In Depth with Brad Byrd

Brad Byrd In-Depth: Oscars 2018 Preview

Brad: Welcome to In-Depth...Let’s go to Hollywood. Tonight the countdown to the Oscars down to two days.
I'm joined by Jim Hunter, who appears on Lifestyles frequently, weekly and teaches English and Joe Atkinson, to my immediate left here, filmaker and instructor at the University of Evansville.

And gentlemen, always good to see you. You know, it’s been quite a year, about a year ago at this time, of course, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the wrong Best Picture winner. But wasn’t their fault. But, since that time, so many things have happened. So, let’s get right to the Best Picture nominees now. And ever since they increased the number of nominees from five to, I believe, up to 10…

Jim: 10 is possible, yeah.   

Brad: We’ve got 9 this year. I’m going to start with you, Jim. Your best pick – tell me why.

Jim: My best picture prediction is going to be Shape of Water. The Shape of Water it’s both a really beautiful film Guillermo del Toro is also my pick for Best Director, visionary filmmaker a really lush production design. A beautiful film, It’s about marginalized people in society and it’s about how these marginalized can belong together and find the things that they need in each other. So it’s a really beautiful, moving and timely story. And that’s why I think it might win Best Picture. It’s also a more traditionalist pick than some of the other films that are up.

Brad: Ok, Joe, what about you? 

Joe: Jim and I are booing tonight. Because we kind of agree on a lot of things.

Brad: But I’ve heard things about The Shape of Water that – this is also a rather unusual movie…

Joe: It is an unusual movie. And I will tell you, the reason that … Guillermo del Toro is actually my pick for Best Director also is because if anyone else made this movie, it would have been schlock. It would have been terrible, I think. I don’t think anybody else could pull off this story of an amphibious sea creature and a mute woman falling in love and she rescues him from the government and all of these things. I mean, its ounds like a B horror movie. But when DelToro takes, gets his hands on it, it becomes, like Jim said, this beautiful story of love and acceptance. And um, it’s a terrific film. The production design is absolutely gorgeous.

Brad: And it’s been kind of under the radar, though, hasn’t it up until?

Joe: Initially. Initially. Yeah, there was a lot of momentum behind Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for a long time.  There was a period when people were talking about Dunkirk as possibly being the best film, but I think the consensus has kind of formed around it since probably the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild. It feels like this is where the momentum is right now.

Brad: Okay. 

Jim: And (inaudible)  But, one of the things….

Joe: Sorry I forgot that.

Jim: One of the things that… no, no, it’s fine. One of the things I did want to mention is there might be… there are a couple spoiler pics that we could call for Best Picture. One of them, I think, is Get Out in which the Academy Award voting block has been, um, both diversified and has dropped down a little bit younger in terms of the median age and after Get Out got nominated, Jordan Peele, first African American to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay in the same year, this.. there was a galvanizing force behind this movie. That might carry it into a spoiler pick or a spoiler prediction. That said, I think that Joe and I are on the page of, of the traditionalist pick with Shape of Water, but Get Out’s a possible spoiler.

Brad: But it’s happened before. I remember Crash.  Okay.

Joe: I can see, I can see Lady Bird doing the same thing because they, you know, it could get a lot of second place votes, a lot of third place votes and because people… nobody hated that movie. 

Jim: Right.

Joe: Everybody at least liked it. 

Brad: Best Actor? What do you think?

Jim: Best Actor…

Brad: I’ll go with you first

Joe: I’ll be happy to go first. You, you go with me for the easy ones. It’s Gary Oldman. It’s Gary Oldman. I mean, Gary Oldman’s going to win Best Actor. He’s uh, I mean first of all, he is one of the greatest chameleons that’s working in Hollywood right now. I mean you go back to the 90’s where he’s played Drexel in True Romance. You look at him and think, ‘That’s Gary Oldman?’ And this one as Winston Churchill, and you know, aside from the makeup and everything else, he looks like Winston Churchill. 

Brad: And Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK.

Jim: And um, Ludwig van Beethoven in Immortal Beloved.  
Joe: I mean he’s played so many great roles and he’s done… he’s overdue. It’s a year where he really doesn’t have much competition. It’s not a great category. Jim and I disagree on this, but that’s okay, he’s wrong, it’s fine. That being said, no I mean, it’s not the strongest year for the category and Gary Oldman is so good I think this is a gimme.

