Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

And the Oscar goes to …

Oscars

Never have I been so pumped to watch the Academy Awards (the 90th Oscars airs Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC) because, for the first time, I’ve seen all the best picture nominees.

Let’s run through them.

All were good, naturally. “Get Out” was the biggest surprise to me because I don’t like the horror genre, but this was way different.

On a personal level, “The Post” was the most meaningful and touching. Most journalists will go an entire career without experiencing anything nearly as momentous as the Pentagon Papers, but we all have our little battles.

From a story seeking the truth, we go to an amazing work of fiction in “The Shape of Water,” a good story told well.

Teen-age angst movies are too plentiful, mostly repetitious and not all that interesting. “Lady Bird” was a refreshing, searing look into the life of a precocious young woman, delivered with high skill.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” dragged us into lives tortured by an evil act. Great movies are not always pleasing to watch.

Rampant evil formed the backdrop to “Dunkirk,” but the true story of the civilian rescue of trapped soldiers was inspiring.

Winston Churchill might never have had a role to play in leading Great Britain except for its “Darkest Hour.” At that time, as the film carefully exhibits, he was exactly what was needed.

“Call Me by Your Name” is a summer love story we don’t normally see in major pictures. It was slowly and painfully drawn out. Viewers must recognize it was set in 1983, a time when the subject of same-sex relations was not as open as today.

“Phantom Thread” … I just can’t explain.

Before revealing my totally worthless pick as best picture, I’m going to toss out some thoughts about the other categories.

Writing (Original Screenplay): I’ve seen all but “The Big Sick.” While “The Shape of Water” is probably the favorite here (it is incredibly original), my vote would be for “Lady Bird” because of Greta Gerwig’s success making a fairly common story so original.

Production Design: I’ve seen all but “Beauty and the Beast” and would consider any of them worthy, but my vote is easily cast for “The Shape of Water.”

Music (Original Song): I’ve only seen two of these, so I cannot in all fairness pick one, but I have to say how much I admired the song “This is Me,” written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for “The Greatest Showman.”

Directing: My money’s on Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water.”

Actress in a Supporting Role: “Mudbound” and “I, Tonya” have escaped me so far. Between the other three, Laurie Metcalf was most impressive in “Lady Bird.”

Actor in a Supporting Role: Again, I’ve seen only three of the nominees, but my vote among those would go to Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and this is probably the most difficult choice I’ve made here.

Actress in a Leading Role: I’ve watched all but “I, Tonya.” OK, this is a tougher choice. In my mind, it won’t be Meryl Streep. I really liked Saoirse Ronan in “Lady Bird” and Sally Hawkins in “The Shape of Water,” but I’m going with Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” for the ferocity and range of her character.

Actor in a Leading Role: I’ve not seen “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” and realize Denzel Washington is always great, but my clear-cut choice is Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour.”

Best Picture: My personal favorites are “The Post” and “Lady Bird,” but the best picture is “The Shape of Water.”

Final shot: This list is of little value if you don’t comment with your thoughts about any or all of the categories. Thanks.

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