Part 2 (Updated 2/7/20)
It’s Oscar weekend, everyone.
And unlike a few weeks ago, I’m actually really excited to see what’s going to happen on Sunday night. We have a very well rounded group of nominees in just about every category, with most everyone having a strong case to take home an Academy Award.
Even though the ceremony is happening about three weeks early this year, the road to this point has been long. From the Golden Globes back in January to now, we’ve seen some unexpected twists and turns take place in regards to films nominated for Best Picture and the like. Snubs, surprises, and controversies: there's lots to talk about.
My discussion for each category will explain what I mean.
Here are your nominees and predictions for the 92nd Academy Awards.
You can tell a Best Picture category is full of great nominees because the awards leading up to the Oscars make for a number of twists and turns.
The silencing of Netflix continues this year, as neither The Irishman nor Marriage Story have picked up very much momentum down the stretch, and my personal favorite Netflix film, The Two Popes, wasn’t even nominated. While it’s probably not winning anything substantial this year, Netflix is likely looking forward to next year’s slew of films, as directors like David Fincher are set to debut films on the streaming site next year.
Films like Ford v Ferrari and Jojo Rabbit are back end surprises that add to the conversation, as they were likely the last two entries into the conversation. Both movies are really solid, but excel in very specific areas- Ford v Ferrari thrives on its excellent editing and filmmaking techniques, while Jojo Rabbit features outstanding writing. While they’re great niche films, we can’t expect either of those to compete, either.
Films like Little Women and Joker also were nominated to great fanfare, with the latter scoring a ceremony-high 11 nominations. Now, we’re positive that it’s Joaquin Phoenix’s turn to win an Oscar, and Greta Gerwig’s snub for director means she’s probably the favorite to win Best Director. If there were any kind of major upset, I wouldn’t be surprised for either of these films to be it.
My original pick for this category was Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and I was ready to burn down the Dolby Theater. That mood has since shifted in a more positive direction.
The Oscar conversation has shifted in favor of two films: Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite, which is vying to defy the odds and become the first foreign-language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and Sam Mendes’ one-shot war epic, 1917, the latest entry to the field. Both films have cleaned up their respective awards ceremonies, with 1917 winning Best Picture at the Golden Globes, and Parasite winning Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards. Now, with the Academy Awards looming, it’s crunch time. There are strong cases for both to win.
Currently, the edge goes to 1917. It is projected to win both Best Picture and Best Director, and it has the edge over Parasite when it comes to technical awards. But Parasite seems to have a little momentum behind it, as a strong push to honor the South Korean film has yielded dividends, including a huge win at the SAG Awards. And while none of the individual actors are nominated (and they aren’t nominated for 1917 either), it is important for all of them to be honored as a group. Truthfully, I think it could go either way on Sunday.
My heart, head, and gut are in different places this year. I usually have one favorite. But both 1917 and Parasite are my favorites. They were far and away the two best films this year.
And boy, do I really hope Parasite wins.
But this isn’t about me getting what I want. It’s about me just being right.
Lock it in: 1917 wins Best Picture.
Will win: 1917
Should win: Parasite
Could win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Shoulda been here: The Two Popes (Netflix)
This category is where the battle between 1917 and Parasite hits the trenches. Get it? War film? Trenches? Ha. Sam Mendes is the favorite here, as his one-shot war film was executed brilliantly. It is to be determined if Bong Joon-Ho’s dialogue and phenomenal production design can overcome the obstacle of the frontrunner film. Quentin Tarantino is the one with the third best chance to win, but the momentum has shifted so far away from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, that we’re really not paying him much mind. Also, after seeing Little Women, I understand the reasoning to put Greta Gerwig in the fold for Best Director. However, I still think the field is too crowded. I’m not the Academy, but you can make cases for all five of these nominees to be here. As for my prediction, Mendes takes home his second Oscar for directing.
Will win: Sam Mendes, 1917
Should win: Sam Mendes, 1917
Could win: Tarantino or Bong Joon-Ho
Shoulda been here: Greta Gerwig, Little Women
Joaquin Phoenix is the favorite to win this category, this much is certain. He’s won just about every award so far this season, and it’s probably he’ll win his first Academy Award for his haunting turn as Arthur Fleck in Joker. Much like Heath Ledger before him, Phoenix’s interpretation of the joker is twisted, but in a much more sad way, as his descent into madness is filtered through the lens of mental illness. Joaquin should have won an Oscar a long time ago, but this potential award for Joker is well earned and well-deserved. His biggest competition is Adam Driver for Marriage Story, but I think Joaquin’s momentum is just too great. Also, Adam Sandler wasn't terrible in Uncut Gems, but he didn't deserve a nomination for playing another version of himself.
Will win: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Should win: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Could win: Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Unexpected Surprise: Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes
Saoirse Ronan has her fourth Oscar nomination this year. She is only 25 years old. She is this generation’s Meryl Streep. In what is likely her last role playing a young girl, she turns in an extraordinary turn as Jo March in Little Women. A win for her would be an upset, but not surprising. Her biggest competition is front runner Renee Zellweger, who could be returning to the Oscar podium for the first time since she won an Oscar in 2004 for Cold Mountain. Her performance as Judy Garland is well-heralded, and she, like the other front runners in all the other acting categories, is riding a streak of award show wins. Other strong competitors include Charlize Theron for Bombshell, and Cynthia Erivo for Harriet. God bless Scarlett Johansson, but she’s likely not winning for Marriage Story.
Will win: Renee Zellweger, Judy
Should win: Renee Zellweger, Judy
Could win: Charlize Theron, Bombshell or Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Shoulda been here: Awkwafina, The Farewell
Best Supporting Actor
This category features legends, all of whom have been here before. All of them are Oscar winners (technically Brad Pitt has won for producing- although, we’ll get to that in a moment), and all of them are stunning performers. Al Pacino and especially Joe Pesci have marvelous returns to form in The Irishman. The fact that Martin Scorsese was able to get Pesci out of retirement, and for him to give a performance like he did is nothing short of miraculous. Tom Hanks playing Fred Rogers is something we could only dream about until A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood came along. Even Anthony Hopkins brash yet pensive performance as Pope Benedict could be worthy of an Oscar. But Brad Pitt is the story here. Having won every Supporting Actor category he’s faced this season, it is likely he’ll walk away with his first Academy Award for performing- a well-deserved win for an actor with a storied career.
Will win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Should win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Could win: Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Shoulda been here: Song Kang-Ho, Parasite
Best Supporting Actress
Dern has scored wins at the Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA Awards to this point. I don’t anticipate this changing at all. She has the strongest case, both with her awards track record and in performance. Her closest competition probably comes in the form of Florence Pugh, whose performance as Amy March combines the heightened 19th century text with the nuances of 21st century society. Keep an eye out for Margot Robbie, if you’re looking for any kind of dark horse, but Laura Dern has this one locked up. Also, fun fact, Scarlett Johansson has two nominations for acting in two different films this year. Go ScarJo!
