The 91st Academy Awards in Review: The Highlights, The Lowlights, and The “Meh”lights
One category. I was ONE category away from winning this year’s Sylvester Oscar Challenge. It all came down to “Best Picture” at the very end: “Roma” (Me) Vs. “Green Book” (Grant Cutler), a tale of two opposite films. It was Netflix vs traditional theaters, black and white vs. color, subtitles vs. no-subtitles, and no controversy vs. controversy. In the end, “Green Book”, the traditional theater, colorful, non-sub titular and controversial film took home the big prize. Of course, THE ONE TIME I don’t pick my favorite movie of the year, it goes on to win “Best Picture.” I’ve been doing this for five years, and I am now 0/5 on Best Picture predictions. It is a tough pill to swallow... It also makes me wonder why anyone listens to my advice on movies. At the same time though, I don’t regret picking “Roma,” because had I picked “Green Book,” I still would have lost. It was a calculated risk that made this year’s pool way more exciting.
As a result, my awesome cousin Grant Cutler took home the grand prize for the SECOND YEAR IN A ROW. He finished with 19/24 correct predictions and 33 of a possible 40 points. 21/24 and 19/24 in the past few years is incredibly impressive!
This also marks the third straight year where we implemented “The Logan Rule” and had an undisputed first place winner. For context: the first two years we did this pool, we gave out one point for every category, which looking back on it, it was pretty silly. Not surprisingly, that scoring system led to a controversy in year two, where we had a three way tie going into “Best Picture”, only to have ALL THREE people get it wrong. BUT, we had some people (and by “some people” I mean the legendary Logan Lawler and that’s it) slightly behind in the standings get that category correct. He could’ve won undisputedly if we had weighted points. So, after that year, we made some halftime adjustments, and now the pool is more competitive than ever.
Congratulations Grant on your second straight win, it was well deserved!
In case you were wondering, a snapshot of the final standings can be found at the end of this review.
One of my other traditions I like to do is give a shout out to basement dwellers in the standings, because that within itself takes skill to pull off. This year, we had someone named “Bob Saget” (was it the real him???? To be honest, I have no clue, but the name has shown up in the pool for two years in a row), who only made predictions for 2 of the possible 24 categories. He finished with a grand total of 1 correct prediction and 3 points, putting him in DEAD LAST PLACE. Not Suspicious Media’s very own Victoria Vaughn also fell into the procrastination trap, and played only 9 of the possible 24 categories, putting her in second to last place. It goes without saying: DO NOT WAIT TO MAKE YOUR OSCAR PICKS.
Before I delve into analysis of the actual Oscars and not just the annual pool, here is the official list of champions whose names are in the rafters of the annual Sylvester Oscar challenge:
2015: Kathleen Nubel - 20/24 - 20 points
2016: Mo Cheetany (after winning the tiebreaker on a three way tie between him, Abby Ayers and Andrew Elias) - 17/24 - 17 points
2017 (Year one of “The Logan Rule”) : Austin Wright - 19/24 - 30 points
2018: Grant Cutler - 21/24 - 36 points
2019: Grant Cutler - 19/24 - 33 points
Stay tuned for 2020!
Now let’s go into the actual show and discuss the highlights, lowlights and “meh”lights (common subject matters people talked about that didn’t really affect me either way). In case you missed last night’s big show, here is a complete list of the winners.
To the analysis!
“Green Book” winning it all – So… A lot of people (and I mean A LOT of people in the art/critic community) took HUGE offense to “Green Book” winning “Best Picture” this year. Some called it “the worst winner since ‘Crash’”, while others claimed it represented the backwards nature of Hollywood and its propensity to award “whiteness” since it allegedly gave the trophy to a shallow movie with a “white savior” that vindicated white guilt… I don’t even know what to say to these nonsensical accusations, and quite frankly, I sincerely wonder whether I watched the same movie that all of these snobby elitist critics claim to have seen and hated. “Green Book” absolutely blew me away from a writing, acting and sentimental standpoint. It contained within it a ton of depth when covering racial and socioeconomic issues. I have been incessantly telling people about how much I loved this movie for months on end, and of all of the real people I know, I’ve only heard one negative review of this film. For once, the Academy actually awarded the movie I enjoyed the most, and I don’t really know how someone can hate this movie as much as these keyboard warriors I saw online did. The backlash to this is pure silliness in my books, and I plan on watching “Green Book” many times over. As time goes by, it could very well land in my Top 5 favorite movies of all time.
