Saturday, December 9, 2017

'The Shape of Water' leads speculative fiction at the 2018 Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Awards season has begun and I am marking it by reminding my readers that I told them in the conclusion of 2017 Environmental Media Association Awards for film and television to "Stay tuned for this year's nominees for the Critics' Choice Awards."  Wochit Entertainment has the headline for the opening salvo of what will be a barrage of major awards shows: The Shape of Water Dominates Critics’ Choice Awards Nominations.*

Nominations for the 2018 Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics’ Choice Awards have been announced. Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi romance The Shape of Water stole the show with a dominating 14 nominations [including] Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography.
Deadline lists all of them, which I've re-ordered to suit my priorities: Best Picture, Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Actress for Sally Hawkins, Best Supporting Actor for Richard Jenkins, Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer, Best Director for Guillermo del Toro, Best Original Screenplay for Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, Best Cinematography for Dan Laustsen, Best Production Design for Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, and Jeff Melvin, Best Editing for Sidney Wolinsky, Best Costume Design for Luis Sequeira, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score for Alexandre Desplat.  Wow!  Not only do these 14 nominations lead speculative fiction films, they lead all films nominated.  Four films, "Dunkirk," "Call Me By Your Name," "Lady Bird," and "The Post," are six nominations behind at eight each.  I had thought either "Beauty and the Beast" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" to be the best fantasy film of 2017.  No longer.  I now think "The Shape of Water" will be the favorite in that category at the Saturn Awards and in Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie here in the Critics' Choice Awards.

The next most nominated speculative fiction film is "Blade Runner 2049" with seven nominations, including Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins, Best Production Design for Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola, Best Editing for Joe Walker, Best Costume Design for Renée April, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score for Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer.  In every single category, it is  up against "The Shape of Water."  I don't like its chances, either here, where "The Shape of Water" would be favored, or at the Saturn Awards, where I expect "The Last Jedi" will clobber it for Best Science Fiction Film and a bunch of other awards.

Deadline didn't even notice "Blade Runner 2049."  Instead, its article mentioned "Get Out," which has five nominations.  It is going head-to-head with "The Shape of Water" in four categories, Best Picture, Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Director for Jordan Peele, and Best Original Screenplay, also for Jordan Peele.  Only Daniel Kaluuya as Best Actor escapes competing with a nominee from "The Shape of Water."  While I think "Get Out" is the best non-supernatural horror film of the year, which means it will be nominated for Best Thriller Film at the Saturn Awards and most likely win that category, I doubt it will win anything other than Best Original Screenplay at the Critics' Choice Awards.  Even here, it's an underdog to more conventional films.

In fourth place among speculative fiction films with, appropriately enough, four nominations is "Beauty and the Beast," my pick for best fantasy film of the year until "The Shape of Water" came along.  The live-action remake of a Disney animated classic earned nods for Best Production Design for Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer, Best Costume Design for Jacqueline Durran, Best Hair and Makeup, and Best Song for "Evermore."  In the first three categories, it is up against either or both of "The Shape of Water" and "Blade Runner 2049" and in the last it is competing with a song from  Disney/Pixar film "Coco" and a Grammy Award nominee from "Marshall."  I'm ambivalent about its chances in any of those categories.

Three superhero films tie for fifth with three nominations, "Logan," "Thor: Ragnarok," and "Wonder Woman," all of which are nominated for Best Action Movie.  The critics think "Logan" has better acting with Patrick Stewart nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Dafne Keen for Best Young Actor/Actress.  I expect both will be nominated in the equivalent categories at the Saturn Awards.  In contast, "Wonder Woman" has better technical achievement, being nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Visual Effects.  "Thor: Ragnarok" has both good acting and technical achievement with Chris Hemsworth earning a surprising nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy (I guess he's that funny) and the film competing with "Blade Runner 2049," "The Shape of Water," "Wonder Woman," "War for the Planet of the Apes," and "Dunkirk" for Best Visual Effects.  I'm not confident about any prediction for that field!  On the other hand, if I'm confident about any prediction of mine, it's that "Wonder Woman" is the favorite to win Best Action Movie.  It's also among my two favorites to win Best Comic-Book-to-Film Adaptation or its equivalent at the Saturn Awards.

"War for the Planet of the Apes" earned two nominations, Best Action Film and Best Visual Effects.  I think the first is misplaced (it should be the fifth nominee for Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film), while the second shows the strength of screen capture and CGI to portray its ape characters.  The other speculative fiction film to garner two nominations is the Disney/Pixar film "Coco" for Best Animated Film and Best Song for "Remember Me."  I think it might win Best Animated Film.  I'm not as confident that it will win Best Song against "Stand Up for Something" from "Marshall" by Common and Diane Warren.