Will win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Should win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Could win: Florence Pugh, Little Women
Shoulda been here: Lee Jung-Eun, Parasite
Best Original Screenplay
There’s a lot to unpack in the screenplay categories. As far as Original Screenplay is concerned, I have things to say. I love 1917, but it didn’t really have a script. Films like Booksmart and The Farewell definitely deserve to be int its place. The rest of the category is full of exceptional screenwriting. We all know Quentin Tarantino will be featured in the conversation for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood- I dare say he’ll be the favorite to win. In his way is both 1917, yes, but more importantly, Parasite. If this film is to score a victory in this category, we may very well see it win Best Picture later in the evening. It’s also nice to see Rian Johnson nominated for Knives Out, as the guy continues to pump out great scripts year in and year out. He turns the whodunit on its head in this brilliant mystery-comedy. One other film I don’t really consider to be a factor is Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. It’s a good movie, but I just don’t think it’s up to snuff with its competition. Overall, I think Tarantino wins another Screenplay Oscar, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bong Joon-Ho pulls the upset.
Will win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood- Quentin Tarantino
Should win: Parasite- Bong Joon-Ho
Could win: Parasite- Bong Joon-Ho or Marriage Story- Noah Baumbach
Shoulda been here: Booksmart- Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel and Katie Silberman, or The Farewell- Lulu Wang
Best Adapted Screenplay
Much like its counterpart, the Best Adapted Screenplay category is teeming with masterworks of screenwriting from the past year. Initially, the favorite was Joker, one of (in my opinion) one of the better origin stories of Batman’s nemesis. I imagined that, with all the momentum it had a year ago, it would also pick up a huge victory with an Adapted Screenplay win. All this changed when I saw Little Women. Having never read the book, I learned that the script splices the first and second half of Louisa May Alcott’s famous book, in fact, improving on the narrative structure. If there were any kind of middle finger to the Academy for not nominating her for Best Director, a win for Greta Gerwig in this category would be it. There are some solid nominees is Steven Zaillian’s The Irishman or in Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit. In my perfect world, I would love to see The Two Popes win, but I am equally as happy to predict a win for Little Women.
Will win: Little Women- Greta Gerwig
Should win: Little Women- Greta Gerwig
Could win: The Two Popes- Anthony McCarten or The Irishman- Steven Zaillian
Best Animated Feature
Normally, I am pretty okay with the popular Disney/Pixar princess film getting snubbed for an Oscar, as they’re usually nominated every year. But I have to put my foot down for Frozen II. The animation is beautiful. The voice acting is excellent. The songs, while not as catchy, are more mature than those that came before it. And for it not to be nominated, in my opinion, is a stunning loss. So, we have to make do with the five nominated films. There favorite here is, without question, Toy Story 4. Just when you think they had you pegged in Toy Story 3, Pixar did it again with this (hopefully) final tale of Woody and Buzz’s story. In its way are the fourth How to Train Your Dragon film, which ends its franchise on a high note, and French film I Lost My Body, an existential mystery about a severed hand. There’s talk that How to Train Your Dragon could pull out an upset win in order to award the entire franchise for its four beautiful films. If you’re looking for even more of an upset, try Missing Link, the film from Annapurna (who do animation now, apparently), that won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, or try Klaus, Netflix’s beautiful textured 2D Santa-origin story. If you’re not, stick with the favorite. Stay with Toy Story 4. Pixar’s golden child wins its fourth Academy Award for the franchise.
Will win: Toy Story 4
Should win: Toy Story 4
Could win: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World or I Lost My Body
Shoulda been here: Frozen II (Disney)
Best International Feature Film
There’s no race here. I mean, there technically is a race, as both Parasite and Pain and Glory are both up for big prizes further up this list. However, we all know Parasite’s winning this award. If they don’t, I will eat my computer.
Will win: Parasite (South Korea)
Should win: Parasite (South Korea)
Could win: Pain and Glory (Spain)
Best Documentary Feature
I’m going to make an arbitrary guess about the Best Documentary Feature category since I haven’t seen a single one of these. For Sama is the one I keep hearing about, and so I’m going to go with one. I’ve also heard American Factory is pretty good. So, let’s throw that in there too!
Will win: For Sama
Should win: For Sama
Could win: American Factory
Shoulda been here: Apollo 11
Best Animated Short Film
The animated short films this year are all beautiful, both in the style of their collective compositions and in the delicacy with which they treat their subject matters. The films address Alzheimer’s, cancer, animal cruelty, the loss of a loved one, and even China’s one-child policy, and each one has the ability to move you to tears. Sony’s well-heralded Hair Love and Pixar’s Kitbull are America’s sole two entrants; with other nominations coming from the Czech Republic (Dcera) and China (Sister). The film that jumps out at me is Bruno Collet and Jean-François Le Corre’s Mémorable, a short with animation reminiscent of a Van Gogh painting (right down to all the lines and even textures that blur the line between two and three dimensions) about a man’s mind deteriorating due to Alzheimer’s disease. The final frame will awe you- although with a bittersweet aftertaste to keep you thinking about it long after it is over.
Will win: Mémorable
Should win: Mémorable
Could win: Kitbull
Best Live Action Short Film
From Northern Africa to a Guatemalan orphanage, to the cityscape of New York to a dark Belgian road, this year’s nominees for Live Action short film all deal with one dire situation after another- each one with its own clever twist to provide fresh takes on conventional storytelling. In The Neighbors’ Window, what starts as a humorous tale of two aging parents spying on their sexy (I mean, flexible) neighbors turns into a truly sad story about life and what might have been; Brotherhood’s intense family drama examines ISIS and geopolitics; Saria recounts the tragedy in a Guatemalan orphanage where 41 teenage girls were tragically killed, and A Sister cleverly uses a simple phone call as a cover for something much more dire. As for my selection to win, it is Yves Pia and Damien Megherbi’s NEFTA Football Club. When one discovers a bag of drugs in the desert, the outcomes are usually not good. NEFTA Football Club delightfully turns this potentially bad situation on its head, as a lost donkey with headphones on, Adele, and multiple bags of cocaine in the hands of a 10 year old all combine together to bring us unexpected joy.
Will win: NEFTA Football Club
Should win: NEFTA Football Club
Could win: The Neighbors’ Window or Brotherhood
Best Documentary Short Subject
The Documentary Short Subjects take us around the world, from the tragic to the joyful. From a bizarre juvenile condition that only seems to occur in Sweden, to a skateboarding school set up for girls in Afghanistan, to a battle rapper pushing state legislation in the face of racism, to a couple rekindling their love on the dance floor, to the tragic deaths of more than 300 students as a ferry sinks, these nominees quite literally pack a punch into their sub-forty minute run-times. My top three in this category are St. Louis Superman, In the Absence, and Learning to Skateboard. Personally, I think In the Absence, a film about the sinking of Korean ferry Sewol, is the best of the five nominees, but St. Louis Superman, which revolves around Bruce Franks Jr, a Ferguson advocate and battle rapper who was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, is the more topical story given the political climate. I think the film falls short of the drama and tension it promises us, but I’m not the Academy. This has been a huge year for Korean film, and not just Parasite deserves the credit. However, in an election year, it’s probably an easy choice to select the much more galvanizing St. Louis Superman.
Will win: St. Louis Superman
Should win: In the Absence
Could win: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Best Original Score
Scores can make or break movies. As per usual with this category, all five scores brilliant add color and tone to the movies they represent. We’ve also got some veterans, from Randy Newman’s charming, sincere, almost child-like score for Marriage Story, to another John Williams nomination for Star Wars, to Alexandre Desplat’s brilliant work on Little Women, and even Thomas Newman, whose score for 1917 is riveting and provides every little bit of tension with an exclamation points throughout the run of the film. However, it is first-time nominee Hildur Guðnadóttir, who may take home an Oscar for her work on Joker. She is a collaborator of the late, great Johan Johansson, and it shows. The score for Joker is twisted, dark, and full of droning cello. While I personally would prefer the heart-beat of 1917, we can anticipate a win for Joker.
