Reacting To The 92nd Academy Award Nominees

So today, whilst I was at work, the latest batch of Oscar nominations were released. I refrained from looking on my breaks and instead waited until I was in the comfort of my own home so I could react to what was inevitably going to be a messy, yet predictable set of nominees. There were a few big shocks which I will address in due course, and some delightful surprises along the way. I will be writing a piece closer to the time about my personal ballot and who I think should have been nominated, but that’s to come the week before the Oscars I think.

I’m going to go through the categories, examine the nominees and give my take on what the category looks like. I won’t be doing predictions just yet, that’ll again come later, I just want to give my thoughts on how deserving the nominees are in my opinion. And remember, this is just my subjective opinion and it does not count towards factuality.

I will be “ignoring” the docs and the shorts simply because I haven’t seen any of them yet, but I will be trying to so maybe I can write about them in my next Oscars post.

Going in reverse order to build suspense as always, here are the nominees for the 92nd annual Academy Awards.

Best Visual Effects

Avengers: Endgame
The Irishman
The Lion King
1917
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

I think all of the nominees somewhat deserve to be here, as they all displayed some stunning effects and creative use of digital technology to complement the story rather than just flashy effects. Star Wars feeling just like a nom the franchise usually achieves rather than as an indication of its prowess, but it still had some great effects going on. I’m not sure I’d kick up a fuss about any of these nominees winning, but I do think some have the edge over others for going above and beyond to successfully delivering what they needed to. Two saga finales, a live-action remake, a Scorsese epic, and a war film. Surprisingly light on the franchise blockbusters, but that’s a good thing. It means that intelligent visual effects work can be rewarded.

Best Film Editing

Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Parasite

For me, this category nominated three instances of immaculate editing, one good film that was artfully strung together, and one with use of editing I barely even recall. It won’t take a genius to figure those categories out, but I’m quite satisfied with this category, even if films like Marriage Story and Little Women probably deserved to have more a shot for the work that was done on those films. But hey, I like 4/5 of these movies and would be happy with them scooping the prize for this category. The clown can stay away.

Best Costume Design

The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Every year, there are one or two truly deserving winners in my eyes, and then a nomination that I don’t quite understand. Then there’s one that makes me think again about the costuming in the film and go “Oh yeah, that was pretty good, wasn’t it?” This absolutely applies here, and I think that not including films such as Rocketman and Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a huge missed opportunity as they used their costuming work to contribute to theme, character, and storytelling which is more than can be said for, you guessed it, the clown who won’t leave me alone.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Bombshell
Joker
Judy
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
1917

Finally, this category has rightfully expanded to containing five nominees rather than three for no apparent reason. Within the actual nominees themselves, I would say that all five somewhat belong in the conversation (you thought I was going to exclude the clown again, didn’t you?) and it’s a pleasant surprise to see Maleficent: Mistress of Evil show up amongst the more awards-focused movies. Once again, I would’ve loved to see Little Women or Rocketman here, but overall I’m not too discouraged by the state of the nominees. That will not last long.

Best Cinematography

The Irishman
Joker
The Lighthouse
1917
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

All of these films contained something good in terms of their cinematography. Jarin Blaschke’s work was one of my favourite things about The Lighthouse, a film I admittedly didn’t love. Deakins’ work speaks for itself, and Prieto and Richardson are stalwart contenders in this race. Joker wasn’t shot badly, I just had problems with the colour palette. Not to sound like a broken record, but Little Women and Portrait of a Lady on Fire were right there, Academy! As well as Parasite, Midsommar, and Ad Astra. It just feels very safe and repetitive in a lot of categories this year, which is disappointing and could have been an avenue to showcase some more alternative styles as with The Lighthouse.

Best Production Design

The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
1917
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Parasite

Despite the much-deserved love for Parasite, this feels like safe category once again. There was nothing noteworthy about The Irishman‘s production design in my opinion, same with OUATIH (refusing to type the whole thing AGAIN). Jojo and 1917 both displayed some great period-typical designs, while Parasite blows all four of them out of the water with its thematic approach to production design, resulting in what will be one of the most iconic movie houses to ever grace the screen. Also noteworthy in this category could have been the likes of Knives Out, Little Women, and Ad Astra. But you do you, Academy, nominate the same things ten times just for the hell of it.

