Friday, April 23, 2021

Oscar Forecast 2021: “Nomadland” with a Chance Dorothy Zbornak’s Pick “Chicago 7”

 

And here we are. It’s finally Oscar weekend. And I still don’t even know who’s gonna win half these awards. It’s been a weird so I expect a lot of unpredictability. As is usually the case the frontrunner is not necessarily the film I enjoy the most. But I am willing Promising Young Woman, a film I’ve watched 6 times since it got released on demand earlier this year, to win everything it’s nominated for. It would sound so nice to say “Winner of Five Academy Awards, Promising Young Woman!” I really just want something utterly crazy and unprecedented to happen. But I also want to be right. Here is what I think will happen in each category. Let’s do this…


BEST PICTURE

Who Will Win: Nomadland.

Should Win: Promising Young Woman.

Should of Been Nominated: Ma Rainy’s Black Bottom.

Ok definitely not one of the definite locks of the night but the most likely winner is Nomadland especially since Chloé Zhao is the frontrunner in Best Director. It still feels weird as the frontrunner considering it feels like a one woman show with many non-actors throughout. Films with small casts or focus on one or two characters rarely win Best Picture. Just look at things like Gravity, La La Land, and even last year’s 1917. Which is why The Trial of the Chicago 7 actually feels like the consensus choice; a big cast, important and historical message, and oddly enough a film dominated by male characters. Even if Aaron Sorkin got snubbed in Director Chicago 7 feels like a film made to win this award. Promising Young Woman meanwhile is a sight possibility and feels like the most buzzy nominee. Every person I know who has seen it loves it. It has such a twisted script, feels timely, and feels extremely original and balances art and entertainment expertly. At the end of the day Nomadland feels like the safe choice but anyting can happen and I’ve gotten this category wrong for the past few years so there ya go. PYW is my favorite of the year which is why I'm rooting for it and means it probably won't win.


BEST DIRECTOR

Will Win: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland.

Should Win: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman.

Should of Been Nominated: Darius Marder, Sound of Metal.

Zhao winning here feels like one of the sure things of the night since she’s won everything else including the predictive DGA… but didn’t Sam Mendes win everything last year and then lose to Parasite’s Bong Joon Ho? I can’t imagine another upset so soon.


BEST ACTRESS

Will Win: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Should Win: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman.

Should of Been Nominated: Elisabeth Moss, The Invisible Man.

Whoa what a race this year! It’s enough to give the biggest Oscar fan some serious heartburn. At the beginning of the season it seemed like Carey Mulligan’s to lose. But then she actually kept losing, except for the Critics Choice. Each actress has won a different precursor award. Viola and Frances have already won (the latter having already won twice) so it feels like Carey should be the frontrunner. But I’m going with SAG winner Davis who feels like a performer who should already have a dozen Oscars.


BEST ACTOR

Will Win: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Should Win: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Should of Been Nominated: Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods.

The late Chadwick Boseman has been winning everything in sight except the BAFTA. But I think he’s got this thing locked down. If anyone can give him a run for the money it’s probably Anthony Hopkins.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Will Win: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari.

Should Win: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari.

Should of Been Nominated: Oliva Cooke, Sound of Metal.

So many questions. Will Glenn finally win? For THAT? Highly unlikely. Could the actress who scandalized Rudy Giuliani actually win? It’s possibly. Anything can happen in this category, right Marcia Gay Harden? But I think Minari’s cute grandma, the film’s heart and source of humor, is most likely to be that film’s major win.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Will Win: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah.

Should Win: Paul Raci, Sound of Metal.

Should of Been Nominated: Bo Burnham, Promising Young Woman.

Daniel has been steamrolling all season. But now his co-star LaKeith is also nominated. Will it split his vote? Probably not, but you never know. I love Daniel, but Paul Raci in Sound of Metal truly moved me. But I think his nomination is his reward unfortunately. But I'd be fine with any of these guys winning. 


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Will Win: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland.

Should Win: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

As the Best Picture frontrunner, this will be one of several awards Zhao is expected to take home. Since I'm not a huge fan of Nomadland I'd give to Borat because I want to see a dozen screenwriters try to give a speech. 


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Will Win: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman.

Should Win: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman.

It’s Trial vs PYW. Woman is the more daring, original script. Trial feels like standard Aaron Sorkin stuff. If Trial has a hope in the world of winning Best Pic it will probably also win here. And if PYW wants a chance to win BP it will probably have to win here as well. I think PYW will take this one in a squeaker. It 's no secret that's what I'm rooting for and of all the nominees it deserves it. 


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Will Win: Soul.

