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Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

The 2019 Bi-Czarries: A Final Look Back at 2018


The Bi-Czarries Awards and 2018 Postmortem -- by FilmZ and Guy S. Malone, Researcher

We wrap up each movie year a week after the Oscars with the Bi-Czarries, our reflection on what the previous year's film awards might look like if chosen by an arbitrary and capricious despot and a research wonk, with input from the Lunatic Fringe Film Group and FilmZ's family. 

The lists below reflect only the 2018 movies we saw.  Note, though, Guy S. Malone, Researcher vets the films, so there's a strong likelihood we will like them or that they will be in the running for awards.  Despite significant evidence to the contrary, GSM,R is human, so there were klunkers, and we list them at the end.  Also note, each film in our Best of 2018 made several critical Top-Ten lists, but the two of us selected the final 15, with feedback from our family and our movie group of Lunatic Fringers. 

Here are a few quotes from Lunatic Fringers:
Captain HE - "Many good movies did not receive the critical acceptance I thought they deserved. Red Sparrow leads that category, from my perspective, along with Blindspotting and American Animals."
Serfing Dude - "Among my favorites were Green Book, BlacKkKlansman, Vice, and Bohemian Rhapsody. I am sure I missed one or two others that I also thought highly of this year, but I guess I should be happy I remembered that many!"
Ambrose Wolfinger, PhD - "Seeing Green Book, Lady Gaga‘s performance & ending the season with They Shall Not Grow Old says it all for me!"

Here we go:

BEST FILMS OF 2018

The Favourite - period drama with a surreal, black comedy twist; best film of the year

Green Book - for the last time, they saved each other, a top pick of the group

Vice - McKay makes history memorable and fun, even as we watched democracy die

Black Panther - yes, it was that good

Blindspotting - a film worth rallying around (see Hidden Gems, below)

The Death of Stalin - Steve Buscemi as Khrushchev; Michael Palin as Molotov--'nuf said

BlacKkKlansman - intense, entertaining memoir Black detective's infiltration of the KKK

Red Sparrow - LeCarre'-style spy intrigue, terrific international cast, gorgeous locations

Free Solo - climb Yosemite's 3,200-foot face of El Capitan with no ropes or safety gear

They Shall Not Grow Old 
- Peter Jackson's incredible rendering of archival WWI film

Leave No Trace - Debra Granik's contemplative brilliance shines (see Hidden Gems, below)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - an animated feature with comic book flash

Mission Impossible: Fallout - the best action movie of the year

Bohemian Rhapsody - fan favorite stole the show at the end--both plot and the film itself

American Animals - part heist film, part documentary that gave us insight into the crooks

____________________________________________________________________________

PERFORMANCES

Actress: 
Toni Collette - Hereditary

Actor: 
Christian Bale - Vice

Supporting Actress: 
Amy Adams - Vice

Supporting Actor:
Richard E. Grant - Can You Ever Forgive Me?

______________________________________________________________________________

We recommend all of the films unless otherwise noted (see the last category for movies that disappointed).  In the categories below, the film titles in Bold made our list of Top Films of 2018 above.  You'll also note that some films fall in several categories and some do better in one category than another; for example, we ranked Ant-Man and the Wasp higher than Deadpool 2 in ACTION/FANTASY, but Deadpool 2 higher than Ant-Man and the Wasp in COMEDY.

Outside of this, there isn't much in the way of explanation until the last two categories: HIDDEN GEMS and DISAPPOINTMENTS because, you know, you deserve an explanation.

