MoviefiedNYC’s 2018 Oscar Predictions: Who will Win and SHOULD win!

This weekend, the 90th Academy Awards will be held and Hollywood will bestow its highest honor to a deserving few. If you are going to an Oscar party and haven’t had time to see all of the nominated films, fear not, the MoviefiedNYC team has done all of the leg work for you. Managing Editors John David West and Myrna Duarte share their predictions along with Award Season Guru Ariadne Ansbro and Eddie Mouradian cinephile MoviefiefiedNYC contributor. Below are our picks for who will win and which of the nominees should win.

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Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, 
The Post, The Shape of Water, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Picture:

Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, 
The Post, The Shape of Water, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Ari: Who will Win: This is really a toss-up.  The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri have collectively picked up all of the pre-Oscar awards, and split them almost evenly.  I am going to say that ultimately, the fishman will steal the show and The Shape of Water will be the big winner.   Who Should Win: The film that really impressed me the most this year was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.  This film could have been very depressing a la Rabbit Hole, but it wasn’t.  It actually ended on a positive note, which was refreshing.

David: Who will Win: The Shape of Water.  Who Should Win: The Shape of Water with a Dunkirk chaser! I would love to see a Dunkirk upset.

Eddie: Who will Win: Smart money is on Three Billboards because we live in a world where racists get a redemption arc or The Shape of Water because #FishmanSex (and it’s beautiful). But I’ve never been smart of had money so I’m calling for a Get Out upset.  Who Should Win: It’s a great year for movies when the best Steven Spielberg film in years is basically given a consolation prize. Lady Bird and  Call Me By Your Name spoke to the anguished teen inside me, but no movie–maybe ever–has made me think more than Get Out.

Myrna: Who will Win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and I don’t understand why. Who Should Win: The Shape of Water, a beautiful haunting political fairytale, but wouldn’t it be great to have a real upset and have the un-nominated Florida Project win.

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The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan, Get Out, Jordan Peele,
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig, Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson

Best Director:

Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro

Ari: Who will Win: The Mexican and Spanish directors have been cleaning up in recent years.  Welcome to their ranks, Guillermo del Toro.  Who Should Win: I would really be happy if any of them would win.  They all did a phenomenal job.

David: Who will Win and should win: Guillermo del Toro  for the The Shape of Water. Would love to see Christopher Nolan, or Paul Thomas Anderson, or Jordan Peele win as well. 

Eddie: Who will Win: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water has this locked up. And it’s well-deserved and about time.   Who Should Win: Sorry folks, but Christopher Nolan‘s direction of the oddly forgotten Dunkirk was next level.

Myrna: Who will Win and Should Win: The Shape of WaterGuillermo del Toro, there are few directors that can take you into their dreams. The only upset I could live with is Jordan Peele for Get Out.

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Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour, Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread, Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name, Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out, Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq

Best Actor:

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Ari: Who will Win: This is Gary Oldman’s year.  The only way he does not walk out of there with an Oscar is if Timothée Chalamet runs up on stage, steels it, and runs away.  Who Should Win: While it may be passe, I really enjoyed Oldman’s performance in Darkest Hour.  The film was very meh, but he elevated it and truly disappeared inside of Churchill.

David: Who will Win and should win: Gary Oldman in the Darkest Hour. It’s his to lose. If they’re running of time, Oscar telecast could just skip this category and have Emma Stone deliver the Oscar to his seat in the front row. Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name is a very close second.

Eddie: Who will Win:  Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour. I assume the space is already on his shelf. Who Should Win: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name was revelatory and shouldn’t be denied his Oscar just because he’ll surely have other opportunities in the future.

Myrna: Who will Win and Should Win: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour though I am concerned with all the brouhaha about Phantom Thread being Day-Lewis’s last film that he could steal the award from Oldman.

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Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water, Margot Robbie, I, Tonya, Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird, Meryl Streep, The Post

Best Actress: 

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

Ari: Who will Win: Frances McDormand is about to become a two-time Academy Award winner.  Who Should Win: I will probably be hanged for this, but Meryl StreepHer portrayal of Katherine Graham was filled with so many layers.  Her inner conflict and trepidation were palpable.

