“It’s deeply humbling. This is something that I started out of necessity and something that I thought that my community needed and it’s grown over the years, but I never could’ve envisioned it growing like this. But this moment is so powerful because we’re seeing a collaboration between these two worlds that people don’t usually put together and would most likely have us pitted against each other. So it’s really powerful to be on the red carpet tonight.” –“Me Too” movement founder Tarana Burke at the Golden Globes
“Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not afraid; it just means you do it anyway. … My life has taken me from one cult to another: Hollywood. … It’s been really, really hard having the mind of an artist and being in a town that sells you as just a commodity. … I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I’ve lived in a mother-fucking fun house; and the sad part is, I’m just trying to get people to stop raping and killing us.” –Rose McGowan in the first episode of her docuseries Citizen Rose
“The American Republic stands before the world as the extreme expression of masculine force.” –Illinois Association Opposed to Women’s Suffrage (1910)
“The man, for instance, who describes himself as original, as beyond stereotypes, as having a personal, worked-out philosophy of masculinity or indeed as just ordinary and average has not escaped the familiar tropes of gender. He is precisely enmeshed by convention; subjectified, ordered and disciplined at the very moment he rehearses the language of personal taste, unconventionality and autonomy, or ordinariness and normality.”
Margaret Wetherell and Nigel Edley, “Negotiating Hegemonic Masculinity: Imaginary Positions and Psycho-Discursive Practices” Feminism and Psychology 9, no. 3 (1999): 335-56
“The American idea of masculinity: There are few things under heaven more difficult to understand or, when I was younger, to forgive…. But we are all androgynous…because each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other—male in female, female in male, white in black and black in white. We are a part of each other. Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair, and so, very often do I. But none of us can do anything about it.” –James Baldwin, “Here Be Dragons” in The Price of the Ticket (1985)
“The #MeToo movement is accomplishing what sexual harassment law to date has not. This mass mobilization against sexual abuse, through an unprecedented wave of speaking out in conventional and social media, is eroding the two biggest barriers to ending sexual harassment in law and in life: the disbelief and trivializing dehumanization of its victims. Sexual harassment law — the first law to conceive sexual violation in inequality terms — created the preconditions for this moment. Yet denial by abusers and devaluing of accusers could still be reasonably counted on by perpetrators to shield their actions. … This logjam, which has long paralyzed effective legal recourse for sexual harassment, is finally being broken. Structural misogyny, along with sexualized racism and class inequalities, is being publicly and pervasively challenged by women’s voices. The difference is, power is paying attention. … The only legal change that matches the scale of this moment is an Equal Rights Amendment, expanding the congressional power to legislate against sexual abuse and judicial interpretations of existing law, guaranteeing equality under the Constitution for all. But it is #MeToo, this uprising of the formerly disregarded, that has made untenable the assumption that the one who reports sexual abuse is a lying slut, and that is changing everything already. Sexual harassment law prepared the ground, but it is today’s movement that is shifting gender hierarchy’s tectonic plates.” Catharine A. MacKinnon, “#MeToo Has Done What the Law Could Not” New York Times, 2-4-18
Supportive Women in Cinema
5. Octavia Spencer
She has a great scene with her character, the character’s husband, and Michael Shannon’s character, where she tries to stem the tide and dismisses the husband when he sells out.
4. Laurie Metcalf
I may be overcorrecting here for not liking Metcalf’s character, whom I disliked for 1) being unsupportive of, and emotionally distant from, Sarise Ronan’s character and then 2) trying to blame her for it. There’s something to be said for provoking a strong reaction though. I like Metcalf as an actor and I wanted her to have more, and more interesting, things to do. I am looking forward to that Roseanne reboot.
3. Lesley Manville
“Don’t pick a fight with me, you certainly won’t come out alive. I’ll go right through you and it’d be you who winds up on the floor. Understood?” Understood!
2. Mary J. Blige
Quite the depiction of quiet strength.
