Oscars Talk 2019

Photo by Raquel Reyes

Photo by Raquel Reyes

The Academy Awards 2019 are upon us! As ever, there has been no shortage of drama, controversy, and Twitter rants in the build-up to Hollywood’s biggest night of the year. Without a host, the Oscars will go live tonight and career-highs will occur right before our eyes (or hours later when everyone not on Pacific Standard Time wakes up and watches bootlegged clips on Twitter).

We’ve asked some of our team here at The Attic to answer questions about film and the Oscars to get us in the awards season spirit.

1. Do you watch a lot of films? Or are you more of a television person?

Eliza Campbell: I’m a big fan of films and film-making although I don’t watch as many as I should! I love the drama of going to the cinema, particularly huge ones on early release days when there are hundreds of people in a dark room reacting to the same moments. I’m a big fan of movie marathons, too. Nothing better than a spare 12 hours, lots of snacks, and a run of the Lord of the Rings director’s cut editions.

Rory Mara: I definitely watch more TV series but going to cinema is always special and I love it.

Olivia Gündüz-Willemin: I’ve definitely become more of a film person as I’ve gotten older. I love television because it has a tendency to go deeper into character development, and I’m only ever here for the really feeling-centric stories, whether on film or television. But I also rarely feel ready to invest in watching entire shows these days, and love the ceremony of watching a film.

Raquel Reyes: I enjoy films but my nearest cinema is a 1920s Art Deco dream that plays almost exclusively old films so I’m quite behind the times. At home I usually stick to shows, although I’ll try to watch a film every once in a while. I’m kind of that millennial cliché that can’t settle on a two hour film but will somehow binge watch six hours of a series without hesitation.

Rachel Tay: I'm probably a bigger fan of TV now that Hollywood has begun to acknowledge the potential of the medium, and more talent and money that was once channeled towards film is now being redirected towards big-budget dramas (see also: My Brilliant Friend and Big Little Lies). What this means is that TV is currently also where more progressive and experimental work by women's being made, whereas film remains a sort of boy's club. With that being said, because I am working on my thesis right now, I really don't have the time for TV, so I tend to make up for it with short A24 binges.

2. Over the last year, what films have made the greatest impression on you? New or old releases.

EC: Throwing the high-brow to the ground for a second, I absolutely adored Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again this year. It was a really hot day in July and my friends and I decided to get out of the heat for a while. We got into this packed cinema in Covent Garden and danced, laughed, and cried along with everyone in the room. We were so happy afterwards we practically ran home through Soho and up into north London as the sky went dark, still singing and dancing. It’s more of an experience rather than a specific film’s impression, but that film-going experience brought me so much joy.

RM: Honestly, I’ve cried a lot during Avengers: Infinity War and I am not ashamed! I am going to be the first in line when Endgame comes out.

OGW: I really, really want to see the new Mamma Mia! I saw Phantom Thread right around this time last year and I very much appreciated it. Sticking with new releases, Roma and Crazy Rich Asians were the most notable for me, though I also enjoyed Ocean’s 8. In terms of old releases, I actually watched The Grand Budapest Hotel for the first time and finally got what all the fuss was about. Otherwise, I watched a lot of old favorites – rewatching The Thin Man films probably stands out to me!

RR: Ahh I LOVED Phantom Thread. There were newer releases I was interested in but haven’t seen; one film I did enjoy was Lady Bird and most recently I watched The Boy Downstairs.

RT: I must admit, I had to take a quick peek at IMDB to remind myself of all the films that were released in 2018, though I was just reminded, through it, of one of my favourite ever cinematic experiences: Ocean's 8. (Can you believe that was barely a year ago?) I don't mind that it wasn't a substantial piece of art, or that there was hardly a hitch in the characters' plans. It was two hours of belly-laughs and women being amazing -- not to mention Cate Blanchett in Those Suits -- and I would gladly sit through this movie over and over again.

3. Which, if any, of the Academy Award’s Best Picture nominees have you seen this year? What did you think?
I saw Black Panther when it was first released and really loved it in a way that I haven’t enjoyed a Marvel film in a while. I also saw The Favourite late last year and loved it. The cinematography hit all the right notes for me and while the story itself is a little obvious, I thought the lead performances were absolutely wonderful. Olivia Colman remains a goddess amongst women.

RM: Just last week I saw The Favourite and I really liked it. I thought its costumes, music, performance were so well done. And it was so refreshing in a way to have a story all about women. Having said that, I have also seen Black Panther and I am a huge fan (see previous answer about my love for Marvel movies), everyone is just amazing in it and I will root for it to win.

OGW: I’ve only seen two of the nominated films this year. I watched Roma earlier this week and it was just a beautiful, beautiful film – beautifully shot, beautifully told, beautifully acted, and always in tune with human emotion. On the opposite end of the reaction spectrum, I watched The Favourite last night and I absolutely hated it. The critical side of my brain objectively appreciates it – it is a great film from many, many angles, but the emotional side of me wants to never see it again for how triggering it was.

RR: I haven’t seen any but Roma’s on my list!

RT: I've managed to catch Black Panther, A Star is Born, and The Favourite in cinemas, and I'm definitely rooting for the latter to win best picture. At this point, if anyone is able discern a common thread that runs through my favourite films and TV shows, it's probably "women behaving badly".