Will win: Joker- Hildur Guðnadóttir
Should win: 1917- Thomas Newman
Could win: Little Women- Alexandre Desplat
Best Original Song
Before I listened to any of these songs, I was sure that Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez could have done better than “Into the Unknown.” The composition is excellent, that much is sure, but some might find the songwriting and lyrics a tad… pedestrian, we’ll say, in comparison to other works like “Let it Go.” But then, I listened to the other nominees, and I have to tell you, that a lot of them sound the same. “Stand Up,” Cynthia Erivo and Joshua Campbell’s rousing anthem from Harriet offers some cool flavor, but it falls into the same kind of uplifting tone that “I’m Standing With You” from Christian drama Breakthrough. I also love Randy Newman, but “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” only fits well with the plot of Toy Story 4, and doesn’t do much otherwise as a song on its own, which I feel a Best Original Song must do. Elton John’s “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman features a cameo by star Taron Edgerton, is pretty forgettable. And so, despite it not being as strong as the tune from its predecessor, Frozen will earn another music Oscar to make up for its lack of nomination in Animated Feature.
Will win: “Into the Unknown,” from Frozen II
Should win: “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II
Could win: “Stand Up,” from Harriet
Unexpected snub: “Spirit,” from The Lion King
There is no question that Roger Deakins will be winning this award. 1917 was done in one shot- that is epic enough on its own. What’s even more brilliant are the little Easter eggs Deakins hides in his shots: a dead dog here, the odd skull there, all while encapsulating the growing tension on Blake and Schofield’s mission. It’s really nice to see Jarin Blaschke here for his work on making The Lighthouse look like something out of the 1940s, but I would have preferred a nomination for Ford v Ferrari here as well.
Will win: 1917- Roger Deakins
Should win: 1917- Roger Deakins
Could win: Joker- Lawrence Sher
Shoulda been here: Ford v Ferrari- Phedon Papamichael
Best Production Design
Before I move forward with a prediction, I want to say how genuinely disappointed I am to see Joker actually not nominated here. Designing Gotham to feature a rich, elite world from the 1950s and 60s, and a poor, dingy world out of the late 1970s and early 80s is a genius move, and really tied the movie together. However, its exclusions makes it really easy for Parasite to lock up the award, which I think it will here.
Will win: Parasite
Should win: Parasite
Could win: 1917
Shoulda been here: Joker or Rocketman
Best Costume Design
My initial reaction was to give this award to Jojo Rabbit, but after seeing Little Women, there’s something to be said for Jacqueline Durran’s attention to detail. The one-time winner and seven-time nominee wins again for her brilliant costumes in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation. The only film that comes close could be Joker for re-designing the iconic look for Gotham’s most notorious super villain.
Will win: Little Women
Should win: Little Women
Could win: Joker
Shoulda been here: Rocketman or Dolemite is My Name
Best Hair and Makeup Design
It’s Bombshell’s ability to transform John Lithgow into Roger Ailes against Judy’s ability to transform Renee Zellweger into Judy Garland. I personally wouldn’t have included Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in the mix, but I didn’t see it, so who am I to judge? I think Bombshell picks up its only win in this category.
Will win: Bombshell
Should win: Bombshell
Could win: Judy
Shoulda been here: Rocketman, Jojo Rabbit or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Best Film Editing
You go see Ford v Ferrari for the racing scenes. You stay for the brilliant film editing by Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker. The Best Picture nominee gets its one win of the evening in this category.
Will win: Ford v Ferrari
Should win: Ford v Ferrari
Could win: Parasite or Joker
Best Visual Effects
Best Visual Effects could see any potential nominee claim Oscar gold. For one, there’s Avengers (which I thought would win last year for its animation of Thanos alone), which could win for not only having great effects for three hours, but also for some kind of legacy award for the filmmakers to have established and completed this leg of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This case is the same for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. 1917’s one-shot technique means that any kind of visual effects are all the more impressive. There’s a case to be made for The Lion King, as its predecessor, The Jungle Book (also directed by Jon Favreau), also won this same award. I am currently leaning toward 1917 for its technical filmmaking alone, although we could be swayed toward The Irishman, simply for its brilliant de-aging techniques for Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. I could be wrong, but if the Academy is going to award The Irishman for anything, it’s its visual effects, but I think 1917 is the more impressive piece of filmmaking.
Will win: 1917
Should win: 1917
Could win: The Lion King or The Irishman
Best Sound Editing
Usually, war movies (or, at least, films with lots of moving parts- and guns) have it made when it comes to the Sound Editing and Mixing categories. 1917, along with its brilliant cinematography, also has to ensure that the sounds all fit the one-shot epic in the correct places. If there is one film to look out for, it’s probably Ford v Ferrari. There’s nothing like the hum of a car engine going 200 miles per hour, after all.
Will win: 1917
Should win: 1917
Could win: Ford v Ferrari
Best Sound Mixing
The case is the same for Sound Mixing. While we have science fiction films like Ad Astra and a film that heavily features songs on the radio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 1917 is still the clear favorite in the category.
Will win: 1917
Should win: 1917
Could win: Ford v Ferrari
Who's your pick to win Best Picture? Leave a comment down below.
The 92nd Academy Awards will air Sunday, February 9th, on ABC.
Top 10 Films of 2019
Another year, another slew of great movies gracing our theatre (and computer/television) screens.
I want to preface this list by saying that I did not get around to seeing every single thing. I could not find time to see The Irishman (because it’s three and a half god damn hours long), nor could I get to the theatre to see Adam Sandler’s tour-de-force performance in Uncut Gems before the year was out. The same is said for Little Women.
I totally, 100% acknowledge that these films are worth watching.
It’s just that sometimes, life gets in the way. That, and I didn’t purchase my AMC A-List membership until very late in the game.
Still, what I did see this year were some great movies: Netflix came back from its disappointment at the Oscars with three films (again, two of which I saw in 2019)- The Irishman (which, for those of you who skip the intro, for the THIRD TIME, I did not get a chance to see), Marriage Story, and The Two Popes.
There were triumphs by directors this year. There were franchise sequels. We saw the culminations of both the Star Wars and Marvel franchises.
From the proceedings of the Golden Globes, it appears we might be in for another shocking Oscar season.
So, let’s recap the year that was in film. Here are my selections for the best films (I saw) in 2019.
I will give Frozen II this: the music is more mature than the original. I didn’t say better- I said more mature- “Let It Go” is iconic (although I guarantee you only hardcore fans know all the words to it) and can never be replaced. I will also say that the film is beautiful. The animation is absolutely stunning, and it’s like you can feel every single emotion that Elsa and Anna are feeling as they discover more secrets about Arundell. And while nothing can stand up to the original Frozen, the filmmakers know that- and they lean into it on just about everything, from an Olaf that boasts a more ironic disposition, to all the callbacks to the first film (like the running gag that Hans sucks), to straying away from a more musical-theatre vibe by giving Kristoff a legendary 80s ballad, Frozen II journeys into the unknown and brings back a lot of heart.