“The Favourite” going 1/10 on its nominations and Olivia Colman’s speech – I was extremely worried that “The Favourite” would clean up the Oscars this year. Thankfully, they only took home one trophy: Olivia Colman for “Best Actress.” That actually came as a huge shock to just about everyone, with only 4 pool members picking her to win that category. That said: Olivia Colman’s acceptance speech was more interesting and enjoyable than the entirety of this life scarring monstrosity of a movie they call “The Favourite”. So… As much as I would’ve loved to see a shutout, at least a small silver lining came out of their one victory.
“Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse” winning Best Animated Feature – This might be a “hot take”, but I genuinely believe that if this movie was up for “Best Picture”, it could have won the whole thing. It was that amazing. At least it took home the “Best Animated Feature” award though.
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s performance of “Shallow” – In case you didn’t already love the song enough, these two stole the show at the Academy Awards with their live rendition of their hit song, “Shallow.” If you missed it, WATCH IT, and also be mentally prepared to see the photo of them included below to be floating around the twitterverse as a meme for a while.
Spike Lee throwing a childish temper tantrum after losing to “Green Book” and generally speaking, all of the negative reactions behind “Green Book” winning – I already talked about the sour grapes from a certain crowd earlier, but I especially want to single out Spike Lee for trying to storm out of the theater in protest after losing to “Green Book.” Buddy… You make millions of dollars telling people how to play pretend, settle down... Plus, your movie, “BlacKkKlansmen” and its entire message is basically; “white supremacy is bad and so is Donald Trump” so get off your high horse and stop acting like a petulant child who thinks they created the next “Citizen Kane.” It might seem strange to you that people would rather reward a message along the lines of “it takes courage to change people’s hearts” as opposed to your vacuous political grandstanding filled with general negativity, but seriously, get over yourself dude. You would think that someone who is a diehard New York Knicks fan would know how to handle losing with grace by now, yet here we are… I lost a ton of respect for Spike Lee on Sunday. His reaction tells me that the Academy did the right thing by not awarding him “Best Picture” honors for the film “BlacKkKlansmen.” Someone needs to buy him some cheese to go along with all of his whining.
Too much political grandstanding – It was better than the previous few years and for the most part it wasn’t TOO bad. However, to be frank, celebrities should stick to commentary about what they know best: movies. When they veer into the political, it turns everyone off. You all make millions to play dress up, nobody takes your opinions seriously, and the more you act like people do, the more you turn people off from your cause. I will craft a special exception if you made a movie about a specific person or cause and want to promote that, but other than that, STAY AWAY FROM POLITICS. NOBODY CARES.
The lack of “get off the stage” music- At the start, they used that typical “leave now, you’ve overstayed your welcome” tune pretty liberally. But by the end, I feel like they almost never used it and let people drone on for a little too long.
No host this year – Going into this year’s show after the whole issue with Kevin Hart stepping down as the host, I had no idea what to expect, especially since nobody wanted to fill in for him, prompting the Academy to do the show with no host. Honestly though, the host less Oscars made little to no difference for me. I kind of enjoyed it, because instead of someone trying to make the show about them and detracting from the movies, we had a quick show from Queen (which by the way, WHY WASN’T RAMI MALEK PERFORMING?? I like Adam Lambert and all, but shouldn’t they have the guy who, you know, played Freddie Mercury in a movie this year do the performance?) Some odd jokes here and there, and more spotlights on the movies themselves. If having no host ends up becoming a future trend, I will be okay with it.
Bohemian Rhapsody winning 4 Oscars out of 5 nominations – The amount of victories “Bohemian Rhapsody” came out with this year absolutely ROCKED me, since I did not at all expect it to take home the two sound categories nor the coveted “Best Editing” award. Either way, it did not upset or please me too much, it was merely an interesting twist to the night.
Black Panther winning 3 Oscars – This was about the number I expected the Marvel cult phenomenon to take home, even if I was surprised that it won “Best Score.” Fun fact: the composer for “BLACK PANTHA”, Ludwig Goransson, also made the music for the greatest TV show ever made.
Alfonso Cuaron’s 3 acceptance speeches: Had he won “Best Picture”, not only would I have won the pool, Alfonso Cuaron would have made FOUR different thank you speeches after having ones prepared for “Best Cinematography”, “Best Foreign Language Film” and “Best Director.” Alas, he could not seal the deal on the last one. Still, a hat trick is nothing to sneeze at by any means.