I bet against Pixar last year. That was a mistake.


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Will Win: Nomadland.

The pretty little film that could seems like a lock here.


BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Will Win: My Octopus Teacher.

All of my favorite documentaries from this year weren’t even nominated. Ehh.


BEST FILM EDITING

Will Win: Sound of Metal.

This is an important category. If Trial wins, I think it has a good shot at Best Pic. If Sound of Metal wins I think things will play out as I predicted. It used to be rare for a film to win Best Pic and only one other award but Spotlight pulled it off not too long ago. So Trial sort of needs this but doesn’t really. Heck, even The Father could win here.


BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM

Will Win: Another Round.

When the director gets into Best Director, that’s a good sign.


BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

It feels like I’m picking Ma Rainey to win so many awards, but does the Academy really like it that much? It didn’t even get into Best Picture. So who knows really. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Hillbilly Elegy or Pinocchio win.


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Will Win: Soul.

I think Minari could win but Soul’s score is really inventive and it’s about time Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor won again.


BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Will Win: “Speak Now” One Night in Miami.

Not the greatest category this year so I think they will vote for the one that has won previous awards. It would be cool if “Husavik” won even though I wasn’t a huge fan of that movie.


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Will Win: Mank.

The tribute to Hollywood of the past won last year so it makes sense that the equally in love with Hollywood Mank would win this year.


BEST SOUND

Will Win: Sound of Metal.

Yup there is only one Sound category this year. So no more worrying about these categories splitting. And for this inaugural year I’m betting on the film with “sound” in the title.


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Will Win: Tenet.

What a weird category this year. In what is usually filled with blockbusters you’ve actually heard of, this category is filled with stuff you probably haven’t. Which is why I think Tenet will prevail here because its probably the one people have either seen or at least heard of the most. PSA: Love & Monsters is great!


BEST ANIMATED SHORT

Will Win: "If Anything Happens I Love You"


BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Will Win: "A Love Song for Latasha"


BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT

Will Win: "Two Distant Strangers"


Friday, March 19, 2021

Exploding Teens, Promising Young Women, and Borat, Oh My! The Best Films of 2020

2020 was certainly an anomaly when it came to movies. Films got releases throughout the year but you had to sort of look extra hard to find the good stuff. But it was also easier than ever to gain access to a world of great movies from the comfort of your own home. I literally only got to see THREE movies in the theater last year. That is an all-time low for me. It’s bizarre to think that most of the films that got released this year were of the smaller, indie variety. There weren’t many big blockbusters and Tenet was really the only major studio film to get a full theatrical release in the midst of the pandemic. While overall I would consider 2020 to be a “weak” year there was an eclectic mix of fun stuff. So here’s my list of the best movies of 2020. Better late than never!


1) Promising Young Woman

A delightfully savage, dark comedy about a woman seeking vengeance. It’s probably not quite what you’re expecting going into it. It’s not a violent exploitation flick. But is sort of has the aspirations to be one. It’s a lot of different movies rolled into one and really wowed me when I saw it. The film’s twisted script always kept me guessing and the outstanding cast of familiar faces is simply wonderful. Care Mulligan is magnificent and charming as is her onscreen chemistry with co-star Bo Burnham. Writer/director Emerald Fennell has crafted a simply exquisite piece of cinema that is feminist, dark, funny, tragic, and mind-blowing. I’ve watched this over and over again and I just wanna watch it again.


2) The Invisible Man

This was my favorite movie of the year until Promising Young Woman came along. Another feminist masterpiece this time the genre is flat-out horror. Another dip into Universal Monster well seemed like a bad idea at the time but this is unconnected to the disastrous Tom Cruise Mummy movie and instead is a wildly different take on the material. Elisabeth Moss gives a stunning performance as a gaslit woman who tries to escape an abusive relationship with a brilliant scientist who is able to turn himself invisible and drive her crazy. Frightening, with stunning special effects, sound design, and music score, The Invisible Man from Saw co-creator Leigh Whannell is another instant classic horror flick from the almost always reliable Blumhouse.


3) Sound of Metal

Watching this was a wonderful experience. I thought I wouldn’t relate to a story about a heavy metal drummer but I found this story to be extremely moving. Riz Ahmed gives a terrific performance as a heavy metal drummer who begins to experience serious hearing loss. The way director Darius Marder throws you into the situation with the main character is truly amazing. The sound design is terrific. The supporting cast is wonderful. This is a surprisingly emotional and kinetic watch.