4. If you haven’t seen any of the Best Picture nominees then are there any films you would suggest for this category?

I’m still miffed that Carol wasn’t nominated for Best Picture in 2016. Old grudges die hard.

RM: I have not been following the cinematic scene as much as I should have, I have to be honest. But I thought Mary Poppins Returns was a gem and just generally deserved more credit.

OGW: Other than Roma, the only film of the year that I saw and loved was Crazy Rich Asians, and it definitely deserved far more recognition.

I haven’t seen it yet but with the recognition I saw If Beale Street Could Talk getting I was surprised to not see it on the list.

OGW: Oh my god, yes, If Beale Street Could Talk isn’t even out in Switzerland yet, but I want to see it really badly and kind of assumed it was nominated.

RT: I’m going to join the chorus of voices that insist that Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, and Paddington 2 deserve all the awards.

5. Any films you really haven’t enjoyed watching this year? New or old releases.

EC: I’m in a rather intense love-hate relationship with Bohemian Rhapsody at the moment. I love that Freddie Mercury is getting more recognition and I really cannot fault Rami Malek’s performance, it’s glorious. However, I truly hate the film. It’s a masterclass in poor storytelling and honestly fairly offensive in the way it deals with Freddie’s sexuality and AIDS diagnosis.

RM: I tend to avoid films I know I am not going to like (not the best practice to widen one’s horizon, I know!) so no.

OGW: I’ve already said my piece about The Favourite, but oh my god, I also really hated Mary Queen of Scots. So so much.

RR: It’s not my genre at all so I’m not sure how but I did end up watching Avengers: Infinity War. I didn’t even realize it had been released so recently.

RT: A Star Is Born wasn’t a film that I didn’t enjoy watching per se (those who follow me on twitter know that I’d raved about it immediately after leaving the cinema), but there were just so many unignorable red flags in Ally and Jackson’s relationship that I couldn’t enjoy the film as much as I wanted to.

6. The Academy Awards are always close to drama and controversy. What are your thoughts on the Academy Awards as an institution?

EC: It’s such a complex issue. On the one hand, you want your favourite actors, actresses, directors, film, etc. to recieve what is essentially the highest accolade in the industry. However, should an institution that maintains racist and sexist standards, celebrates known sexual predators, and refuses to change be our standard for excellence? The Academy Awards need to re-invent themselves, and quickly, for the good of the industry it celebrates.

RM: I think it’s the epitome of problematic, which is of course emblematic of what Hollywood is like: mostly white, mostly male. I am glad the entire industry is being called out for it and that many are pushing back.

OGW: I love awards as much as anyone else, but I think we need to move beyond having one great institution that determines what is good and what is not, especially when that institution is, like Rory said, mostly white and mostly male. The world contains multitudes, and we all have different definitions of what is great and what is not, and I don’t think the Academy Awards represent that.

RR: I agree with all of the above and just generally am not a fan of awards shows to be honest. Growing up in Los Angeles and so adjacent to it all I grew tired quite quickly of how romanticized and glorified pretty much the entirety of that business is.

RT: As I understand it, the Academy has recently invited new members to diversify its makeup, though I’m not sure how great an impact this will actually have on the awards and the wider industry in general. Again, as Rory mentioned, it is predominantly white and male, and also concentrated around industry professionals with wider clout and influence, so I’m certain that much work is still being left out of their view despite new efforts to rejuvenate the Academy’s relevance.

7. Finally, will you be watching this year’s Academy Awards?

EC: Too late/early in my timezone but I will absolutely be pouring over the red carpet pictures and acceptance speech clips come the morning.

RM: I’m not sure since it’s going to be the middle of the night here but I’ll definitely keep an eye out!

OGW: I won’t be – I always enjoyed watching them when I was still living in the States, but sleeeep!

RR: Probably not, although I may look up the musical performances the next day.

RT: I think I’ve gotten to that age when I value sleep above everything else -- so, no.


1. Favourite film genre.
Period Dramas and Romantic Comedies.
OGW: Romantic Comedies or Historical Romances
RR: Independent with a strong lean toward the Romantic Comedy
RT: Romantic Comedies

2. Favourite film actress.
Currently obsessed with Saorise Ronan.
Emma Thompson (if it is fave among the nominees, then Olivia Colman)
OGW: Katharine Hepburn (but also, I think Olivia Colman deserves lots of awards)
RR: Audrey Hepburn
RT: Seconding Emma Thompson.

3. Favourite film actor.
Ben Whishaw for Paddington alone.
Marcello Mastroianni (nominees, Viggo Mortensen)
OGW: Cary Grant
Ahahaha Cary Grant. Or Steve Martin.
RT: Seconding Ben Whishaw. But also, a special mention to Hugh Grant.
OGW: Ha, Rachel makes me want to revise my answers.

4. Favourite director.
Guillermo del Toro.
Taika Waititi (nominees, Alfonso Cuarón)
OGW: Nora Ephron
Wes Anderson
RT: Sofia Coppola

5. Favourite film.
Matrimonio all’Italiana (nominees, The Favourite)
OGW: The Philadelphia Story (nominees, Roma)
RR: How To Steal A Million
RT: When Harry Met Sally (nominees, The Favourite)

Did you have a favorite film of the year? Tell us or answer some of Eliza’s questions in the comments below!