In last week’s column I argued that 2020 isn’t a total wash as far as movie years go. Maybe it hasn’t been a notably great year like, say, 2007, but 2020 has offered us up a solid menu of smaller budget and art house films.
This week, as promised, I’ll be making some end-of-the-year lists and attempting to predict a few of the Oscar categories.
Before I carry out this mission, I want to note the obvious: this has not been a normal year at the movies. The Oscar qualifications have temporarily been changed in all sorts of ways, most of the major films have been shelved, and people haven’t really been seeing movies at the theater.
But the movies keep coming, and now so will the awards shows, including the Oscars. And it’s going to get interesting, I’d have to guess, as the final couple months of time to qualify pass.
I would not be surprised at all if a studio decides to cut a deal with Netflix and push out one of their shelved prestige films behind a full-throttle Netflix Oscar campaign. I wouldn’t be surprised if several studios decided to make some sort of unorthodox move and all of the sudden we have several exciting films to watch at home and, of course, an energized Oscars conversation.
But, as things stand now, here’s how the critic’s year-end lists are shaping up, as aggregated by Metacritic:
8.Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
7.David Byrne’s American Utopia
5.Never Rarely Sometimes Always
I first got into Kelly Reichardt when I saw her second feature, Old Joy, in 2006 or 2007. First Cow is Reichardt’s fifth film since Old Joy, and while I’ve loved everything she’s done along the way, I never would have imagined one of her movies could perhaps be a frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar. Typing it out doesn’t even feel real.
Here are the films I think will compete for Best Picture nominations, listed with directors:
First Cow (Kelly Reichardt)
Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee)
Mank (David Fincher)
Tenet (Christopher Nolan)
Soul (Peter Docter and Kemp Powers)
Nomadland (Chloe Zhao)
I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Charlie Kaufman)
The King of Staten Island (Judd Apatow)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin)
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman)
And, no kidding:
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner)
If I were pressed to pick the film I think will win right now, I think it could be a battle between Tenet and Nomadland.
Other Oscar predictions:
At least two female filmmakers are nominated for Best Director, and neither win.
The screenplay categories are as star-studded as ever this year, with Spike Lee, Charlie Kaufman, Judd Apatow, Sofia Coppola, Miranda July, Aaron Sorkin, and several other great modern screenwriters competing.
Ben Affleck gets a Best Actor nomination for The Way Back, but loses to Gary Oldman for Mank.
Frances McDormand wins her third Oscar and gives a wild speech.
Best Director becomes the most-talked-about category, with most thinking it will come down to David Fincher vs. Christopher Nolan — and Nolan wins.
And, finally, my end-of-the-year list. I’ve not yet seen very many of this year’s releases, I’m ashamed to admit. From what I have seen so far, here are the 15 I liked the most listed with their directors:
15.The Gentlemen (Guy Ritchie)
14.Color Out of Space (Ricahrd Stanley)
13.Palm Springs (Max Barbakow)
12.Hubie Halloween (Steven Brill)
11.The Way Back (Gavin O’Connor)
10.Crip Camp (James Lebrecht / Nichole Newnham)
9.Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner)
8.Sound of Metal (Darius Marder)
7.The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin)
6.Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee)
5.The King of Staten Island (Judd Apatow)
4.Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman)
3.Mank (David Fincher)
2.Kajillionaire (Miranda July)
1.I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Charlie Kaufman)
Clearly, though, there’s a lot I still need to see.
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