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The Realistic and Absurd Oscar Nominations We Want

Ringer staffers explore the films and performances they want to see recognized at this year’s Academy Awards

Elara Pictures/Annapurna Pictures/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Awards season is in full swing, and on Tuesday this year’s Oscar nominations will be announced. But the past year in film has not lent itself to awards front-runners. So there seemed no better time for The Ringer’s movie lovers to let their imaginations run wild. Here are the totally reasonable and completely ridiculous nominations we want from the academy:


Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread, Best Actress

Sean Fennessey: What’s the right absurd, overworked metaphor here? Is it, A lamb enters a lion’s den? Lauri Markkanen tries to posterize Draymond Green? Luxembourg colonizes England?

This is the effect that the little-known actress Vicky Krieps has on Phantom Thread, a film in which she is asked to face down Daniel Day-Lewis, he of the Method and the madness and the three Oscars, and to emerge stronger than before. Krieps comes out on top, giving a performance that is vivacious, wounded, delicate, desperate, cunning, and charming. Alma Elson encounters the meticulous designer Reynolds Woodcock at a country inn where she’s working as a waitress. Their meet-cute is one of the most enchanting moments in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s career, capturing Krieps and Day-Lewis’s first-ever meeting, a trick designed by Day-Lewis and Anderson to capture that tangible What have we here … quality that comes when encountering a compelling stranger for the first time. There is an invisible tractor beam pulling them together.

But Krieps has the harder job, and the less specific part as the outsider intruding into the established world of Woodcock’s design. And she is remarkable in the face of Day-Lewis’s finicky onslaught and Anderson’s slow-revealing story. She also has so many good lines of dialogue, delivered with the right measure of longing or confusion or tenacity, that have been wedged into the crevasses of my brain.

“I live here.”

“… waiting for you to get rid of me.”

“It’s not about asparagus.”

“All your rules and your walls and your doors and your people and your money and all these clothes and everything … this, this, this game, everything here — pffft — nothing is normal or natural. Everything is a game! Yes, mister, no, madam, yes [mocking gibberish words]. I don’t eat this, I don’t drink that!

And then …

“You’re not going to die. You might wish you’re going to die, but you’re not going to.”

Krieps has hardly cracked the Oscar conversation, and that makes me wish I am going to die.

Betty Gabriel, Get Out, Best Supporting Actress

Shea Serrano: It’s unlikely that Betty Gabriel, who played the housekeeper (who ended up being so much more) in Get Out, will get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She has only a handful of minutes on screen, and an even smaller number of lines, after all. But what she does — the way that she’s able to coil up all of the different emotions required for her to be everything she needs to be — is unmatchable. I mean, just consider this: She was, in a sense, one person who was pretending to be another person who was pretending to be another person who was still, at her core, supposed to be that second person (and I’m being careful here with the language because I do not want to spoil any of the movie for anyone who has not seen it). She was mysterious, mischievous, malevolent, and masterful (and a whole bunch of other adjectives that do not begin with m, for that matter). Give Betty Gabriel her Oscar nomination. And more than that: give Betty Gabriel her Oscar.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Best Visual Effects

Miles Surrey: The Best Visual Effects award at the Oscars is the most accessible category for the casual viewer, because Oscar-nominated visual effects typically translate to huge blockbuster films watched by tons of people (see, for example, The Jungle Book in 2016 and Interstellar in 2014). Which is why I want to see an obscenely expensive movie that nobody in America watched and was blamed by its own production company for the company’s financial struggles to be nominated — and, lord willing, win.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets deserves to be nominated. It’s a glorious visual spectacle rivaling Avatar at its peak — but writer-director Luc Besson just forgot to, you know, create a plot to surround the film’s sights. Perhaps with Oscar exposure, people will discover the forgotten, guilty pleasure of summer 2017; a $180 million movie in which Rihanna is a shape-shifting alien stripper named “Bubble,” Ethan Hawke is a character named “Jolly the Pimp,” and Dane DeHaan gives the world’s worst Han Solo impression.

Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049, Best Cinematography

Micah Peters: Even now I can’t really recall the plot from Blade Runner 2049 — I mean, I can, but exactly why Ryan Gosling was striding purposefully through the fog, or the dusty radioactive haze, or the snow, seems secondary to how cool everything looked. So 2049 wasn’t as successful as Denis Villeneuve might have hoped. It’s also difficult to know what he expected while producing a direct sequel to a cult film that had come out 35 years earlier. Maybe the plot lagged in places, maybe there were things that could have been done better — or not at all — but what we can all be absolutely sure of is that Roger Deakins had Villeneuve’s face all the way scrunched up reviewing shots in post.

There’s a scene in the third act when Gosling’s K realizes — and this is right after learning that he’s not special or functionally different from any other replicant — that These Jois for Everybody. And he stands there in the rain, in the pale purple light of a sex-toy billboard, learning in the most painful way possible that life has no meaning, save for the meaning you ascribe to it. I think about it all the time.

Ryan Gosling standing in purple light in the rain with a bandage on his nose Columbia Pictures

I can’t think of another movie I’ve seen in my short and apparently insignificant life that equally rewards a big-screen viewing. Also, Deakins has held us down for countless summers. Give the man his props.

Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name (not Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World), Best Supporting Actor

Amanda Dobbins: The Sound of Music is an essential film, and I cried in Beginners just like everyone else. Let’s end it there. Christopher Plummer is a terrific actor, but an All the Money in the World nomination would not be about him, and we do not need a nomination rewarding Sony and Ridley Scott for correcting the casting mistake they made in the first place. And we definitely do not need Plummer taking a nomination away from Armie Hammer and/or Michael Stuhlbarg. I’ve got a theory that if you didn’t totally “get” Call Me by Your Name, you’re rooting for Stuhlbarg, and if you connected to the movie before the recap monologue, you’re Team Armie. That may or may not be influenced by my fascination with Armie Hammer and his tiny shorts, but the point is: Both deserve a spot before the Plummer stunt. And we deserve another six weeks of Armie Season.

Robert Pattinson, Good Time, Best Actor

Andrew Gruttadaro: The last we see of Robert Pattinson in Good Time is through the cage that separates the front and back seats of an NYPD squad car. As Oneohtrix Point Never’s nauseatingly unrelenting score churns into its denouement, the Safdie brothers’ camera stays transfixed on Pattinson for a full minute, slowly zooming in until the cage’s grid is no longer visible. In that minute, in which you’re forced to stare at Pattinson — not that you’d wanna look away — he’s incredible. His face betrays shock and bewilderment, but also, after his character, Connie Nikas, spent the entire movie treating people as nothing more than slabs of meat who might be able to get him what he wants, Pattinson’s face expresses failure, recognition, shame, and for the first time in the film, acceptance.

Robert Pattison sitting in the back of an NYPD squad car Elara Pictures

We could also talk about the rest of Pattinson’s kinetic, singular performance as Connie. We could talk about how he’s tasked to carry Good Time, and how he does so without question; how he somehow earns empathy from the audience, despite committing unspeakable sins; how he’s really funny in the movie; how his performance erases all thoughts of Edward Cullen within seconds. We could do all that, but honestly? That moment in the car alone is enough to warrant Pattinson a Best Actor nomination.

Okja, Best Picture

Kate Knibbs: I want Okja to get nominated for Best Picture because it was one of the wildest, most original and beautiful movies I saw last year, and it’s not getting the respect it deserves. Like, The Post is fine and made me feel good about Journalism, but it’s a paint-by-numbers prestige-grabber. Okja is a deranged vegan morality play with a lovable dystopian future-pig shooting cute poop out its butt and Jake Gyllenhaal doing the most anyone has ever done onscreen, ever. It was zany and funny and sad, and it should be rewarded with attention.

Sufjan Stevens, Call Me by Your Name, Best Original Song

Lindsay Zoladz: I don’t even need him to win. I just need, from the bottom of my heart, for Sufjan Stevens to have his Elliott Smith moment at the Oscars. (Smith, of course, enacted the purest moment in the history of broadcast TV when he stood on stage alone in a white suit and sang an aching rendition of “Miss Misery” at the 1998 Academy Awards, right after Celine Dion had belted out “My Heart Will Go On” and right before she took home her inevitable trophy for Best Original Song. The ’90s were weird.) Positioned among what I assume will be several songs about how hard it is to be P.T. Barnum, a Sufjan Oscar performance would be an artful pause in the pizzazz, and a welcome opportunity for us all to cry like Timothée Chalamet in the closing shot of Call Me by Your Name. (I cried a little bit just now, typing the phrase “the closing shot of Call Me by Your Name.”) The biggest obstacle standing between Sufjan and an Oscar nomination is the fact that he might split his own vote, since both of the songs he wrote for Call Me by Your Name have been shortlisted, and both of them are equally gorgeous. I’d have to give the edge over “Mystery of Love,” though, to the sparse and heartbreaking “Visions of Gideon.” If any Oscar producers are reading this, please do not overarrange Sufjan’s performance. I just want him, a mic stand, a flickering fire, and Timothée Chalamet standing behind him, crying in real time as the camera slowly zooms in on his angelic face. And hey, while I’m making demands, I have one more: Give Timmy his goddamn Oscar, too.

Michael Stuhlbarg, Character Actor Who Just Had a Really Good Year

Kate Halliwell: There isn’t an Oscar (yet) for Character Actor Who Just Had a Really Good Year, but if there were, Stuhlbarg would be 2017’s clear winner. With supporting turns in three movies likely to end up on the Best Picture slate, he succeeds Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monáe, and Tom Hardy as this year’s cast-hopper. Stuhlbarg either skipped or kept a low profile at the Golden Globes this year, so we missed out on the potential table-related drama: Which cast would he have sat with? Would he have ditched Armie and Timothée halfway through the show as multiple wins for The Shape of Water lured him to GDT’s cuddly side? We’ll never know. But since there’s no Oscar for doing The Most, I turn my hopes to Stuhlbarg’s performance in Call Me by Your Name, namely his full-body-sob-inducing final monologue. Odds of Stuhlbarg getting a nod seem optimistic at the moment, but I’m prepared for disappointment come nominations day. At least he’s guaranteed to be at the Oscars either way — and no hate to Michael Shannon, but the obvious seating choice lies in The Post’s section, right between Meryl and Hanks.