92nd Academy Awards

Above, Little Women, the latest retelling of pioneering American novelist Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 classic, has garnered stellar reviews and six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Greta Gerwig received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, but was passed over for a nomination as director.

Bringing you the best talking points and predictions from our resident critic with an attitude.

This is the best time of year. Normally, I would go on about the importance of cinema and that no matter how long the film is or who is starring in it, in some way it is reflective of the society that we live in.

And it is.

But that’s not why we’re talking about the Academy Awards here. When Hollywood’s Super Bowl comes, it’s all about who has the best charcuterie and most wins in the betting pool. Fun facts and pithy points are a close second. Hope this helps and may the odds (and the Oscar PR push) be ever in your favor.

 

BEST PICTURE

Ford v FerrariPeter Chernin, Jenno Topping, and James Mangold

The IrishmanMartin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff

Jojo RabbitCarthew Neal, Taika Waititi, and Chelsea Winstanley

JokerTodd Phillips, Bradley Cooper, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff

Little WomenAmy Pascal

Marriage StoryNoah Baumbach and David Heyman

1917Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, and Callum McDougal

Once Upon a Time in HollywoodDavid Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, and Quentin Tarantino

Parasite–Kwak Sin-ae and Bong Joon-ho

This category is chock full of your normal Oscar bait. You’ve got your well-done Dad movies (Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, 1917). You have your super-angsty films that are Oscar bait hiding in sheep’s clothing (Joker, Jojo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). And, of course, there is the family drama (Wedding Story).

Parasite combines all of these in such an original way. Think of how undeniable this film is, it overcame America’s distaste and exclusion of anything with subtitles. This is the film of the year. Any other film that wins would be a complete upset. And a mistake.

BEST DIRECTOR

Martin ScorseseThe Irishman

Todd PhillipsJoker

Sam Mendes1917

Quentin TarantinoOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood

Bong Joon-hoParasite

This feels like a replay of the 87th Academy Awards. The favorite here, as in 2015, is the film done in one shot (1917). We also have the auteurs (Todd Phillips/ Wes Anderson) and the non-fiction drama (Taratino/ Bennett Miller). The Irishman was solid, but does it deserve to be in the canon of great Scorsese films? Certainly not, it was too self-indulgent. Scorsese is worthy of reverence, but do we need to nominate every film he does? Certainly not. If there is any justice in the world, Bing Joon-ho will take the Oscar. A betting man would wager 1917 though.

 

BEST ACTOR

Antonio BanderasPain and Glory as Salvador Mallo

Leonardo DiCaprioOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood as Rick Dalton

Adam DriverMarriage Story as Charlie Barber

Joaquin PhoenixJoker as Arthur Fleck / Joker

Jonathan PryceThe Two Popes as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

This whole category feels one degree off. Here’s what’s concerning: every actor here is worthy of the nomination for sure. Buuuuuuuut…it’s hard to pick the winner because none of these performances are a definitive performance. I’d think DiCaprio could win here, but he won for The Revenant, which felt like a Lifetime Achievement award on its own.

Phoenix is the favorite, but Joker was a self-indulgent role and performance. Driver will win multiple awards, just not this year or for Marriage Story.

 

BEST ACTRESS

Cynthia ErivoHarriet as Harriet Tubman

Scarlett JohanssonMarriage Story as Nicole Barber

Saoirse Ronan Little Women as Josephine “Jo” March

Charlize TheronBombshell as Megyn Kelly

Renée ZellwegerJudy as Judy Garland

The trope in this category is the film that no one has seen or “The Glenn Close-“Albert Nobbs,” The Wife”- Award. Between Close and Julianne Moore’s performance in Still Alice, there is a clear road for a nomination if the movie is a little-seen movie but has a huge dramatic arc. Zellweger sure looks like late-era Garland but doesn’t sing; it feels only part of a performance. The same applies to Johansson. The Academy is rewarding an over-the-top performance for what is part of an ensemble performance. Where Zellweger falls short, Theron excels. She is Megyn Kelly. I’m sure it’s just me but Harriet was so formulaic, biopic-by-numbers, that it merits a nomination due to its indie box office receipts more than anything.

Refreshing doesn’t begin to describe how it would feel to see Ronan get the win here. It’s easy to joke about her being the next Meryl Streep but the filmography doesn’t lie. Ronan (and director Greta Gerwig) made Little Women feel updated and relevant.  

