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.