No Sure Things at Oscars



The impending Academy Awards (they still give those out, you know) may be better known for what the February 24th ceremony will lack than for any honor to be bestowed.

There’s no official host for the program, at least not one slated at this writing. Kevin Hart was dropped, you’ll recall, after a furor over homophobic tweets. This will presumably leave more time for songs and comedy sequences. Where’s Billy Crystal when you need him?

There’s no award for “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film,” or whatever the statuette was to be called when it was proposed last summer. Good … for this blatant grab for TV ratings could have unnecessarily cheapened the field of nominees. A key mistake was to make such a suggestion in a year in which a superhero blockbuster was also a bona fide critical success, and backlash over the potential typecasting of Black Panther made the academy back down.

There also is not – and I write this almost immediately after the announcement of the 91st annual nominees – a clear favorite for Best Picture, which should make the horse race a tight one.

Don’t be shocked if the choice comes out of left field. Roma, a Netflix film set in Mexico and directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), was little seen prior to gaining ten Oscar nominations and big buzz. Or, the academy could give Spike Lee some belated love for BlacKkKlansman.

But I expect the choice to come down to two popular favorites: Black Panther and A Star Is Born. Their presence among the BP finalists should at least make ABC happy.

I will be rooting hard for Glenn Close to win Best Actress for The Wife, which was shown at the Flint Institute of Arts last fall. Her performance as an acclaimed novelist’s overlooked spouse was amazing, and Close just might claim Oscar gold with her seventh acting nomination.

There are no Oscar-nominated works on the FIA film schedule for February (although you can expect some shortly thereafter). That doesn’t mean the offerings presented by the museum’s Friends of Modern Art aren’t worth seeing.

There are a couple of documentaries, both on the same weekend. The Gospel According to André (February 8-10) is a portrait of the operatic fashion editor André Leon Talley, and Pick of the Litter (February 7, 9 and 10) follows a litter of puppies from birth through their quest to become guide dogs for the blind.

Ethan Hawke, a fave actor for FIA film audiences, directed Blaze (February 15-17), a drama tinged with country music and co-starring recent Oscar winner, Sam Rockwell. The museum month begins with a comic fantasy, Sorry to Bother You (February 1-3), and ends with a romantic drama, A Boy, a Girl, a Dream (February 22-24).

In addition, a romantic comedy, Love Jacked, will be shown February 14th as the last of four titles in a series dealing with African American themes and culture for which the local nonprofit Communities First Inc. and the FIA have partnered.

As usual, information on all screenings at the FIA is available by visiting or calling 810.234.1695.



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