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Predictions are in boldface, followed by those which I personally would nominate in italics. As with previous years' lists, for several categories I have NOT provided my own nominations, since frankly I know jack about costumes, sound and so forth, though more and more I try to pay attention to sound in particular. Films that I have listed as my own personal nominations yet which are not actually eligible in those categories are marked with an asterisk.
 
BEST PICTURE
 
(This year, there will be anywhere from five to ten Best Picture nominees, so I will rank them in order of likeliness -- my guess is that there will be eight.)
 
1. Dunkirk
2. Lady Bird
3. Call Me By Your Name
4. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri 
5. The Post
6. The Big Sick
7. The Shape of Water
8. Wind River
9.  Phantom Thread 
10. Darkest Hour
 
1. Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
2. Dunkirk
3. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
4. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
5. Good Time
6. Phantom Thread 
7. Marjorie Prime
8. A Quiet Passion
9. Call Me By Your Name
10. The Florida Project
 

ACTOR
 
Timothee Chalamet - Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread
Tom Hanks - The Post
Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington - Roman J. Israel, Esq.
 
Christian Bale - Hostiles
Jamie Bell - Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Timothee Chalamet - Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread
Robert Pattinson - Good Time
ACTRESS

Judi Dench - Victoria & Abdul
Sally Hawkins - The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand - Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Saoirse Ronan - Lady Bird
Meryl Streep - The Post
 
Annette Bening - Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Frances McDormand - Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Cynthia Nixon - A Quiet Passion
Saoirse Ronan - Lady Bird
Lois Smith - Marjorie Prime

SUPPORTING ACTOR
 
Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project
Armie Hammer - Call Me By Your Name
Richard Jenkins - The Shape of Water
Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Ray Romano - The Big Sick
 
Austin Abrams - Brad’s Status
Ian Hart - God's Own Country*
Barry Keoghan - The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Michael Stuhlbarg - Call Me By Your Name

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
 
Holly Hunter - The Big Sick
Allison Janney - I, Tonya 
Lesley Manville - Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer - The Shape of Water
 
Allison Janney - I, Tonya
Melissa Leo - Novitiate
Lesley Manville - Phantom Thread
Elizabeth Marvel -The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird

DIRECTING
 
Guillermo del Toro - The Shape of Water
Luca Guadagnino - Call Me By Your Name
Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk
Steven Spielberg - The Post
 
Paul Thomas Anderson - Phantom Thread
Joseph Cedar - Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
Luca Guadagnino - Call Me By Your Name
Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk
Ben & Josh Safdie - Good Time

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
 
The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Post
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
 
Brad’s Status
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
 
Call Me By Your Name
Molly’s Game
Mudbound
Victoria & Abdul
Wonderstruck

Call Me By Your Name
The Lego Batman Movie
The Lost City of Z
Marjorie Prime
Mudbound
CINEMATOGRAPHY
 
Blade Runner 2049
Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
 
Blade Runner 2049
Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
The Florida Project
The Lost City of Z

PRODUCTION DESIGN
 
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Wonder Wheel
Wonderstruck
 
All the Money in the World
Blade Runner 2049
Downsizing
The Lost City of Z
Wonderstruck

COSTUME DESIGN
 
Beauty and the Beast
Murder on the Orient Express
Phantom Thread
Victoria & Abdul
Wonderstruck

FILM EDITING
 
Baby Driver
Detroit
Dunkirk
The Post
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, MIssouri
 
Baby Driver
Detroit
Dunkirk
Get Out
Good Time

SOUND EDITING
 
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Detroit
Dunkirk
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

SOUND MIXING
 
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Wonder Woman
ORIGINAL SONG

"Evermore" - Beauty and the Beast
"Mighty River" - Mudbound
"Mystery of Love" - Call Me By Your Name
"Remember Me" - Coco
"Stand Up for Something" - Marshall


"If I Dare" - Battle of the Sexes
"A Little Change in the Weather" - Downsizing
"Mighty River" - Mudbound
"Stand Up for Something" - Marshall
"You Shouldn't Look at Me That Way" - Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

