The 2017 Online Film Critics Society awards awards are out. Weird films did surprisingly well this year, with mother! and A Ghost Story earning unexpected Best Picture nods (and although neither came close to winning, representation matters).
The Online Film Critics society has predicted the Academy Awards Best Picture winner three out of the last six years.
As always, despite the levity in my tone, I take my voting responsibility very seriously, and I do not put forward weird films at the expense of worthier mainstream candidates just because it’s “my thing.” Here is the list of this year’s winners, along with my choices and a touch of personal commentary.
Winner: Get Out
Also nominated: A Ghost Story; Call Me By Your Name; Dunkirk; Lady Bird; mother!; Phantom Thread; The Florida Project; The Shape Of Water; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
My choice: Get Out
Comments: Get Out was both an unlikely, and a likely, winner. Unlikely because it’s essentially a genre horror movie (I’ve seen some even disparagingly call it a “B-movie”) that was released outside the late Fall/early Winter awards corridor. Likely, because it deals with timely racial issues in a subtle and entertaining manner. And because it’s damn good.
Winner: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Also nominated: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out; James Franco, The Disaster Artist; Robert Pattinson, Good Time; Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
My choice: Vince Vaughn, Brawl in Cell Block 99 (not nominated)
Comments: I’m not a huge fan of “impersonation” performances, where an actor simply mimics the mannerisms of a well-known historical figure. (Franco’s performance asfalls into the same category, though I liked it a little better than Oldman’s). I think it shows more craftsmanship to build a believable character from the ground up, and I thought Vaughn’s con-Vincing performance as a brutal but principled ex-boxer in prison lifted Brawl‘s implausible revenge-fantasy script into something unexpectedly artful. Oldman earned an Oscar nomination at the casting stage.
Winner: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Also nominated: Cynthia Nixon, A Quiet Passion; Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Margot Robbie, I, Tonya; Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
My choice: Cynthia Nixon, A Quiet Passion
Comments: All nominees of course gave good performances, but I would have ranked Hawkins turn as a mute in love with the Creature from the Black Lagoon as the least likely to win. Shows what I know. Eternally underrated Cynthia Nixon’s role as the sexually frustrated Emily Dickinson grew on me slowly, but eventually won me over, in a truly quiet movie that featured little to cling to other than her performance. (This one doesn’t fall into the “impersonation” trap mentioned above, since we have no idea how the historical Dickinson sounded or acted).
Also nominated: Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird;, The Shape of Water; Jordan Peele, Get Out; , Phantom Thread
My choice:, Blade Runner 2049 (not nominated)
Comments: I suppose Nolan won for coordinating action sequences with a large cast of performers, an undertaking almost as difficult as the evacuation of Dunkirk. Also, Dunkirk is a “major” picture that’s not likely to pick up any other major awards, and people probably wanted to recognize it. I thought Blade Runner 2049 was an amazing effort and a worthy successor to its namesake that did not wither under the weight of expectations, and similarly wanted to honor it (since it also would not be up for any “major” awards).
Winner: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Also nominated: Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird; Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water” Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
My choice: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Comments: I’m not disappointed that my choice finished second in the voting, since Peele’s script takes a crazy premise and somehow makes it work, while intelligently addressing racial conflict almost as an afterthought. McDonagh’s beginnings as a playwright were clear from Three Billboards intricate screenplay, which melded three separate character arcs into a single story about the wide-ranging futility of revenge.
Winner: James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
Also nominated: Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game; James Gray, The Lost City of Z; Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist; Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled
My choice: The Disaster Artist
Comments: Confession—I did not see Call Me By Your Name (no screeners were provided for this one). The Disaster Artist, from Greg Sestero’s memoir of the making of the notorious trashterpiece The Room, turned a real-life disaster into a funny and touching ode to staying loyal to your weirdest and most loyal friend.
