It’s Oscar Talk time, y'all. The season is upon us when the studios start releasing their Oscar Bait films, and oh what a great time of year it is if you’re a cinephile.
Looking both back on the year of movies and at the titles coming before 2020 hits, I’ve assembled some chitter-chatter themed around the Oscar’s biggest awards categories. Indulge with me:
Let’s start with a big one, because this is an all-time historic year for the Best Actor race.
We have Joaquin Phoenix (the frontrunner) giving a great performance in Todd Phillips’ Joker. We have all-time legend Tom Hanks in Marielle Heller's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. We have current legend-in-the-making Leonardo Di Caprio in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. We have Hoosier Adam Driver (who at this rate might end up in the Best Ever conversation) in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. And we have the actual Best Ever, Robert De Niro, in Martin Scorsese’s probably-all-time-great new film The Irishman.
And let’s not forget outsiders Eddie Murphy in Dolemite is My Name, Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems (my personal pick), Christian Bale in James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari, and Mark Ruffalo in Todd Haynes’ Dark Waters. Dang.
Along with Best Picture, Best Actor will probably be the hottest topic in this year’s Oscar conversation. And here’s what’s cool about that: These are all truly great actors in probably-great films by (aside from maybe Phillips and Mangold) all-time great directors. Scorsese! Baumbach! Heller! Tarantino! Haynes! Dang. Just, dang. You don’t get that every year. Actually, maybe we’ve never had a race like this one before. It feels historic.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTORS
This looks like a lock for Jennifer Lopez in this year’s Hustlers, but Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Margot Robbie (Bombshell), and Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) will all be in the conversation for the Best Supporting Female category.
For the Male Supporting Actor category we have Al Pacino leading the way for his performance in The Irishman. Also in the hunt are Alan Alda (Marriage Story), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse), Timothee Chalamet (Little Women), and Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). I’d like to see Pitt win, but if he does, it will be something of a Lifetime Achievement honor. And, in this case, I’m OK with that. Pitt was great in Hollywood, and he’s in classic Pitt form in the film. So it seems like a good moment for an Oscar.
This is a weird one. We have the frontrunner Charlize Theron in Bombshell. We have Saoirse Ronan in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. We have Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story. And we have the inevitable Renee Zellweger in Judy.
Not a great crop of leading performances from leading female actors in 2018. I’ll guess that it comes down to Ronan and Johansson, but I’m an indie guy at heart. More than likely Charlize Theron will win again. And I can’t complain about that. Charlize is incredible.
Wouldn’t it be bizarre if this finally became the year that Noah Baumbach became a household name? His new film, Marriage Story, is said-to-be amazing from critics who have seen it at film festivals. I believe it. I think it stands a chance to be the indie frontrunner of the year that we all put a lot of hope in.
That said, I don’t think it will win Best Picture, but it might nab Baumbach a Best Director nomination, and that’s a very cool thing.
In addition to Baumbach, I think Scorsese, Tarantino, Sam Mendes (1917), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), and Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) will all be in the conversation, along with Marielle Heller, Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Pedro Almodovar (Pain and Glory), and Jay Roach (Bombshell). Ultimately I think it will come down to a classic Tarantino vs. Scorsese showdown, and let me tell ya, I think we’re all very down for that.
This is a big category this year. A lot of the movies that will contend for the Best Picture category have already been mentioned above (The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Marriage Story, Joker, Little Women, The Lighthouse, 1917, Parasite, Bombshell, Uncut Gems, Dark Waters, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Ford v Ferrari). I think it will probably come down to Joker, the Tarantino flick, the Scorsese flick, and maybe the Mr. Rogers movies that stars Tom Hanks.
The Vegas odds are currently in favor of The Irishman winning, and I’m not going to bet against that.