Oscars 2020

Alrighty then, time for this year’s rundown on the Oscar categories. My usual “I don’t proofread” clause applies, and I’ve been working on this since the nods were out, so I may have even changed some opinions since I wrote it, and we’ve still got a whole other week for me to change my mind further. Yay subjectivity!

Best Picture:
These are listed out in the order that I’d vote for them

JoJo Rabbit – also my favorite movie of the year, Jojo has everything that I want in a best picture. Writing, acting, design, direction, it’s all there.   Add in the X factor of a carefully balanced tone and approach I’ve never seen before, and I’m sold. But it goes beyond that. I experienced nearly every possible human emotion at some point in those two hours, and left with a feeling of hope.  I don’t know that you get any Best-er than that.

Parasite – Legitimately the best movie of the year.  Completely unlike anything that’s come before it.  I watched it a second time and picked up on tons of foreshadowing that is impossible to grasp on first watch because you can’t conceive where this story will go.  And it’s riddled with poignant social commentary. This should win, but whether or not it does is up to the more straightlaced members of the Academy.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Tarantino’s my boy and I would LOVE for him to win this honor someday.  Hollywood loves rewarding movies about Hollywood, so it’s got a decent shot, esp since this is prolly his most accessible film (the batshit is mostly contained to the third act).  It encapsulates everything in his career that’s led him to this point, and it’s just a dang good movie.

1917 – This is the front runner that has taken all the important predictors: PGA, DGA, etc.  From a technical standpoint, this is the best movie of the year. But unlike a lot of the other Awards, the Oscars have a lot of technical awards.  It absolutely should sweep those. I’d be okay with this winning, it just feels a little less exciting than the ones I’d mentioned earlier. It pushes the edges of filmmaking as a craft, but I want to be challenged as a person a bit more.

Ford v Ferrari – This is probably as far down as I’m fine with a win.  It’ll never happen, although I did predict its nomination (and a world where it could take it).  This is the safe nominee. Every element of it is as good as it can get, but it doesn’t challenge anything. .  Safe often wins (hello Green Book) and would have been the front runner 20 years ago, but I think this year we’ll get something more provocative.

Little Women – Another one that would have been a strong contender 20 years ago.  It’s solid, but also a bit safe. So safe this movie has been made multiple times.  Sure it’s possibly the best of them, but it’s not a strong enough best picture, esp given the pool it’s in this year.

Marriage Story – Some people absolutely loved this.  I liked it, but was whelmed by it (as opposed to over or underwhelmed).  It feels a little simplistic compared to some of the other nominees, so this is as far as it’ll go.

The Irishman – Had Scorsese not made Goodfellas, this would have been higher on my list.  But he did make Goodfellas, and then remade it as a longer movie called The Irishman.  A longer movie that didn’t need to be longer, and that didn’t really add anything new. I do love Marty’s films, but this ain’t a Best Picture.

Joker – Mixed feelings on this film in general.  I love the fresh approach to a comic book character, and that a film that takes place in Gotham can get some Awards love.  But the love it’s getting feels a bit disproportionate. I also feel like a lot of people who do love it do so for the wrong reasons.  I’m fine with the nod, but I don’t want it to get much else.

Lead Actor:
I’m fairly sure I stated this somewhere recently, but when it comes to lead performances, I really want to have that scene you can look to and say that’s where they won.  Adam Driver has that scene, which if you’ve seen the movie, you know which one I’m talking about, but I’ll elaborate anyways.  The fight. It’s not just the anger, but the way he turns on a dime from that anger to breakdown. It’s breathtaking.  Leo has that scene when he falls apart in his trailer and then pulls himself together to better than he’d ever been.  I keep forgetting he’s nominated, but he’d be my second choice. Joaquin is leading the pack and giving the heartfelt speeches to solidify his place.  He’s certainly due and this performance is insane. I also love Antonio.  I’d been a little miffed that it was additional Oscar homework for me, but I loved his film so much and what he does is so moving.  And while I’m happy to live in a world where Jonathan Pryce is now Academy Award Nominee Jonathan Pryce, I wasn’t wowed by anything he did in The Two Popes (although I did really love him in the end credits bit).  

Who’s missing? – Adam Sandler (If the Sandman couldn’t get the nod with Uncut Gems, he’s never gonna get it), Taron Egerton, Eddie Murphy, George Mackay, Roman Griffin Davis, Shia in Honey Boy.  This was a super strong year.

Lead Actress:
None of these really excite me this year.  If I remove all bias, Renee easily turned in the best performance.  But adding bias back in, she’s already won one, this is definition Oscar bait, and I’m always annoyed by films that exist solely to give an actor (usually a lady) a statue.  So then who would I vote for with bias? Still not sure. Saoirse has been nominated enough that she’s due, but she didn’t do much for me in LW.  Charlize was transformative, but thin.  ScarJo impressed me more in supporting and didn’t quite live up to the hype for Marriage.  I might hafta say Cynthia then.  Besides getting her an EGOT, I think she had the most layered and emotional performance.  Missing is Awkwafina.

Supporting Actor:
Brad owns this one, and I am so happy that he’s finally gonna take one home for acting (he’s already got a producer one).  What also makes me happy is seeing Joe Pesci back on screen, and clearly the Academy agrees.  Tom Hanks is overdue for another win, but this ain’t gonna be it.  I’d hoped to see Taika make this list, but I think I was the only one campaigning for it

Supporting Actress:
Laura Dern has the momentum going in, and I’m fine with that.  She’s certainly earned it over the course of her career, and her character was memorable and different from her own personality.  I’m happiest to see ScarJo on this list because she was the heart of JoJo, and would probably earn my vote.  Kathy Bates is a treasure.  Florence Pugh had a killer year.  Margo Robbie was the most important piece of Bombshell.  Now where’s J-Lo? Also will accept Thomasin McKenzie or Park So Dam, but really, where’s J-Lo?

