards and Mahershala Ali is a lock for Supporting actor so Viggo is screwed. That leaves Christian Bale in Vice and Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody. Bale was phenomenal in his portrayal of Dick Cheney, but I actually got tired of watching him by the end of the movie (which, by the way, didn’t come soon enough!!) and his Satan comment at the Golden Globes was very bad form. Further, this movie is one of the worst I’ve seen in the past 20+ years. Malek “became” Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody and I thought his performance was awesome. My friend Jim takes great issue with this opinion -- and the movie. Jim simplydoes not believe in allowing movie makers any creative license when making biographical documovies (aka the Jim Syndrome) AND he has let me know about that in no uncertain terms. In addition, there’s been a fair amount of controversy over the firing of the original director Bryan Singer, who nevertheless did receive on-screen credit for being the Director. There’s clearly a lot going on behind the scenes with this flick and that may work against Malek. Still, I think he will win. Should win: Viggo Mortensen. Will win: Rami Malek.

Best Director: Like the past two years, I think this one is wrapped up in a bow. Love it or hate it Roma was so unique and artsy that the Academy will sprint to hand the little fella over to Alfonso Cuaron. The other nominees are Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite, Adam McKay for Vice, Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War and Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman. Right now I would say that the Spikester is a long shot. However if Cuaron doesn’t win then, Mr. Lee would be a worthy second choice. Suspiciously absent from this group is Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), who many thought would not only be nominated, but would also win. As Gary Hart knows, it’s hell being the front runner. Should and will win: Alfonso Cuaron.

Spoiler alert:  The Best Picture Oscar often goes to the winner of Best Director, I think that is likely the case this year.

Best Picture: This is where everyone is going to groan and say I’ve lost my mind, so before you start berating me remember this is my prediction, not my favorite movie. The nominees are Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star is Born and Vice. Okay, let’s throw out Vice right off the bat -- it’s just god-awful and even though my time isn’t all that valuable, I’ve already written more about it than it deserves. Some friends really liked The Favourite, but I thought it was weird as all get out and I ended up at the end of the movie saying, “What the heck was that?” 

Like Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born was the early favorite, but too much early hype has killed its chances, so I’m saying, “no chance.” It’s hard for me to think the Academy will give a super hero flick its most prestigious award, so even though it was good and a bit ground breaking, Black Panther is a no go. 

That leaves Green Book, BlacKkKlansman and Roma. Green Book was one of my favorite movies of the year, but it’s been a bit controversial for a number of reasons, which I will not get into here – although the Jim Syndrome again comes in to play. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali made this film really special and the story was very interesting, plus I’m a sucker for films depicting the 60s even when they can be embarrassing and disturbing. Bottom line, I just can’t see it winning.

I didn’t think I would like BlacKkKlansman, but I really enjoyed it -- good story, good direction and good acting. Good enough to win? Yes, except for Roma. Let’s be clear, it takes a lot of effort to watch this movie and since it was released by Netflix for TV and was only offered in limited release in theaters, it too, is shrouded in controversy. Steven Spielberg said it should be nominated for an Emmy, not an Oscar -- Yikes! If you’re looking for action, humor, special effects or a spellbinding story, you better pass on this. I have a friend who couldn’t make it through the opening credits!  I stuck it out and kind of liked it. I know it’s artsy and clever to film in black and white, but I actually thought doing that denied the viewer the color and vibrancy of Mexico City in the early 70s. Unfortunately, like so many other things in life, I was not consulted on this decision. This is not a movie for most of you (unless you have insomnia), so I won’t bore you with details about the story. Despite my misgivings, I predict it will win Best Picture. Should win: BlacKkKlansman or Will You Be My Neighbor (See below). Will win: Roma. 

Bonus round: BlacKkKlansman will win Best Adaptive Screenplay, The Favourite will win Best Original Screenplay and A Star is Born will win Best Song. 

Here are a handful of movies you should consider seeing:

Will You Be My Neighbor (a documentary on Mr. Rogers and probably my favorite movie of the year)

Crazy Rich Asians

The Death of Stalin (Hilarious)

A Simple Favor  (Clever)

Mary Queen of Scots (Bill Quirk refuses to see it due to historical inaccuracies (The Jim Syndrome)

Mission Impossible – Fallout (I know many of you don’t like Tom Cruise, but Rebecca Ferguson, oh baby, is in it!!!)

Free Solo (probable winner for Best Documentary)

RGB (fascinating documentary on Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

From the Box Office,
Buzz Willard 

Next week, it’s back to golf.

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