THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN GOLF – OCCASIONALLY - The Amazing Buzz Picks The Oscar Winners
Even die-hard golfers like me realize that golf can’t be 24-7-365. Every once in a while, I know that it is important to take a walk without my clubs, read a classic novel (An old friend gave me Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick for Christmas and said it was a must re-read.) and go to the movies with my wife.
I am very lucky to have one of the most respected and knowledgeable film aficionados and critics right here is Kansas City as my movie selection guru. Okay, I may be exaggerating his status as movie critic ever so slightly, but Buzz Willard really does KNOW MOVIES. Over the last 11 years, Buzz has an absolutely phenomenal 59-7 record in picking the TOP SIX Academy Awards categories. I know because I have been sending out his predictions to my golf buddies at The Kansas City Country Club all of those years. When you consider the medley of personalities of the 7,000 Academy voters and the year-to-year political winds, that won-loss percentage is extraordinary.
So why is Buzz the best of the best in looking into a crystal ball? “My edge? Honestly, there is no real way to explain it,” said the ever-modest Buzz in a recent interview in the Men’s Grill at our club. “I guess it is safe to say that I have a unique system, a system I have developed over a very long time. I just go to a lot of movies and do a lot of reading.”
While many of our mutual friends read Buzz’s yearly Oscar predictions because of their love of movies, I simply use it as a betting tout sheet. Buzz’s picks are gold – as in money in the bank. I don’t think I am alone in saying that betting on the Oscar winners this Sunday will make the show much more interesting.
Bottom line? You can read Buzz’s picks below because of your love of movies or for the love of money. Either way, you can’t go wrong with BUZZ’s WORDS. ENJOY!
Dear Movie Lovers,
Unlike last year, this year the Golden Globes and SAGS awards were generally on the same page. Lots of politics flying around out there and the hypocrisy of Hollywood never fails to surprise or amuse me. Add in the #Metoomovement and the voting could go in any direction. With that as the background, below are my predictions.
Best Supporting Actress: I‘ve seen all of the nominated performances except for Mary J. Blige in Mudbund. No matter, because this is a race between Laurie Metcalf for her performance in Lady Bird and Allison Janney in I, Tonja. I thought Lesley Manville inPhantom Thread was terrific, but the movie was dreadful. Octavia Spencer gave her usual sterling performance in The Shape of Water, but the roles that Ms. Janney and Ms. Metcalf play are far more significant in their respective movies than that of Ms. Manville or Ms. Spencer. Coincidentally, both women play the mother of the lead character in their movies and the roles are very similar (overbearing, Mom). As such, this race is a toss-up, but the industry likes Ms. Janney, so I’m going with her for the win. Should and Will Win: Allison Janney.
Best Supporting Actor: Once again, I’ve seen all the performances except one – Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project. No problem though because like Mary J. Blige in the Best Supporting Actress race, he has virtually no chance of winning. Except for Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water, all of the performances were worth of their nominations. If it had been up to me, I would have given a nomination to Mark Rylance for his outstanding performance in Dunkirk or Christopher Plummer’s for his depiction of J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World. Plummer’s performance was remarkable, especially given the fact that he was a late sub for Kevin Spacey who got the boot for his history of sexual misconduct. Mr. Plummer at 88 re-shot the role just weeks before the release. I hope that I can still perform like that in 40 years when I’m 88!! This leaves Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, both from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. While I thought Mr. Harrelson was really good, there’s no doubt that Mr. Rockwell had the winning performance. Should and Will Win: Sam Rockwell.
Best Actress: All performances in this category were worthy of being nominated, but this is a two person race. The super long shot is Margot Robbie in I, Tonja and while I hate going against Meryl Streep any time, I just don’t think her portrayal of Katherine Graham in The Post stacks up to the others. That leaves Sally Hawkins inThe Shape of Water, Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird and Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Since Ms. Hawkins never speaks in the movie,it makes her nomination even more interesting. However, as I said, this is a two-way race between Ms. Ronan and Ms McDormand. It’s no secret that I’ve been smitten by Ms. Ronan since seeing her in Brooklyn and her performance in Lady Bird is spot on, but Ms McDormand’s portrayal of a grieving, mad and frustrated mother is, in my estimation, the clear winner. Should and Will Win: Frances McDormand.
