Here’s a rare break from the sports world for me to list my take on the Academy Awards coming up Sunday night.
I’ve seen most of the nominated films, so here’s a look at the nominees I would like to win, along with the nominees likely to win:
My pick: The Post
OK, I admit I’m biased on this one with a movie that has little or no chance of winning. It’s a story about my profession and the right to a free and open press. The films shows how Richard Nixon did everything he could to keep the New York Times and the Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers, which detailed all the lies told to the American public about the Vietnam war.
But the message here is how we now have a president that is trying to do the same type of thing again, bullying respected media outlets and crying “fake news” when the story doesn’t suit him.
Likely winner: The Shape of Water
Hard to believe a film that resembles The Creature from the Black Lagoon is the favorite to win Best Picture, but this is a truly creative film with superb acting performances.
My pick: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
If Oldman loses there should be an investigation. His portrayal of Winston Churchill is uncanny, and he possibly is the best actor alive without an Oscar.
Likely winner: Oldman
Oldman should have won years ago. The fact that he’s only been nominated twice is a travesty. But the Academy often uses a situation like this to honor someone as much for his body of work as the actual performance. Oldman finally will have his well-deserved moment.
My pick: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Ronan gives an amazing performance as a high-school senior trying to figure out her path in life. At age 23, she’s already proven herself as an accomplished actor in her work three years ago as the homesick Irish girl in Brooklyn.
Likely winner: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards
McDormand gives an outstanding performance as the angry mother who takes radical steps in blaming local police officers for not finding the person who murdered her daughter. My only problem with selecting her over Ronan is McDormand’s role seems closer to her actual personality than the role Ronan played.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
My pick: Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
It’s the unusual circumstances of this performance that proves how exceptional Plummer is in re-creating the role of J. Paul Getty. The film was completed with Kevin Spacey in the role, but Plummer was called to replace Spacey (after the sexual misconduct allegations against Spacey) only a month before its scheduled release date.
Plummer, 88, shot every Getty scene in only nine days. I can’t envision any actor doing a better job as the billionaire curmudgeon if they had nine weeks to play the role.
It will be interesting to compare Plummer’s performance to Donald Sutherland, who plays Getty in Trust, a TV series version of the grandson-kidnapping story, which debuts March 25th on FX.
Likely winner: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards
Rockwell is the clear favorite after winning both the Golden Globe and the Screen Actor Guild awards for the part as the racist cop who finds redemption in Three Billboards. It’s a strong performance, but there’s a comedic element to Rockwell’s portrayal at times that makes it difficult for me to fully believe the character.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
My pick: Allison Janney, I Tonya
Her performance and physical transformation as Tonya Harding’s abusive mother is astonishing, especially if you see video interviews with Harding’s mom.
Likely winner: Janney
Laurie Metcalf also is deserving as the neurotic but loving mom in Lady Bird. But I can’t see the Academy overlooking Janney’s accurate portrayal on a mother from Hell.
My pick: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Nolan’s direction is a cinematic masterpiece of this transformative moment in World War II. The close-up shots on the beach and in the water, the fear in the eyes of the soldiers along with the intimidating sounds of bombs and bullets, give an unusual perspective on such a critical rescue of the British troops stranded on the French coastline.
Likely Winner: Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape or Water
Del Toro is the flavor of the month and for good reason. He makes a seemingly- nonsensical plot believable to the viewers with heartwarming and heartbreaking scenes at the deepest personal level.
SEATTLE – Isaiah Thomas got a phone call Saturday morning before his big night. It was his old coach, former University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar.
“Look at you,’’ Romar told Thomas. “A kid from Tacoma. Who would have thought it?”
That little 5-foot-9 kid from Tacoma heard the roar from a near sellout crowd Saturday night at Alaska Airlines Arena when the Huskies retired his No. 2 jersey and raised the banner into the Hec Ed rafters.
“I can’t explain it,’’ Thomas said before the Colorado-UW game, which the Huskies easily won 82-59. “It hasn’t really hit me yet. I’ve dreamed of having my jersey retired, either in high school, college of the pros. For Washington to honor me like this is a true blessing.”
Thomas, now a Los Angeles Laker, has earned his place as one of the best in basketball, despite doubters at every step on the way.
He led the Huskies to three consecutive Pac-12 titles, along with three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, averaging 16.4 points per game his in college career. The Huskies were 76-30 while Thomas was on campus before leaving after his junior year in 2011.
The Sacramento Kings made Thomas the 60th and final pick of 2011 NBA draft. Thomas had his best NBA season last year, averaging 29 points and six assists a game for the Boston Celtics. But he was traded the Cleveland before the start or this season and started the year with a hip injury before returning in January.
Thomas was shipped on the Lakers two weeks ago as the Cavs completely revamped for the future in hopes of keeping Lebron James.
As tough as all those changes have been, it’s all meaningless compared to losing his sister, Chyna, is a car accident last April.
