Oscars 2020


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I have a tradition of watching all Best Picture Oscar nominees by the ceremony. I don’t know why I am still doing this – the Oscars are not that important anymore, and it has long ago lost its glitz and glamour that it used to have.
Still, I know I will watch the ceremony, so I made time for the nominees. A few were a total waste of time, but I am really happy that I forced myself to watch “1917”.
Let’s say, I broke even.
Here are the nominees, and Oscar goes to…

Ford v Ferrari

Visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and fearless British-born driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) battle corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford Motor Company and take on the dominating race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.

First things first: Its Oscar nomination is a mystery to me. It must have something to do with the American ego – “The US is better than Europe in every aspect. We won the Second World War, and we won the 24 hours of Le Mans when we set our minds to. We are great at anything we want to. We are the champions… of the woorld.”
Well, good for you!
But this movie has news for you: If you hadn’t cooperated with Brits, you couldn’t have won!
Okay, I am babbling. But the resistance shown to the grumpy British-born driver played by Christian Bale by Ford executives, in which the tension of the movie lies, is not convincing, especially when the very man has extremely emotional family relations as a loving husband and a loving dad.
The Academy owes me two hours of my life back!
Don’t get me wrong – if I had watched it on some boring afternoon for the sake of it, I wouldn’t be complaining. But it is my time of the year that I am trying to catch up with the Oscar nominees, so I chose it over going out with some friends and forced two of them to stay at home, watching the movie, and I feel like I was tricked. Not to mention the grumbles I had to put up with.
FYI we had all loved “the Fast and the Furious”, so we have nothing against fast driving.
And I had thought James Mangold’s “Logan” was a nice touch to Marvel Universe, so I have nothing against the director.
Matt Damon is, well, okay; Christian Bale, however, is my Dark Knight, and it was heartbreaking to watch his overacting, struggling between being a chauvinist and a beloved family man.
Stand a chance?
No, no, God forbid! No!
My opinion?
I’ve just told you. It shouldn’t have been nominated at all!

Joker

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events.

While Dark Knight is turning into a grumpy but brilliant race driver with a ridiculous accent, not-so-brilliant Arthur Fleck is struggling to turn into utterly brilliant Joker…
I couldn’t ever imagine that I would appreciate any actor other than Heath Ledger for his “Joker” performance. Joaquin Phoenix, however, just did it! His performance is beyond all praise. He has a solid shot at winning Best Actor in a Leading Role. (Antonia Banderas also has a shot. By the way, quiero aprender espanol, es porque me gusta ver la película. I haven’t learned the past tense yet:)
Director Todd Phillips, on the other hand, is one of my favorites in the genre of comedy, but to be honest, although I always appreciate his quick wit, I didn’t see this coming. Joker is a villain-origin story and a critique to society that creates villains by simply ignoring them, to say the least.
This year, “Parasite” is regarded as exploring the strong themes of class warfare and poverty, whereas, in my opinion, “Joker” envelopes not only those themes but more, for social exclusion can stem from the negative stigmatization of anything differs from social norms, most of which are based on misinterpreted values. From mental illness to social class, to educational status, anything could make you a victim of society, and Arthur Fleck is a victim before becoming a villain!
Weirdly enough, stigmatized as “theme park” and “not cinema” by Martin Scorsese last year, as a distinguished example of comic-book movies, the subject of his criticism, “Joker” is a tribute to Scorsese’s masterpieces “Taxi Driver” and “King of Comedy”. And with its gorgeous cinematography, powerful screenplay and haunting original score, “Joker” itself is a masterpiece!
Stand a chance?
Long shot.
My opinion?
One can always hope.

The Irishman

The Irishman is an epic saga of organized crime in post-war America told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a hustler and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious figures of the 20th Century. Spanning decades, the film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa, and offers a monumental journey through the hidden corridors of organized crime: its inner workings, rivalries and connections to mainstream politics.

If it had been made ten or let’s say fifteen years ago, when Robert De Niro could still give somebody a good kick, “The Irishman” might be a masterpiece as well.
As it is, it is not!
It is an above-standard movie – we certainly didn’t expect any less from Scorsese anyway.
Besides, it is always a treat to watch Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in a crime drama. If you haven’t seen it yet, it will be worth your time, even considering it is three and a half hours long.
With that said, just one more note: Its lead actress Anna Paquin barely speaks in the whole movie, and her scenes are less than 10 minutes in total!
I deeply respect Scorsese, but it’s about time he started to show some respect to comic-book movies and women!
Stand a chance?
No, sorry.
My opinion?
No, sorry.

1917

At the height of the First World War, two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers—Blake’s own brother among them.

I hesitated to watch “1917”, even for the sake of Oscars fun, because I don’t like pure war movies. I have no objection to violence in movies, take Tarantino’s films or Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” for example, but when it comes to stories of real wars, I become a bit girlish -I feel terribly sorry for the characters in the film, I cry my eyes out, it takes hours to feel myself again... Maybe it is because I live in Turkey, Syria’s neighbor to the north, Iran’s and Iraq’s neighbor to the west – meaning too close to real wars and its real consequences. So, I wouldn’t watch it, considering how Sam Mendes could be realistic in his movies (heartbreakingly real “Revolutionary Road” is one of my favorites, but then again, it is about a middle-class couple, not about war!).
But when I recalled Nolan’s “Dunkirk” – its editing style is something worth seeing, I decided to give it a shot.
You must have already heard that it was criticized and praised at the same time for resembling a video game. It certainly is like a video game. And I loved it. It worked for me like a charm. It is -how can I put it?- too realistic so that you almost experienced the war, but not so realistic -it is a video game after all! so that you kept your distance, thinking “Take the milk, take the milk… Click on the baby!”
It would be a loss not to see it even though I shed a few tears at the end.
Stand a chance?
As a Golden Globe winner, definitely.
My opinion?
Yeah, why not?