______________________________________________________________________________

DRAMAS

The Favourite
Green Book
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
Tully
A Star is Born
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Wife

_____________________________________________________________________________

INDEPENDENT FILMS 
(under $20 million budget)

Blindspotting
Leave No Trace
American Animals
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Eighth Grade
Roma
If Beale Street Could Talk
The Wife
Hereditary
At Eternity’s Gate

_____________________________________________________________________________

POLITICAL AND CRIME DRAMA

Vice
Red Sparrow
American Animals
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Widows
Operation Finale
Sicario: Soldado

_____________________________________________________________________________

ACTION/FANTASY

Black Panther
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Avengers: Infinity War
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Deadpool 2
Solo: A Star Wars Story
A Quiet Place
Annihilation
Hereditary
Sicario: Soldado

______________________________________________________________________________

COMEDY

The Death of Stalin
Deadpool 2
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Game Night
Eighth Grade
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

_____________________________________________________________________________

DOCUMENTARY

Free Solo
They Shall Not Grow Old
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
RBG
Fahrenheit 11/9

_____________________________________________________________________________

ANIMATED

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs

_____________________________________________________________________________

HIDDEN GEMS

Blindspotting - two friends confront past and present; Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal wrote and star

Leave No Trace - Ben Foster's vet with PTSD, daughter Thomasin McKenzie live off the grid

American Animals - documentary and heist film blend seamlessly in this true story

Tully - Charlize Theron did enough to deserve an Oscar nom in this comedy-drama

Solo: A Star Wars Story - critics and fans missed out on the most underrated Star Wars film

At Eternity's Gate - a truly artisitic work Julian Schnabel; Willem Dafoe eyes tell it all

___________________________________________________________________________

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Oceans 8 - good heist films have twists and surprises, Oceans has coincidences and deus ex machina

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - dead-end subplots, sequel set-up, that's it

Bad Times at the El Royale - the trailer promised more than the film provided

The Girl in the Spider’s Web - traded intelligence for action; fans of the series will feel betrayed

The House with the Clock in its Walls - small children might like it, but it might be too scary for them




Oscar Predictions - 2019


Oscar Predictions by FilmZ and rumor in his own time, Guy S. Malone, Researcher

The 91st Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The Oscars will air live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

We have been making these predictions for seven years.  (Before this blog existed, we published in a local newspaper that went out of business--not our fault.)  Over that time, we have averaged 20 out of 24 correct--drat those short subjects--but this year could be our toughest.  The Academy has added many young, minority, and international members, resulting in some truly surprising nominations.  Those same folks who nominate also vote for the Oscar winners, so expect the unexpected.

Even the industry guilds can't agree on which is the Best Picture:
PGA (Producers Guild of America) -- Green Book,
DGA (Directors Guild of America) -- Roma,
SAG (Screen Actors Guild) -- Black Panther,
ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) -- Cold War,
WGA (Writer's Guild of America) -- Can You Ever Forgive Me and Eighth Grade,
ACE (American Cinema Editors) -- Bohemian Rhapsody and The Favourite.
Furthermore, SAG ignored Roma altogether, the film many see as the frontrunner for Best Picture.  So, in case you are counting, the six major guilds selected eight different films, three of which were not even nominated for Best Picture.

So, without further ado, let's get to it.  Below, we list all of the candidates in each category with our choice of who will win, who we believe should win, and then the also-rans in order of their chances to win.  There is also the rationale behind those choices, accompanied in some cases by Guy Malone, Researcher's customary whining.  Enjoy:

BEST PICTURE
Funny thing, our least liked film in this category is Roma, yet it is the critical favorite, backed up by many precursor awards in its pocket, and it tied in Academy Awards nominations with The Favourite, a movie we loved.  We also very much liked BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, Vice, and Black Panther, and, heck, even Bohemian Rhapsody was fun.

Will Win:
Roma

Should Win:
The Favourite
Green Book

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
BlacKkKlansman
Black Panther
A Star is Born
Vice
Bohemian Rhapsody

__________________________________________________________________________

DIRECTOR
Again, Alfonso Cuaron, by acclamation, is most likely to win, but Spike Lee has made the best film of his esteemed career and he ought to win.