“It’s been a tough year for me,’’ Thomas said. “I’ve taken a lot of haymakers, but I’ll take it on the chin and keep moving through.”
Thomas becomes only the third UW basketball player to have his number retired, joining Bob Houbregs and Brandon Roy.
“It’s a different feeling, kind of hard to explain,’’ Thomas said. “It’s great to be somewhere where you’re loved. I’m just all smiles. UW was the best three years of my life. I grew up my three years here, arriving as a kid at 18 and leaving as a man at 21.”
UW had to move the original date for retiring Thomas’ number after he was traded to the Lakers. They asked him if he wanted to wait until next season.
“I said hell no,’’ Thomas said. “I wanted to have this night. Nobody can ever take this away from me.”
It all worked out. Even Romar, now the assistant head coach at Arizona, was in the arena to see it. The little kid from Tacoma has reached immortality on Montlake.
“That’s everything to me,’’ Thomas said. “I want to inspire the next generation the way guys like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan inspired me. Being from Tacoma, I want the next kid there to look at me and think he can do it, too.”
Thomas had a couple of kids with him Saturday who probably think that, his sons, Jaiden and James.
As Thomas and his boys got up to leave the interview room, Jaiden had a message: “My dad is better than Lebron.”
Thomas laughed and said, “Oh my. Let’s hope no one heard that.”
SEATTLE – It was only 12 days ago when the Dawg Pack stormed the court after a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Dom Green gave the Washington Huskies a dramatic victory over ninth-ranked Arizona.
UW fans were upset a couple of days later when the Huskies weren’t ranked in the top 25.
That was then and this is now. The Huskies have lost three consecutive games after sleepwalking through the second half Thursday night in a 70-58 loss to Utah at Alaska Airlines Arena.
What happened? How did this team go from one of the biggest regular-season wins in school history to a dismal eight-day stretch that all but eliminated any realistic shot at making the NCAA Tournament?
The Huskies (17-9 overall and 7-6 in Pac-12 play) came back down to Earth with a thud after expectations got a little out of kilter. It’s easy to forget that this team was 9-22 a year ago and won only two conference games.
UW coach Mike Hopkins wants to keep things in perspective, despite the three-game losing streak.
“These guys have done a hell of a job,’’ Hopkins said. “You’ve just gotta fight through these tough times. It’s not the end of the world.”
It is disappointing, however, for a group of guys who thought they were headed to the NCAA Tournament and now find themselves trying to regain their vigor.
The heartbreak started last weekend in a 97-94 loss in double-overtime at Oregon State when the Huskies blew a 13-point second-half lead.
Things got worse Thursday night. UW led 32-24 at the half, but fell flat in the second half and were outscored 46-26 by the Utes (16-9, 8-6). Utah shot 70 percent (14 of 20) in the last 20 minutes.
“We’ve got to be hungry,’’ said UW point-guard David Crisp, who led the Huskies with 18 points. “Nobody is going to give you a game. We’ve got to play every night like it’s our last game, and that means a full effort for 40 minutes.”
UW forward Noah Dickerson was the National Player of the Week after his performance against Arizona State and Arizona two weeks ago, but he had trouble with Utah’s two big men Thursday.
Posts David Collette and Tyler Rawson (both 6-10) combined for 37 points and 16 rebounds. Dickerson and UW forward Sam Timmins combined for 7 points and 7 rebounds.
“There were moments where it looked like we were in quick sand,’’ Hopkins said. “We were looking for energy, but sometimes you can see in their eyes they just don't have it and we didn't have it tonight.”
It happens, especially for a team with a new coach that is wading through uncharted territory. But the Huskies have five regular season games left, including what will be an emotional night Saturday when the school retires the number of Isaiah Thomas.
The Huskies still can finish with 20 victories and probably make the NIT Tournament. They hit a rough patch, but these players and this coach deserve praise for what they’ve accomplished this season.
Time for the Blount Blitz Awards, which span both ends of the spectrum this week.
The winner of the Sports Walk of Shame Award this week goes to NBC Alpine skiing commentator Bode Miller.
NBC announcer Dan Hicks noted that Austria’s Anna Veith (the 2014 gold-medalist in Super G) has not been the same since her injuries.
That’s when Miller chimed in with this nugget: “The knee is certainly an issue. I want to point out she also got married. And it’s historically very challenging to race on the World Cup with a family or after being married. Not to blame the spouses, but I just want to toss that out there, that it could be her husband’s fault.”
Miller later apologized or that comment, but continued an unimpressive performance Wednesday night during the women’s giant slalom event. Miller was either asleep or color commentating for a chess match.
After Mikaela Shiffrin made a thrilling late run to win the gold for the USA, Miller sounded as excited as an eighth grader doing a book report. His monotone responses leaves viewers feeling he has a complete lack of interest in what’s happening on the slopes.
* * *
And now to end on a positive note with this week’s Sports Hall of Honor. It goes to Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr for his comments Wednesday night after the tragic school shooting in Florida.