The length – Could it have been a little shorter? Yeah… Probably. But all things considered, I was content with the three hour show this year.
In case you care, below is a more in-depth analysis of how I did on my 2018-2019 predictions.
My predictions analysis:
I ended up making a few adjustments on my predictions after the nominees came out. As a result, I finished with 16 correct predictions and 8 incorrect ones. Here is the breakdown of those so you know what not to do when filling out your bracket next year. We’ll start with what went wrong then go on to what went right
Best Picture – We already went over this at the beginning, no need to re-visit how I picked “Roma” and lost out to “Green Book.”
Best Actress – As mentioned before, almost everyone picked Glenn Close to win this category over Olivia Colman. So, I went with the flow and it backfired on me.
Best Editing – I thought for sure “Vice” would win this one given its incredible infusion of vintage footage with the modern style of the film. Yet, “Bohemian Rhapsody” beat it out here, which I did not see coming at all. You could say that the Academy wanted to break free from going political with by snubbing “Vice” for the coveted editing award.
Best Original Score – Even though I did not actually see the film, I thought “If Beale Street Could Talk” possessed an absolutely beautiful soundtrack. I remembered it a lot better when I listened to their tracks on Spotify much more than I did “BLACK PANTHA”, the inevitable winner. That said, “Black Panther” did possess a pretty fire soundtrack, so I was okay with taking the L on this one.
Best Sound Editing – “Bohemian Rhapsody” came OUT OF NOWHERE to take this category, and their victory here was the one that made my perfect bracket bite the dust.
Best Sound Mixing – “Bohemian Rhapsody” struck again.
Best Documentary Short – I almost always get this one wrong because I never watch these films and I inevitably just throw a dart at a nominee for my prediction and hope for the best. As per the usual, it did not work out in this case.
Best Live Action Short – Take everything I just said about “Best Documentary Short” and apply it here.
Literally everything else I did not list above, I ended up getting right. Most of them were obvious frontrunners, so I will only go into the ones that were more difficult to guess.
Below were the obvious ones:
Best Adapted Screenplay: “BlacKkKlansmen”
Best Animated Feature – “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse”
Best Foreign Language Film – “Roma”
Best Director - Alfonso Cuaron for “Roma”
Best Cinematography – “Roma”
Best Actor - Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Best Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali as Dr. Donald Shirley in “Green Book”
Best Supporting Actress – Regina King as some character I don’t know in “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Best Make-up and Hairstyling: “Vice”
Best Original Song: “Shallow”
Best Animated Short: “Bao”
Now for the less obvious ones:
Best Documentary Feature: This one I waffled between “Free Solo” and “RBG.” However, I need to give a special shout out to my friend Andrew Namanny, who actually saw “Free Solo” and raved about it to me prior to the show. His review convinced me to pick “Free Solo” and it won. I will be sure to actually watch it in the future.
Best Visual Effects: I find that Hollywood tries to avoid rewarding sequels or mainstream franchises. Of all of these nominees, “First Man” avoided those labels the most. Plus, the Academy over the past few years has rewarded movies taking place in space for this category (See: “Bladerunner 2048”, “Gravity” and “Interstellar” to name a few).
Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, and Best Original Screenplay: Why did I just group three categories into one headline? What do they all have in common you ask? Well, for all three of these, “The Favourite” was listed as the frontrunner (i.e. it was, for a lack of a better term, the favorite to win these three), but I HATED that movie so much, that I REFUSED to pick it to win anything. As a result, I went with “BLACK PANTHA” for “Best Costume Design” and “Best Production Design”, because I loved that film’s aesthetics. For “Best Original Screenplay”, I picked “Green Book” because I adored the juxtaposition of dialogue between the various socioeconomic classes and the progression of main character Tony Vallelonga’s love letter writing skills. It also won at the Golden Globes, so I felt it would be a logical upset pick. All of my picks here took home the hardware. My takeaway from all of this should not be a message we send to kids; but sometimes blind hatred of something can pay off in mysterious ways. In this case, my sheer contempt towards “The Favourite” surprisingly rewarded me for these three categories.
Well… On that note…It saddens me to say this, but it is time to salute farewell to the 2018-2019 Oscar season. It has been a bumpy ride filled with great movies, memorable moments, and no shortage of snarky comments on my end. That said, I will continue to churn out more reviews as the year goes along, patiently waiting for the most wonderful time of the year to heat back up again. So, STAY TUNED! Oh, and congrats again to Grant Cutler for successfully defending his title as the Sylvester Oscar Challenge Champion.