4) Freaky

Blumhouse does it again! Yet another body swap movie but this time with a horror bend. What a freaking delight this was. Director Christopher Landon who made the equally enjoyable Happy Death Day is firing on all cylinders here. Blockers’ Kathryn Newton is a high school girl who swaps bodies with a serial killer played by Vince Vaughn. Hilarity and gory deaths ensue! A wonderful script, characterizations, and a flat-out wonderful ode to the slasher genre highlight this silly romp and it’s pretty darn graphic. I think if we were in the “normal times” this would have been a HUGE box office hit.



5) Tenet

Watching Tenet on the big screen was awesome. Christopher Nolan rarely fails to creative a wonderfully immersive cinematic experience. Another time-bending story with good guys and bad guys and the threat of World War III. Kinda sounds like 2020 in a nutshell.





6) Love & Monsters

I’m so happy to call this an Oscar nominated film. Dylan O’Brien stars in this sci-fi adventure about a post-apocalyptic world in which giant monsters have taken over the planet. Yeah is basically Zombieland with big bugs but it has a lot heart and humor to spare and one of the best onscreen duos of the year: O’Brien and his dog Boy.




7) Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

I love the Borat movies. I love how progressive and political they are even though on the surface they seem like silly frat house comedies. Sure a lot of the humor is gross and juvenile but it works. Sacha Baron Cohen is freaking brilliant and his young new co-star (and Oscar nominee!) Maria Bakalova is just as hilarious. The fact that they were able to make this during the pandemic and weave that into the storyline is absolutely bonkers and genius. I sat on my couch laughing hysterically at this and I’m not ashamed.



8) Minari

What a lovely film. The ultimate story of the American dream. A Korean family move to Arkansas in the 80s and dad Steven Yeun wants to start a vegetable farm must to the dismay of his wife. Meanwhile there is this delightful buddy comedy subplot going on between grandma (Youn Yuh-jung) and grandson (Alan Kim). Moving, gorgeous, simple, emotional.




9) Spontaneous

A teen rom-com with exploding teens. It’s moving and horrifying. Think The Fault in Our Stars except instead of teens dying of cancer, they randomly explode without warning. This is actually a disturbingly relevant, covid-appropriate flick that is about fear of the unknown. There is even a whole sequence in which the teens are quarantined. Love Simon’s Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer make wonderful, charismatic leads. This movie is a punch to the gut.




10) Birds of Prey

If you told me that I’d have a DC movie on this list and no Marvel movies I’d call you crazy. But here we are. Birds of Prey, featuring a wonderful cast of great female actors kicks ass and is a candy-colored feast for the eyes. Margot Robbie is fantastic as Harley Quinn and she will make you want a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich like NOW. This is definitely one the most flat-out fun DC movies.




11) Judas and the Black Messiah

A great and powerful movie about Black Panther party chairman Fred Hampton and his friend who is actually an FBI informant. Sort of Malcolm X meets The Departed. This movie has two fantastic central performances from LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya who were both deservedly Oscar nominated.


12) Soul

Another winning, existential Pixar gem about an aspiring jazz musician who learns a life lesson after dying.


13) Happiest Season

A delightful lesbian Christmas rom-com with characters who always don’t make the right decision. In other words, it’s relatable.


14) Dating Amber

A cute Irish import about two outcast teens who fake a straight relationship to ward off the bullies.


15) The Trial of the Chicago 7

I enjoyed this entry in the “based on a true story” political docudrama entry.


16) I Care A Lot

Horrible people, doing horrible things and yet so enjoyable to watch. Rosamund Pike is wonderful.


17) Pieces of a Woman

A breathtaking, panic-inducing (and ultimately tragic) long take opens this heartbreaking and hard-to-watch flick about the pain of grief. I never want to watch it again.


18) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Electric performances from a nearly unrecognizable Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman. There’s a reason Boseman is the Best Actor frontrunner: he’s incredible.


19) Nomadland

Melodic tale of a woman embracing the nomad lifestyle; filled with local, non-professional actors. Beautiful and meditative, but as someone who loves technology and my possessions, hard to relate to.


20) The Prom

Say what you want about Ryan Murphy and his garish production this was an absolute blast to watch.


Great Docs Spotlight:

Circus of Books (on Netflix!)

Disclosure (on Netflix!)

All In: The Fight for Democracy (on Prime Video!)

Totally Under Control (on Hulu!)

Class Action Park (on HBO Max!)

