This weekend marks the 90th Academy Awards – or what Lake Effect’s Audrey Nowakowski and Milwaukee film critics Ryan Jay and Dave Luhrssen call the Super Bowl of film!
Come Sunday evening, the Motion Picture Academy will announce their verdicts for best film, best actor, best actress, and best director of 2017. Among the top films up for awards are The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Get Out, and Lady Bird – a testament to how broad the genres and film topics are this year.
Who do you think will win best picture?
While critics Ryan Jay and Dave Luhrssen say they don’t envy the task of voters this year, they were more than willing to discuss this past year’s film trends, their Oscar predictions, and whether they think the film industry will adapt to address issues like diversity and the #MeToo movement:
According to Luhrssen, for a film to be Oscar worthy - "whether humorously or seriously, the movie should address something important going on in society in the lives of people, should do it intelligently. It's nice if the movie puts an entirely new or unusual perspective on the world we live in."
Jay adds, "[the film] strikes you as something that has the best production quality and also has the most emotional hook."
Science fiction and fantasy is having a big year - clearly evident in The Shape of Water's 13 Academy Award nominations. Typically a genre that the Oscars are slow to recognize, Luhrssen says, science fiction is one of the most important arenas of popular culture. "If you have not seen The Shape of Water you have to...it has so much power and weight and emotional hook to it that I think it's amazing," Jay adds.
This Oscar season is also features greater diversity among nominees, with Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and Jordan Peele (Get Out) both nominated for best director. And, a woman was also nominated for the first time for best cinematography: Mudbound's Rachel Morrison.
For Jay, the significance of Get Out's nominations in particular has had an impact far beyond what the studio originally intended - especially since it was released so early in the year.
"We're seeing the blurring and the mixing of politics in Hollywood and seeing it mix quite successfully," he says. "Because we're all talking about it, it's all relevant, and it is hopefully moving our world in a better direction where we all need to go."
Even so, Luhrssen says the organization has a long way to go and has to start with the diversification of filmmakers and directors: "It has to start with more minority and women taking on leadership roles in the major companies that do the decision making, the green-lighting, so it begins with different perspectives in mind."
Who do you think should win best actor, actress and director?
Luhrssen's pick: "I think it's a credible list - I wouldn't dispute any of the choices...I think Gary Oldman is the front runner in this."
Jay says, "Frances McDormand will get the award and she has swept awards season. And it's really frustrating because I don't think she is the best performance in this category - which is Sally Hawkins. To play a mute in a film that is not a silent film, and yet be able to emote and to express so much with her facial expressions and to use other sounds effects at her disposal is so powerful."
"This will be Guillermo (del Toro)'s year. We don't know for sure whether or not The Shape of Water will get best picture, it's likely to, but we know that he will win best director. It's sort of also a career or lifetime achievement award for him because all of his films, his direction has been worthy of awards," says Jay.
Film contributor Ryan Jay is a nationally syndicated radio host and resident reviewer on Channel 4’s The Morning Blend and Saturday News; Dave Luhrssen is the arts and entertainment editor for the Shepherd Express.