Oscar Primer 2018: The Big Coco Project 2049

Every Tuesday there will be an Oscar Primer going over the chances that nominated films have of winning their respective categories. Best Picture nominated films will be dissected on Contra Zoom, while the remaining ones will be discussed here. This week I will go over Blade Runner 2049, Coco, The Big Sick and The Florida Project.

Blade Runner 2049 was directed by Denis Villeneuve and was released on October 6th 2017. The film has five nominations.

  • Best Cinematography- Roger Deakins
  • Best Visual Effects- John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover
  • Best Sound Editing- Mark A. Mangini and Theo Green
  • Best Sound Mixing- Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth
  • Best Production Design- Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola

After last year’s massive success with Arrival, expectations were sky high from fans and critics for the long awaited sequel to Blade Runner. Needless to say opinions ended up mixed with most people thinking the film is actually superior to the original but a sizable portion of the movie going audience were either indifferent or straight up thought it ruined the reputation of the original. The film looked to be a contender for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Supporting Actor but in the end only garnered technical support from the Academy. Roger Deakins’ cinematography is the brightest star of the film, building off the look that Ridley Scott and DOP Jordan Cronenweth created to have something truly magical. Whether it was dust covered Vegas scenes, the rainy rooftops of K’s apartment or the Wallace Corporation headquarters each shot was beautiful and stunning. Deakins has been nominated a staggering fourteen times now without a single win so personally I am banging the Deakins drum to win, but he actually has really stiff competition from The Shape of Water, which might sweep the night or Dunkirk, which was a technical masterpiece from a hugely respected director. Most likely Deakins will not win considering the other films have Best Picture support behind them, but you won’t find a happier person if Deakins wins this year.

To compliment the beautiful cinematography the VFX in this movie are equally beautiful to watch. Highlights for me include hologram Elvis, giant hologram Joi and the best scene in the movie was probably hologram Joi flickering every time a raindrop lands on her. When K pauses Joi there is a super eerie uncanny valley occurrence that highlights that skill of the visual effects team. This is probably the category Blade Runner 2049 is most likely to win as the only film that might test it is War for the Planet of the Apes.

For the Sound Mixing and Editing categories things get interesting as all five nominees are the same in both films. Seven times in the last decade the winners have lined up, so it is safer money to assume the same thing will happen this time around too. Baby Driver seemed to be a culmination of Edgar Wright’s career is combining picture with sound but the films overall lack of support makes it vulnerable to Blade Runner 2049, The Shape of Water and Dunkirk. The three films offer different styles of sound from the futuristic world of BR, the nostalgic throwback of Water and the period piece recreation of Dunkirk. I think if The Shape of Water ends up being the dominating film of the night, it will sweep both awards, but if not Blade Runner looks to be the top contender.

The sets of Blade Runner 2049 marry neon noir with futurism to make a new style of retro-futurism unlike any other movie before it. Every scene looks like a fully formed world, the dust, dirt and water seem so lifelike you can feel it on your skin. The Vegas sequence in particular is so opulent and dust covered you can imagine the types of people who went there before it was abandoned. The Shape of Water looks to be the front-runner for this category too but if it falters and doesn’t clean up this could be Blade Runner’s award too.

Coco was directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina and was released on November 21st 2017. The film has two nominations.

  • Best Animated Feature
  • Best Original Song- Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for the song “Remember Me”

Coco was Pixar’s massive hit this year garnering their eleventh nomination for the studio after already having eight wins and the story about a young Mexican boy who travels to the land of the dead to be with his musically inclined great-grandfather looks to net them their ninth win. This year’s crop of Animated Features is very weak with two poor Hollywood studio features and two international films that will likely get next to no support competing against the behemoth known as Coco. Normally I would be upset over Pixar’s seemingly preordained future, but Coco really did hit all the right spots including garnering tears from me. It is a beautiful film that deserves its Oscar. No category is locked down as tightly as this one is.

Bringing in Disney’s Lopez team that was behind the “Let it Go” phenomenon from a half decade ago (admit it, the song only just got out of your head last week) was a smart move as they crafted a song that checks all the boxes for this movie. It is memorable and a tearjerker, it sounds like it would have been a popular hit in its day, and is able to be performed in different ways to elicit different emotional reactions. The soundtrack throughout the entire film is a goldmine of authentic Mexican inspired songs, but “Remember Me” takes the cake. Much like Animated Feature, this award is Coco’s to lose with “Stand Up For Something” from Marshall being it’s only competition.

The Big Sick was directed by Michael Showalter and was released on July 14th 2017. The Film has one nomination.

  • Best Original Screenplay- Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani

Early in the awards season it looked like The Big Sick, the sort of true-life love story of writers Nanjiani and Gordon was destined to be a huge Oscar contender in the Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor races, instead it only got a single nod for its excellent screenplay. The film tackles love from a mixed race couple dealing with different cultural backgrounds while injecting it with some great humour and pathos making it a romantic comedy for adults in ways Katherine Heigel wishes she could do. The cringe inducing 9/11 scene, awkward stand up bombing and creepishly sweet Pakistani blind dates all show wit and mirth with a ton of pathos thrown in. The film unfortunately looks to be in dead last in this category as it conceivably can lose to any of the other four films in a stacked category. If it had more nominations you could say it is in the race, but since it doesn’t Nanjiani and Gordan should just enjoy their evening at the Oscars.

The Florida Project was directed by Sean Baker and was released on October 13th 2017. The film has one nomination.

  • Best Supporting Actor- Willem Dafoe

Much like The Big Sick, The Florida Project seemed like a massive Oscar nominee in the making. Sean Baker’s last feature Tangerine became the go to indie movie of 2015 and his more polished follow up elicited a ton of praise from critics and moviegoers. The film looked to be a front-runner for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Editing and a potential nominee for young star Brooklyn Prince. In the end only veteran actor Willem Dafoe made the cut. While we have seen Dafoe nice and gentle characters before, there is nothing in his filmography to suggest he could be so warm and fatherly. Every moment Dafoe is onscreen, the movie feels as warm as the Florida sun he has been baked in. Bringing in a terrible tan, ugly sunglasses and everyday work clothes we get a character so fully realized it doesn’t even seem like acting. Dafoe’s Bobby trying to beat up a pedophile is about as perfect of a scene as you can ask for. Dafoe earns his third nomination (and first in seventeen years) makes him potentially a frontrunner, especially with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri most likely cannibalizing its own chances with two nominees. Sure Christopher Plummer might win for All The Money in the World, as an F U to Kevin Spacey and other abusers, but Dafoe is the most deserving of the group.