It’s Friday, and I plan to spend the weekend deciding which aromatherapy scent will go best with my feelings about Jennifer Aniston’s breakup and that Loveless screener.
Hello from Los Angeles, where we’re opening our Oscar ballots, shining a spotlight on behind-the-scenes savants Emma Thomas and Rachel Morrison, and singing Coco’s “Remember Me” in the shower.
Maybe you’re an Academy member reading this, with your very own authentic Oscar ballot to fill out when voting opens on Tuesday. Well, hooray for you! Your mom must be proud. Now don’t screw it up! For the rest of us who are merely Oscar obsessives, I suggest Vanity Fair’s image-rich, interactive Oscar ballot, available here, or our printable ballot, which you can feel free to hand out at your Oscar party. Champagne spills welcome.
While you’re chewing over those short-film categories, we’re starting to get a peek at how the show itself will unfold on March 4, with the announcement of the first batch of Oscar presenters this morning. Probably the presenter about whom I’m most intrigued is Daniela Vega, the mesmerizing Chilean actress whose movie, A Fantastic Woman, is nominated in the foreign-language category. While established movie stars attract a TV audience, it is newcomers like Vega who often supply the show’s surprises, those “who is she?!” moments that I love about the Oscars. I’m also looking forward to seeing the inimitable and unpredictable Tiffany Haddish make her Dolby stage debut. In this most unusual #MeToo Oscar season, many male movie stars have been reluctant to place themselves in the glare of the spotlight. Perhaps that’s why this first list of presenters is light on the fellas. C’mon, guys. Get those tuxes pressed. Mahershala Ali can’t do this by himself.
THE FIRST LADY OF DUNKIRK
Behind every director with a wildly ambitious idea, there is a producer quietly pulling off the impossible to help achieve it. In the case of Dunkirk, and every feature film Christopher Nolan has made in his remarkable career, that producer is Emma Thomas, who is also Nolan’s wife and the mother of their four children. It was Thomas who slid a copy of a book about the Dunkirk evacuation in front of Nolan, it’s she who gets to peer over his shoulder into the tiny monitor he wears around his neck on set, and she who knows when to intervene on a task and when to let the detail-oriented director work something out himself. “Sometimes it’s just quicker . . . to let him do it,” Thomas told me, pointing to a photo from the Dunkirk set where Nolan is pictured dropping propaganda leaflets into a shot, because he wanted the papers to rain from the sky in a precise manner. I spoke to Thomas this week from the offices of the couple’s company, Syncopy, on the Warner Bros. lot, about she and Nolan’s career beginnings at college in London, why she plans to hire more women on her sets, and what she thinks of her children teasingly comparing their father to Daniel Day-Lewis’s dictatorial dress designer in Phantom Thread, Reynolds Woodcock. You can read my interview with Thomas here.
A NEW LENS
Netflix has a massive billboard up at Wilshire and Fairfax quite unlike any I’ve seen before—it’s a picture of Mudbound cinematographer Rachel Morrison. The billboard caught my eye because it’s so unusual for a below-the-line figure to receive such a splashy tribute, but also because it’s still such a weirdly novel rush to see an image of a woman behind a movie camera. Morrison is the first female cinematographer to be nominated for an Oscar, for Dee Rees’sMudbound, and moviegoers will get a wholly different view on her work when they go see Black Panther this weekend. V.F.’s Nicole Sperlinginterviewed Morrison about both films, and the unfamiliar sensation of seeing herself celebrated on a massive billboard. “I would literally go into hiding and not come out until after the Oscars if I could,” Morrison said. Amen, lady. Here’s a toast to Morrison and the rest of this awards season’s introverts.
We know Guillermo del Toro infused so much life into Shape of Water’s sea monster leading man. But in an interview with the movie’s supervising sound designer, Nathan Robitaille,V.F.’s Julie Miller reveals that the writer-director’s actual, literal breathing is in the film, supplying some of the vocalizations of the Doug Jones character. “Once we got [del Toro] into the studio, it was obvious pretty fast that the most beautiful texture was coming from his breathing,” Robitaille said. “So I started harvesting his breaths that I got between takes and glued everything together.”
Married “Let It Go” songwriting masterminds Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are back in the awards mix this year, with Coco’s “Remember Me.” Miller spoke with the couple about their songwriting process on the Pixar film, which began with Robert tapping out a melody one morning in his boxer shorts, and Kristen writing the lyrics while riding on New York’s F train. “A lot of lyrics are written on the subway,” Kristen said. “More than you think. It’s commute time where, back in the day at least, you didn’t have Internet service so there was nothing to distract you.”
SERVING UP A MOOD BOOST
Feeling listless? Need a cure for end-of-Oscar-season ennui? If so, try staring deeply at the joyful picture of Lady Bird’s Laurie Metcalf playing table tennis in this gallery of photographer Greg Williams’s work in our special print awards issue, which lands in Oscar voters’ mailboxes this month.
If your awards lust still isn’t sated, but you are tired of reading actual words, try this week’s Little Gold Menpodcast, which includes V.F. contributor Daniel Joyaux making a compelling case for Dunkirk’s best-picture chances, or catch V.F. West Coast editor Krista Smithtalking upThe Shape of Water’s prospects on Gold Derby, or listen to me co-host a special Oscar edition of The Frame with John Horn, airing on KPCC on Monday at 9 A.M. and 7 P.M. If your awards interest still won’t go down four hours later, call your doctor.
That’s the news for this week on the Hollywood and awards beat. Tell me what you’re seeing out there. Send tips, comments, valet-line gossip, big deals you overheard at the Polo Lounge, bad vibes you picked up on at Craft, and information about Laurie Metcalf’s ping-pong availability to [email protected] Follow me on Twitter @thatrebecca.
Get Vanity Fair’s HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Rebecca KeeganRebecca Keegan is a Hollywood Correspondent for Vanity Fair.