93rd Academy Awards Selections - 2021

With the 93rd Academy Awards show just a week away (April 25th), the following categories are my favorites. Every category (and then some) with an award attached is pivotal to producing a film. Out of all the art-forms, producing a film is vastly collaborative. "It takes a village" as they say.

If I were a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, here is how I'd vote throughout my favorite categories presented during the prestigious evening.

Writing (Original Screenplay) -- SOUND OF METAL 

Screenplay by Darius Marder & Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance

Headlined by Riz Ahmed (Ruben) and Olivia Cooke (Lou), SOUND OF METAL follows the story of a metal band drummer, Ruben, and his girlfriend/lead-singer, Lou. After realizing his hearing is rapidly deteriorating, Ruben and Lou find their lives turned upside-down as they cope with their new reality.

The first step of the process, the screenplay. One of the golden rules in screenwriting is "show don't tell." SOUND OF METAL does just that. Given the many moments of silence or deeply muted scenes, this film doesn't have the luxury of leaning on long-winded dialogue. The characters (physical) actions and emotions are pivotal to understanding the emotional gravity of the story.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) -- THE FATHER

Screenplay by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

Lead by the award-worthy performance of Anthony Hopkins, THE FATHER is the story of man grappling with what appears to be rapidly changing circumstances constantly swirling around him. The reality however, holds a much darker truth for Anthony and his daughter, Anne.

Given the audience's attachment to literature-born stories and Hollywood's obsession with pre-sold properties, a screenwriter's ability to translate a story to the "big screen" is a talent high in-demand. Through adapting his own stage-play, co-writer Florian Zeller brilliantly brings these characters to life. By putting us directly in the POV (point of view) of Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), we get an all-to-real taste of what it might be like to have dementia.

Directing -- ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI...

Regina King

What were the dynamics of the existential Miami-hotel conversion between, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown? ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI... is the fictional account of what happened that prominent night.

For this particular category, I'm going to stray a bit from "The Academy." Officially, Regina King is not nominated in the category of directing. However, I'm of the belief that without the energy of Ms. King behind the camera, this film would look very different or (perhaps) never made it to the big-screen. King does a masterful job of capturing just enough backstory and personality for Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), which leads to the ultimate payoff of their Miami-hotel philosophical discussion.

Actress in a Leading Role -- MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM

Viola Davis

Set in 1920s Chicago, MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM takes place over the course of a scorching-hot afternoon in a music recording studio. Upon the eagerly-awaited arrival of the "Mother of Blues," Ma Rainey and her band battle the wills of her white manager and producer for the control of the music.

Knowledge of power, protector, and eye movement, are the virtues in which I see Viola Davis bringing home her second Academy Award. Throughout the film, Ma Rainey's (Viola Davis) eye-roll's are essential in conveying the absurdity of the situations Ma Rainey and her band are put under. Davis perfectly portrays how (truly) with great power/demand, comes great responsibility. For example, when the (white) men in the studio forget to get Ma Rainey her glass bottle of Coke, she shuts down the entire recording session. She does this not out of pettiness, but instead to show she (as a black woman) deserve the same treatment her star-power brings the studio as that of a white-man.

Actor in a Leading Role -- THE FATHER

Anthony Hopkins

In an interview I saw Hopkins give regarding how he chooses his projects, he said that there have been three scripts sent to him that were undeniable. Those are, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, and THE FATHER. While the two characters are vastly different, Hopkins is equally good as Anthony in, THE FATHER, as Hannibal Lector in, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Hopkin's spark of life mindset sets up all the great character quirks of Anthony, while in turn breaking our hearts in the finale scene that may prove to be one of his finest scenes captured on film.

Best Picture -- ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI...

Once again, I'll reach outside the Academy's nominations for this one. The Best Picture category (to me) is the culmination of all of the categories put together. From writing, directing, acting, sound, special effects, etc. ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI... brings together cultural icons with spectacle and (most importantly) humility.


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