By T.J. Tranchell
I doubt anyone has forgotten last year’s Best Picture controversy in which “La La Land” was mistakenly announced as the winner only to have the announcement corrected with “Moonlight” being the proper winner. Or have you forgotten so soon?
Personally, I’ve forgotten all the songs from “La La Land” except one. I have a feeling this year’s ceremony will give me something worth remembering. I don’t say that because of the host, or any potential joke fodder out there. As great as it is for me, a horror fan and creator, that “The Shape of Water” and “Get Out” are leading the way, and that a film such as “Logan” can get a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, there is still something missing in the performance categories.
I don’t see an undeserving nomination among the 20 actors and actresses up for awards. The three nominations in these categories from “The Shape of Water” are tops and I grinned like crazy seeing Daniel Kaluuya listed among luminaries such as Daniel Day-Lewis and Gary Oldman. And Frances McDormand is a national treasure. But you know who I don’t see in these groups? Doug Jones and Andy Serkis.
Jones, the creature at the center of “The Shape of Water” has embodied such a variety of beings for years. So maybe his voice gets taken away from him all too often in his film and TV roles — wait? Isn’t that part of the point of the film? Giving a voice the voiceless and letting them show their strengths? Jones’ performance as the creature is beautiful to watch, particularly in his hands. His fingers are glorious. If he doesn’t deserve recognition for this performance, he deserves it for his larger body of work.
Like Jones’ fingers, Serkis’ eyes bring viewers to the emotional depth of his characters. From Gollum and Kong for director Peter Jackson and now three films as the chimpanzee Caesar in the latest “Planet of the Apes” films, Serkis has a way of letting you know there is a human behind the beasts and animals he plays. His third turn as Caesar in “War for the Planet of the Apes” is his heaviest, physically and emotionally. We see the CGI chimp, but Serkis was always there, embodying the simian.
These two actors have been cloaked behind make-up and technology, and I’m sure they would deny the desire for major awards. Jones, I will argue, is the nicest man in show business. They aren’t campaigning for the golden statues that will be handed out on Sunday. I believe, however, that no other actors are more deserving of such recognition this year.
And while you are betting and debating the Best Picture (“Get Out”) and Best Director (Guillermo del Toro, although Jordan Peele shouldn’t feel bad, because he’ll get that other statue), please don’t forget those writing awards (come on “Logan”) and the other technical awards that are the real movie magic. Film editing is crucial to the movies we see, and production design is, literally, all the stuff you see on the screen that isn’t an actor or a costume. Some of these categories are where the movies more people have actually seen reside. Check out the visual effects nominees: “Blade Runner 2049,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Kong: Skull Island,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and “War for the Planet of the Apes.” I can honestly say that is the only category in which I have seen every nominee. Maybe that says something about me and the movies I enjoy and you’ll get no argument from me. But those are also the movies, traditionally, that actors such as Jones and Serkis work in.
And that, also says something about the kind of movies I enjoy.
T.J. Tranchell is an author and freelance journalist from Moscow. Visit him at www.tjtranchell.com or follow him on Twitter @TJ_Tranchell.
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