David: The Academy Awards are upon us and an impressive grouping of movies are nominated for Best Picture. My personal favorites of the nine nominees are Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, and The Post. However, I think the only competition Three Billboards will have in this category is The Shape of Water. Do you see an upset?
Fritz: This is a tough year to predict. While this may be a minority opinion, I thought the previous year (films of 2016) was MUCH stronger in terms of the top 15-20 films. 2017 had a lot of pretty good films, but few that really stuck with me. The Best Picture nominees that resonated with me the most were Three Billboards, The Post, and Dunkirk. In terms of what WILL win, I wouldn't rule out Get Out. It's a movie that I think is decent, not great (the social satire worked way better than the horror movie parts), but in this era of Internet outrage and dueling backlashes, it's one of the few leading contenders that doesn't have a backlash going against it. And while the Academy has correctly taken steps to broaden the scope of its membership, I still wonder how many of its members will be willing to award Best Picture to a movie where a woman and a Creature from the Black Lagoon lookalike ... well, those of you who've seen The Shape of Water know what I'm talking about. Personally, I think Three Billboards was the best film of the year.
What movies and actors do you think got snubbed? Battle of the Sexes was one that I felt deserved more love. The movie's both topical and wonderfully entertaining, but I think it might have been too conventionally entertaining for its own good. It doesn't feel heavy or self-important like many message movies do, and I feel that may have caused people to unfairly dismiss it as slight. But the film and its directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris deserved nominations, as did its stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell. I didn't expect the indie mystery/modern western Wind River to receive a lot of awards attention, but it was one of the best films of the year and, at the very least, it deserved a Best Original Screenplay nomination for its writer/director, Taylor Sheridan.
David: Yes, I totally agree with you about Battle of the Sexes and Wind River. Stone and Carell really give off the struggles and emotions of what their real-life counterparts were probably going through. And yes, it seems that the Academy doesn't feel that a movie can be crowd-pleasing entertainment while, at the same time, making an important statement.
As for Wind River, both the writing and the performances deserved something. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen have great chemistry together as a man and a woman who are doing their jobs and, get this, have a mutual respect for each other, and there is no forced romance between them.
There are no other major snubs for me, but it would have been nice to see Hugh Jackman get a Best Actor Nomination for Logan. It's an emotional and affecting performance and a beautiful swan song for this iconic comic book character and the actor who has been playing him from the beginning.