Ought to win: Allison Janney
There’s been some criticism that she didn’t have a lot to do, and yeah, she doesn’t have a ton of screentime, but she hits those high notes of cold motherhood so well, which is difficult and crucial to the whole film.
Will win: Janney
Most Supportive Man
5. Richard Jenkins
The film is very much foregrounding (views of) masculinities and Jenkins does well to shufflingly communicate the injustice and hypocrisy of the denial of his character’s.
4. Christopher Plummer
In large part a masculinity character study about trying to become a real boy in all the wrong ways.
3. Woody Harrelson
Really good use of relatively limited screentime to position himself as a fulcrum for the ethical and plot seesaw of the film.
2. Sam Rockwell
Rockwell’s character emerges as the fulcrum within the fulcrum of Harrelson’s character, with Rockwell using his “offbeat verve with gusto” to great effect. Some people–no more than enough to make up a minor and reactionary whisper campaign?–had anti-rememption feelings in response, but I think redemption is almost or totally besides the point for his or any other character in the film.
Ought to win: Willem Dafoe
Dafoe provides such beautiful ballast for the whole film, as a kind of lil’ capitalist shepherd, overseer, and observer. He’s no saint, but the coarseness and casual cruelty of the times almost make him look like one. His face at the end reads as pure subjectivity amidst greater forces, maybe getting swept away in a river of time.
Will win: Rockwell
Queen of the Castle!
5. Sally Hawkins
I’ve liked the tweeness-with-an-edge nature of her previous characters, and one could argue that’s very much the nature of her character here, but embedding it in fabulism might’ve diluted it for me.
4. Meryl Streep
She’s particularly good in the scene where Katharine Graham decides to publish.
3. Saoirse Ronan
Right there with Neve Campbell’s work in Party of Five for convincing and compelling portraits of teenage female angst. We’ll surely see Ronan in this category again, probably soon.
2. Margot Robbie
A great blend of actor and character in one of the best sports movies of all time, and which should’ve been nominated for Best Picture.
Ought to win: Frances McDormand
Rockwell on McDormand: “She came in, just [makes explosion sound], you know, like Charles Laughton. It was just like, an explosion.”
Will win: McDormand
Sufjan Stevens, “Tonya Harding (In Eb major)”
“The love that flowed to Frances McDormand this year was partly because we are so unused to seeing a woman that age be complicated, difficult and angry – as seen in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – to not be defined by what is considered ‘sexy’. The actual process by which women age remains largely taboo, which is why I Got Life is a breath of fresh air. The onscreen invisibility of the menopause is a form of denial. Women often feel very isolated at this time, for where can they look to see their experience represented? Is the menopause something only to be dreaded, hidden, medicated away and denied? How, in 2018, is it still embarrassing to speak of it? … This is an awful lot of women suffering in silence, then: physically uncomfortable and feeling unsupported. As long as we don’t have any kind of representation of menopause, in all its glory, then it will continue to be seen as a sign that a woman is somehow redundant because she can no longer reproduce. If we were to talk more openly, we would find instead that many women feel liberated, full of energy, able to take on the world, and finally free from the demands of a society that values only youth. As the heroine of this movie kicks off her shoes, dances, gardens, makes love, becomes a grandmother and hangs out with her friends, life in its messy way continues. The idea that women may indeed be less concerned about how others see them and eventually become more of themselves remains a story rarely told.” Suzanne Moore, “Let’s see menopausal women on screen – in all their glory” The Guardian, 3-15-18
Best Baby Boy
5. Daniel Kaluuya
Nothing wrong with the performance, but it’s lost to a fatally-flawed film.
4. Gary Oldman
I don’t like Oldman’s voice and have struggled to care for his theatrics, which seems churlish of me, considering, if nothing else, his technical proficiency. Oldman has been accused in the past of hamming it up and there are some thick slices here, but it’s the historical inaccuracies of his Churchill that really costs him points.
3. Timothée Chalamet
If we adjust for age, he wins. Really delivered the yearning down the stretch. Like Ronan, we expect him back in the noms down the road.