Best Sound Mixing

Ad Astra
Ford v Ferrari
Joker
1917
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Finally, a reason to write about Ad Astra legitimately being considered for an award it deserves! This category quite closely matches my personal ballot, with the two exceptions being glaringly obvious. Joker I can more understand for its final moments, but OUATIH? Over films such as Rocketman, this just feels, again, like throwing away a nomination to a film they loved without considering the parameters of what the category calls for. 1917 is a no-brainer, Ford v Ferrari is so well mixed that I wouldn’t even mind it winning, and Ad Astra speaks for itself.

Best Sound Editing

Ford v Ferrari
Joker
1917
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

This also brings back a trend I hate with these categories. Four nominees show up in both categories, and then the last one is entirely different. Although the distinctions are quite different, it feels like the Academy’s attempt to ‘shake things up’ and be different. By throwing another nomination to OUATIH for very little reason at all? There were plenty more films to see, AMPAS! I’m too mad about these categories to comment more. Justice for Ad Astra.

Best Original Song

“I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough
“Into The Unknown” from Frozen II
“Stand Up” from Harriet
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4

Yes, finally something for Rocketman, and a fully deserving one this is. But this also means I’m going to have to see Breakthrough, so thanks for that Diane Warren! Into The Unknown isn’t close to the best song from Frozen II, that honour would go to “Show Yourself”, I can’t even remember how the Toy Story 4 song goes, but there you go. Quite happy for Harriet/Rocketman to win, but will be mourning the snub of Beyoncé for the spectacular “Spirit” from The Lion King. Also gutted I won’t be seeing Jessie Buckley belt one out at the Dolby in a month’s time.

Best Original Score

Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Finally a category I have no qualms about! While I would have LOVED to see Avengers: Endgame make it in here for it’s chilling, pulse-pounding polyphony, I enjoyed all five nominees this time, even Joker. Hildur created some beautiful music for the film, my problem was with how it was mixed (see the previous objection to Sound Mixing above). Little Women and Marriage Story provide some gorgeous accompaniment to beautiful dialogue, Star Wars sees John Williams back in his comfort zone, but 1917 accompanied a thrilling experience with an incredible score that is still ringing in my ears even now. Despite the ineligibility of Ad Astra and losing Parasite to the bake-off, this is a solid category and I’m excited to see who triumphs. Let’s hope Thomas Newman can beat his cousin Randy and win on his fifteenth outing to the Dolby.

Best International Feature Film

Corpus Christi
Honeyland
Les Miserables
Pain and Glory
Parasite

Okay, admittedly I’ve only seen Parasite so far (will be working on that before the Oscars) but I can’t see a world in which it loses. Unfortunately, Portrait was not eligible due to the one-film submission policy per country, but I’ve heard great things about Les Miserables. Will have to provide an updated look at this category soon.

Best Animated Feature Film

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Klaus
Missing Link
Toy Story 4

Quite a boring category every year, but I have two things to say.

I’m shocked at the Frozen II snub.

I LOST MY BODY BETTER WIN. Seriously, go check it out on Netflix if you haven’t yet!

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
The Two Popes

Four great screenplays and one of the worst I’ve ever come across in a film. Yes, of course I’m talking about Joker. A truly amateur script and easily the worst thing about an already mediocre movie. While The Two Popes suffers in its second hour, the remaining three thrive on their liveliness. Gerwig makes you feel like you’re watching your friends for two hours, Zaillian breathes new life into a tired genre, and Waititi delivers the most original script of the year. Any of those three would be worthy winners, but I can’t help but mourn the loss of Hustlers and The Farewell, two scripts I loved a lot and would’ve been thrilled to see.

Best Original Screenplay

Knives Out
Marriage Story
1917
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Parasite

While JJ Abrams and Chris Terrio are being derided for their latest script fails, Rian Johnson shook off the dust and became an Oscar nominee. Sorry, needed a minute to indulge in the pettiness of it all. But seriously, this is such a win for original storytelling and I’m so glad Knives Out got a chance to shine. Mendes and Wilson-Cairns’ lovely work on 1917 is a welcome addition, but Tarantino really dropped the ball and is still being showered with praise. Again, the script was the weakest part of the movie and failed to grasp character or theme without being as obvious as a clown jumping out a cake. It’s Baumbach and Bong who stand out for me here. Both do exceptional work with character, theme, and genre while delivering a multitude of memorable moments that build on the last. It would have been nice to see Booksmart or Portrait of a Lady on Fire here, but this is the category that matches my personal ballot the most closely with 4/5 matching.