David: Who will Win: Frances McDormand  Who Should Win: Margot Robbie, I, Tonya. Oh, and where is Annette Bening’s name on this list? She was a bit more deserving for her performance in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool than a few of the other nominees this year–but I’m on team Robbie.

Eddie: Who will Win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri will deservedly join an elite group of double Best Actress winners.  Who Should Win: I’m not mad that Franny is going to win her second Oscar, but Meryl Streep in The Post though…

Myrna:  Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I love Frances McDormand but I don’t think this is an award-winning role for her. Who Should Win: Margot Robbie in I, Tonya truly disappears into the role of Tonya Harding.

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Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriWillem Dafoe, The Florida Project, 
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water,
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World

Best Supporting Actor:

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

Ari: Who will Win: This is Sam Rockwell’s year.  From the minute I saw Three Billboards, I knew that he would be the one to beat come Oscar season.  Who Should Win: Sam Rockwell.  I know that my fellow writers all think there were some writing flaws to his character, but I disagree.  He was just great in a great role.

David: Who will and Should Win: Sam Rockwell, despite some script problems, Rockwell rises above the material and delivers a killer performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Eddie: Who will Win:  Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Who Should Win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri–it’ s not his fault his character has a weirdly problematic and completely unearned redemption arc.

Myrna: Who will Win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Who Should Win: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project a film that deserved more nominations than it received.

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Allison Janney, I, Tonya, Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird, Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread, 
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water, Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Best Supporting Actress:

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Ari: Who will and should win: Allison Janney for her role as the tough as nails mother of figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya.  Janney’s film work has been as exceptional as her television work and it is about damn time she was recognized. The bird deserves an award, too.

David: Who will and should Win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya. She killed, she owned it, she rocked–give Janney the prize!  HOWEVER, I would LOVE to see Lesley Manville win!

Eddie: Who will Win:  Allison Janney, I, Tonya – great performance, even greater bird. Who Should Win: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird gave my favorite performance of the year.

Myrna: Who will Win and Should Win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

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Best Adapted Screenplay: 

Call Me By Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees 

Ari: Who will Win: James Ivory (of Merchant-Ivory fame) will pick up his first Oscar for his adaptation of André  Aciman’s pretentious novel, Call Me By Your Name  Who Should Win: Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game should win for anything he ever does.  His writing is always head and shoulders above anyone else’s.

David: Who will and Should Win: Call Me By Your Name, James Ivory. After three previous nominations, this is his time.

Eddie: Who will Win:  Call My By Your Name, James Ivory  Who Should Win: Despite the protests of the comic book nerd and West Wing fan inside me, Call My By Your Name, James Ivory.

Myrna: Who will Win: Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin Who Should Win: The script for Logan by Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green brings us the emotional and character-driven Wolverine film we have all been waiting for.  

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The Big Sick

Best Original Screenplay:

The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh 

Ari: Who will Win:  This is another close category.  Martin McDonagh has been receiving accolades for his script of Three Billboards and since he did not receive a directing nomination, this may be his conciliation prize. However, I would have to give the edge to Jordan Peele for his truly innovative and original script for Get Out. Who Should Win: The Big Sick was the best film that I saw this year.  Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani crafted a brilliant script out of the story of how they fell in love.

David: Who will Win: Get Out, Jordan Peele, this is an opportunity to give best the picture nominee Get Out an award.  Who Should Win:  Get Out, Jordan Peele or even The Big Sick, but certainly not Martin McDonagh clunky Billboards.

Eddie: Who will Win:  Get Out, Jordan Peele  Who Should Win: Toughest category of the night: Get Out couldn’t be more relevant, hilarious, frightening and eye-opening, but with Lady BirdGreta Gerwig redefined herself and spoke to the teenage girl living inside all of us.

Myrna: Who will Win: Get Out, Jordan Peele for a film that defines our time.
Who Should Win: The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon, and Kumail Nanjiani for a film that defines our heart.

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Coco, The Boss Baby, Ferdinand, The Breadwinner, Loving Vincent

Best Animated Feature:

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent

Ari: Who will Win: Never bet against Pixar.  Coco for the win. Who Should Win: Loving Vincent was one of the most visually stunning films I have ever seen.  I would give it to that.

David: Who will and Should Win: Coco. The Breadwinner was a powerful and captivating work but I have to go with Coco.

Eddie: Who will Win & Should Win: Coco, because Pixar.

