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So How Did Susan Do?

Susan Granger once again graced Y’s Men with her annual pre-Oscar predictions. 

How did she do? As usual, pretty well, thank you. You expected less from a woman who grew up in the business, whose father, step-father and son were/are producers? 

As a child she appeared in films with Abbott and Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball and Lassie. She is journalist, with degrees from Mills College and the University of Pennsylvania. She has had a long career as a radio, TV, film and drama critic. And she writes reviews that appear locally in the Hearst papers and weekly on westportnow.

Today’s Oscars began as a high stakes self-promotion orchestrated by studio bosses in 1929. “What had been an evening of self-congratulation became bigger and bigger… (but) over time it’s lost a lot of its sense of humor.”

Ms. Granger herself is not an Academy voter, but she polls voters, and does vote for the Critics Choice Awards.

This year, she said, “There will be a lot surprises.” The Golden Globes “threw the first curveball.” They are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and awarded before the Oscars. The Association has only 88 members, all journalists living in LA and writing for non-US publications. And all vote on every award category.

Glenn Close won the Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Dramatic Role for The Wife, beating out Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born. She made a galvanizing acceptance speech calling on women to seek personal fulfillment, and not get sublimated to their husbands, as her mother did. 

She received two standing ovations, and suddenly went from a borderline candidate to a frontrunner and The Wife jumped to the top of the screening pile in many Academy homes.

Close has never won an Oscar, despite a “brilliant four decade career.”

“I predict she will win over Lady Gaga.” But it was Olivia Colman who beat out both and took home the Oscar as Best Actress in The Favourite.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in contrast, has 7,902 members, all of whom are active in the industry. The entire Academy votes for Best Picture, while members of its 13 craft groups vote for its group’s award.

Granger said each each of the Oscar nominated films has major weaknesses, along with its strengths. 

The Producers Guild Best Picture award to Green Book made it the favorite. It was a  crowd pleaser at virtually every film festival it entered. But it is also one of the most divisive, just another race relations movie told from the view of the white character. Others say it’s simply inaccurate. That said, it won Oscars for Best Picture, and Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor.

A Star is Born is a crowd pleaser. It has earned over $200 million. The Screen Actors Guild liked Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga and Sam Elliott, while the Golden Globes overlooked Cooper as Best Director. It’s the fourth remake of a property that’s been around since 1932. It was shut out at the Oscars.

Roma was the clear critical favorite. Alfonso Cuarón won the Directors Guild award. But it is black and white and it’s in Spanish. It will win Best Foreign film, and Cuarón is odds on favorite to win the Academy’s Best Director and Best Cinematographer awards, in part because international membership has grown dramatically in the last three years.

She was correct on all three calls. Cuarón did win Best Director and Best Cinematography, and the film won Best Foreign Language film.

Black Panther has made over $700 million. It was the first Marvel comic book movie nominated for Best Picture. While the Directors Guild and the Academy snubbed Director Ryan Coogler, the Academy made Hannah Beachler first African-American woman nominated for Best Production Design, and on Oscar night, the winner.

Rami Malek’s performance dominates Bohemian Rhapsody, yet the movie is tainted by Director Brian Singer’s arrest for sexual assault and his ultimate removal from the film. And Malek did win the Best Actor Oscar.

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is the kind of serious film Oscar voters like. And Lee finally got an Honorary Oscar in 2015. But this film is very divisive. Yet it won Best Adapted Screenplay.

Speaking of divisive, no film was more so than The Vice. Adam McKay was nominated for Best Director, Christian Bale for Best Actor, and Amy Adams for Best Supporting Actress, yet none won Oscars.

“Go out on a limb, put your money on Roma or Green Book. But I’m not a betting person. I go with my heart, and my heart goes with Black Panther.” She should have been a bettor. Green Book won.

Granger returned to Roma because it was unique this year. It is a Netflix production, made for the small screen. It played in theaters to meet the Academy’s rules for Oscar eligibility. This idea was criticized by Steven Spielberg, for one, who opposes allowing small screen productions to be Oscar eligible, preferring that they be only Emmy eligible.

While she agrees with the “visionary” Spielberg, Granger said “technology has changed everything. Do I like it? No. Seeing Roma in a theater is quite different than seeing it at home.”

The “Oscar’s are a free for all. Academy Awards are about Hollywood, which is all about power, intrigue, the fickleness of fame, annnd money!” “It’s also your peers saying you’re the best.”

Photo by Ted Horowitz

Roy Fuchs