Will Win:
Alfonso Cuaron - Roma    

Should Win:
Spike Lee - BlacKkKlansman   

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Yorgos Lanthimos - The Favourite 
Adam McKay - Vice
Pawel Pawlikowski - Cold War

_____________________________________________________________________________

ACTRESS
I was all in for Olivia Coleman until I saw The Wife.  I still wouldn't squawk if Coleman won, but Glenn Close gave her best performance ever.  I love Lady Gaga, but hers was a cut below these two; in fact, Melissa McCarthy gave her best performance to date, but GaGa has been getting a lot of love, even leading the pack for awhile.

Will Win and Should Win:
Glenn Close - The Wife  

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Olivia Colman - The Favourite
Lady Gaga - A Star is Born
Melissa McCarthy - Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Yalitza Aparicio - Roma

_____________________________________________________________________________

ACTOR
Had this vote taken place in early January, the Oscar would belong to Christian Bale.  Since then, both Bohemian Rhapsody and Rami Malek have come on like gangbusters.  All nominees put in excellent performances: Cooper's singing and directing, Mortensen's convincing mobster-driver with a heart, Dafoe's haunted artist struggling with insanity.

Will Win:
Rami Malek - Bohemian Rhapsody 

Should Win:
Christian Bale - Vice 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Bradley Cooper - A Star is Born
Viggo Mortensen - Green Book
Willem Dafoe - At Eternity's Gate
_________________________________________________________________________________

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Regina King is another critical favorite who stood out in Beale Street with two riveting scenes, but Amy Adams' Lynn Cheney, as compelling at a college sweetheart as she was as a Lady Macbethian matron, was tops, in our opinion.  Stone and Weisz (BAFTA winner) split votes here.

Will Win:
Regina King - If Beale Street Could Talk 

Should Win:
Amy Adams - Vice

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Rachel Weisz - Favourite
Emma Stone - The Favourite
Marina de Tavira - Roma

_____________________________________________________________________________

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Every performance in this category is worthy of the Oscar.  Ali is truly a co-lead in Green Book, and for that reason, he will win.  There will be sympathy for both Sam Elliott and Richard E. Grant; Adam Driver is drolly magnetic, and Rockwell quite simply was "W".

Will Win and Should Win:
Mahershala Ali - Green Book 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Richard E. Grant - Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Elliott - A Star is Born
Adam Driver - BlacKkKlansman
Sam Rockwell - Vice

_____________________________________________________________________________

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY - (five nominees)
Spike Lee adapted Ron Stallworth's memoir into a film that is, at times, preachy but is also hugely entertaining and memorable.  Beale Street and Can You Ever Forgive Me? are its closest threats.  The Coen's episodic Buster Scruggs vacillates between brilliant and weird.  The serial remake of A Star is Born is an adapted, adapted, adapted screenplay.

Should Win and Will Win: 
BlacKkKlansman 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
If Beale Street Could Talk 
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
A Star is Born

___________________________________________________________________________

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Favourite screenwriters Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara provided a twisted historical piece that both complemented Director Yorgos Lanthimos surreal vision and leavened the excesses of his previous works, creating the most original film of those nominated.

Will Win and Should Win:
The Favourite

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Green Book 
Roma 
Vice
First Reformed
_______________________________________________________________________________

CINEMATOGRAPHY
The runaway frontrunner here is Alfonso Cuaron for his black and white labor of love.  We prefer Robbie Ryan's fish-eyed enhancement of the surreal period piece, The Favourite.  And the Cinematographer's Association awarded Lukasz Zal's work in Cold War.

Will Win:
Roma 

Should Win:
Cold War (or)
The Favourite

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
A Star is Born
Never Look Away

_____________________________________________________________________________

EDITING
In a stacked category, Adam McKay's cuts in Vice from past to present, from plot to exposition to diversion are seamless.  We give it an edge, but again, we won't complain if another film wins.  Bohemian Rhapsody has been coming on strong and could easily win.