Myrna: Who will Win and Should Win: Coco, a joyous and stunning tribute to family and culture.

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Garden Par

Best Animated Short:

Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhyme

Ari: Who will Win: Even though it was the weakest of the shorts, it will probably go to Dear Basketball.  Everybody loves Kobe Bryant.  Who Should Win: Revolting Rhymes

David: Who will Win: Dear Basketball. The weakest of the group but the cool factor of Kobe Bryant winning, plus a score by John Williams may be too hard to resist for Academy voters. Who Should Win: Garden Party appealed to my darker taste but Revolting Rhymes might be the best of a strong group.

Myrna: I am sad to say I missed the shorts this year

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Best Cinematography:

Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Ari: Who will Win:  The Shape of Water was tailor made for this category.  Welcome to the Winners Circle Dan Laustsen. Who Should Win: I was really taken with the photography of MudboundRachel Morrison really captured the feeling of a post WWII Mississippi farm.

David: Who will Win: Dan Laustsen, The Shape of Water  Who Should Win: Blade Runner 2049.

Eddie: Who will Win:  This will be the test to see how deep into The Shape of Water the Academy is. I think Dan Laustsen takes it for that visually sumptuous film. Who Should Win: I’m not mad at a The Shape of Water win, but did you see Blade Runner 2049? It was too beautiful to comprehend.

Myrna: Who will Win: Dan Laustsen for capturing the gritty beauty of fantastical film The Shape of Water   Who Should Win: The 14-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins for the stunning Blade Runner 2049 and so many other films.

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Phantom Thread

Best Costume Design 

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria & Abdul

Ari: Who will and should Win: Phantom Thread no contest.  Dresses in the style of Charles James? I am so on board.

David: Who will and should win: Phantom Thread

Eddie: Who will Win: I think this is where Phantom Thread picks up a win. It’s about clothes! (Well, not really.)  Who Should Win: Phantom Thread. 

Myrna: Who will Win and Who Should Win: Luis Sequeira for The Shape of Water. ‘Make it like a George Clooney of fish-men!’ – Guillermo del Toro

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Faces Places

 Best Documentary:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Last Man in Aleppo
Strong Island 

Ari: Who will Win: Faces Places was a lighter film with beautiful imagery. I think it will probably get the award.  Who Should Win: Yance Ford’s Strong Island was a brilliant depiction of injustice and racism in what is supposed to be a progressive place.

David: Who will and Should Win: Faces Places is unforgettable for finding the extraordinary beauty in ordinary people. It will be a treat to see Agnès Varda, the mother of the French New Wave win an Oscar.

Eddie: Who will Win: Faces Places  Who Should Win: Last Man in Aleppo

Myrna: A difficult category but Faces Places will and should win. I am still haunted by the beautiful imagery of this documentary.  

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Baby Driver

Best Film Editing:

Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Ari: Who will and should Win: Dunkirk. While it annoys me that Christopher Nolan always has to do something weird with time in his films, he does it brilliantly with the help of long-time collaborator Lee Smith.  Not to mention he was robbed of a nomination for Inception.

David: Who will Win: I have a feeling that Baby Driver may be the upset here however, usually the best editing winner is also the best picture winner. So, I’m going with Dunkirk—what? Who Should Win: Baby Driver

Eddie: Who will Win & Should Win: Dunkirk, although the editing of I, Tonya was practically another lead character.

Myrna: Who will Win: Dunkirk for its amazing layering of time.  Who Should Win: Baby Driver for being an action dance piece set to music.

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A Fantastic Woman, Chile

Best Foreign Language Film: 

A Fantastic Woman, Chile
The Insult, Lebanon
Loveless, Russia
On Body and Soul, Hungary
The Square, Sweden

Ari: Who will Win: A Fantastic Woman will probably resonate with Academy voters.  Who Should Win: The Square

David: Who will Win: A Fantastic Woman. Who Should Win: I only saw The Square in this category and I don’t feel this one is strong enough to win.

Eddie: Who will Win & Should Win: The Square. That’s what you get for putting Elisabeth Moss in your movie!

Myrna: Who will Win and Who Should Win: The Square, Sweden 

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Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405

Best Documentary Short: 

Edith and Eddie
Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

Ari: Who will Win: Netflix should pick up its second win in this category for Heroin(e).  Who Should Win: Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405, even though I haven’t seen it, I would give it a win for the name.