Ford v. Ferrari
Guys who love cars are equivalents of girls who love horses. I know. But man, does Ford v. Ferrari do some really cool things with its cinematography and sound editing. It’s like you’re actually in (or in some cases, on the side of) the cars, and you can feel the roars of the engines pulling your heart out of your chest. There are also some really great performances and moments in this movie from Matt Damon and Christian Bale: from the scene where Damon’s Carroll Shelley takes Tracy Letts’ Henry Ford II out in the test car, to the entire Le Mans racing sequence, it’s all great. Despite the bittersweet ending, Ford v Ferrari is all about that good down-home American willpower that you love to see in a quasi-sports film.
A bleak, bleak, bleak look at corporate negligence for the sake of profit, Dark Waters examines Robert Bilott’s duel with DuPont, as the story breaks that the chemical company was poisoning residents of a West Virginia town (as well as the entire world) for decades. We’re all gonna die, by the way. Dark Waters is a lot like Mark Ruffalo’s last investigative reporting film, Spotlight, just a lot bleaker… like a “there’s no hope for any of us” kind of bleak.
The Top 10:
It takes a special kind of filmmaker to make a satire about Hitler Youths. Taika appears to have no ordinary balls, considering he a) made this film and b) cast himself as main character Jojo Betzler’s (Roman Griffin Davis) imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler. But still, Jojo Rabbit has more heart than most comedies that came out this year. Every character in this movie is built carefully and with so much love, from Sam Rockwell, the director of the Youth training camp, who learns to see Jojo’s kind heart through his more jingoistic view on life, to Thomasin McKenzie, who portrays Elsa, a stowed young Jewish girl harbored within the walls of the Betzler home, whose fearless dance with both Jojo and the outside world’s view of her people constantly makes us root for her, to Scarlett Johansson, playing Jojo’s mother, who steadily (but not heavy-handedly) helps her son grow up as the war nears its end. The friendship between Jojo and Yorki (Archie Yates) is also goals: even though their city is being blown to bits by war, we find there is still time for a hug and for blowing up a storefront with a rocket launcher. Also, if you didn’t expect to cry, watch out for this one.
9. Toy Story 4
I thought Toy Story 3 was the perfect ending to the Toy Story franchise, with Andy moving on from his toys at the end of the film. However, I realize that was a satisfying end to the Andy arc; it is the human growing up and parting with his toys. What did not occur to me (until I saw Toy Story 4) was that this film ties up the storyline involving the world’s best friendship among inanimate objects: Woody and Buzz. Bringing back old characters like Bo Peep felt like the correct move, and introducing new ones like Forky (bless Tony Hale for voicing him) and a sympathetic villain, Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) provide some new and interesting ways for toys to find their identities, either emerging out of something ugly, or through a desire to be their old, golden age selfs again. And just when you think that Toy Story 4 doesn’t pack the emotional punch that its predecessor did, we get to the final scene, where Woody and Buzz take center stage. I refuse to spoil the ending to something that provided joy to my childhood. But can you handle the feels? “Yes you Canada!”
8. Marriage Story
One of the films in the Netflix trifecta, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story finds two former spouses, Charlie and Nicole (Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, respectively) attempting to navigate the murky waters of divorce in the most lightly-tread way possible. You can gather from my quick synopsis that, as is the case in most lawyerless divorces, hilarity ensues. But really, in the most charming way it can, the comedy/drama attempts to bring to light just how complex and nasty divorce can be. We see a cavalcade of lawyers (Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta) mudsling, pull, and connive their respective clients into wanting all the things their separation traditionally demands- most notably, the custody of the pair’s 8-year old son, Henry (Azhy Robertson)- only to see the two former partners struggle to convey the appearance of an amiable divorce while playing the part of one happy family unit. The big fight scene at the end (thought mocked by every drama student ever) is justified in context, and Adam Driver’s slightly out of tune rendition of “Being Alive” is incredibly moving.
I expected this movie to be a harrowing, sad look at mental illness, but never did I expect Joker to be as cutting and haunting as it was. A brilliant Joaquin Phoenix makes his turn as Arthur Fleck, who slowly transforms into the Joker in a bold twist for a super villain backstory: A failed comedian slowly descends into insanity and nihilism, which eventually sparks a revolution in Gotham City against the elite. Apart from Phoenix’s acting, which is always a marvel (puns), the way the film is designed is beautiful. With many grungy scenes exploring Gotham appear to be set up in the late 70s and early 80s reminiscent of crime-ridden New York City, the scenes featuring the upper class (particularly of that involving Murray Franklin, a talk show host played by Robert De Niro) appear to harken to the technicolor days of the 1950s and 60s. From the opening line right on down to Joker leaving Arkham hospital, this movie is just one big constant chill down the spine.
6. The Two Popes
The Two Popes is absolutely delightful and I will stand by that it is the best film Netflix put out this year (until I carve out enough hours to see The Irishman). A close look at the transition from Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) to Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce), Anthony McCarten’s script is fantastically well-written, as the two struggle with each other’s differing beliefs for the direction of the Catholic Church, and attempt to find a common ground as one pope leaves and another enters. Something I knew: Pope Francis is a stand up guy and is one of the best popes we’ve ever seen. Something I didn’t know: Francis’ backstory is as intriguing as it is moving, as we get to know the man who sits on St. Peter’s Throne in the Vatican. As the two men moves closer towards friendship, we get to know the two religious leaders on a more personal level, as an intimate scene regarding a confession and some pizza is one of the high points of the film. If you’re like me, you’ll finish the movie with a big goofy smile on your face.
5. Knives Out
You may remember Rian Johnson from his work on a little indie film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi. His modern take on the whodunit is on full display with Knives Out, featuring an ensemble cast of (mostly) despicable human beings, including Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, and Toni Collette (the outlying good folks being Ana de Almas, Christopher Plummer, and a silver-tonged, southern-accented, donut-hole-pondering Daniel Craig). When the mysterious death of a family patriarch sends a rich Massachusetts family into a frenzy, the subsequent police investigation leads to more questions than answers. The plot building is immaculate, with each character’s interpretation of the even piling on more and more layers until a picture is formed. As the story begins to center on the patriarch’s caretaker (de Almas), the family’s motives begin to become more and more desperate to preserve what they believe is their inherited right. My one critique is the car chase scene about three quarters of the way through the movie- being from Massachusetts, none of the places that are in those follow shots are next to each other. Other than that, this mystery film will twist you in ways you did not expect, building toward a dramatic climax that will leave you spinning in a circle more perfect than a donut hole.
God bless Olivia Wilde for this one. A pair of high school seniors discover that you can, in fact, get into a good college AND be a partier. And so, on their last night before graduation, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) break the rules and experiment trouble before they’re deemed as the “nerds who never did anything in high school.” Booksmart is like a bender you wish would just keep going, as the two stumble onto a boat party, hallucinate on strawberries and imagine themselves as plastic fashion dolls. It’s also extremely poignant, as Amy confronts her sexuality and Molly deals with her best friend potentially taking a gap year in Botswana. With some of the best writing you’ll find this year, this hysterical yet emotionally gripping comedy is one of the most touching films you’ll find this year. Also, there is no situation in which “Nobody Speak” by Run the Jewels can be misused; Booksmart is a prime example.
