Well, the time has come. After what seemed like one of the longest awards seasons of all time, the Academy Awards are finally over.
I spent the better part of the past five months researching, predicting, and most of all, watching all of these films. It was truly an honor to see all 59 nominees this year. I would spend weekends watching two to three movies a day at home. I went so far as dragging my father up to Montreal (a two-hour drive) on two separate occasions to see three different films which weren’t playing here in Vermont.
I have always cared about film, and especially good film. Last year, I had a good month-long streak of seeing a movie every single day. I wanted to make sure that I saw all the nominees this year so I could have an informed opinion on each category. Last year, despite my best efforts, I only saw a smattering of the nominees. I wanted to rectify this mistake. To me, even if the Oscars aren’t “correct” to my own vision, it’s just good fun. Plus, it’s always fun to have something to debate over.
Sunday night I invited over a group of my friends to watch the Oscars with me. The general sentiment from the group was either “I haven’t heard of that one!” or “I really wanted to see it, but always ended up going to see something else.” Some of my friends had in fact seen a few of the nominees, and their consensus was “The Shape of Water” was well-deserving of the Best Picture honor.
Now for my thoughts. The technical categories went mostly as expected. The awards for writing and acting were a bit more interesting. While none of these surprised me, some of them disappointed me. I would have liked to see Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”) win Supporting Actor over Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), though I know I’m in the minority.
Additionally, frontrunner Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) beat out Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”) for Actress in a Supporting Role. In my opinion, this was not the right choice. Metcalf’s performance was one of the quietest and subtlest of the year. It was the one I could most relate to. Actor in a Leading Role deservingly went to Gary Oldman for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.” While I would have loved to see Daniel Day-Lewis win his fourth Oscar for his performance in “Phantom Thread,” I was fairly satisfied by this award being given to Oldman.
I wholeheartedly supported the choice of Frances McDormand for best Actress in a Leading Role. Her performance in “Three Billboards” was as eye-catching and attention-grabbing as it was subtle and intricate.
And now, the final two awards: Director and Picture, for many, the most important of the evening. For this piece, I will try to set aside the troubling allegations against “The Shape of Water” for plagiarism. I will instead try look at the film as an original work of art. My bias toward “Phantom Thread” must be recognized. It was my favorite movie of the year, and I would have loved to see it take both these categories. Indeed, I would have loved to have seen “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” or even “Dunkirk” winning both of these. Sadly, the Academy went with the most obvious choice. Likely, the most well-funded choice, too. As we know, the big production companies invest large sums of money into campaigns which usually end up their films several honors. I had wished, deep down, the Academy hadn’t gone with the most obvious choice for once. It would have been such a pleasant surprise if the Oscars had brought fresh life to what is now starting to feel like a tired annual tradition.
Overall, I loved to see my favorite films of the year duke it out for awards I’ve been waiting almost a year to see them win, though I also came out of the experience feeling slightly disappointed that some of the real gems did not get their due. While I eagerly await next year’s award season, I will also be making a bigger push for the little films. Because sometimes (and this is directed at you, Oscar), the “best” choice isn’t always the one that shines brightest.
Better luck next year!
Graham Bertoni is a Colchester High School sophomore with a great passion for film. He is an “Oscar Completionist,” having seen all 59 nominees for this year’s Academy Awards.