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Tom Hanks A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood as Fred Rogers

Anthony HopkinsThe Two Popes as Pope Benedict XVI

Al PacinoThe Irishman as Jimmy Hoffa

Joe PesciThe Irishman as Russell Bufalino

Brad PittOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood as Cliff Booth

The Lifetime Achievement Award given to either A. Someone who has yet to win an Oscar or B. An actor slightly past prime (looking at you, everyone else). Pacino and Pesci are a tale of two actors. Pesci comes out of a decade-plus of hibernation and resembles his better performances. Pacino is so far gone into his caricature that we’re rewarding him for peeling back even just a little. Hopkins did well in a film that barely anyone saw which seems to make it okay that he’s in the wrong category when he should be in Best Actor. Hanks is perfectly cromulent in a film not about him which made all the marketing misleading. Pitt went toe-to-toe with DiCaprio in an acting heavyweight bout and won by points. Given the man has his gold statue already…

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Kathy BatesRichard Jewell as Barbara Bobi Jewell

Laura DernMarriage Story as Nora Fanshaw

Scarlett JohanssonJojo Rabbit as Rosie Betzler

Florence PughLittle Women as Amy March

Margot RobbieBombshell as Kayla Pospisil

Think of this as the WWE’s Intercontinental Title. It’s not the heavyweight belt but it’s championship belt for the champ-in-waiting. Florence Pugh has seemingly come from out of nowhere as a name to remember. Margot Robbie has been so smart with her choice in films the past few years. She’ll do big blockbusters (Suicide Squad), satire (The Big Short) and Oscar bait (The Wolf of Wall Street, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Bombshell feels like an amalgamation of all three. In a film with Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman, Robbie stood out. Pugh will win this award. Just not this year.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Knives OutRian Johnson

Marriage StoryNoah Baumbach

1917Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns

Once Upon a Time in HollywoodQuentin Tarantino

ParasiteBong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won

This is normally “The Thank-You-for-Playing Award.” A film that is well-received, does well in the box office, but falls short in Oscar gold. Tarantino lives here and he would be a shoo-in for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood but, again, Parasite is that undeniable. It’s dark comedy, it’s horror, It’s satire, it’s culturally accurate while universal enough for international audiences. This should be a no-brainer.

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The IrishmanSteven Zaillian based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt

Jojo RabbitTaika Waititi based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens

JokerTodd Phillips and Scott Silver based on characters created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson

Little WomenGreta Gerwig based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott

The Two PopesAnthony McCarten based on his play The Pope

This is also “The Thank-You-for-Playing Award” to general audiences. To writers (ahem…), this is the best category. You take someone’s work and you make it come alive. It’s a writer’s dream. It also comes with an ego boost and a trophy. How could you not love Best Adapted Screenplay?

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden WorldDean DeBlois, Bonnie Arnold, and Brad Lewis

I Lost My Body–Jérémy Clapin and Marc du Pontavice

KlausSergio Pablos, Jinko Gotoh, and Marisa Román

Missing LinkChris Butler, Arianne Sutner, and Travis Knight

Toy Story 4Josh Cooley, Jonas Rivera, and Mark Nielsen

Plain and simple, this is a two-film race. Do you reward an individual film, or do you reward sticking the landing is the question? I value sticking the landing a little more and, in that case, Dragon does it for me. That, and Toy Story stuck the landing and then decided to make another film. As good as Toy Story 4 is, knowing when to end is more important.

 

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

Corpus Christi (Poland) in Polish – Directed by Jan Komasa

Honeyland (North Macedonia) in Turkish and Macedonian[9] – Directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov

Les Misérables (France) in French – Directed by Ladj Ly

Pain and Glory (Spain) in Spanish – Directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Parasite (South Korea) in Korean – Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Think of how undeniable Parasite is, it overcame America’s distaste and exclusion of anything with subtitles. This is the film of the year. Any other film that wins would be a complete upset. And a mistake.

Yes, this is copy and paste from the Best Picture. This is only to emphasize how much this movie begs to be seen.

 

JP Spence
JP Spence

JP Spence is a writer, screenwriter, and improviser living in Los Angeles. He previously served as the media critic for the Topanga Messenger and as Editor-In-Chief for the LA Valley Star. You can find Josh @JP_Spence on twitter or at any press screening.

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