“Nothing has been done,’’ Kerr said. “It doesn't seem to matter to our government that children are being shot to death day after day in schools. It doesn’t matter that people are being shot at a concert, in a movie theater. It’s not enough, apparently, to move our leadership, our government, people that are running this country, to actually do anything. That’s demoralizing.
“But we can do something about it. We can vote people in who actually have the courage to protect people’s lives and not just bow down to the NRA because they've financed their campaign for them.
“So, hopefully, we’ll find enough people, first of all, to vote good people with courage to help our citizens remain safe and focus on the real safety issues. Not building some stupid wall for billions of dollars that has nothing to do with our safety, but actually protecting us from what truly is dangerous, which is maniacs with semi-automatic weapons just slaughtering our children. It's disgusting.”
Kerr doesn't have to say anything on such a controversial subject, but he's willing to take a stand for what he's feels is right. I applaud him for it. And don’t tell me people in sports should stick to sports. They have the right to speak out just like everyone else, but someone of Kerr’s public position can help make a difference.
SEATTLE – When the magic moment came, Dominic Green didn’t have time to think about it. The clock was a tick away from triple zeroes, so all Green could do was let it fly.
As the ball dropped through the net, you probably could hear the crowd erupt from Lake Washington to Elliott Bay. Al Michaels is at the Super Bowl, but “Do You Believe in Miracles?”
Green’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave the Washington Huskies a stunning 78-75 victory over ninth-ranked Arizona, one of the most memorable wins ever on Montlake. Many of the fans in the sellout crowd of 10,000 at Alaska Airlines Arena stormed the court and the celebration began.
“It's emotional,” said UW coach Mike Hopkins. “In life, you fight for these moments. To be a part of it, I’m just so proud of these guys. It means the world to me.”
The victory marked the first time the Huskies have won back-to-back games against ranked opponents in 11 years. UW was 9-22 a year ago and 2-16 in Pac-12 play. The Huskies now are 17-6 overall and 7-3 in the Pac-12. They have beaten two top-10 teams - Arizona at home and Kansas on the road.
And the man who recruited most of these Huskies was there to see it. Lorenzo Romar, who was fired after the 2016-17 season, now is the assistant head coach at Arizona. Romar received a standing ovation when he walked on the floor before the game and a second one when he was introduced to the crowd.
Romar guided the Huskies to six NCAA Tournament bids in his 15 seasons as head coach. The UW fans showed him the respect he deserved. Romar stayed on the court and hugged his former players after the game.
These Huskies could be headed to the NCAA Tournament, one of the most remarkable single-season turnarounds ever in college basketball. Only three times in the last 40 years has a Pac-12 team gone from just two conference wins to the place where the Huskies are now, and the last time was 24 years ago by Stanford.
Saturday’s victory came on an improbable last-second shot that wasn’t how they drew it up. With the game tied at 75-75, UW had the ball with 22 seconds remaining.
Almost everyone in the arena, including the Wildcats, assumed freshman Jaylen Nowell (the Huskies best offensive player) would take the shot. They were right.
Nowell drove down the lane and put up a short jumper, but 7-1 center Deandre Ayton was waiting and easily slapped the shot away. It landed near the UW bench, where Green grabbed it on one bounce and quickly launched it toward the basket.
The buzzer sounded in mid-flight and the shot was nothing but net. Green was tackled by his teammates on the bench, the frenzied crowd headed to the court and the Wildcats were in shock as they walked away.
“I was watching Ayton and the ball came right to me,’’ said Green, who finished with 14 points off the bench. “I knew I had to shoot it quickly. I looked at it and said, ‘Oh, that’s good.’ ’’
UW fans will remember that shot forever, but they probably won’t remember the 3-pointer Green made with 1:23 to go that tied it at 73-73 after Arizona had taken the lead.
The Huskies led 35-28 at the half, but the Wildcats came roaring back and the teams exchanged the lead eight times in the second half, including five times in the final five minutes.
Green’s three will play on the TV highlight reels all week, but the real star of the night for the Huskies was forward Noah Dickerson. At 6-8, Dickerson had to battle all night against two talented 7-footers for Arizona in Ayton and Dusan Ristic.
Dickerson more than held his own, consistently outmuscling the giants in the lane and finishing with 25 points and seven rebounds.
Ayton and Ristic combine for 40 points and 22 boards, but Dickerson’s tenacity down low and his ability to score over them in the paint was the key factor in UW’s victory.
“I would pump fake and put my body on them so they couldn’t jump up and get (his shot),’’ Dickerson said. “And we just kept fighting and showing our resilience.’’
They fought long enough for Green to get his moment to remember on a night no UW fan will ever forget.
“It’s just incredible,’’ Hopkins said. “It was pure mayhem at the end. That’s what makes sports great. These kids believe in themselves. It’s a huge win, but I always tell them, we have to stay humble, hungry and wise.”
My unfiltered insights on our world.