David: Who will Win: word on the street (the web) is that this one will go to Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405. 

Myrna: Who will Win: Heroin(e) Who Should Win: Knife Skills a powerful film about second chances.  

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Watu Wote/All of Us 

Best Live Action Short:

DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us 

Ari: Who will Win: DeKalb Elementary, unfortunately, became all too real two weeks ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.   Who Should Win: The Silent Child really brought you into the world of the deaf.

David: Who will Win: DeKalb Elementary is actually the weakest of the group, but I think the subject will resonate with voters. Who Should Win: The Silent Child.

Myrna: This is a hard category, I liked all the nominees but I believe My Nephew Emmett will win but it is  The Silent Child that should win for truly immersing us into the world of a deaf child.

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Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

Darkest Hour
Victoria & Abdul

Ari: Who will and should Win: Darkest Hour for putting Gary Oldman in a fat suit.

David: Who will and should win: Darkest HourGary Oldman’s transformation into Winston Churchill by David Malinkowski, Lucy Sibbick, Anita Burger was brilliant.


Eddie: Who will Win & Should Win: Darkest Hour. Don’t even talk to me about Wonder.

Myrna: Darkest Hour will win but I, Tonya should win. 

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Original Score: 

Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Ari: Who will Win: Alexandre Desplat has been pulling in all of the pre-Oscar awards.  I would expect him to take home the gold for The Shape of Water.  Who Should Win: Hans Zimmer did a truly incredible job with this work on Dunkirk.

David: Who will Win: The Shape of Water.  Who Should Win: This was a strong year for movie scores. I loved Jonny Greenwood’s score for Phantom Thread, it complements the lush visual textures of the film, but I have to go with Hans Zimmer’s score for Dunkirk, it was essential to the film.

Eddie: Who will & Should Win: Dunkirk because it’s the only score that defined the movie.

Myrna: Alexandre Desplat for The Shape of Water will win, deservedly so but the sonic wonder of Dunkirk could come in as an upset.  

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“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman

Best Original Song: 

“Mighty River,” Mudbound
“Mystery of Love,” Call Me By Your Name
“Remember Me,” Coco
“Stand Up For Something,” Marshall
“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman

Ari: Who will Win: “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman since it is so hummable.   Who Should Win: “Remember Me” from Coco.  I have loved Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez since Avenue Q.

David: Who will Win: “Remember Me,” Coco.  Who Should Win: “Mystery of Love,” Call Me By Your Name.

Eddie: Who will Win:  “Remember Me” Coco. Who Should Win: I’m actually humming “This Is Me” right now.

Myrna: “This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman will win, the Academy loves a good anthem but it’s “Remember Me,”Coco that has my heart.

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The Shape of Water

Best Production Design: 

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Ari: Who will and should Win: The Shape of Water was so visually stunning for both its cinematography and its production design.  This one should take home the prize.

David: Who will Win: The Shape of Water  Who Should Win: The Shape of Water

Eddie: Who will Win & Should Win: The production of The Shape of Water was almost too beautiful.

Myrna: The Shape of Water will win and should win. Guillermo del Toro’s and Paul Austerberry’s visual storytelling take us to a dreamy, romantic, fantastical world I never want to leave.

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Best Sound Editing: 

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Ari: Who will and should Win: Dunkirk¸ full stop.

David: Who will and Should Win: Dunkirk 


Eddie: Who will Win & Should Win:I couldn’t imagine a movie more deserving than Baby Driver… until I saw Dunkirk.

Myrna: Dunkirk will win but I am voting for Blade Runner 2049 and it’s wonderful use of silence.

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Baby Driver

Best Sound Mixing: 

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Ari: Who will and should Win: See above

David: Who will Win:   Who Should Win:

Eddie: Who will Win & Should Win: Please see my above answer for film editing. Dunkirk.

Myrna: Dunkirk will win and it would be totally deserving but there was some special kind of magic going on in Baby Driver.