They did this whole movie in one shot. In one. Shot. Eat your heart out, Birdman. Sam Mendes’ WW1 epic follows two soldiers dispatched with delivering an urgent message calling off an attack scheduled to take place literal hours from when the movie begins. Lance Corporals Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) trek across miles of destruction, mud, and enemy territory in this absolutely brilliant piece of filmmaking. Much like theatre (where Mendes made his name), the film is constantly in motion, very much a living, breathing thing. From the constant camera work (brilliantly done by Roger Deakins, who deserves an Oscar for his effort), to the score (thank you, Thomas Newman) to just about every little easter egg thrown into this film by Mendes- from the jump scares with the rats to the dead dogs on the side of the shot to the legendary plane crash scene to the 45 seconds of playing with shadows, 1917 is a true tour de force in every sense of the word. This late entry into the Oscar race is one for the ages. This one was heralded as “the best war film since Saving Private Ryan.” Coming from someone who heralds that Spielberg great as his favorite movie, I’d say that particular case for 1917 is pretty strong.
A South Korean dark comedy/thriller would not have been on my film radar to start the year. But man, am I now ever grateful for the genius that is Bong Joon-ho (I need to see Snowpiercer still). Parasite begins with the story of Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho), and his family, struggling to make ends meet, successfully posing as skilled houseworkers for a wealthier family, stealthily removing the family’s old employees one at a time, and integrating themselves into the wealthy family’s lives. But just when you think that the family is out of the woods, the film takes one of the hardest left turns I personally have ever been a part of. From there Parasite takes on a whole new light. A brilliant performance by Lee Jung-eun will leave you breathless. I really don’t even know how to explain this one any further, because everyone needs to go out and experience this one. Parasite kept me on the edge of my seat at every single moment, and it has taken a long, long time for a film to do that to me. It is twisted, dark, beautiful, and shocking, all at the same time. Do it. Parasite deserves your respect.
1. Avengers: Endgame
Every so often, there comes around a theatrical experience that you will never forget. Where were you when you saw Star Wars for the first time? Or how did you feel when you saw Lord of the Rings for the first time? Endgame was that for me. I will never forget seeing Avengers: Endgame for the first time. People applauding. People standing up and cheering. People crying. I wanted to live in that world for so long after the movie was over, I had Alan Silvestri’s epic soundtrack on loop for weeks. Endgame is the payoff of 11 years of incredibly hard work done by the folks at Marvel, all wrapped up into one three hour movie. Truthfully, it could have been eight (I would not have been upset) and it would still be the best movie I saw this year. How do I even give some kind of artistic critique on Endgame? It might not have the gut punch that Infinity War does, nor does it have the five-part tragedy that Civil War does, nor is it as critically lauded as Black Panther was. And sure, even the plot is just a little bit convoluted. But god damn, if this movie doesn’t slap you in the face with catharsis then you straight up don’t have a heart. Every single emotional moment in that story is earned- from the scene (where Natasha sacrifices herself), to the portals scene, to the tearjerking epilogue. Even the homage the film pays to its actors at the end of the film during the credits gets the tears flowing. The Marvel Cinematic Universe all leads up to Endgame. And boy, does that film deliver on everything it promised you. You feel every single shred of blood, sweat, and tears that went into making these movies, and Endgame is the perfect finale. They’re the heroes we don’t deserve.
Films I missed in 2019 (but hope to see in 2020):
- The Irishman
- Little Women
- Uncut Gems
- The Farwell
Agree with my list? Which films did I leave out? Leave a comment down below.
2019 Academy Awards Predictions
As an update, my MoviePass subscription has officially been deactivated and I’m going to try moving on to AMC Stubs A-List after the Oscars are over.
We’re finally all caught up, though. We have no Oscar host, but the 91st edition of the Academy Awards will go on as planned on Sunday night.
I was seriously so surprised about how soon the ceremony was. It was pushed back last year because of the Olympics, but this is the regular slot for the Oscars, at the last Sunday in February.
Thankfully, after the nominations came out, I was pleased with how little work I had to do with seeing movies.
We’ve got eight nominees for Best Picture, with surprises and stories galore.
The new favorite is Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white, Netlifx-exclusive, upstairs-downstairs Mexican family drama. It’s won the Best Picture prizes at the Critics’ Choice and BAFTA Awards, and more importantly, its director, Alfonso Cuarón, has won every major directing award since the start of awards season. A win could legitimize Netflix original content even further, and it would also be the first foreign film to win Best Picture.
Following closely behind is Green Book, Peter Farrelly’s Civil-Rights-era comedy/drama about Dr. Donald Shirley and his road manager, the surly Tony Vallelonga. Green Book has its fair share of cliches as somewhat of a token “race movie,” and it’s faced numerous off screen challenges, including criticism of a “white savior” narrative (although in viewing it I think one can make the argument that the script is concrete in establishing boundaries for the characters), but has been in the conversation since the start, winning the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture-Comedy, spurring it into the ring for a legit Best Picture shot. It also helps that its lead actors- Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali- both give stellar performances.
Another unexpected nominee was Bohemian Rhapsody. The Queen biopic was also not as well reviewed as other films nominated for the top award. It has also faced its share of off-screen drama, as director Brian Singer was fired midway through the production; actors cited he was incredibly difficult to work with. The film has also been heavily criticized for its historical accuracy, in particular that of lead singer Freddie Mercury. Still, the film’s success comes from Mercury’s portrayer, Rami Malek, who continues to garner Best Actor awards as the season rolls on. He is the favorite to win Best Actor, and we’ll see just how far he’s able to carry the film at the Oscars.
Then there are the numerous films that have fallen to the wayside, all of which one can make the case for an Oscar win.
The Favourite appears to be everyone’s dark horse to win Best Picture, as Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark comedy about two women jockeying for the affection of Queen Anne received rave reviews. The three women, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone, bring the absurdities and intricacies to life.
BlacKkKlansman is known as a return to form for director Spike Lee, who himself is nominated for best director. It’s also in the running for Best Adapted Screenplay, and has a realistic shot at winning it.
Black Panther is the first superhero film nominated for Best Picture, and rightfully so, as director Ryan Coogler took the superhero narrative and reimagined it in this Afro-futuristic style that is played out to incredible effect. It’s a shame Michael B. Jordan isn’t nominated, but the film has strong cases for its Best Production Design nominations and others.
A Star is Born was the favorite at the start of the season, and everything kind of fell off the rails. Bradley Cooper got overshadowed by Rami Malek and didn’t even get a nomination for Best Director; Lady Gaga got overshadowed by Glenn Close; Sam Elliott got overshadowed by Mahershala Ali. Perhaps it suffered from poor release timing, or maybe it’s just not the remake’s time. Still, A Star is Born is a true winner in my book- it’s my favorite movie this year.
And finally, there is Vice. I am consistently blown away by Adam McKay’s ability to make impressive films that are historical, satirical, comedic, dramatic, poignant, and well produced all at the same time. Christian Bale’s transformation into the terrifying Dick Cheney is one that will likely not be forgotten.
So. The ceremony is tomorrow. Here are my predictions for how the 91st Academy Awards will shape up.
Surprises: Bohemian Rhapsody
Snubs: Can You Ever Forgive Me?; First Man; If Beale Street Could Talk
In a field of high-profile releases from this season, there is no clear frontrunner for Best Picture. At the start of the summer, everyone was talking about Black Panther, poised to become the first superhero movie nominated for Best Picture. At the start of Oscar season, it became about A Star is Born and later Bohemian Rhapsody, and their subsequent standout performances from less-film-visible stars like Lady Gaga or Rami Malek. After that, it became about the indie films like The Favourite, and how Yorgos Lanthimos was ready to ascend the throne with this film after great works like The Lobster. And now, we are down to two unlikely contenders, it seems, both of whom have been racking up wins at award shows prior to the Oscars.