You Don’t Nomi (digital purchase/rental)

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Oscar Nomination Predictions 2021

Contrary to popular belief there were actually a lot of movies that came out in 2020. A lot of them just didn’t get released in theaters but they do still quality for Oscars. In fact, it was easier than ever to see the buzzed about potential Oscar nominees. Frontrunner Nomadland debuted on Hulu. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is on Netflix as is Mank, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Da 5 Bloods. Promising Young Woman, Minari, and News of the World can be rented or bought on your favorite digital platform. One Night in Miami, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, and Sound of Metal are all on Amazon’s Prime Video. Judas and the Black Messiah is in theaters and available on HBO Max until March 14. The Father is in theaters now and will be available to rent on streaming platforms starting March 26. Personally, I think this year’s crop of potential nominees are fine. There are a few that I really love but overall it’s arguably one of the "weaker" years because so many films were pushed from the schedule so the films feel more obscure and random. Further proof of this can be seen in the craft categories where bigger budgeted summer films usually dominate but are nowhere to be found except for films like Tenet and Mulan. But the Oscars must go on so let’s do this!


Best Picture

Nomadland

Minari

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Promising Young Woman

Mank

One Night in Miami…

The Father

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Sound of Metal

Judas and the Black Messiah

Alternates: News of the World, Da 5 Bloods; Borat Subsequent Moviefilm


A decent slate this year of some very good films but overall I still find this year to be one of the weakest in recent memory. My personal horse is easily Promising Young Woman which blew away the competition in my humble opinion. I’m curious how many nominees there will be this year I’m gathering either 8 or 9 nominees and I’d be surprised if any of them aren’t made up of these 13 films that I’ve listed.


Best Director

Lee Isaac Chung, Minari

Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

David Fincher, Mank

Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

alternates: Regina King, One Night in Miami; Florian Zeller, The Father


It’s actually possible there could be more than one woman nominated in this category for the first time in Oscar history. It’s even possible that there could be three but with this male dominated branch that feels highly unlikely. I still feel like Aaron Sorkin, known much more for being a screenwriter feels the most vulnerable here. This five is the same list as the DGA noms which rarely has perfect five for five crossover but weirder things have happened.


Best Actress

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman

Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Alternate: Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead; Zendaya, Malcolm and Marie


I’d be sort of surprised if this doesn’t end up being the final five. I guess Amy Adams could surprise for the critically maligned Hillbilly Elegy but they didn’t even nominate her for Arrival so who knows



Best Actor

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Gary Oldman, Mank

Steven Yeun, Minari

alternates: Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods; Tahar Rahim, The Mauritanian


Delroy Lindo has been a critical favorite all season but he’s been constantly left off the precursor awards lists leading up to the Oscars so he seems like a longshot at this point. But there is always a surprise in these lead acting categories so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him show up instead of Steven Yeun or even bumping out crotchety old white guy Gary Oldman.


Best Supporting Actress

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy

Olivia Colman, The Father

Amanda Seyfried, Mank

Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

alternates: Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian; Helena Zengel, News of the World


Maria Bakalova oddly enough feels like the frontrunner and the most likely to get snubbed at the same time. (Amiright Hustlers’ Jennifer Lopez?) This category has literally been BONKERS this entire awards season with so many random snubs and surprises along the way. Jodie Foster won this category at the Globes but isn’t even nominated at BAFTA or SAG (or Critics Choice) but Regina King was able to win here and at the Globes without BAFTA or SAG noms so who the hell knows what’s gonna happen here.


Best Supporting Actor

Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami…

Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

alternates: Jared Leto, The Little Things; Alan Kim, Minari


Jared Leto being nominated still feels like too much of a mainstream fluke and I think he’ll be replaced by a more critical favorite like Sound of Metal’s Paul Raci who is simply wonderful. The late Chadwick Boseman looks like he’ll be double nominated. I’m not sure any dead performer has ever been able to accomplish that. Daniel Kaluuya who gives a wonder (but lead) performance - in my opinion - feels like the locked in frontrunner here.


Best Adapted Screenplay

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

The Father

Nomadland

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

One Night in Miami…

Alternates: News of the World, The Mauritanian


They nominated the first Borat so why not the sequel which was even more outrageous and was a warm highlight of the horrible year that was 2020. The rest of the field will likely be more traditional stuff; your Mar Raineys and your One Night in Miamis. I’d be surprised if Nomadland doesn’t win this eventually.


Best Original Screenplay

Mank

Minari

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Alternates: Judas and the Black Messiah; Soul


More Best Picture hopefuls fill out this category. I’m pulling for the electric, witty, twisted Promising Young Woman.