Seven speculative fiction films have one nomination each. "It," my pick for best surpernatural horror film of the year, is nominated for Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film.  I doubt it will win at these awards, but I think it's a lock for Best Horror Film at the Saturn Awards.  Hong Chau earned the one nomination for "Downsizing" as Best Supporting Actress.  The other four nominees for Best Animated Feature, "The Breadwinner," "Despicable Me 3," "The LEGO Batman Movie," and "Loving Vincent," have their only nomination in this category.  Finally, "Thelma," which is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, has enough fantastic elements for me to consider it speculative fiction.

Follow over the jump for all the categories that include speculative fiction nominees along with my thoughts about their chances.

Again, here are the relevant nominees from Deadline, re-ordered to suit my priorities.

The Big Sick
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
The Florida Project
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
While I think "The Shape of Water" is likely better than "Get Out," I suspect neither will win.  Since it came out in August, I thought the surefire Oscar nominee was "Dunkirk" and I still do.  It will also likely be nominated as an action film for the Saturn Awards.  However, I'm not so sure it will win.  "Darkest Hour" is likely to pull some votes from it.  Also, "Call Me by Your Name" and "The Post" are getting buzz and the latter is the kind of political film that might win this year.

Blade Runner 2049
Get Out
The Shape of Water
While I'm confident that "The Shape of Water" will win this, that there are only four nominees in a year full of speculative fiction films reminds me of something I left in a comment to Video of the day -- ruining the Alien at Infidel 753's blog.
As for "Alien: Covenant," it's a weak entry in a large field of merely average science fiction films released so far this year.  It's currently the seventh highest grossing movie in the genre for 2017 according to Box Office Mojo behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kong: Skull Island, War for the Planet of the Apes, Transformers: The Last Knight, Power Rangers (2017), and Blade Runner 2049.  It will end up in eighth before Christmas, as Star Wars: The Last Jedi will pass it in one weekend.  That written, it will very likely still be on the ballot as Best Science Fiction Movie at the Saturn Awards next year (I'm a voter), as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be nominated as a Comic Book Movie Adaptation, while Kong: Skull Island and Power Rangers (2017) might be nominated for either Fantasy or Action.  The sixth nominee will likely be one of Ghost in the Shell (2017), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, or Life (2017).  Even before the movie is released, I know I'll be voting for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  It's that kind of year.
Looks like the critics agreed with me that there were a lot of mediocre science fiction films this year.

Baby Driver
Thor: Ragnarok
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman
As I wrote earlier, I think "War for the Planet of the Apes" should have been nominated in Sci-Fi or Horror instead.  in its place I'd have been happy to see "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2," "Kong: Skull Island," or even "The Fate of the Furious."  That's one I expect to be nominated with a bunch of Superhero flicks at the People's Choice Awards, not "Baby Driver."  On the other hand, I expect both to be nominated as action films at the Saturn Awards.

Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
James Franco – The Disaster Artist
Jake Gyllenhaal – Stronger
Tom Hanks – The Post
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Out of this slate, I'd vote for Gary Oldman.  There is nothing like a good Winston Churchill.

Jessica Chastain – Molly’s Game
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post
Meryl Streep has the name, Frances McDormand has the performance, and Jessica Chastain and Margot Robbie have the stories.  It should go to McDormand, but Streep might pull it off.  If Sally Hawkins wins, I'd be very surprised.  She might have a better shot at the Saturn Awards, except that I expect her performance will be subtle and the Saturn voters don't like subtle.  They'll probably vote for Daisy Ridley instead.

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Armie Hammer – Call Me By Your Name
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Patrick Stewart – Logan
Michael Stuhlbarg – Call Me by Your Name
I hear the acting in "Call Me by Your Name" is excellent and I'd favor Armie Hammer over his co-star.  Still, they might split their vote so Willem Dafoe or Sam Rockwell wins instead.

Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Hong Chau – Downsizing
Tiffany Haddish – Girls Trip
Holly Hunter – The Big Sick
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
Octavia Spencer is an outstanding actress, but I think this might go to Allison Janney or Holly Hunter in a rare case of comedies beating dramas.

