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My Oscar Picks

Tonight, the awards season comes to its annual close with the 92nd Oscars. Good news this year! Even if the worst Best Picture nominee wins tonight’s award, it will still be better than Green Book!

We all know that award ceremonies do not pick the best films. A Hidden Life was seen by only a handful of viewers across the country because Fox Searchlight / Disney bombed its distribution. It makes sense it wouldn’t have any nominations, even though it was my decisive pick of 2019. The Farewell fared well at last night’s Indie Spirits awards but was somehow snubbed outright from the Oscars. Why and how did the faith-based film Breakthrough get nominated for Best Song for… a very mediocre song? Over Wild Rose? Can someone explain why Joker received 11 nominations? Cynthia Erivo of Harriet is the only actor of color nominated, which is an undue weight for any single performance. This will earn it more votes than it should, but also take away votes because others want to compensate for those they predict will give it sympathy votes. (If diversity were normalized, it wouldn’t need to be politicized.) These odd games are what one writer last year called “the inscrutable politics of the Academy.” Other voters are saying the same about Parasite: why give it Best Picture if it is going to win Best International Film? Answer: because it is the best picture.

(And don’t get me started about Uncut Gems, better than 8 of the 9 Best Picture nominees, and Sandler’s lead performance, better than 4 of the 5 nominees. The Sandman threatened to make a movie “so bad on purpose” if he was snubbed, and the Academy voters called his bluff. He wasn’t bluffing.)

It takes a few years for the dust to settle and the critical consensus to solidify around the year’s best films. Everyone has a stake in the game, and our personal allegiances to certain actors and directors skew our takes. Not to mention the difficulty of seeing everything the year it comes out. Not to mention that “best” is so wide-open as a category that it stops meaning anything at all. We lose sight of what films are for: not just excellence in an abstract sense but excellence at some specific goal or in service of a particular advance in filmmaking. Monos was the best war movie of the year, A Hidden Life the best hagiography, Climax the best experimental film, Midsommar the best horror, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood the best role-model film to show to children. Without some further purpose in mind, labels like “best” picture seem apt to go to watery, room temperature oatmeal movies like Green Book. Or as could happen tonight, Ford v Ferrari. So, the work of film critique doesn’t reduce to the Oscars, or even resemble it.

But hey, whatever, here are my picks (bold) and my predictions (~~~).

Best Picture

“Ford v Ferrari”
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Little Women” (2)
“Marriage Story” (3)
“1917” ~~~
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
“Parasite” (1)

Lead Actor

Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker” ~~~
Jonathan Pryce, “The Two Popes”

Lead Actress

Honestly I have only seen three of these (Judy, Marriage Story, Little Women), and none stood out to me as better than the others, so I don’t know what to pick.

Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”
Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”
Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”
Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”
Renee Zellweger, “Judy” ~~~

Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”
Al Pacino, “The Irishman”
Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”
Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” ~~~

Supporting Actress

Again, only saw three of these, but Laura Dern as the manipulative lawyer Nora is my top performance of the year, and I doubt see Richard Jewell or Bombshell would change that.

Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”
Laura Dern, “Marriage Story” ~~~
Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”
Florence Pugh, “Little Women”
Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”


Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”
Todd Phillips, “Joker”
Sam Mendes, “1917”
Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite” ~~~

Animated Feature

Hahaha I saw zero of these.