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. It is a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age, which came to an end with the murder of the up-and-coming actress, Roman Polanski’s wife, at age 26, by Manson family members.

You love Tarantino’s films or not – there is no such thing in between.
I love his movies. He knows how to surprise you -with blunt violence, or in case of this one, lack of violence, at least till the end. Even then, not in a way you might expect either.
Tarantino’s passion for the late ‘60s and its popular culture is well-known, and there is no surprise that he did his best to re-create that world. Every item we see in the film seems like carefully chosen -I’ve decided to buy a cigarette holder ring!
Brad Pitt, as always, is not only a feast for eyes but completely at ease with the character he is playing and his co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, who is unfortunately overshadowed by him although he also makes best of his role. Brad Pitt should -and I’m sure, he will- win the best supporting actor Oscar.
What about the best-film Oscar?
Stand a chance?
Sure.
My opinion?
I would be okay with it.
But would it be really fair while its rivals are “Parasite”, “Joker”, and “1917”?
No.

Jojo Rabbit

A lonely German boy's (Roman Griffin Davis as JoJo) world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.

It is one of the rainy-Sunday-afternoon movies. You know them, right? On those days, you want to watch something “not too loud”. Something not too funny, not too sad – not too anything. This is it.
It maintains a measure of lightness and sweetness, remaining effortlessly enjoyable all the way through. I laughed out loud a few times and groaned once when I least expected.
It is my ignorance that I knoq nothing about the director, Taika Waititi. I’ll look at his other works at the first opportunity.

Stand a chance?
No.
My opinion.
I love it! But, no.

Little Women

Little Women draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott, and unfolds as the author’s alter ego, Jo March, reflects back and forth on her fictional life. In writer-director Greta Gerwig’s take, the beloved story of the March sisters—four young women each determined to live life on her own terms—is both timeless and timely.

I was really surprised when I read that Greta Gerwig was making the new adaptation of “Little Women.” After “Lady Bird”s success, I think I was expecting something original and bold from her.
One can’t say that adapting “Little Women” to the screen for the thousandth time is not bold enough though!
Its story is same old same old as you might expect, but the film also contains hints about the novel’s sequel, “Little Men.” With Gerwig’s small but not insignificant touches, especially in editing, this new adaptation is a tribute to novelist Louisa May Alcott herself -not to the novel. I appreciate Gerwig’s way of thinking, but I could have survived without watching another “Little Women” adaptation”
Stand a chance?
No.
My opinion?
No.

Marriage Story

An incisive and compassionate portrait of a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.

Let’s gossip for a minute.
Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig have been together since they met on the set of “Greenberg” (2010). Greta was the leading lady, and Baumbach’s then-wife Jennifer Jason Leigh was starring in the movie too, and she was the co-writer with Noah Baumbach, of the screenplay.
When I saw “Frances Ha”, the Baumbach-Gerwig’s first collaboration, I immediately knew that their works would be worth watching, and I haven’t missed any of their movies -together or separate- since then. I also watched “Greenberg”, of course, and I delved into their personal lives…
So, I am sorry, I couldn’t watch this movie without thinking Baumbach’s divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh.
“Marriage Story” handed Noah Baumbach an original screenplay nomination – though it seems to me a re-adaptation of “Kramer vs Kramer” – sorry.
Stand a chance?
Baumbach was not even nominated for the best director category. What do you think?
My opinion?
He will win an Oscar one day – just not this year.


Comments 4


Glad to have you back and writing about movies, again. Awesome! :>)
Although I'm not the mainstream Hollywood type ( unless we talk about classics / stuff from the last Century and some exceptions ) and the Oscars really don't interest me, you managed to review these titles in such an intriguing way that I feel like watching at least half of them.

P.S. I know about the director of Jojo Rabbit ;>)
watched and enjoyed his 2007 feature film debut 'Eagle vs Shark' at the Rotterdam Film Festival back in the days. He also contributed to the nerdy but imo very funny comedy series Flight of the Conchords. Apparently he went Superhero movies afterwards ( usually not my cup of tea ) so I lost track of him. Thanks for the reminder!

Until next time :>)

08.02.2020 20:36
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I love Hollywood movies - it shows a lack of good taste, but I can live with it.
And fortunately, East Asian movies have begun to draw my attention lately. I've just finished watching "Shoplifters." It was unexpectedly powerful!
By the way, I left you a comment earlier today, and I am gonna listen to your podcast later tonight (in fact, I've already listened most of it, but something came up and i had to stop at some point).
So, still your fan:)
Ah, and I'm learning Spanish - I haven't learnt much yet, but hope to hablar contigo en espanol pronto.

08.02.2020 22:01
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I love Hollywood movies - it shows a lack of good taste, but I can live with it.

I allow you to be forgiven by the universe, for that sin ;>)

I watched Shop Lifters in an arthouse cinema in The Netherlands, last Summer. I really liked it a lot but had forgotten about. Thanks for the reminder :>)

Cool you're learning Spanish. I would need to polish mine ( it has become dusty due to Portuguese taking over ) antes que podemos hablar juntos ;>)

Un abrazo desde Portugal,

Vincent

14.02.2020 12:40
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