The first is Green Book. This film has drawn more criticism than most of the films nominated (and more off-screen controversies as well), but it checks off most boxes of past Oscar winners, including Golden Globe and Producers’ Guild wins for Best Picture, not to mention the clout of both its lead actors- Viggo Mortensen and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali- being nominated this year.
The second is Roma, a Netflix release from director Alfonso Cuarón. Roma has a lot going for it, including its stunning visuals, emotional story, and signature touch of Oscar winner Cuarón. But it has a lot going against it as well- it is a foreign film (its primary language being Spanish- no foreign film has ever won the Oscar for Best Picture), and its release on Netflix has been troubling to critics and voters alike, mostly due to the reason that Netflix a) has been very stubborn about its original material being promoted as film and not television, much to the chagrin of producers, directors, writers and actors alike, and b) does not release its box office figures. Now, how much of this will hinder Roma’s potential Best Picture hopes? Honestly all this is a toss up, and we’ll figure it out come Sunday night.
Will and should win: Roma
Could win: Bohemian Rhapsody or Green Book
In Andrew's Perfect World: A Star is Born
Best Achievement in Directing
Surprises: Paweł Pawlikowski, Cold War
Snubs: Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born; Peter Farrelly, Green Book; Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Roma is a stunning piece of filmmaking. Alfonso Cuarón’s passion project is a visual feast- but let’s talk about these other nominees and why they’re here. BlacKkKlansman is a return to form for Spike Lee- It’s a critically important film for the day and age we’re living in right now. The last 15 minutes of that movie slap you across the face and make you realize just how bad things are. Yorgos Lanthimos’ efforts for The Favourite are not to go unnoticed. The Greek director’s traits are all over the movie- shooting in naturally poorly-lit locations; absurdist, snappy, deadpan comedic dialogue; Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz; everything is there. Yorgos is probably second on my list for this category. I also continue to be stunned by Adam McKay’s direction of more serious films (keep in mind, the guy made Step Brothers), and Vice is no different- the random Shakespeare portion and fake credits are among the film’s many high points. As for Paweł Pawlikowski’s film Cold War… well, I haven’t seen it.
Which brings me to another thing the Academy apparently didn’t see, which was A Star is Born, which apparently was director-less. Bradley Cooper deserves your respect, dammit. This film is a superlative debut effort from Mr. Cooper.
Will and should win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Could win: Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
In Andrew’s Perfect World: Bradley Cooper gets nominated for A Star is Born.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Surprises: Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Snubs: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Say what you want about Bohemian Rhapsody. Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury will likely get him an Oscar on Sunday. In my humble opinion as blog writer, I think Christian Bale had a better performance, but I wonder how much makeup attributed to his transformation into Dick Cheney. Going back to Malek, I think the writing is on the wall. He’s won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA for his performance. I see no reason why he won’t win his first Academy Award. Outside of Bale and Malek, Viggo Mortensen is probably the next stiffest competition.
Will win: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Should win: Christian Bale, Vice
Could win: Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
In Andrew’s Perfect World: Christian Bale, Vice
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Again, this category has materialized mostly due to the writing on the wall from prior ceremonies. Glenn Close is due for her Academy Award with a tour de force performance in The Wife, and she’s already raked in a Golden Globe and a SAG award. Closely behind her is Olivia Colman, who won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite. Lady Gaga’s tour de force performance in A Star is Born was the early Oscar buzz, and, were it not for Glenn Close, it very well could be hers. But I think her campaign suffered from a loss in momentum (the film was released in September)- and it didn’t help that Glenn Close has had one of those “phenomenal performance in a non-nominated film” performances.
Will win: Glenn Close, The Wife
Should win: Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Could win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Surprises: Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman; Sam Rockwell, Vice
Snubs: Timotheé Chalamet, Beautiful Boy; Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
Truly, I’m surprised Michael B. Jordan’s performance for Black Panther isn’t being appreciated, in favor of, say, Adam Driver’s in BlacKkKlansman. Driver was good, but Jordan was better. As for the nominees, it appears Mahershala Ali has this one in the bag, having won all previous supporting actor awards since the start of awards season. I would be shocked if he doesn’t win the Oscar, too. There’s always one nominee that’s pretty much a lead actor but gets put into the supporting actor category: Ali’s Donald Shirley is that in Green Book. Not to take away from his performance; it’s a damn good one.
Will and Should win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Could win: Sam Elliott, A Star is Born or Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Surprises: Marina de Tavira, Roma
Snubs: Claire Foy, First Man
The case is the same for Regina King in the Supporting Actress category. She appears to be the favorite, having won a fair share of her nominations since the start of awards season. Her staunchest competition would be either Rachel Weisz or Emma Stone from The Favourite. As for Amy Adams, she’s due for her award, but she’ll have to wait yet another year to actually receive it.
Will win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Should win: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Could win: Emma Stone, The Favourite
Best Original Screenplay
Snubs: A Quiet Place- Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski; Eighth Grade- Bo Burnham; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs- Joel & Ethan Coen; Sorry to Bother You- Boots Riley
Why isn’t Eighth Grade included on this list of nominees? The field is packed, I get that, and credit to Oscar veterans (Paul Schrader) where credit is due, but Bo Burnham’s coming of age comedy-drama was one of the best-written films of last year.
As for the field itself, it’s gotta be The Favourite. The film’s got some clout with its ten nominations, and the witty dialogue has to be recognized somehow, since it probably isn’t winning Best Picture. Roma is more of a visual medium anyways; I don’t think Cuarón’s script work is all that incredible. As for Green Book- it’s a good story, but the script suffers from being just a bit too cliché to garner an Oscar.
Will and should win: The Favourite- Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
Could win: Green Book- Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Curie and Peter Farrelly
Best Adapted Screenplay
Surprises: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Snubs: Black Panther
I’m stuck on this one. There some great nominees but none of them stick out to me at first glance. Can You Ever Forgive Me? won the WGA top prize, but writers like Barry Jenkins and the Coen Brothers (who I’m surprised are here) have wooed the Academy in their direction before. I think the strongest case can be made for BlacKkKlansman, though.
Will win: BlacKkKlansman- Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Wilmot and Spike Lee
Could win: Can You Ever Forgive Me?- Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
Best Animated Feature
Spider-Man is that good. It’s just that damn good. Yes, Isle of Dogs is a quirky homage to our canine companions, and we waited ten years for a satisfying sequel to The Incredibles. But Spider-verse’s animation style and intriguing storyline make it the favorite. It’ll cruise to a win here. Also, this is revenge for PhilLord and Chris Miller, who were snubbed for The Lego Movie.
Will and should win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
Could win: Isle of Dogs
Best Foreign Language Film
Snubs: Where is Woman at War?
Cold War earned its director, Paweł Pawlikowski, a nomination for Best Director. But I think more people have seen Roma since it’s nominated for Best Picture. That tips the scales in its favor, and I anticipate that it will win Best Foreign Language Film. A win here would be the first for Mexico, funny enough.
Will and should win: Roma
Could win: Cold War
Best Documentary Feature
Surprises: Minding the Gap; Hale County This Morning, This EveningSnubs: Three Identical Strangers; Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
The biggest question will be if the Academy selects subject matter over timeliness. Free Solo has been the front runner with its stunning visuals and unique storytelling, while RBG surrounds Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been more in the public eye since the 2016 election, and especially since she has battled back from injuries to serve on the Supreme Court once again.