I’ve always wanted Tarantino to win this award, and will be thrilled if he gets it.  I would also be thrilled if Bong Joon Ho gets it.  But my immediate thought following 1917 was Sam Mendes earned it.  There are so many moving pieces that he put into place to create such a non stop film.  I don’t even care that he’s won before. He’d get my unbiased vote.

Animated Feature:
For me, a winner in this category needs two things: a strong story and stunning animation.  Maybe if one of those is strong beyond all reason you can get away with only one, but ideally you check both boxes.  Our sequels check the story box (ish on Frozen), but I don’t know that they added much to the world of animation.  Missing Link had the animation.  I didn’t even realize it was stop motion until Laika set up an exhibit at The Landmark and I saw their little figures.  The story, while cute, didn’t wow me. I was really excited to see I Lost My Body because I was promised some unique storytelling, but I couldn’t really get into it (granted, I was watching at home with distractions), and nothing exciting in the art either.  Klaus was the full package.  I loved the inventive take on Santa and the hand drawn animation looked unreal.  I don’t know if it’ll win, but it’s got my vote.

Animated Short:
Hair Love is the only one I’ve seen and I completely and utterly loved it.  It’s got a great message and it’s so sweet. Just six minutes or so and it got my tearing up like a full on Pixar movie.

Adapted Screenplay:
I love Jojo best and would be thrilled to see Taika take home some gold.  My gut is saying Little Women tho.  Being familiar with the source material, I can say that it is a solid adaptation.  Maintains the spirit of the book, but changes just enough to make it pop and be even more relevant.

Original Screenplay:
Parasite is my favorite screenplay of the year.  What it comes up with is totally batty. And there’s just a touch of really dark comedy woven in.  I LOVE that Knives Out got a nod, but that’s prolly as far as it’ll go.  I also would never bet against my boy Quentin in this category, even if he’s won it a few times.  I know 1917 has gotten a lot of love for its screenplay, but I think that part of it isn’t as strong as the other films.  And then Marriage Story has gotten a lot of love, but this is its best chance at a statue.  You know, this one does tend to go to the Best Picture nominee that won’t win anything else, so I’m gonna go out on a limb for Marriage Story.  The Farewell, Bombshell, and Honey Boy should be on this list too.

If you’ve seen 1917, then you know I don’t need to say anything further.

Best Documentary Feature:
I know I’ve said I’m trying to do better with this category, and I seem to have taken a step back.  I did see a couple of the short listed ones that didn’t make the cut, but as far as the actual nominees I only saw American Factory and only after the nods were announced.  It was interesting, but I don’t know that I’d beg it for a win (except for the fact that it’s backed by the Obamas).  I’ve heard For Sama mentioned a lot, so that’s got a good chance, but I think I’d bet on Honeyland since that also got into the Foreign category where it definitely won’t win.

Best Documentary Short Subject:
Oh hi category I never know anything about.

Best Live Action Short Film:

Best International Feature Film:
I really wanna see Corpus Christi.  But it doesn’t matter  because there will be a riot if Parasite doesn’t win.

Film Editing:
I’m still learning this category, but I’ve heard Parasite talked about here.  It is incredibly tense and I suppose the editing has a lot to do with that.

Sound Editing:
Never bet against the war movies.

Sound Mixing:
See above.

Production Design:
I feel good about Hollywood for this one.  The Academy is infamously nostalgic for celebrating Tinseltown, and it’s gotten a lot of attention for it.  I’d also shout out Jojo Rabbit for the world it created and 1917 for putting together an elaborate landscape on which to perform even more elaborate choreography.

Original Score:
I’ll say the same thing I say every year.  I don’t tend to remember scores, unless they’re like John Williams epic (no he shouldn’t win for yet another Star Wars).  I have no idea what any of these sounded like.

Original Song:
I like Elton for this, just cause I like the idea of Elton taking him an Oscar.  I feel like his career is worthy, and it’s a song that celebrates what the movie is about.  But if I am being completely biased, I also kinda want Harriet to win so that Cynthia Errivo gets her EGOT.  Into the Unknown feels too much like it was trying to recreate Let It Go.  Throw Yourself Away is cute, but the others are stronger.  I don’t know the Breakthrough song.  Also, a little bummed that the Motherless Brooklyn song didn’t make it in, even if it wasn’t really my style anyway.

Makeup and Hair:
1917?  Really?  Also Joker feels like a one trick pony.  Yes his makeup is great, but I don’t know that it’s enough.  I kinda like Bombshell for this.  No easy task making some very recognizable actresses look like other very recognizable public figures.

Costume Design:
I like Once Upon for this.  Those costumes were instantly iconic.  I saw a couple of yellow Hawaiian shirt Brad Pitts wandering Santa Monica Blvd on Halloween.  True, I saw even more Jokers, but that’s just one outfit.   However, period pieces tend to rule this category, so don’t count out Little Women.   And yet on second view, I really loved Jojo.  ScarJo’s shoes are gonna be famous, but her whole style is fabulous.  Plus there’s details like Yorkie’s paper uniform or the robot costumes or Sam Rockwell’s final regalia.

Visual Effects:
I really just want Endgame to be able to say it’s an Academy Award winning movie.  Besides, there’s nothing that specifically wows me enough about any of the other nominees to even merit further argument.