Best Supporting Actress

Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell)
Laura Dern – (Marriage Story)
Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)
Florence Pugh (Little Women)
Margot Robbie (Bombshell)

I haven’t seen Richard Jewell yet, but I didn’t expect Bates to actually make the Oscar five. Dern, Johansson, Pugh, and Robbie all earn their places, but this is definitely quite a controversial category indeed with the omission of Jennifer Lopez for her towering work in Hustlers. I’m fully on the Pugh train, but Lopez would have indeed been a welcome addition to the group. Not much to say other than that though, just that I’m glad Robbie wasn’t nominated for her other work this year. Bombshell wasn’t a good film, but she was terrific in it. And they actually gave her things to do!

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood)
Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes)
Al Pacino (The Irishman)
Joe Pesci (The Irishman)
Brad Pitt (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood)

One average performance, one good performance, two very good ones and one great one. Three guesses who isn’t winning my love this award season. Yes, it’s the runaway winner so far, Brad Pitt, who did FAR better unnoticed work in Ad Astra. It’s nice to see four actors who won acting Oscars in the 90’s recognised here, as none of them have been nominated in the last two decades. Pesci is delightful, Hopkins and Hanks do beautiful work, but Pacino is the most charismatic I’ve seen him in a long time and balances character and grandiosity in a beautiful way. Would have been nice to see Song Kang-Ho recognised or, less likely, Jonathan Majors for his gorgeous performance in The Last Black Man in San Francisco. But I’ll take what I can get.

Best Actress

Cynthia Erivo (Harriet)
Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
Saoirse Ronan (Little Women)
Charlize Theron (Bombshell)
Renée Zellweger (Judy)

Finally an actor of colour nominated! One out of 20 is seriously not good work, Academy. With all the heat the BAFTAs got, the Oscars haven’t done much better. Anyway, five good performances, can’t complain! Honestly, I think there’s one good performance and four excellent ones. Ronan is my personal standout and I would have loved to see Awkwafina here for her turn in The Farewell. There’s a lot of talent on display here, that’s for sure. Can’t really go wrong no matter who wins.

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)

This is what I like to call “Snub City”. Instead of DiCaprio and Phoenix, it would have been all too easy to insert MacKay and Egerton. And Pitt and DeNiro could’ve easily taken those slots. I haven’t seen Banderas yet, but I’ve heard all great things. Driver is the clear winner in my eyes, but it’s so nice to see Pryce recognised for his patient work in The Two Popes. And where is Eddie Murphy?

Best Director

Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite)
Sam Mendes (1917)
Todd Phillips (Joker)
Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)
Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood)

Out of petulant protest, I am only congratulating Bong and Mendes for their towering achievement.

Two words, Academy. Greta. Gerwig.

Best Picture

Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Parasite

Here’s the main thing. 2019 was the best year for film I’ve witnessed in a while and I consider six films on this list 5-stars. But it’s the other end of the spectrum that is letting the side down for me. Joker and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (I’ve copy and pasted this title in several times in this post) were disappointing personally, and I’m surprised Ford v Ferrari garnered enough first-place votes, especially over critical favourites Knives Out or The Farewell. Considering I like Ford v Ferrari quite a bit, I have a 7/9 chance to be at least satisfied with the result of this category, but I’m guessing one of the disappointments is going to run away with the crown. If it’s Joker, I officially retire from awards season next time. If it’s Parasite, consider me impressed.

I hope you enjoyed reading ten minutes of me saying “I hate Joker and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” and praising Little Women and Parasite the entire time. I’m going to check back in when I’ve seen as much as I can and deliver my personal ballot which should be very exciting!

Come react to the nominations with me on Twitter @Jamie_Carrick_

2 thoughts on “Reacting To The 92nd Academy Award Nominees”

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