2. Daniel Day-Lewis
Hard exterior, soft interior.
Ought to win: Denzel Washington
Almost making it look too easy with these fatally-flawed characters he’s been playing. This one is like one part his Philadelphia character (the law), one part John Q (Principles, goddammit!), and one part his Flight character (smart and occupationally excellent, but fatally flawed).
Will win: Oldman
‘My dream is to move to Paris in my 60s and eat like this all the time,’ she says. ‘My kids say, “Jeez, Mom, just eat like that now.”‘ Dern’s face contorts into an expression of adolescent sarcasm. Her emotive elasticity is one of the pleasures of watching her onscreen; her ‘cherished cry-face,’ as Entertainment Weekly once deemed it, reminiscent of Lucille Ball’s, has spawned a meme. ‘When I was 23,’ says Dern, ‘right before a close-up on Jurassic Park, Spielberg said to me, “People will tell you what you could do to your face years from now. Don’t you ever touch your face.” He was saying, “Your face is perfect, it’s female, it’s emotional.”‘ Age has been her friend, thanks in part to, as Spielberg advised, avoiding plastic surgery. ‘I am determined to be human in my acting, and when you own your power and your womanhood, you grow into your beauty. Your face finds you.’ She raises her glass. ‘So here’s to telling the whole story.'” Mary Kaye Schilling, “Fierce at Heart” Vulture, 12-27-17
5. The Shape of Water, Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood
3. Blade Runner 2049, Mark Mangini, Theo Green
2. Baby Driver, Julian Slater
Ought to win: Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King
Will win: Dunkirk
5. The Shape of Water, Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
4. Blade Runner 2049, Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick
2. Baby Driver, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
Ough to win: Dunkirk, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
Will win: Dunkirk
5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
4. Kong: Skull Island, Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
2. Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
Ought to win: War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist
Will win: Apes
5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jon Gregory
4. The Shape of Water, Sidney Wolinsky
3. I, Tonya, Tatiana S. Riegel
2. Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
Ought to win: Dunkirk, Lee Smith
Will win: Dunkirk
Writing Newly Born, Already Superlative
5. Get Out
4. The Big Sick
3. The Shape of Water
2. Lady Bird
Ought to win: Three Billboards
Will win: Get Out
Topmost Writing That Now Has a Second (Lease On) Life, Which You May or May Not Have Seen Coming
5. The Disaster Artist
4. Call Me by Your Name
2. Molly’s Game
A soaring, disturbing portrait of a woman trying to make it in a man’s world. Would’ve easily nominated the film over Darkest Hour and Get Out.
Ought to win: Mudbound
My second favorite-best film of the year, after Hostiles–which, inexplicably, wasn’t nominated for anything. Its tale of interracial cooperation speaks searingly to Eleanor Roosevelt’s observation that “Unless we make the country worth fighting for by Negroes, we will have nothing to offer the world at the end of the war.”
Will win: Call Me By Your Name
5. Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel
Use of light and shadow felt like cheap hagiography.
4. Mudbound, Rachel Morrison
Morrison is the first woman ever to be Oscar-nominated for cinematography! Cinematography is an oppressively male field (85-91% male according to FiveThirtyEight).
3. The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen
2. Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Ought to win: Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins
Will win: Blade Runner
5. “Remember Me” from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
4. “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, Diane Warren, Andra Day, Common
3. “Mighty River” from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige
2. “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
Ought to win: “Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
Will win: “Remember Me”
As in a number of the categories this year, all these entries are quite worthy of winning.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood
Ought to win: Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer
Will win: Desplat
5. Jordan Peele
4. Guillermo del Toro
3. Christopher Nolan
2. Paul Thomas Anderson
Ought to win: Greta Gerwig
Will win: del Toro, for his body of work.