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Blade Runner 2049

Best Visual Effects:

Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Ari: Who will Win: I am going to go out on a limb and say Blade Runner 2049 will pick up this award, but I would not be surprised if War for the Planet of the Apes is victorious. Who Should Win: Blade Runner 2049

David: Who will Win: This one will go to the amazing motion capture performances of War for the Planet of the Apes. Who Should Win: I loved Blade Runner but I think the Apes have it.

Eddie: Who will Win:  The sheer number of below-the-line nominations Blade Runner 2049 has received shows The Academy’s appreciation for the technical marvel. This will be a category where that appreciation pays off.  Who Should Win: Is it crazy to say that sadly forgotten Kong: Skull Island?

Myrna: War for the Planet of the Apes the last film in the trilogy will win but it really belongs to Blade Runner 2049 with the Best Cinematography award for Roger Deakins.


The 90th Academy Awards will be announced on Sunday, March 4 on ABC. Join MoviefiedNYC for live streaming at @MoviefiedNYC


The 52nd New York Film Festival Daily Still – Eden

The 52nd New York Film Festival (NYFF) has opened with 17 days of exciting world premieres, award winners from Cannes, Berlin, and Venice, retrospective screenings, spotlights on emerging filmmakers, panels, galas and much more! Join us here MoviefiedNYC, as we bring you our daily selection of the one film playing today that we think you shouldn’t miss. Happy NYFF!


Mia Hansen-Løve, 2014
France | Format: DCP | 131 minutes

U.S. Premiere

Q&A with director Mia Hansen-Løve, writer Sven Hansen-Løve, and actor Felix De Givry at both screenings, actress Greta Gerwig on October 5

Mia Hansen-Løve’s fourth feature is a rare achievement: an epically scaled work built on the purely ephemeral, breathlessly floating along on currents of feeling. Eden is based on the experiences of Hansen-Løve’s brother (and co-writer) Sven, who was one of the pioneering DJs of the French rave scene in the early 1990s. Paul (Félix de Givry) and his friends, including Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (otherwise known as Daft Punk), see visions of ecstasy in garage music—as their raves become more and more popular, they experience a grand democracy of pure bliss extending into infinity, only to dematerialize on contact with changing times and the demands of everyday life. Hansen-Løve’s film plays in the mind as a swirl of beautiful faces and bodies, impulsive movements, rushes of cascading light and color (she worked with a great cameraman, Denis Lenoir), and music, music, and more music. Eden is a film that moves with the heartbeat of youth, always one thought or emotion ahead of itself.

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Series: NYFF52 Main Slate

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Four Movies I Can’t Believe We’re Not Talking About

There were a lot of people who were expecting to have a very good morning when Oscar nominations were announced on January 16th. Cate Blanchett, slept well; she was going to the Oscars! My fellow bloggers were learning how to spell, Chiwetel Ejiofor, because he was getting an Oscar nomination! If you worked on the movie Gravity, you were already discussing your pressing tux issues and meeting with designers, because the Academy Awards were gonna come a callin’.

Every year there are disappointments, exclusions and snubs of such magnitude that they make you forget that there are real travesties happening in the world. You think you’ve got problems child in a Third World country without clean water? Tom Hanks didn’t get nominated for ANYTHING. True, Brie Larson was always going to get overlooked for her work in Short Term 12, and Robert Redford got left out of the overly competitive Best Actor race for All Is Lost. But the key thing is: at least we were talking about those movies. Those performances are all part of the conversation—their merits will be debated through the Oscar season and beyond.

What I’m talking about here are movies that were not even in consideration. Films and performances that were not just overlooked, they were not even on the tip of anyone’s tongue. These are performances that were too subtle to get noticed  or films that underperformed or movies that just couldn’t keep up with the Weinsteins’. These are four movies I can’t believe we’re not talking about this award season.

