FF2 Media critic Pam Powell predicts ‘tight race’ Oscars

Contributor Pamela Powell represented FF2 Media at the Oscars Nominations Panel hosted by the Gene Siskel Film Center. Powell discusses her Oscars predictions and shared her thoughts about Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele as they make history by being the fifth woman and the fifth Black director to be nominated for Best Director.

Stephanie A. Taylor (SAT): How was experience with being the only female on the panel?

Pamela Powell (PP): It’s a wonderful group of fellow critics from Chicago. I have the utmost respect for their positions in the film criticism community. It’s a little overwhelming, at times, to be the only woman and I certainly do have a different viewpoint on film. How I perceive them, how I interpret them, an overall sense of filmmaking and the overall message the film has.

SAT: Were you comfortable?

PP: I was comfortable. I don’t feel like I had as much opportunity to say as much as I wanted to say and I think a lot of that had something to do with the fact that it was only an hour. I really hoped to talk a little more about the directors and having Greta Gerwig be only the fifth woman ever to be nominated for being best director. Unfortunately, time ran out.

SAT: Greta Gerwig is the fifth woman nominated for best director. Do you think that this is progress, or are we still head locked by a male society?

PP: We’re definitely bogged down by male dominance in the film community. I think that first of all, Greta deserved that nomination. But I also think we’re making progress. I think that people in general are waking up. Something that’s kind of poignant to me is the movie, The Post. Meryl Streep plays a character who didn’t realize that she was overlooked, not validated and given credibility in what she could do until after the fact. I think maybe a lot of women are starting to wake up, as well as men, to the fact that we all deserve to be treated equally.

SAT: J.R. Jones from The Chicago Reader made the comment, “to win the Oscar, you have to be like a man.” Any comments?

PP: I was astounded! Especially given the environment in which we’re living in now. I was shocked to hear such a chauvinistic statement being made. Yes, we are making progress. But, we still have a long ways to go!

SAT: Predictions on Best Film?

PP: I think Three Billboards is going to be a front runner, although The Shape of Water is my number one pick. I love Lady Bird. But, I don’t think it’s going to have the voting body behind it. So, I’m not so sure that it’s going to be a front runner. I’m guessing that it’s going to be between The Shape of Water and Three Billboards. And I’m going to make a prediction that The Shape of Water is going to win.

SAT: Best Actor?

PP: If the voting body was one and I was that one, I’d give it to Timothee Chalamet. I thought he was absolutely groundbreaking and just stellar.

SAT: Who do you think will win Best Director?

PP: I think it’s really a tight call. Me looking at it from the voting body perspective I think it’s going to be a really tight race. As far as my favorites there’s Lady Bird, Shape of Water and Get Out. If I had to narrow it down to two I’d say Lady Bird and The Shape of Water and then I think it’s a coin toss from there.

SAT: While we’re still on the subject of The Shape of Water, what did you think of Octavia Spencer’s performance as supporting actress?

PP: She’s fantastic as a supporting actress. It’s a role that’s very familiar to her. I don’t think that she’s pushed the envelope at all with her performance. I saw her in that role in The Help. I saw her in that role in Hidden Figures. She’s got that down pat. I don’t think that it would be difficult for her to step in and pull off an Oscar-winning performance. I would really like to see her in a lead role and see what she can do. I think she can carry a film with no problem whatsoever. Maybe someday someone will give her the chance to do that. I think it would be fantastic.

SAT: You mentioned that Mudbound should’ve been nominated for Best Film. Do you have any other picks that you feel should’ve been nominated?

PP: Yes there was another one. One of my favorites of the year was Lady Macbeth. I thought for sure that it would find its way into any category with The Academy Awards. Maybe even Best Foreign Film, because it’s a British film. It does have a female screenwriter, Alice Birch. It’s her first screenplay that she’s written. Truly one of my favorite films of the year. I was really saddened to see that it was absolutely overlooked in every single category. I really think that Mudbound was overlooked with Best Director and maybe even best film.

SAT: Tell me your thoughts on Get Out’s director, Jordan Peele, as the fifth Black director to be nominated for Best Director.

PP: I think it’s absolutely wonderful that he was nominated. I think that he took a chance with this film in covering the topics that he covered. I thought there were so many social issues that he addressed in very bold ways. Yet he still was able to find humor in portraying those situations. I thought it was one of the most novel and creative films I’ve seen in quite some time. To address racial relations and the race issues period and the way that he did it was was ingenious. I saw the movie three or four times. I rarely see movies more than once, if I do I must’ve really loved them. I think that he deserves it. I always feel like it doesn’t come down to race of gender in a film. Is the film good? Then we take a look at who made it. If it’s someone of color or if it’s a female, then that’s fantastic.

© Stephanie A. Taylor (1/30/18) FF2 Media

Photo: Pamela Powell at Gene Siskel Center on January 23, 2018

Photo Credit: Brigid Presecky

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Stephanie A. Taylor is a multi-award-winning journalist whose accolades span three publications including FF2. Some of her favorite articles she's written are Emma Cooper’s ‘The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Tapes, FACETS Honors Chaz Ebert F2F at Screen Gems 2022 Benefit, and Dorothy Arzner’s ‘Merrily We Go to Hell’ Discusses Modern Day Problems. She currently lives in Chicago. Reading, writing, and watching old films are some of her many passions.
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