Finest Picture, for All Mankind
9. Get Out
This is the same kind of racial fatalism and polarization slop that’s been served up for years now, by Hollywood and others, with Peele conveniently positioning himself as a “stirrings in the jug” racial interlocutor. It’s a particular shame and waste here, since the film otherwise sports solid performances and compelling (visual) metaphors for the exploitation and holding back of black Americans. Condensing white supremacy and racial inequality to a cult creates too easy, reductive, and essentialist a narrative, a literally-and-figuratively-black-and-white one. If only they were just a cult: they’d be a lot easier to deal with.
8. Darkest Hour
Classic Oscar prestige fare that doesn’t quite have the sharpness, freshness, and originality of the other nominees, though it does accomplish its main mission: making you think about leadership, readiness, resourcefulness, and making tough decisions. Loses major points for the historical inaccuracies.
7. Call Me By Your Name
Was it too straight? Probably.
6. The Shape of Water
(Cold War) Agendas interrupted! Let the chips fall where they may, including into the sea! Women-having-sex-with-creatures-and/or-aliens is a trope that draws attention to the lack of a few good (regular) men. The Fishman love fable highlights/counterpoints the mythos and imperatives of ’50s conformity, hierarchy, and hypermasculine beliefs about social, scientific, and technological progress. Masculinity types featured include: Our Man Michael Shan’s hypermasculine hollow man/Organization Man/Cold Warrior, who, in the name of progress, will literally kill you if he has to; Michael Stuhlbarg’s admirably-in-over-his head nebbish assistman; Jenkins’s discriminated-against gay artist trying to swim in the mainstream; Spencer’s sell-out lump of a husband; the Fishman, who appreciates you and your boiled eggs for you, with a heart of healing to boot.
Visually spectacular and you feel like you’re right there. Checks to make sure that we’re all in this together.
4. Phantom Thread
It’s freshly febrile about fevers both literal and symbolic. It’s a manse danse macabre. A screwball comedy core draped in the fineries of: concerns with mortality; the limits of perfectionism as a response to trauma; co-dependency; relationships as works of art; the dead-end of objectification.
“But the film is also, in its way, an argument for the enduring power of fantasy in fashion. ‘I find these superstitions and traditions to be very exciting,’ Anderson says of the different couturiers (and their quirks) he researched for the film. ‘They can make for great stories, great fairy tales.’ And indeed, fairy tales are one of the primary reasons haute couture still exists today — wedding dresses are the most frequently ordered items in the industry, fit for a make-believe princess (or a real-life one). Now, these gowns are sewn in almost the same way they were in the 1950s, the 1850s, and even the 1750s — which makes wearing couture a bit like carrying a beautiful piece of history on one’s back. And that’s the reason couture and Hollywood meld so well together — both are dream factories, spinning yarns, selling fantasies. It is also why, in the age of Netflix and fast fashion, long after either’s golden age, both couture and cinema continue to endure.” Alexander Fury, “A Film That Pays Homage to the Bygone Era of London Couture” New York Times Style Magazine, 11-28-17
3. Lady Bird
My dislike for the mom weighed it down for me, but such a Lady Bird still takes flight. Also, Sacramento.
2. The Post
Real and robust (news). The film makes it seem as though things almost physically revolve around Graham, thus effectively setting up her decision to publish. Need I comment on the timeliness? Democracy dies in darkness.
Ought to Win: Three Billboards
The system has profoundly failed you. Begin. Continue. Warp and weave. People are getting hung up on redemption, but 1) I didn’t read it as anyone being redeemed, at least fully; this is a story about muddling through. 2) Why be dead set against redemption? Sure, we can talk about earned, unearned, partially earned, etc., but being reactionary about it feels like a disturbing sign of the stasis and polarization of our times. Redemption is one of the primary themes driving the very existence of stories and movies. Conversions like Rockwell’s might be rare, but they do happen. As far as the plausibility of the billboards, McDonagh got the idea when he saw someone had done similarly with billboards in a state in the South; also, Rose McGowan contemplated buying a shaming billboard for Harvey Weinstein after her encounter with him.
Will win: Three Billboards