Best Actor: This is the only sure lock this year and I’ll call it out right now: Gary Oldham, who plays Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, will win this category going away. (By the way, am I the only one who thinks Paul DeBruce looks like Churchill?) Frankly, there’s no competition this year. If I had a gun to my head and was asked who else might possibly win, I’d go with Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out. Others might go with Timothee Chalamet (All the Hollywood women love him.) in Call Me By My Name, but since only 137 people saw the movie, he has no chance. This is also true of Denzel Washington in the movie Roman J. Israel, Esq. No one saw this movie either and those that did didn’t think much of it. That leaves Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread. This is supposedly his last movie and without elaboration, he’s NOT going out on a high note. No need to waste any more time or space on this one. Should and Will Win: Gary Oldham
Best Director: Like last year, I am afraid this one may be a lock. Love it or hate it, The Shape of Water was so bizarre and unique that Hollywood will fall all over itself for Guillermo del Toro. The other nominees are: Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk; Jordon Peele for Get Out; Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird, and Paul Thomas Anderson forPhantom Thread. As most knowledgeable movie goers know, the Best Picture Oscar often goes to the winner of Best Director, I think that is likely the case this year. Should and Will Win: Guillermo del Toro
Best Picture: I picked La La Land last year to win and according to Warren Beatty, I was correct. Unfortunately, he got distracted and most likely became “involved” with Faye Dunaway backstage and barked out the incorrect movie resulting in an upset win for Moonlight.
I’m going to try again this year to call a very tight race. I was not one of the 137 people who saw Call Me by Your Name, but did see all the other nominees and thoroughly enjoyed all of them except Phantom Thread, which, hands down, was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. The story line was flat out ridiculous and why this didn’t go straight to video is beyond me -- this isn’t even worth a 99-cent Red Box rental. This movie was worse than my golf game!!!
Now for the real movies in contention. Get Out was very violent, funny at times and very quirky, but I liked it. It was like the Stepford Wives meets The Shining. I couldn’t tell if it was a horror flick or a comedy (It was both.). Lady Bird was the early favorite for Best Picture and it is really a “must see.” Great story and acting about teen angst and the tension that often occurs between mother-daughter in adolescence. Darkest Hour and Dunkirk could easily win in other years as both were great flicks that shed light on an important part of WWII history. I loved them both and would see them again. Same goes for The Post. A timely movie about freedom of the press -- in this case the focus was the Pentagon Papers. As usual, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep were terrific, although many others strongly disagreebecause of their (Hanks and Streep) unwillingness to test themselves creatively these days. When you throw in the direction of Steven Spielberg, you should have a winner. However, for reasons that I cannot explain, Hollywood has fallen out of love with Spielberg, which is why The Post has no chance.
The real contenders are The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Except for the heavy use of drugs, I have no idea how anyone could dream up a movie like The Shape of Water. Making out with a sea creature in a flooded second floor bathroom????? C’mon, no one could possibly come up with something that bizarre. That leaves us with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This flick reminded me of a modern day version of the movie Fargo. It’s a dark comedy with twists and turns that never allows the viewer to get hisfooting. Recent commentary suggests that the racist themes of Three Billboards are concerning and Academy voters may balk about honoring it. Since everyone seems to love The Shape of Water visually and because Martin McDonagh, the director of Three Billboards, was snubbed in the best director category, I’m going to go with The Shape of Water for the win. Should Win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Will Win: The Shape of Water. Long-shot Sleeper: Get Out.
Bonus round: Coco will win Best Animated Feature over some other very worthy films, including Ferdinand, Breadwinner and Loving Vincent.
I thought it was a pretty bad year at the movies, but there are a handful that you should consider renting:
The Greatest Showman -- If there was true justice in the world, this would be up for Best Picture. Fun story, fantastic music and Rebecca Ferguson -- oh baby!
Wonder -- A great message and a movie everyone should see -- especially anyone over 8.
Baby Driver -- Violent, but very clever.
Victoria and Abdul -- Judi Dench -- what else do you need to know?
The Exception -- a sleeper with Christopher Plummer and Lily James, but really good. If you would be offended by seeing Lily James nude, please avoid.
The Viceroy’s House -- Lord Mountbatten is tasked with overseeing the transition of British India to independence.
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House -- Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat.
LBJ -- I thought Woody Harrelson was surprisingly good in this.
FROM THE BOX OFFICE,
Allan (I am starting the new golf season as a 12)