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” Dean DeBlois
“I Lost My Body,” Jeremy Clapin
“Klaus,” Sergio Pablos
“Missing Link,” Chris Butler
“Toy Story 4,”  Josh Cooley ~~~

Animated Short

“Dcera,” Daria Kashcheeva
“Hair Love,” Matthew A. Cherry
“Kitbull,” Rosana Sullivan ~~~
“Memorable,” Bruno Collet
“Sister,” Siqi Song

Adapted Screenplay

“The Irishman,” Steven Zaillian
“Jojo Rabbit,” Taika Waititi ~~~
“Joker,” Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
“Little Women,” Greta Gerwig
“The Two Popes,” Anthony McCarten

Original Screenplay

“Knives Out,” Rian Johnson
“Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach
“1917,” Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino ~~~
“Parasite,” Bong Joon-ho, Jin Won Han


“The Irishman,” Rodrigo Prieto
“Joker,” Lawrence Sher
“The Lighthouse,” Jarin Blaschke
“1917,” Roger Deakins ~~~
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Robert Richardson

Best Documentary Feature

Only saw Honeyland, and only saw half of that before turning it off.

“American Factory,” Julia Rieichert, Steven Bognar
“The Cave,” Feras Fayyad
“The Edge of Democracy,” Petra Costa
“For Sama,” Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts
“Honeyland,” Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov

Best Documentary Short Subject

Only saw In the Absence (no theaters around me screened the ShortsTV program for docs), so can’t say.

“In the Absence,” Yi Seung-Jun and Gary Byung-Seok Kam
“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone,” Carol Dysinger
“Life Overtakes Me,” Kristine Samuelson and John Haptas
“St. Louis Superman,” Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan
“Walk Run Cha-Cha,” Laura Nix

Best Live Action Short Film

“Brotherhood,” Meryam Joobeur
“Nefta Football Club,” Yves Piat
“The Neighbors’ Window,” Marshall Curry
“Saria,” Bryan Buckley ~~~
“A Sister,” Delphine Girard

Best International Feature Film

“Corpus Christi,” Jan Komasa
“Honeyland,” Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov
“Les Miserables,” Ladj Ly
“Pain and Glory,” Pedro Almodovar
“Parasite,” Bong Joon Ho ~~~

Film Editing

“Ford v Ferrari,” Michael McCusker, Andrew Buckland
“The Irishman,” Thelma Schoonmaker ~~~
“Jojo Rabbit,” Tom Eagles
“Joker,” Jeff Groth
“Parasite,” Jinmo Yang

Sound Editing

“Ford v Ferrari,” Don Sylvester
“Joker,” Alan Robert Murray
“1917,” Oliver Tarney, Rachel Tate ~~~
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Wylie Stateman
“Star Wars: The Rise of SkyWalker,” Matthew Wood, David Acord

Sound Mixing

“Ad Astra”
“Ford v Ferrari”
“1917” ~~~
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Production Design

“The Irishman,” Bob Shaw and Regina Graves
“Jojo Rabbit,” Ra Vincent and Nora Sopkova
“1917,” Dennis Gassner and Lee Sandales ~~~
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh
“Parasite,” Lee Ha-Jun and Cho Won Woo, Han Ga Ram, and Cho Hee

Original Score

“Joker,” Hildur Guðnadóttir ~~~
“Little Women,” Alexandre Desplat
“Marriage Story,” Randy Newman
“1917,” Thomas Newman
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” John Williams

Original Song

“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” “Toy Story 4”
“I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” “Rocketman” ~~~
“I’m Standing With You,” “Breakthrough”
“Into the Unknown,” “Frozen 2”
“Stand Up,” “Harriet”

Makeup and Hair

Only saw three, so no clue who will win, but Rene Zellweger’s total transformation into Judy Garland was really the only good part of that movie, so I get why that is the front-runner.

“Judy” ~~~
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

Costume Design

”The Irishman,” Sandy Powell, Christopher Peterson
“Jojo Rabbit,” Mayes C. Rubeo
“Joker,” Mark Bridges
“Little Women,” Jacqueline Durran ~~~
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Arianne Phillips

Visual Effects

“Avengers Endgame”
“The Irishman”
“1917” ~~~
“The Lion King”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

My Score

There are 24 awards. I predicted 22 awards and got 13 correct. Of my 19 personal picks, 7 won and for that I am happy. Parasite, in particular, got the glam it deserved.

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