Winner: Faces Places
Also nominated: Dawson City: Frozen Time; Ex Libris: The New York Public Library; Jane; The Work
My choice: City of Ghosts (not nominated)
Comments: Again, I did not see the Agnes Varda documentary Faces Places. I was surprised City of Ghosts, the story of the citizen journalists who risked their lives to chronicle Islamic State atrocities from inside the city of Raqqa, was not even nominated.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Winner: BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Also nominated: Nocturama; Raw; Thelma; The Square
My choice: The Lure
Comments: Sure, we can all appreciate a French film about AIDS, but how can you possibly snub a killer mermaid horror comedy musical? It’s even female-directed. I’ve been patiently waiting for two years for The Lure to finish its festival run and become awards-eligible, which it did this year with Janus Films’ limited release. I thought everyone was?
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Winner: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Also nominated: Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name; Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name; Patrick Stewart, Logan; Richard Jenkins, The Shape Of Water
My choice: Sam Rockwell
Comments: Probably because he showed the most of that highly-prized quality, “character development,” there was a theory going around that Sam Rockwell’s racist cop was really the hidden protagonist of Three Billboards, not a supporting character, and that he thus should have been nominated for Best Actor. I don’t subscribe to that theory, but I fully endorse him winning this award.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Winner: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Also nominated: Allison Janney, I, Tonya; Holly Hunter, The Big Sick; Mary J. Blige, Mudbound; Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip
My choice: Allison Janney
Comments: A close race here between Janney and Metcalf. I picked Janney, because her role as Tony Harding’s chain-smoking, abusive stage-mom is makes for the year’s most hateful, unrepentant villain (I halfway want to write fanfiction where she hooks up with Jonathan Banks’ “Pappy” from Mudbound to make the parenting unit from hell).
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Also nominated: In This Corner of the World; Lego Batman Movie; Loving Vincent; The Breadwinner
My choice: Birdboy, the Forgotten Children (not nominated) or Coco
Comments: Birdboy [AKA Psychonauts] actually had significant support among my peers; I think the major reason it didn’t get nominated is that no one can actually confirm whether or not it was eligible (GKIDS says they released it Dec. 15, but didn’t say where—a NY or LA date is required for awards qualification). At any rate, Birdboy‘s hallucinatory animal fable about preteen drug use was too peculiar to be more than a long shot to beat Coco, a crowd-pleaser with incredible Day of the Dead-inspired eye candy and genuinely touching emotional content. If Birdboy wasn’t eligible, I’d endorse Coco, too.
Also nominated: Good Time; Dunkirk; The Shape of Water, I, Tonya
My choice: Baby Driver
Comments: “Best Editing” awards traditionally go to an action movie. I thought this was a big upset.
Winner: Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
My choice: Roger Deakins
Also nominated: Dan Laustsen, The Shape of Water; Darius Khondji, Lost City of Z; Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk; Rachel Morrison, Mudbound
Comments: This may have been the slam dunk category of the year. Expect Deakins to end his infamous Oscarless streak in February.
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
Winner: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Also nominated: Get Out; Lady Bird; Mudbound; The Post; The Shape of Water
My choice: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Comments: Three Billboards featured three fantastic performances by Frances McDormand, Best Supporting Actor winner Sam Rockwell, and a haggard Woody Harrelson as the world-weary sheriff, a role that might have been worth of its own nomination. Mudbound‘s ensemble of black sharecroppers and white landowners was also noteworthy, as was the unnominated cast of The Big Sick (arguably the year’s best comedy).
BREAKOUT STAR OF THE YEAR
Winner: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Also nominated: Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project; Dafne Keen, Logan; Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out; Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip
My vote: Ana de Armas, Blade Runner 2049 (not nominated)
Comments: This was a new category for voting this year, and I’m not sure what we’re supposed to be doing here: predicting who’s going to get a lot more work in the future, or recognizing the best performance by a fresh new face? I nominated de Armas for selfish reasons, just because I’d like to see more of her (and I think she has a good chance to be cast in more blockbuster roles). For body of work in 2017, I might have gone with Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) instead, though his lack of movie star looks could hamper his future prospects outside of art films.