Everyone wants to be politically correct at the Oscars. So, the Best Actor nominations had two African Americans, one raw newcomer (white), one British veteran and then there was Daniel Day Lewis, giving the performance of his lifetime in Paul Thomas Anderson's delicate lyrical and gloriously luminous Phantom Thread.
This Oscar night was Daniel's judgment day and the jury failed him, choosing to give the best actor award to another veteran, Gary Oldman, for his portrayal of the wily Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour.
Darkest Hour? I wouldn't say. That would've been the scenario if the Oscar had gone to young Daniel Kaluuya for his portrayal of the unsuspecting African American boy who is trapped and lobotomized by his white girlfriend's family in Get Out, an exercise in inveterate absurdity.
A truly stupid plot premise and a film reeking of inverted racism. Somewhere in setting right the race-imbalance Hollywood is seen going overboard in films like Get Out and Black Panther.
The choice of best film The Shape Of Water also left me cold. No doubt a beautifully shot film with a haunting desolate look and feel to it, The Shape Of Water has passages of aching beauty in it. But it eventually looks like King Kong meets ET with the spinster-heroine played feelingly by Sally Hawkins, jumping into the bath tub with her clandestine other-worldly guest for some serious heaving and thumping. The morning after, she is even giggling with her best friend about the experience. And we thought only we guys kissed and told.
No. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, about an incurably angry mother who wants justice (not revenge mind you, this is no Death Wish) for her raped and murdered daughter, is the one that deserved the Oscar for Best Picture. Why? Because its anger at injustice is not only directed at a system that fails to protect its citizens but also at the wronged individual's quiet acceptance of injustice.
Shout when you are wronged, says this gutsy film which has started a movement of billboard protests in the US. What movement can The Shape Of Water hope to start except the one in the bath tub?
Strangely, Martin McDonagh didn't even get nominated for his direction in Three Billboards… Maybe they felt giving the Best Actress to Frances MacDormand and the Best Supporting Actor to Sam Rockwell for Billboards… was honour enough. Don't want to spoil them by overdoing it now, do we?
But was there any justice in ignoring Luca Gudagnino's haunting homage to homosexual love in Call Me By Your Name in all categories except the Best Adapted Screenplay, which went to the 89-year old writer-director James Ivory making him the oldest Oscar winner ever?
Talk about the awards coming of age.
(Subhash K Jha is a film critic and movie expert)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)