Will Win and Should Win:
Vice 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Bohemian Rhapsody
BlacKkKlansman 
The Favourite
Green Book

___________________________________________________________________________

PRODUCTION DESIGN
The dusky corridors, the expansive grandeur of the ballroom and chambers, the 18th-century furnishings in regal shades; there's nothing like a period piece to win this one.

Will Win and Should Win:
The Favourite  

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Black Panther 
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma 
First Man

____________________________________________________________________________

ORIGINAL SCORE
Classic jazz and bluesy soul perfectly set the time, place, and atmosphere, greatly enhancing the experience of Beale Street.

Should win and Will Win:
If Beale Street Could Talk 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Black Panther 
Mary Poppins Returns
BlacKkKlansman
Isle of Dogs

______________________________________________________________________________

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
The Oscars might honor the esteemed Supreme Court Justice, but Free Solo's stunning high-wire act is where art and science converge.

Will Win and Should Win:
Free Solo

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
RBG
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons 
Hale County This Morning, This Evening

_____________________________________________________________________________

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The category where Roma belongs

Will Win and Should Win:
Roma

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Cold War 
Capernaum
Shoplifters 
Never Look Away

____________________________________________________________________________

ORIGINAL SONG
Does anyone really think Lady GaGa's "Shallow" might not win?

Will Win and Should Win:
"Shallow" - A Star Is Born  

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
"The Place Where Lost Things Go" - Mary Poppins Returns 
"All The Stars" - Black Panther 
"I'll Fight" - RBG
"When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings" - The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

____________________________________________________________________________

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Another Competitive year, but Spidey has a fresh take on what could have been a hackneyed story.  Vivid, with wild panels, like a comic book, but a story with real heart.  In another year, any of the others could win.

Will Win and Should Win:
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 

Others(descending order in odds of winning):
Incredibles 2 
Isle of Dogs 
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Mirai

_____________________________________________________________________________

COSTUME DESIGN
For the ladies' attire in The Favourite, Sandy Powell chose a palette consisting of only Oxford blue and white, a bold but striking decision that probably will win the Oscar.  Mary: Queen of Scots and Mary Poppins were beautiful but not daring; in fact, the main rival here is Black Panther.

Should Win and Will Win:
The Favourite 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Black Panther 
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots 
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

______________________________________________________________________________

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Christian Bale became Dick Cheney; Sam Rockwell became George W. Bush; Amy Adams became Lynne Cheney; ...  Though make no mistake, uglying up Margot Robbie took some doing.

Will Win and Should Win:
Vice

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Mary Queen of Scots
Border

_____________________________________________________________________________

VISUAL EFFECTS
Infinity War's astounding effects will make it the first Marvel movie to win this category, and it is well deserved, though we must admit, First Man made us think we were in that rocket, and Solo is an underrated entry into the Star Wars universe.

Will Win and Should Win:
Avengers: Infinity War 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
First Man 
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Ready Player One 
Christopher Robin

_____________________________________________________________________________

SOUND EDITING
Conventional wisdom here has First Man favored, or else Black Panther, but we feel A Quiet Place upset.

Will Win and Should Win:
A Quiet Place

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
First Man
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
Roma
_________________________________________________________________________________

SOUND MIXING
Another minor upset: the last-minute rush of Bohemian Rhapsody overtakes A Star is Born and First Man for the gold.

Will Win and Should Win:
Bohemian Rhapsody 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
A Star Is Born 
First Man
Black Panther
Roma

____________________________________________________________________________

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)
Who knows?

Will Win:
Black Sheep 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Period. End of Sentence 
End Game 
Lifeboat
A Night at the Garden

____________________________________________________________________________

ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Ideas, anyone?

Will Win:
Bao 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
One Small Step
Animal Behaviour 
Weekends 
Late Afternoon

____________________________________________________________________________

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
Anyone?

Will Win:
Marguerite 

Others (descending order in odds of winning):
Skin 
Mother
Detainment 
Fauve

 
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