Introducing the 2020 Oscar Nominees

Okay, so the nominees were dropped this morning. There’ve been a few different things I was hopeful for and some of them did not come to pass. This was a weird year, one where I realized a movie sort of based on a comic book character would wind up with a ton of nominations, one where I worried that the most touching film of the year would come, and one where I feared the token-nomination would be misused. All of these things came to pass, but we lay their memories at the altar of annual snubs and move forward. As with last year, I’m going to discuss the major categories and then one or two small ones where I’ve got something to say.

Best Picture

  • 1917
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
  • Parasite

Yup, it’s been a great year! I’m only one behind on these this year (still gotta see 1917), but the ones I’ve seen I loved quite a bit. Ford v Ferrari is the ultimate dad movie, Jojo Rabbit and Little Women are some of the most emotional pieces of the year, and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood feels like a Tarantino victory lap. I’m pumped to see Parasite get the BP nom, something I don’t think it’ll win but I appreciate the outside shot. I’m a bit put off by the inclusion of Joker, a movie that has had a lot of discussion and warrants almost none of it. This is a wasted slot, one I feel conflicted about. Joker blew up the internet, with people threatening violence because they felt empowered by the marketing and others angry about the depiction of a put-upon narcissist displayed as a nigh-on hero. Then the film came out and it was basically just a fusion of Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy with a DC Comics label. It wasn’t anything we needed to get our guts in knots about, but seeing it get a nomination is frustrating.

Best Director

  • Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
  • Sam Mendes, 1917
  • Todd Phillips, Joker
  • Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
  • Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

I’ve..I don’t…look, the direction of Joker was absolutely nothing special. The fact that we’re brushing aside Greta Gerwig for Little Women is, to be fair and even-keeled, bullshit.I think the other four nominations definitely deserve to be here (I haven’t seen 1917, but I’ve been told wonderful things), and I’m overjoyed to see most of them. Scorsese is the scary uncle of Hollywood, king of the gangster film and weirdly obsessed with The Red Shoes (that imagery pops up in his films a lot). Bong Joon-ho put together his masterpiece after years of being for weirdos only, his creature features and crime thrillers fun but nowhere close to what Parasite became. Tarantino is…well, he’s Tarantino. Phillips shot a muted, gritty film that used lots of standard camera work and relied on the reactions to the performance to carry it forward. I’m just irritated beyond belief when there were more deserving directors (Wang, Gerwig, Eggers, Aster) that should have been given consideration for that slot instead. 

Best Actor

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

Cool, I’ve got issues with none of these. This is legitimately a great lineup, though I’m a bit sad that Willem DaFoe didn’t get a nomination for The Lighthouse. That was the performance of a lifetime (yes, I consider that movie a two-hander and he should have gotten this nomination). Oh well, I  get that this group is still afraid of a good genre film. 

Best Actress

  • Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
  • Scarlett Johanssen, Marriage Story
  • Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
  • Charlize Theron, Bombshell
  • Renee Zellweger, Judy

So did anyone actually see Judy? It’s pretty damn good actually,something I enjoyed a lot. The only thing I’m a bit ticked about is that Lupita Nyong’o didn’t get a nom for Us. That movie has problems, but knowing that she did so well gave me some hope. Oh well, still a good lineup.

So there’s only one other category I’m going to discuss. Your mileage will vary on the others, it’s up to your personal preferences and insights at that point, but this one’s important to me:

Best Original Score

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

I’m so excessively happy that John Williams came back for one last hurrah. His score is far from the best of the year, but I really dug it! I just wanted to list these because…well, I wanted to talk about Alexandre Desplat’s score for Little Women one more time before the ceremony. I love that score and it’s been on my Spotify nonstop since I first heard it. It’s one of the best of the year and wound up being something very moving and beautiful. Give it a listen!

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