Brad:  Is it your pick, too?

Jim: He’s my pick, too

Brad: And you told me that great actor, but the overall movie, he’s… it’s like a… he’s the… he is the movie.

Jim: He is the movie. Only reason to see it. Darkest Hour is, Darkest Hour is a middling film, but Gary Oldman is amazing in it. 

Joe: But if you want some context – when you see Dunkirk, go watch this first, because they’re good companion pieces 

Brad: And ‘Dunkirk’ was one of those movies that in my generation we had heard of Dunkirk, but I imagine a lot of people were heading for Google after they saw that movie trying to learn more about it. Best actress.

Jim: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards. That is my prediction. It’s a very strong category this year, but I think Frances has won all of the predicting awards and she has a really showing, incredibly nuanced role in this film. She relishes that dialogue. 

Brad: Hard to believe it’s been more than 20 years since Fargo. 

Jim: It’s her fifth nomination and it will be if she wins, her second win.

Joe: I think Frances McDormand is going to win. I have a harder time getting behind it than Jim does. I do think she is going to win it. She has that great dialogue and it’s an incredibly showy role which, to me, is one of the reasons I’m having a hard time getting behind it. As you just saw in that video, she gets to spit and kick people in the crotch, and blow things up, it’s a very showy role. Whereas Sally Hawkins in ‘The Shape of Water’ has to emote, and just go through these oceans of different emotions without every saying a word. And she’s brilliant at it and I really wish, hope, that this is our upset, that the Academy surprises us.

Brad: Let’s go to supporting actor. A lot of people like Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards. 

Jim: He’s my predication as well.

Joe: He’s my predication, I liked Woody Harrelson better, but he’s my prediction. 

Brad: And, both in the same movie of course, supporting actress?

Joe: Best supporting actress, I think, why am I blanking on this?

Jim: Allison Janney. If you’re at an actor’s party, chose Allison Janney. She’s probably the safe bet. I am going to predict against the grain, Laurie Metcalf, because I left ‘Lady Bird’ thinking that there’s no way that anyone could do a better performance. 

Joe: Both phenomenal. Overprotective mom, versus terrible mom. 

Brad: Politics and the Oscars. We’ve got this, I won’t call it a cloud, because I don’t want to put a negative spin on it, but ‘me too’ that exploded in October, what do you think about that? How is that going to be played out on Sunday night?

Joe: I think to some extent it’s already been played out in a lot of way. I think the best actor category is arguably weaker because James Franco isn’t in it. He was, the ‘me too’ cloud came over him. And he fell out of the race. His performance was terrific, I’m not saying he shouldn’t be excluded because of that, but I think he was better than some of the people nominated. 

Brad: And actresses, female actors I should say, have often complained that as they age, they are kind of pushed out, but not this year. 

Jim: We have Frances McDormand, Meryl Streep, who gets I believe her 21st or 22nd nomination, so older women are getting some of the roles here and recognition, even in the supporting actress category – Mary J. Blige, Allison Janney, Laurie Metcalf, and Leslie Manville as well, all fairly older actresses who are getting recognition. The recognition they deserve.

Joe: Also better example is Meryl Streep, I think she gets nominated whether she’s in a movie or not. The ballots come pre-printed with her name. 

Brad: We’ve talked before too about actors who portray non-fiction individuals sometimes have an inside track. In ‘The King’s Speech,’ Jamie Fox, great actor, but got an Oscar for ‘Ray.’ Is there a connection there?

Jim: Yeah, I mean the Oscars have a long history of recognizing actors who have portrayed real figures and it almost becomes the joke where if you do a real figure, or if you do somebody who has a disability, then that’s your Oscar role. 

Joe: Unless your Jim Carrey. 

Jim: But it has become the joke. One reason to pick Gary Oldman for ‘Darkest Hour.’ 

Joe: I almost feel like the Academy needs a frame of reference like, “Oh, he really did look like Winston Churchill, let’s vote for him.” 

Brad: Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m hearing the music, you know what that means. Joe thank you so much. I want to give you a plug for your blog, And Jim, thank you. 

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(This story was originally published March 2, 2018)

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