ORIGINAL SCORE
 
The Post - John Williams
The Shape of Water - Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - John Williams
Victoria & Abdul - Thomas Newman
Wonderstruck - Carter Burwell
 
Downsizing - Rolfe Kent
Phantom Thread - Jonny Greenwood
The Post - John Wiliams
Victoria & Abdul - Thomas Newman
War for the Planet of the Apes - Michael Giacchino

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

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Bright
Darkest Hour
Wonder
 
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water*
Wonder

ANIMATED FEATURE
 
The Breadwinner
Coco
Despicable Me 3
Ethel & Ernest
Loving Vincent
 
The Breadwinner
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Coco
Ethel & Ernest
The Lego Batman Movie
And, as always, here are my nominations for a category which doesn't actually exist but damn it, it ought to:
  
TITLE DESIGN
 
The Book of Henry
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
John Wick: Chapter Two
Kong: Skull Island
Wonder Woman
MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2017
 
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Brad’s Status
Dunkirk
Kong: Skull Island
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Okja
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
War for the Planet of the Apes

THE WORST MOVIES OF 2017
 
Baywatch
The Book of Henry
The Bye Bye Man
The Dark Tower
Death Note
Fifty Shades Darker
Friend Request
The Last Face
Transformers: The Last Knight
Two Lovers and a Bear

MY FAVORITE THINGS FROM THE MOVIES OF 2017

The action scenes in Atomic Blonde, Baby Driver and John Wick: Chapter Two.

Allison Janney in I, Tonya -- the film is much more impressive than actually enjoyable (I have a low tolerance for scenes of spousal abuse, and this movie has lots of them), but I have to be grateful for any film that finally gives Janney such a strong chance for an Oscar nomination, and possibly even the statuette itself (if you think of the film as the Whiplash of ice skating, then she is definitely its J.K. Simmons).

The big narrative and tonal shift in Colossal -- it may have doomed its box-office chances, but it made it an infinitely more interesting movie.

Blade Runner 2049 - probably my favorite film of the year (though I might like it even more if it weren't so long), and particularly for the remarkable cinematography of Roger Deakins and production design of Dennis Gassner. I especially enjoyed the critic who wrote, roughly, "this was the first film since Road to Perdition that legitimately made me feel bad for other cinematographers."

Caleb Landry Jones, one of the most distinctive and memorable personalities in contemporary movies, in American Made, The Florida Project, Get Out and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The central visual conceit of David Lowery's A Ghost Story, that Casey Affleck's spirit should appear as an old-style ghost costume of a sheet with holes cut for the eyes -- an idea that shouldn't work but works remarkably well.

Christopher Plummer as two varieties of Scrooge - the one Charles Dickens created in the otherwise borderline-intolerable The Man Who Invented Christmas, and a real-life one in All the Money in the World, in which his last-minute performance is something of a miracle, both because of its quality and because he's in the film a lot.

The continuing trend of actually shooting movies on film instead of "capturing" them digitally, including Dunkirk, The Florida Project, Hostiles, The Lost City of Z, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), Murder on the Orient Express, Phantom Thread, The Post and others surprisingly too numerous to mention.

Dunkirk - so much to recommend, but especially Hoyte van Hoytema's 70mm IMAX cinematography, keeping alive the great old tradition of big screen spectacle.

Elizabeth Marvel in The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) -- as Noah Baumbach is my favorite contemporary film maker, it is impossible for me to be remotely objective about his work, but in this film Marvel is a particular standout, seeming immediately like someone you would know in real life but would never see in a movie (and how many movie characters have such believably boring occupations as "facilities manager at Xerox"?).

The ending of Life -- not a dazzlingly original movie, to say the least, but it is arguably at least as good an Alien movie as this year's actual Alien prequel.

Ezra Miller as The Flash in Justice League -- talented as he is, when I first heard that DC was planning to cast him in a superhero vehicle I was skeptical, to say the least, but now, frankly, I can't wait for that franchise to start.

