It’s that time again especially here in So Cal, the Capital of Entertainment. Here’s how life goes in the LA zone around Academy Awards time: anxiety, angst, massive lines at local theaters so amateur judges can call out the “I told you so’s” on Oscar night.

I’m a proud member of SAG-AFTRA (and those awards are decided by peers, for and about acting and ancillary roles).

I have my faves this year, I’m ready for the Oscar ballot, and the envelope goes to… for the Britton Picks:

The Disaster Artist

(Note the big snub this year against Franco due to accusations of sexual misconduct) for a truly brilliant parody and acting tour de force in a farce posing as a biopic; worth seeing for its unique deployment of artistry, and oh, that hair and the accent!

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3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

For performances, especially Woody Harrelson who becomes the vulnerable one, while the hard-assed and hard-hearted bereaved mother taking her revenge showcases another sheer acting coup by Frances McDormand; worth seeing for the superb acting and edgy tension in an odd tale worthy of the Coen Brothers genre.

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Call Me By Your Name

(It took me three viewings to finish watching this slowly moving tale of first gay encounters and confused sexual attractions); for Armie Hammer’s performance of a hungry gay man (predator?) and the breakout role played by Timothee Chalamet about two young men exploring sexual attractions.

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I, Tonya

A keen interpretation of what really(?) happened between champion skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, with a compelling performance by all, including a well deserved Golden Globe won by Allison Janney for her portrayal of a cruel pushy stage mom; I loved how this entire film reveals the link between poverty and class (think trailer trash).

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Lady Bird

With Oscar bids for all parts of it and roles played by geniuses about a sexual coming-of-age adolescent girl and a mother-daughter duet worth noting; directed by Greta Gerwig (at last another great one by a female director!) Oscars buzz for mom played by Laurie Metcalf and starring role played brilliantly by Saoirse Ronan.

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Phantom Thread

Ooh la la; the rumors have it that this is Daniel Day-Lewis’ finale; but I hope not; this consummate actor morphs fully into the characters he plays, this one with no exception. It’s a cunning tale of London fashion, a narcissistic icon, his muse and the fascinating turn of plot at the end, that to me appears more like consensual edge play in a BDSM relationship than most of the pallid garbage of the “50 Shades of Grey” movie series; I will be curious to see what you think about their shroomy dalliances.

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The Shape of Water

My top pick of the year’s roster! This is a real love story, a fantasy, a metaphor about belonging and being who you truly are; I loved every bit of it despite the violence (Michael Shannon is the uber villain) and the touching role by Doug Jones bringing alive this creature from the sea or wherever, half man, half fish and all love with pow-ah. I know if you agree w/me, you will want to see it again and listen and indulge your senses, whether it’s for the sounds or the visuals or just the visceral jolts you get; the visuals are all a palette of watery things, cast in blues and greens with intermittent shining moments in gold, and the sound of her masturbating in the tub (oh that water again) and of the swooshing of the creature and her, and then the ending….I’m drowning in bliss again just writing about it. May it win!

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I did not endure watching all of Gary Oldman’s brilliant portrayal of Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hours” or the gory war masterpiece of “Dunkirk” or the dark side in “Get Out”; but this was a good year for film regardless of your tastes. I hope you will keep buying tickets and filling up those live movie seats so that film may bring us the magic we deserve to feel! Oscars aka The Academy Awards on Sunday March 4th, starting with the Red Carpet fashion fest, then the show airs at 5 pm PST.

I can assure you I’ll be watching!

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