Should’ve been part of the conversation for: Best Picture, Best Director (Denis Villeneuve), Best Actor (Hugh Jackman), Best Supporting Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal), Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo, Viola Davis), Best Original Screenplay (Aaron Guzikowski)
Prisoners is a taut, complex, morally-complicated revenge-thriller that isn’t easy to watch and even harder to like. Spoiler alert 1: It’s a major downer. But it’s good. So-so good. Hugh Jackman leads a stellar cast as Keller Dover, a recovering alcoholic father who will go to extraordinary lengths to get the truth about his daughter’s disappearance.  When I say extraordinary lengths, I don’t mean mounting a search party—I mean torturing the mentally ill, prime suspect (creepy Paul Dano) he suspects is hiding something. Spoiler alert 2: He is! Spoiler alert 3: Twist! It’s not what you think! The shocks are ongoing, the resolutions are not easy,  and you don’t ever know whom you’re supposed to be rooting for.What. A. Whirlwind. 
Last year, Jackman earned his first-ever Oscar nomination for his work in Les Misérables—he’s even better here in a significantly better movie. As the skeptical, determined Detective Loki, Gyllenhaal gives the best performance of his career. You know, a lot of talk has been made about Matthew McConaughey’s career resurgence as a character actor, but it seems no one has noticed that Jake Gyllenhaal has been delivering staggering performances these last couple of years in smaller films (End of Watch and Source Code) which Prisoners all but ignored. The key is although your loyalties switch throughout the film, even when you don’t like Loki, you still respect him. The cast is rounded out by Maria Bello as Jackman’s grief-stricken wife, Terrence Howard and Viola Davis as a couple whose daughter is taken along with Jackman’s, and Melissa Leo as Dano’s aunt. Davis, as expected, makes much of her small role and is heartbreaking. The film rests on Melissa Leo’s ability to sell the punch line in the last act of the film—she nails it. In the end, the film belongs to director Denis Villeneuve, who makes his English language debut with unwavering confidence, handling the complicated subject matter with ease.

Don Jon

Should be part of the conversation for: Best Original Screenplay (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Best Supporting Actress (Scarlett Johansson)
Has anyone else noticed that this will be the third consecutive fall that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be in a fantastic, original film that will be totally forgotten come Oscar time? Last year it was Looper, which was the best kind of mind-bending mind-bender, and the year before 50/50, one of the best depictions of a cancer battle ever filmed (not to mention adult relationships between mothers and sons and a bromance for the ages). There was also Premium Rush, but no one’s perfect. Now it’s time to sigh a big sigh of disappointment, knowing that JGL will once again not hear his movie make the short list.
Don Jon tells the achingly current story of Gumba Jon, who is so good with the ladies his buddies give him the eponymous nickname. Jon’s only problem is that no matter how much talent he pulls night after night, all he wants is to spend time with, err, himself, his laptop and loads of porn. I believe this is called a champagne problem. He tries to quit his porn addiction when he meets Barbara Sugarman, who has her own sick addiction: the kind of love that only exists in terrible romantic comedies. She’s played by Scarlett Johansson; so a lifetime of sitting through Valentine’s Day or Leap Year seems worth it.
The script is sharp, funny, touching and incisive. Most of all—it’s refreshingly original, and that’s all thanks to Gordon-Levitt, who wrote the screenplay and made his directorial debut. Even if the screenplay wasn’t so rewarding, you’d almost want to nominate him just to keep artists like him inspired. But it is worth it, so that point is moot.
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The cast is fantastic, and it’s a neat bit of nostalgia when you realize that Gordon-Levitt cast Tony Danza, his co-star from Angels in the Outfield, as his hothead dad. Also, Brie Larson gives one of my favorite performances of the year—if there was an Oscar for the best three-sentence performance she would be a shoo-in. All that being said, the film belongs to Scarlett Johansson. Already generating Oscar buzz for her voice-only role in Her, Johansson gamely uses her entire presence to make Barbara the kind of girl (yes, girl) that could make a guy like “Don” Jon convince himself that he loves her—all while feeding into her own deluded view of what love and relationships are. If you’re from the NYC area, you instantly recognize Barbara as someone you’ve met/dated/hooked up with/worked with/sat next to on the bus. However, the real beauty of the performance is that regardless of where you’re from, once you take away the accent and the big hair, Johannson makes Barbara Sugarman just as recognizable as someone anyone would know.