The final moments of The Post -- by far the weakest of Spielberg's unofficial "American ideals" trilogy (following Lincoln and Bridge of Spies), but I really enjoyed the way the film's ending made it the Rogue One to All the President's Men's A New Hope.
 
Geena Davis in Marjorie Prime, her first substantial movie role in 15 years.
 
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok -- so many things to enjoy in all three, including Kurt Russell's "Ego," Tom Holland's Peter Parker and Taiki Waititi's vocal performance as Korg, but especially the reminder that one of the things that makes the Marvel movies work (when they do work, which is most of the time), is that when they try to be funny, they manage to be funnier than most official "comedies" released in the U.S. these days.

Jackie Chan kicking ass in The Foreigner, because he's Jackie Chan, dammit, and Martin Campbell is probably my favorite "hired hand" director of the last few decades.

Kong: Skull Island -- one of the most purely entertaining films of the year (John C. Reilly's "Skull Crushers" scene is a particular comic highlight), and a huge improvement over the 2014 Godzilla; it makes one actually look forward to new entries in this latest franchise "universe."

Melissa Leo in Novitiate, getting a role worthy of her talent for the first time since her Oscar win for The Fighter -- even if she does have to enact one of my least favorite cliches in contemporary movies, the sweeping-everything-off-your-desk-in-frustration move, the gesticular version of "You just don't get it, do you?"

Michael Fassbender's double role/performance in Alien: Covenant.

Michael Stuhlbarg's big scene at the end of Call Me By Your Name, which made me sob. If Armie Hammer gets nominated instead of Stuhlbarg, I will be unsurprised but still greatly annoyed.

Morgan Freeman in Just Getting Started -- hardly the best showcase for his talents, and not exactly a return to form for Bull Durham writer-director Ron Shelton, but at a time when Freeman's performances have threatened to open a gravitas hole in the fabric of the universe, it's a rare treat to see him be loose and goofy.

My Friend Dahmer's evocation of teenage life in the late 1970s, which seemed eerily true to my memory of the period, and its especially convincing teen characters (played by Alex Wolff, Tommy Nelson, Harrison Holzer, and Ross Lynch as Dahmer). Sheri Linden's Hollywood Reporter review had perhaps the best take on the film as a whole: "it's not the ghastliness of the story that grabs hold of you and won't let go -- it's the soul-crushing sadness."

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer -- so good, and virtually no one saw it.

The opening credits sequence of the theatrical version of Errol Morris' Wormwood -- would that the rest of the intermission-less 240 minutes was so utterly gripping and memorable.

The prosthetic makeups in Bright, Darkest Hour, The Shape of Water and Wonder, for reminding us that computer animation and motion capture are not the answer to everything (I'm looking at you, Beauty and the Beast).
 
Sam Elliott in The Hero -- who knew?

The studios' new method of alerting audiences that a film is a sequel -- along with Roman numerals, colons and subtitles, we now have the casting of charismatic Australian actress Ruby Rose (John Wick: Chapter Two, Pitch Perfect 3, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, XXX: Return of Xander Cage).

Vince Vaughn in Brawl in Cell Block 99. A warning for those who are thinking of seeing this film but are sensitive about on-screen violence: much of the film plays as if its writer-director saw the elevator scene from Drive and thought "That's it?"

"You're the triple-X from 2005!" - perhaps the most delightfully goofy moment in the surprisingly enjoyable XXX: Return of Xander Cage.
MY TEN FAVORITE SOUNDTRACK RELEASES OF 2017
 
In the interests of full disclosure, I should probably mention that of these ten releases, six I own but haven't actually listened to yet (I may have been too busy listening to Damnation Alley over and over again to play anything else), so this list should be more accurately titled "Ten Soundtracks of 2017 That I'm Happiest Got Released."
 