Will and should win: Free Solo
Could win: RBG
Best Animated Short Film
I was truthfully underwhelmed by this year’s shorts after last year’s left us with such indelible images. Bao, Disney/Pixar’s precursor to Incredibles 2 from earlier this summer, is the clear frontrunner for the category. I felt like a lot of these all played on the family drama trope a little too hard, and perhaps some of them even cancel each other out by having animation styles that are a tad too similar. If I had to pick a second place, it’s the charming and deeply cutting One Small Step, even if it’s a little cheesy toward the end. But it’s one giant leap from second to first in this one. Bao by a mile.
Will and should win: Bao
Could win: One Small Step
Best Live Action Short Film
These shorts WRECKED me. I am overwhelmed.
There’s an overarching sense of desperation that wends its way through each of the nominees. From the terror of a mother whose son is lost and alone, only able to communicate by phone, to two boys whose power game spirals out of control, to an elderly woman finding solace in her caretaker, to the frightening story of the youngest convicted murderers of the 20th Century, to a man who receives his comeuppance in the most shocking way possible, the live action shorts have enough power to make you both shed a tear of sympathy one minute, and make you squirm in your seat the next. Overall, I found Marguerite to be the most poignant. It is the one film that differs from the other four, which all involved children in trouble in one way or another.
Will and should win: Marguerite
Could win: Fauve or Skin
Best Documentary- Short Subject
The Best Short Documentary category really relies on what the Academy will find as the most interesting topic. There are some broader topics like Lifeboat and End Game, both of which also do a great job of pulling at heartstrings, but there also more personal ones like that of Cornelius in Black Sheep. An interesting addition is A Night at the Garden, a 7-minute found footage film recounting a Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in 1939. I think the strongest case can be made for Period. End of Sentence., an Indian documentary about women who make and sell feminine products in the impoverished countryside. I think it differs from the rest of the films in tone, and its timely message I think will resonate more soundly with the voters, given the social issues that surrounded the entire awards season last year.
Will and should win: Period. End of Sentence.
Could win: End Game
Best Original Song
Surprises: “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings”
Snubs: “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns
“All the Stars” is a bop, and I’m really excited that “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is included on this list. But come on. There’s a clear winner here. We all knew it from the moment this film was released. It has to be Gaga, doesn’t it?
Will and should win: “Shallow,” from A Star is Born
Could win: “All the Stars,” from Black Panther
Best Original Score
Surprises: Black Panther- Ludwig Goransson
Snubs: First Man- Justin Hurwitz
This entire category appears to be a toss up, with neither the Golden Globe winner (Justin Hurwitz for First Man) nor the BAFTA winner (A Star is Born) we’re nominated for Oscars. Nicholas Britell’s sweeping score is integral to If Beale Street Could Talk. I am partial to the quirky scores of Alexandre Desplat for Isle of Dogs, and there is a lot to be said about the Afro-infused score from Black Panther. But two more contenders are intriguing- the first being Marc Shaiman, who brings new life to the Mary Poppins sequel, and frequency Spike Lee collaborator Terence Blanchard for BlacKkKlansman, whose swirling and ominous score punctuates through a narrative that can be mistaken as a comedy if not looked at more closely. It’ll be a tough slog, and it could be any of these films winning Best Original Score.
Will win: If Beale Street Could Talk- Nicholas Britell
Could win: BlacKkKlansman- Terence Blanchard, Mary Poppins Returns- Marc Shaiman or Black Panther- Ludwig Goransson
Surprises: Cold War (Lukasz Zal), Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel)
Snubs: First Man (Linus Sandgren), If Beale Street Could Talk (James Laxton)
Cuarón wanted to work with three-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki, but he couldn’t commit to Roma’s long shooting schedule. Instead, Cuarón chose to shoot the film himself. Naturally, Roma is a feast for the eyes. “What would ‘Chivo’ do?” wondered Cuarón (“Chivo” is Lubezki’s nickname) often on set. Robbie Ryan’s work on The Favourite is certainly commendable, but the Roma auteur could become the first director to also win for shooting his own film.
Will and should win: Roma- Alfonso Cuarón
Could win: The Favourite- Robbie Ryan
Best Costume Design
Surprises: Mary Poppins Returns; Mary Queen of Scots
Snubs: A Star is Born
17th century costumes? Shot on location? Three time Oscar winner Sandy Powell? I think The Favourite has this one in the bag. While Mary Queen of Scots is pretty much the same style, I think the Best Picture nominee has the edge. Don’t count out Ruth E. Carter’s designs for Black Panther though.
Will and should win: The Favourite- Sandy Powell
Could win: Mary Poppins Returns- Sandy Powell or Black Panther- Ruth. E Carter
Best Hair and Makeup Design
Snubs: The Favourite
I went back and watched footage of Dick Cheney. The resemblance is uncanny. Props to Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney for helping Christian Bale fully morph into everyone’s least favorite Vice President.
Will and should win: Vice- Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney
Could win: Mary Queen of Scots- Goran Lundstrom and Pamela Goldhammer
Best Production Design
Snubs: Ready Player One
I can imagine that the world of Wakanda will run the Best Production Design category. The Favourite did film on location, and Mary Poppins Returns does evoke the same spirit as the original, but it’s Hannah Beachler’s production design and Jay Hart’s scenic design that are the most impressive of the five nominees.
Will and should win: Black Panther
Could win: Mary Poppins Returns or The Favourite
Best Film Editing
The predicted nominees:
Surprises: BlackKklansman; Bohemian Rhapsody; Vice
Snubs: A Star is Born, First Man
The battle is Vice against BlacKkKlansman. Two historical comedy/dramas, both with their own fun editing styles. BlacKkKlansman features vintage Spike Lee quick cuts, interspersed with images both during and at the end of the film. I think Hank Corwin’s editing for Vice is more creative though, as its unique narrative is told through many different styles reminiscent of documentary, soap opera, and even Shakespeare (the latter should get an Academy Award if its own for being such a daring choice and paying off so well). It’s tough to choose, but I think Vice has it in the bag.
Will and should win: Vice- Hank Corwin
Could win: BlacKkKlansman- Barry Alexander Brown
Best Visual Effects
Surprises: Christopher Robin; Ready Player One; Solo: A Star Wars Story
Snubs: Mary Poppins Returns, Black Panther
So Ready Player One is a visual treat, and certainly deserves merit for its accomplishments. But I think there will be a performance aspect of the film that gives the edge to Avengers: Infinity War, and that is Josh Brolin’s performance as Thanos. Avengers has strong effects PLUS an emotional component by those visual effects. Can’t wait for Endgame in April.
Will and should win: Avengers: Infinity War
Could win: Ready Player One
Best Sound Editing
Surprises: A Quiet Place, Roma
Snubs: A Star is Born
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that A Quiet Place made the list. I am surprised that a musical film like A Star is Born didn’t make the list. That said, it’s clear that Bohemian Rhapsody should be the favorite, mixing the action of the film with Queen’s greatest hits. Also, that Live Aid sequence, though.
Will and should win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Could win: A Quiet Place
Best Sound Mixing
Snubs: Mary Poppins Returns; A Quiet Place
Rami Malek with Freddie Mercury’s voice. That’ll just about clinch it right there. No contest, Bohemian Rhapsody wins this one.
Will and should win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Could win: A Star is Born
God help us all.
Who's your pick for Best Picture? Leave a comment down below.