Mckenna Grace – Gifted
Dafne Keen – Logan
Brooklynn Prince – The Florida Project
Millicent Simmonds – Wonderstruck
Jacob Tremblay – Wonder
Jacob Tremblay is my pick, even if I think they're all wonderful.  If it were split between actors and actresses, I'd say Brooklynn Prince would get the young actress win.

Steve Carell – Battle of the Sexes
James Franco – The Disaster Artist
Chris Hemsworth – Thor: Ragnarok
Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
Adam Sandler – The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
I made the following prediction about "Battle of the Sexes" on my Dreamwidth.
Predictions: "Battle of the Sexes" will be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Comedy Movie. Emma Stone will be nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy Movie. Steve Carell will be nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy Movie. With three months of releases still to go, it's too early to post odds on their winning. It's also too early to make bets on their Oscar prospects.
It's the Critics' Choice Awards, but two of the three came true here, as Emma Stone was indeed nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy.  Because of this, I think Carell is the favorite, but Nanjiani might pull this one out, as "The Big Sick" is a smart comedy about a tragic subject.

Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Luca Guadagnino – Call Me By Your Name
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Steven Spielberg – The Post
The three big names are Del Toro, Nolan, and Spielberg, although Peele might pull an upset.  I'm rooting for Nolan.

Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor – The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
Liz Hannah and Josh Singer – The Post
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Jordan Peele – Get Out
"The Big Sick" is as much a message movie as "Get Out" but it's also a smart comedy.  That might be enough for it to win.

Roger Deakins – Blade Runner 2049
Hoyte van Hoytema – Dunkirk
Dan Laustsen – The Shape of Water
Rachel Morrison – Mudbound
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom – Call Me By Your Name
As much as I'm rooting for the science fiction films, I think "Dunkirk" would be the favorite.

Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin – The Shape of Water
Jim Clay, Rebecca Alleway – Murder on the Orient Express
Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis – Dunkirk
Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola – Blade Runner 2049
Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer – Beauty and the Beast
Mark Tildesley, Véronique Melery – Phantom Thread
"Murder on the Orient Express" only has this one nomination, but it deserves it.  It might be enough to win, although I would be rooting for "Beauty and the Beast" otherwise.

Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar – The Post
Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos – Baby Driver
Lee Smith – Dunkirk
Joe Walker – Blade Runner 2049
Sidney Wolinsky – The Shape of Water
I'm rooting for the science fiction movies, but I expect "Dunkirk" might win.

Renée April – Blade Runner 2049
Mark Bridges – Phantom Thread
Jacqueline Durran – Beauty and the Beast
Lindy Hemming – Wonder Woman
Luis Sequeira – The Shape of Water
Four of the five nominees are speculative fiction, so genre films are doing well in this category.  Out of all of them, I'd root for "Wonder Woman" or "Beauty and the Beast."  However, "Phantom Thread" is about fashion, so it might just pull this one out.

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
I think "Wonder" might win just on the strength of its prosthetics.  However, I think either "Beauty and the Beast" or "I, Tonya" have better hair.

Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Thor: Ragnarok
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman
My favorite is "Wonder Woman," but all of these films deserve their nominations, so I'm not calling this category.

The Breadwinner
Despicable Me 3
The LEGO Batman Movie
Loving Vincent
My favorite is "The LEGO Batman Movie," but I think "Coco" will win.

BPM (Beats Per Minute)
A Fantastic Woman
First They Killed My Father
In the Fade
The Square
"Thelma" is the speculative fiction movie, but "PBM" has the positive message and "The Square" has Elizabeth Moss. That written, I have no idea.

Evermore – Beauty and the Beast
Mystery of Love – Call Me By Your Name
Remember Me – Coco
Stand Up for Something – Marshall
This Is Me – The Greatest Showman
I think "Stand Up for Something" is a prohibitive favorite.  It's already nominated for a Grammy as well and I expect nominations for a Golden Globe and Oscar, too.

Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water
Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread
Dario Marianelli – Darkest Hour
Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer – Blade Runner 2049
John Williams – The Post
Hans Zimmer – Dunkirk
I think "Dunkirk" might pull this one off here.  Its score will be nominated at the Saturn Awards so long as "Dunkirk" is nominated as an action movie.

That's it for the movies.  Stay tuned for the television nominees after a post about the Nobel Prize winners.

*The 2017 Grammy Awards don't count, as so many of their nominees are from the previous year that they're as much the last shot of the previous crop of eligible works as the the first of this year.  For this year's movies and TV shows, the Grammys serve as a ranging shot, not the opening salvo of a barrage.

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