DAMNATION ALLEY (Intrada)
DAVID SHIRE'S APOCALYPSE NOW (La-La Land)
DIE ANOTHER DAY (La-La Land)
THE RED PONY/THE HEIRESS (Intrada)
STANLEY & IRIS/PETE ‘N’ TILLIE (Varese Sarabande)
STAR TREK: VOYAGER (La-La Land)
THRILLER (Tadlow)
TWO FOR THE ROAD (Kritzerland)
THE WHITE BUFFALO (Quartet)
THE WILD WILD WEST (La-La Land)

THE BEST SCORES OF 2017 COMMERCIALLY UNRELEASED ON CD
 
ALONE IN BERLIN – Alexandre Desplat
THE BOOK OF HENRY – Michael Giacchino
A DOG’S PURPOSE – Rachel Portman
GET OUT – Michael Abels
MARJORIE PRIME – Mica Levi
NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER – Jun Miyake
NOVITIATE – Christopher Stark
OKJA – Jaeil Jung
STRONGER – Michael Brook
WAKEFIELD – Aaron Zigman

Since Jerry Goldsmith’s Damnation Alley was the biggest soundtrack Holy Grail I’d still been waiting for, I guess it’s time to make a new list (well, lists) of the unreleased CD soundtracks I’d still most like to see happen (re-recordings are fine):
 
FEATURE FILM SCORES:
 
THE COTTON CLUB - John Barry
DADDY’S GONE A HUNTING - John Williams
THE DON IS DEAD - Jerry Goldsmith
ENDLESS NIGHT - Bernard Herrmann
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH - Bernard Herrmann 
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (complete) - John Barry
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE - Elmer Bernstein
THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD - Jerry Goldsmith
THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS - John Williams
THE VALLEY OF GWANGI - Jerome Moross
 
UNUSED FEATURE SCORES
 
AIR FORCE ONE – Randy Newman
FRENZY - Henry Mancini
GOODBYE LOVER – John Barry
HOMEWARD BOUND: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY – David Shire
MARVIN’S ROOM – Thomas Newman
RANSOM – Howard Shore
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT – Elmer Bernstein
SEE NO EVIL – Andre Previn
THE 13TH WARRIOR – Graeme Revell
YEAR OF THE COMET – John Barry

TELEVISION SCORES:
 
COLUMBO: THE ORIGINAL SERIES - Dick De Benedictis, Billy Goldenberg, Dave Grusin, Gil Melle, Bernardo Segall, Patrick Williams
COMPANIONS IN NIGHTMARE - Bernard Herrmann
CRAWLSPACE – Jerry Goldsmith
DO NOT FOLD, SPINDLE OR MUTLIATE - Jerry Goldsmith
FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY - Gil Melle
THE FRENCH ATLANTIC AFFAIR - John Addison
KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER – Luchi De Jesus, Jerry Fielding, Greig McRitchie, Gil Melle
THE LATHE OF HEAVEN - Michael Small
THE SCREAMING WOMAN - John Williams
THE WORD - Alex North 

To end this 2017 survey on a positive note, I'd like to thank my favorite local revival house, the New Beverly (closing in January for remodeling), for enabling to me to see all of these films in a movie theater (and on film!) this year: 
 