The 91st Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, February 24th, at 8:00pm on ABC.
Top 10 Most Disappointing Films of 2018
I’m going to take out my frustrations on MoviePass with this list, because they really made me angry this year ever since they changed their policies.
I’m not sure if I’m just getting more picky with movies this year, or if my expectations are just unreasonably high. But 2018 had its fair share of films that were just flat out disappointing.
Some are doomed from the start, and some really let me down. Again, to preface, the films on this list are not bad, per se (most of them are), but just plain old disappointing, for one reason or another.
Moviegoing is subjective, we all know this; you can have a reaction to a movie on one bad day and then have a different reaction to the same movie on a good day. But this is my blog and this is how I feel about these movies, so shut up.
According to Andrew, these are my top 10 most disappointing films of 2018.
10. The Girl in the Spider's Web
The first incarnation of Stieg Larsson’s book series was excellent: Direction by David Fincher, and an Oscar-worthy turn by Rooney Mara. And then there was the anticipated return of the series with The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Neither Fincher nor Mara returned for the film, replaced instead by Fede Alvarez in the director’s chair and Claire Foy taking over the role of Lisbeth Salander. As a result, the film did not have pack nearly the same punch as the film preceding it. In fairness, Fincher and Mara are a tough match to live up to, especially when having to make a sequel of an already brilliant film.
9. First Man
I promise I’m not just going to bash movies that Claire Foy was in- this is merely just coincidence that Spider’s Web and First Man happen to be featured one right after the other. Now, this isn’t a bad movie. It just could have been a lot better. I was underwhelmed. What is it with people thinking that portraying notable Americans as stoic assholes is an interesting choice? I thought Ryan Gosling was a good choice for Neil Armstrong, but give me a little something than stoic brooding for two and half hours. I also want to discuss Damien Chazelle’s direction of this film. I felt like his heart wasn’t in it as much as it was for Whiplash and La La Land, and I think it has to do with the fact that he wrote both of them. Josh Singer, who wrote The Post and Spotlight, wrote First Man. To that effect, I felt like Chazelle was interested in the visual aspect of the story and nothing else. Also, if Neil Armstrong was going to cry on the moon, he wouldn’t have been the first person on the moon. On a brighter note, Claire Foy is fantastic in this.
8. Red Sparrow
Jennifer Lawrence in a Salt-esque spy thriller… meh. She looks amazing in the very gritty trailer, but the style of the film is about all that it brings to the table. Too much reliance on graphic violence and sex, which hides a lack of story. Jennifer Lawrence is an amazing actor, but Red Sparrow is a dud of a film.
7. Solo: A Star Wars Story
I am a huge Star Wars fan. That being said, I didn’t love Solo. Now don’t get me wrong- the movie does a lot of things right. The world building and visual effects are exceptional. Even Alden Ehrenreich’s performance as Han Solo is pretty good. But what I didn’t understand what the big picture. Why did this film being made? I didn’t have a problem with Ehrenreich playing Solo, but Han Solo was never a character that required a backstory for me. The entire film is based off one line in Episode IV, about making the Kessel Run. From there, the storyline is far and few between. It’s not really necessary to know why Han and Chewie became friends. And even though we know that now, a lot of the character arcs seem too quick and too forced. Also, what was that twist at the end about??? I didn’t think Star Wars: Rebels or Clone Wars was canon, but I suppose it is now. This was the first Star Wars film I left with a bad taste in my mouth.
6. The Happytime Murders
Honestly, I thought this movie could be pretty good. Avenue Q does a lot with vulgar puppets, but we’ve never seen a film go to quite the lengths that the musical had. Enter The Happytime Murders, a film that is akin to if you went down on the wrong part of Sesame Street. The Happytime Murders is great in concept, with a great supporting cast, including Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolph, but it falls flat in execution… while going way too hard in other areas. Could have used a bit less of all of the puppet sex and used more story.
How many times did this movie’s release date get pushed back? Also, who went to SEE this movie? So this one is like a watered down version of The Revenant combined with Ice Age. In Paleolithic Europe, a tribe of hunters (that speak a “fictional language” train some teenagers on how to become hunters. One of the teenagers is hurled over a cliff by a bison and left for dead. And then he becomes friends with a wolf and thus begins the cliche that dog is “man’s best friend.” Give me a break with this one. The film was delayed almost a full year (from September 2017 to August 2018) before it was released. Was there any doubt this film would suck? Didn’t think so.
4. The Cloverfield Paradox
I think Netflix’s decision to release this film after the Super Bowl was both clever and suspicious. It was clever in that the latest installment of the Cloverfield franchise had almost no marketing campaign, dropped an ad during the Super Bowl, and then was released immediately afterwards- a very interesting marketing technique. It was suspicious in that the film was initially dropped by Paramount over fears that the film would not make any money. Netflix’s acquisition of the film can be viewed as jumping on the dead horse that is this film to get any kind of notoriety from it. The actors in the film were not even aware of the title, the advertisement, and the planned release until the morning of the Super Bowl. They couldn’t have stuck with one of these? John Goodman’s performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane was pretty good, but the original Cloverfield is where they should have just left off.
3. The 15:17 to Paris
A true story. The real heroes. Shut the heck up, Kyle.
I’m sorry to say that this film was doomed from the start. With all due respect to my father, who really enjoys Clint Eastwood’s work, as well as any kind of historical fiction involving American heroism, but this had probably one of the worst campaigns I’ve ever seen. From a trailer played endlessly before just about every film I saw both this year and last, to using the real people who experienced the event (pretty cool, but they’re still untrained actors), to a thin backstory leading to a climax of an event that lasted but a few minutes, there was no question this one was going to fail. The film made $57 million against a $30 million budget. Nobody cared about this one, and for good reason.
2. Welcome to Marwen
This thing had some serious Oscar buzz, and now look where we are. When I saw the trailer for this one, I thought the incorporation of stop-motion animation and puppetry was clever. But it threw off the film for me, and thus made the real-life scenes feel less gripping like they should have been. Mark Hogancamp is a fascinating individual, and Steve Carell brings some heart to the character. His story is compelling and his message is clear- but it was a failed attempt at a very creative concept. But hey, they say the first one through the wall always gets bloody. Maybe we’re just not seeing something in this film upon first viewing.
1. A Wrinkle in Time
A Wrinkle in Time had all the makings of the summer’s next blockbuster: A $150 million budget; Upcoming and Oscar-nominated director Ava Duvernay; An all-star cast including Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon and Zach Galifianakis; Not to mention one of the most famous pieces of literature ever written. They even had backing by Disney. And still, they found a way to mess it up in every way possible. First, the positive: It was a very important film in 2018, celebrating female empowerment and diversity. That’s probably about it. The film didn’t make sense, and it relied way too much on CGI for me to feel any kind of invested. Disney has been known to make flops every once in a while, and, to be fair, they aren’t really major players when making live-action dramas (for example, Tomorrowland and Finest Hours), but this is unprecedented. The film grossed $137 million worldwide against its nearly $150 million budget. It would have needed to gross at least $400 million in order to turn a profit. This bomb most likely resulted in the studio losing anywhere from $86 to $186 million. If this doesn’t define the term “disappointment,” I want to know what does. With all the right cards in its hand, A Wrinkle in Time managed to fold its way into mediocrity.
What other films this year were you disappointed by? Leave a comment down below.
And be sure to check out the rest of According to Andrew’s Best of 2018 spread by clicking HERE.
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