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  • Sarah E. Mason

The Oscars: Top 5 Most Justified & Wrongfully Doomed

Oscar winner Best Cinematography, Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049. Photos Warner Bros.

The 90th Academy Awards ceremony was held in Los Angeles on March 4, 2018. As always, there's unjustified wins and unforgivable snubs, of course opinions vary. Here's our Top Five list of the most justified wins, and the biggest snubs.

1. Most Justified Win - Roger Deakins, Best Cinematography, BLADE RUNNER 2049

The most justified Oscar this year, in our humble opinion went to cinematographer Roger Deakins for his exquisite work in BLADE RUNNER 2049. After 14 nominations Deakins finally earned his much deserved Oscar. His other nominated work includes, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, FARGO, SICARIO, TRUE GRIT and SKYFALL - No big deal!

Roger Deakins was born in Devon, England in 1949. He is a member of both the American and British Society of Cinematographers. He is the go-to cinematographer for the Coen Brothers, Sam Mendes and Denis Villeneuve. He intended to be a painter when he enrolled in the Bath Academy of Arts, lucky for us he chose cinematography. BLADE RUNNER 2049 is a visual masterpiece thanks largely to Deakins work and the mind blowing production design. Which brings us to....

2. Most Epic Failure to Award - Best Production Design, BLADE RUNNER 2049

BLADE RUNNER 2049 was our pic for Best Picture of the year. It was not nominated in this category, something we are still screaming about on The Harold & Maudecast. Best Picture aside, there is one thing impossible to argue with and that's the brilliance of the production design.

Production designer, Dennis Gassner, nominated along with Alessandra Querzola (set design) for BLADE RUNNER 2049, lost the Oscar to THE SHAPE OF WATER. It was one of the most shocking moments in Oscar history leaving us to wonder if the Academy actually knows what production design is. The film is defined by its stunning art direction, set design and props, cinematography and gorgeous visual effects (for which BLADE RUNNER 2049 won its second Oscar).

Gassner's other work includes INTO THE WOODS, ROAD TO PERDITION, O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU?, FIELD OF DREAMS and BUGSY for which he won an Oscar in 1991. There is no better display of the mastery of production and set design then BLADE RUNNER 2049 making it our pick for Most Epic Failure to Award.

Listen to Our review of BLADE RUNNER 2049

Blade Runner 2049. Photo Warner Bros.

3. Most Unjustly Snubbed - WIND RIVER & HOSTILES

Wind River. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

WIND RIVER is screenwriter Taylor Sheridan's (HELL OR HIGH WATER, SICARIO) directorial debut about a veteran tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) on the hunt for a trio of lions causing trouble in the Wind River reservation. When Lambert discovers the body of a Native American girl on the rez, he and a green, young FBI agent, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) team up to uncover the mystery. Sheridan won the Un Certain Regard, Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival. Cinematographer, Ben Richardson (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD) paints a realistically bleak and desolate picture of modern day life on the reservation. The pacing is slow which only furthers the sense of despair. It's a powerful statement on Native American culture with a well crafted story by Sheridan that makes you care about the characters deeply long after you leave the theater.

WIND RIVER is an unfortunate causality of the horror that is Harvey Weinstein. The film was produced in part by The Weinstein Company thereby having Harvey's stink all over its chances for an Oscar. Don't let that discourage you from watching this beautiful, powerful story with incredible John Wick-esque action payoffs that you will not see coming.

WIND RIVER is Now Streaming on Netflix.

Hostiles. Courtesy of imdb.

Written for the screen and directed by Scott Cooper (BLACK MASS, CRAZY HEART), HOSTILES is uncompromising in its brutal portrayal of life in the old west. Set in 1892, Wes Studi plays a dying Cheyenne war chief reluctantly escorted back to his tribal land by Capt. Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) a man whose legendary career included killing Native Americans. Studi gives a career best performance worthy of a Supporting Actor nomination. Bale is also Oscar worthy. This film had a lot of buzz when it first came out and then suddenly it was gone from award season. The biggest snub for this film, other than Studi and Bale, was not nominating Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi (SPOTLIGHT, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK) for his spectacular cinematography.

Hollywood's message at this year's Oscars was that of inclusion, nominating and awarding those who have been excluded. Somehow they missed Native Americans. Wes Studi, a Vietnam War veteran, introduced a segment on The Oscars showcasing Hollywood's history with war, tributing those who have served. It was wonderful to see him on stage but he should have been nominated for HOSTILES. He's earned it and then some.

Both WIND RIVER and HOSTILES were Oscar worthy and both were stories that needed to be told and should have been celebrated.

Listen to our discussion and reviews:



4. Most Deserved of The Shape of Water Wins

Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat conducting his score for The Shape of Water. Image credit Variety.

THE SHAPE OF WATER won four Oscars and was nominated for thirteen. Of the winners, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Production Design, Alexandre Desplat's Oscar winning original score for the film is by far the most righteous. The two lead characters in the film, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) and the creature (Doug Jones) do not speak. Desplat's score serves literally as their voice and at times the third lead character. The score is ethereal, playful, haunting, it sounds like water would sound if it was a character.

Desplat was born in Paris in 1961 and started playing piano at age five. He has won two Oscars the other for THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014). His other nominated work includes, THE IMITATION GAME, THE KING'S SPEECH, ARGO, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and THE QUEEN. Desplat is one of the most coveted composers by Hollywood film directors, not just because of his captivating scores but because he is known for being able to compose an entire film score in a very short time.

Big congrats to the Academy, and Alexandre Desplat for getting this Oscar win so right. Don't take our word for it! Listen...

5. Best of the Best Actors - Sam Rockwell, Best Supporting Actor, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. Photo cred Fox Searchlight.

With over 99 credits (imdb) including a part in the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, Sam Rockwell has been paying his dues and stealing scenes in film and television series since the 1980s. Rockwell was born in San Mateo, California in 1968 to two actors. He moved to New York after his parents split up when he was five, honing his craft at the William Esper Acting Studio and lining up theater and television roles -- including a part in an Emmy winning Law and Order episode. Every one of the films or TV series Rockwell has been in has the common denominator of his stand out performance; bad guy Eric Knox, the only memorable thing about the 2000 reboot of CHARLIE'S ANGELS, Guy in GALAXY QUEST, Chuck Barris in CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, Wild Bill in THE GREEN MILE, Frank Mercer in MATCHSTICK MEN, Owen in THE WAY WAY BACK -- a personal favorite of ours, if you haven't seen that film, stream it now!

One of the most infuriating things about award season is that the same four actors win every award, Golden Globe, SAG, Critic's Choice, BAFTA and Oscar. Makes you wonder why the other nominees even show up after Allison Janey, Frances McDormand and Gary Oldman and yes, Sam Rockwell keeping winning. In the case of Sam Rockwell, please throw him as many awards as you possible can, he earned them. As Dixon in THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI, Rockwell stood out amongst others who always stand out (Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson). You got this one so right academy. Congrats to Sam Rockwell for this very long overdue, just due.


For more of our discussion on The Oscars, these films, the ceremony and the state of the industry listen to The Harold & Maudecast.

#oscars #bladerunner2049 #hostiles #windriver #cinematography #rogerdeakins #dennisgassner #productiondesign #scifi #westerns #NativeAmericanfilms