The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Across 110th Street, Airport ’77, The Andromeda Strain, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Battle Beyond the Stars, The Black Bird, The Black Hole, Brannigan, Chato’s Land, Cheyenne Autumn, Clambake, Class of ’44, The Cowboys, Crime in the Streets, The Culpepper Cattle Co., Damnation Alley, Diary of a Mad Housewife, Dino, Doc, Dr. Black, Mr Hyde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Eagle’s Wing, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Exodus, ffolkes, Fire Sale, From Noon Till Three, Fun in Acapulco, Giant, The Glass Menagerie, The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, The Happening, Hickey & Boggs, The Hired Hand, Honeysuckle Rose, The House That Dripped Blood, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Jesse James, Kid Blue, Krakatoa, East of Java, Ladybug Ladybug, The Last Hard Men, Last Summer, Lenny, Loop Hole, The Man with Two Brains, The Maltese Falcon, Maverick, McQ, Monte Walsh, A Name for Evil, Navajo Joe, Never a Dull Moment, No Small Affair, The Panic in Needle Park, Play It As It Lays, Pretty Maids All in a Row, The Private Files of J. Edgar Hooper, A Private’s Affair, Rachel, Rachel, Raise the Titanic, Rancho Deluxe, Revenge of the Cheerleaders, Rolling Thunder, Runaway, Scarecrow, The Seduction of Joe Tynan, Shoot Out, Showdown, Skin Game, Snowpiercer, Sometimes a Great Notion, Star Trek – The Motion Picture, Straw Dogs, Summer of ’42, Sweet Revenge, Target of an Assassin, The Terminal Man, Tom Horn, Ulzana’s Raid, Used Cars, Valdez is Coming, Westworld, What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?, Where’s Poppa? ,Who Killed Teddy Bear?, The Wild Geese, X – The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, The Yakuza and The Young Don’t Cry, as well as rare 35mm screenings of The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) and Okja.
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Comments (7):Log in or register to post your own comments
Excellent as always, Scott. Earlier this year I found myself thinking, "I bet this'll be in Bettencourt's top title design category at year's end," while watching Baby Driver. (But it wasn't.) :D

KONG better than GODZILLA 2014?!!!!!
C'mon Scott, you're better than that
:)

Digital PROJECTION is far superior to faulty reel changes and scratchy prints

Digital PROJECTION is far superior to faulty reel changes and scratchy prints

I like scratchy prints. They're more organic.

KONG better than GODZILLA 2014?!!!!!
C'mon Scott, you're better than that
:)


Nope, I'm not at all better than that. I thought Kong was a blast, while Godzilla nearly put me to sleep (Shin Godzilla, on the other hand, was terrific). I didn't care about any of the characters, even by kaiju film standards, and often the big monster/destruction scenes were too short (unlike in the Toho films, where they often seem endless).

I rarely encounter faulty reel changes, though when I went to see Phantom Thread in 70mm on Christmas morning, they accidentally started the final reel first before switching to the correct one promptly. The Arclight was handing out deluxe programs for Phantom Thread when it opened; I don't know if they have any left, but it's worth seeing it there just in case.

I don't mind scratchy prints though I do mind faded prints - given a choice between a faded print and a digital version of a 35mm-era movie, it's a real tossup for me. Often a DCP (digital cinema package) of a film-era movie doesn't accurately represent the way the movie was supposed to look.

As far as the "Title Design" category is concerned, I tend to include sequences that are either graphics-based or are clearly done separately from the rest of the filming (like the montage in the Kong opening credits). Baby Driver's opening was just another scene in the movie, but one that happened to have titles over it. (Coincidentally, Baby Driver looked great in 35mm when it was re-released in that format a few months later, and so well projected I might have assumed it was a DCP) The footage from Wormwood's opening also appears in other parts of the movie or else I would have included that in the category (though it's the use of Richard Rodgers' "No Other Love" from Me and Juliet that really puts it over the top)

This has been a really good year for movies, and I haven't been able to say that for a while.

Happy to see "If I Dare" from "Battle of the Sexes" on your list of award-worthy songs, Scott. Great score, too. I'm not as informed on up-and-coming composers as I should be, but Nicholas Britell is definitely on my radar.

-

BLADE RUNNER 2049, also my favorite film of the year, deserves a spot on your italicized Best Picture list. Far from perfect but one of the few recent blockbusters with substance.

DUNKIRK, on the other hand, doesn't survive close scrutiny. A lazily written fantasia of true history, awkwardly mangled into one of Nolan's time-warping story structures.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Btw, wasn't it great to see the return of the "hero dies at the end" epic so prevalent in the 1960s and early '70s? BLADE RUNNER 2049, WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES and THE LAST JEDI all qualify.

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