The Way, Way Back

Should be part of the conversation for: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell, Steve Carrell), Best Original Screenplay (Jim Rash and Nat Faxon)

This movie made a big splash at the Sundance Film Festival last year and was supposed to be the next Little Miss Sunshine. (Are we still looking for the next Little Miss Sunshine? It’s like saying you’re trying to launch the next Napster.) Instead it entered theaters, made a bit of money and faded away without any real momentum to push it towards the award season glory it deserved. And what a shame.
The story is simple: shy kid Duncan (Liam James) spends summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her jerk of a boyfriend (Steve Carrell). Kid finds surrogate family with wacky employees at local water park. Growing, hugs and coming of age ensues.  In the wrong hands, this could’ve been a cloying nightmare of a film—too precious by half. But in the deft hands of Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, who co-star, write, and make their directorial debut, the movie is funny and unexpectedly powerful in its depiction of adolescence. It is the rare film that can make you feel like you are pulling back the curtain and getting a glimpse into a very specific moment in someone’s life. Rash and Faxon, dialing into their own teenage years, prove their Academy Award win for The Descendants was no fluke.
Furthermore, Sam Rockwell, an underrated actor whom I have never been as enamored with as others, is pitch-perfect as Owen, the man-child owner of the water park who takes a lost Duncan under his wing. The script spins a refreshing take on the Bill Murray character from Meatballs-meets-Robin Williams-from Good Will Hunting, but the mischievous twinkle in Rockwell’s eye sells it. On the other end of that spectrum, Carrell is shockingly unlikable as Trent, whom we are introduced to by seeing him ask Duncan to rate himself. “I think you’re a 3.” Ouch, dude. Carrell does a lot with this character and resists the urge to make Trent even remotely likable. That takes guts from a guy who is most famous for making Michael Scott the World’s Best Worst Boss.
Frances Ha

Should be talked about for: Best Picture, Best Director (Noah Baumbach), Best Actress (Greta Gerwig), Best Original Screenplay (Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig)
I loved this movie. Loved. Sure, it may have been written-off as a big screen version of the polarizing vortex that is Girls (HBO series—it even co-stars Adam Driver!), but maybe that’s not so bad. In fact, the perfect summation of the film is pretty much this Hannah Horvath quote: “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance…” That’s the start of the story for Frances (a sublime Greta Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner)two BFFs in their twenties in a very  brooklynee Brooklyn. Frances is in a perpetual state of being in her twenties—she’s a “New Yorker,” but she doesn’t really have any money or a stable place to live. She’s an apprentice at a dance company, but she doesn’t have the goods to be a dancer. She’s fascinating, because she’s absolutely lost, and has no idea about it. Until, of course, Sophie starts showing signs of growing up, and the two begin to grow apart.
The film, directed in crisp, perfect black and white by Noah Baumbach, never makes the pain of Frances and Sophie’s distance seem juvenile or immature, even when Frances is the most immature person on the screen. To Frances, her friendship with Sophie is coming to an end, just because Sophie has decided to put roots down with a solid, but not spectacular guy. As the audience watches, we know these two aren’t growing apart, they’re growing up and entering an even better phase of their friendship. The film never panders to Frances. The obvious truths of the film are due, in large part, to Gerwig’s performance as Frances. Frustrating, funny, flawed and fearless, Gerwig has a true star-is-born moment.  The movie feels like footage from a lost, great Woody Allen film. Had it been, maybe we’d be talking about more during award season. 

Eddie Mouradian

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MoviefiedNYC’s BEST OF 2013 SO FAR . . .

We are more than halfway through 2013 and in the middle of the summer blockbuster season. If you are determined to catch up with some of the movies you’ve missed so far this year, here are our recommendations for a few films we (David and Myrna, your beloved MoviefiedNYC founders) think you definitely check out. Don’t forget to click on the movie title to view the trailers.

Best Picture

Side Effects


Bobby Sommer – Museum Hours


Best Performance by an Actor in a Male Role

Matthew McConaughey – Mud


Pilou Asbaek – A Hijacking


Best Performance by an Actor in a Female Role

Greta Gerwig – Francis Ha


Amy Acker


What has been great about this year so far:

The Great Gatsby
  • Jurrasic Park 3Dwith or without 3D still love Speilberg’s dinosaurs. 
  • The design magic of Catherine Martin in The Great Gatsby.
  • V/H/S 2 – A Comedy horror romp!
  • Sound City – I hope Dave Ghrol keeps directing.
  • Glorious Black and White movies (Francis Ha, Much Ado About Nothing)
  • Growing old with Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy. 

What to look forward to in the next

five months:

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    Haiku Review: Francis Ha


    Dancing to her dreams, 

    even as her world dwindles. 

    Greta delivers.
    – MD


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