Monday, January 13, 2020

The 2020 Oscar nominations have arrived. Feel free to cheer, carp or complain.

Oscar has spoken.

The 2020 nominations are in, effectively trumping all other awards that have been given out thus far. Let’s be real: If Brad Pitt wins an Oscar as best supporting actor for his work in Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood, the Oscar probably will occupy a higher place on his mantel than the Golden Globe he already has won, presuming, of course, that Pitt's home includes a mantel.

You get the point: When it comes to awards, Oscar remains the big boy on the block.

For many, my use of the words “bog boy” should be telling. The 2020 edition didn’t prove to be a banner year for women or for diversity. No women directors were nominated in a year when many expected Greta Gerwig to receive a nomination for her direction of Little Women.

Gerwig did receive a nomination in the best-adapted screenplay category and Little Women also received a best-picture nod.

Meanwhile, re: additional outrage over the fact that no women were nominated in the best director category. The woman who most belonged on that list is probably someone most Academy voters never considered. Australian director Jennifer Kent’s Nightingale was not only one of the year’s best movies, but it offered a devastating critique of British colonialism.

Of course, there were other snubs. Jennifer Lopez didn’t receive a supporting actress nomination for her work in Hustlers. Should she have taken Kathy Bates’ place on that list? Bates was nominated for playing Richard Jewel’s mother in Richard Jewel. I'd have opted for Zhao Shuzehen, who played the grandmother in The Farewell.

The list of best-supporting actor nominees is strong, but I would have put Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy) ahead of Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood). And, no, that doesn’t mean I didn’t admire Hanks’ performance. It just means I thought that as an innocent man on death row, Foxx went places that were difficult to reach. Heartbreak without sentiment.

But (and I can’t believe I’m about to say this) the biggest acting affront was the omission of Adam Sandler from the best-actor list. I understand that Uncut Gems isn’t a movie for everyone. It’s tough, profane and relentless. But it’s difficult to imagine anyone but Sandler holding the movie together. As a jeweler looking for a big score, Sandler sustained his character’s manic energy from beginning to end.

I was surprised that Todd Phillips (Joker) turned up on the best director list. But as one of the dissenting critics who admired Joker, I wasn’t disappointed. Phillips made an anti-comic book movie out of a comic-book character. He did it with ominous atmospherics and, of course, Joaquin Phoenix’s bravura turn as Joker.

Nominated in the best-actor category, Phoenix emerges as the presumed favorite. Joker's 11 nominations topped the list.

Notably, two actresses on this year’s best-actress list gave performances that carried their movies: Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland in Judy and Cynthia Erevo as Harriet Tubman in Harriet. Both actresses were the best part of their respective movies.

As for best actor, I was mildly surprised to see Jonathan Pryce (Two Popes) on the list. Pryce played Jorge Bergoglio, the Argentine cardinal en route to becoming Pope Francis. Granted Pryce plays the softer of the two characters, but Anthony Hopkins (nominated for best supporting actor in the same movie) blew Pryce off the screen, sneakily at first and later with quiet assurance.

I'd have included Robert DeNiro for his performance as Frank Sheeran in The Irishman.

So let’s sum up with a complete list of nominees and with my customary reminder that Oscar is ... well ... Oscar and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with which movies and performances deserve to be enshrined in the most important hall of fame of all: our own big-screen memories.

Best Picture
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Actress
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
Renée Zellweger, Judy

Best 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

Actress in a Supporting Role
Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh, Little Women
Margot Robbie, Bombshell

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

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Irishman, Steven Zaillian
Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi
Joker, Todd Phillips & Scott Silver
Little Women, Greta Gerwig
The Two Popes, Anthony McCarten

Best Original Screenplay
1917, Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Knives Out, Rian Johnson
Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino
Parasite, Bong Joon Ho & Jin Won Han

Best International Film
Corpus Christi (Poland)
Honeyland (North Macedonia)
Les Misérables (France)
Pain and Glory (Spain)
Parasite (South Korea)

Best Documentary Feature
American Factory
The Cave
The Edge of Democracy
For Sama

Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Missing Link
Toy Story 4

Production Design
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Film Editing
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit

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

Visual Effects
Avengers: Endgame
The Irishman
The Lion King
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Costume Design
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Sound Mixing
Ad Astra
Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Sound Editing
Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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 II
"Stand Up," Harriet

Original Score
Joker, Hildur Gudnadóttir
Little Women, Alexandre Desplat
Marriage Story, Randy Newman
1917, Thomas Newman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, John Williams

Makeup and Hairstyling
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Live-Action Short Film
Nefta Football Club
The Neighbors' Window
A Sister

Animated Short Film
Dcera (Daughter)
Hair Love
Sister, Siqi Song

Documentary Short Subject
In the Absence
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)
Life Overtakes Me
St. Louis Superman
Walk Run Cha-Cha

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