And the rest:


Best Cinematography

Da 5 Bloods

Mank

News of the World

Nomadland

Tenet

Alternates: Minari, The Trial of the Chicago 7


Best Costume Design

Emma

Mank

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Mulan

News of the World

Alternates: The Personal History of David Copperfield; The United States vs. Billie Holiday


Best Editing

The Father

Mank

Nomadland

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Alternates: Promising Young Woman, Minari


Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Birds of Prey

Hillbilly Elegy

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Mank

Pinocchio

Alternate: Emma


Best Production Design

Mank

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Mulan

News of the World

Tenet

Alternates: Emma; The Midnight Sky


Best Original Song

“Turntables,” All In: The Fight for Democracy

“Husavik (My Hometown),” Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

“Fight for You,” Judas and the Black Messiah

“Io Se (Seen),” The Life Ahead

“Speak Now,” One Night in Miami…

Alternates: Hear My Voice, The Trial of the Chicago 7; Wuhan Flu, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm


Best Original Score

Mank

The Midnight Sky

News of the World

Soul

Tenet

Alternates: Minari; The Little Things


Best Sound

Mank

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Soul

Sound of Metal

Tenet

Alternates: News of the World, Greyhound


Best Visual Effects

Love and Monsters

Mank

The Midnight Sky

Mulan

Tenet

Alternates: Welcome to Chechnya, Birds of Prey


Best Animated Feature

Soul

Wolfwalkers

Over the Moon

Onward

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Alternates: The Croods: A New Age; Bombay Rose


Best Documentary Feature

Boys State

Collective

Crip Camp

Time

Welcome to Chechnya

Alternates: All In: The Fight for Democracy; Dirk Johnson is Dead


Best International Feature

Another Round

Collective

La Llorona

Quo Vadis, Aida?

Two of Us

Alternates: Dear Comrades!; Night of the Kings


Best Animated Short

Burrow

If Anything Happens I Love You

Kapaemahu

Opera

Out

Alternates: The Snail and the Whale; Genius Loci


Best Documentary Short

A Love Song for Latasha

Colette

Hunger Ward

Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa

Do Not Split

Alternates: A Concerto Is a Conversation; The Speed Cubers


Best Live Action Short

Da Yie

The Human Voice

The Letter Room

The Present

Two Distant Strangers

Alternates: Feeling Through; White Eye

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Find Me on Letterboxd!


Hello all! Well what a crazy couple months it’s been huh? I find it a strange coincidence that I had decided at the start of 2020 to focus more on just watching movies and less on writing about them. Since there won’t be any new theatrical releases anytime soon, it seems like the best time to make this announcement.

 I have written a full review for every movie I’ve seen in the theater since the fall of 2005. That is a pretty good nearly 15 year run. But as someone who does this for fun and not for work, I sometimes found it “stressful” to plan and write a full review when it was hard to find the time to do so. Going to the theater almost became a “chore.” I’d see a movie and then have “homework.” So instead I’d rather go see a movie and take it in and not necessarily be bothered with having to write out a well-worded review documenting it. Dry your eyes though, as this isn’t a goodbye speech. It’s merely a reinvention. I’m now using the website and app Letterboxd to document ALL of my movie watching. That’s right, now you’ll be able to know everything that I’ve watched either at home or at the theater (well only at home for now - I’ve been on a 90s kick and have watched a bunch of Van Damme movies because I’ve never seen any before. And now I’m going through the Lethal Weapon movies for the first time. Quarantine must really getting to me!). I was always a big fan of those thousand page movie review books growing up where you could flip and find a star rating for nearly every movie ever made. (For the record my fav book was definitely Mick Martin and Marsha Porter’s DVD and Video Guide which published its last edition in 2006. It was my bible. And it probably was many of yours as well. I still have it and it’s practically falling apart and if anything happens to it I’ll never be the same. My dog already ate my Leonard Maltin guide so this one is in full protective custody).

With Letterboxd I hope to keep a running list of everything I’ve been up to for years to come. I will write mini reviews whether it’s a sentence or two or a full review. Whatever I’m feeling up to. Don’t delete your Chris’ Cinema Center bookmark just yet cause this site is not going anywhere. I will continue to use it to post my yearly Best Of The Year list, my Oscar Predictions, and other fun lists I can think of along the way.

So where can you find me you ask? I’m registered at Letterboxd under the username Topher7777 and my real name is listed as Chris Gallo. Feel free to give me a follow. I already have several lists of note. You wanna know my Top 100 favorite movies of all time? You’ll find it there. I hope if you’re reading this you’re doing well and that we can all return to a sense of normalcy relatively soon. I have no idea what the cinematic future will bring but until then... well this ain’t good bye, it’s just I’ll never see you again. I kid I kid, that’s a Frank Drebin quote. See you at the movies!

The link to my Letterboxd page here:

Topher7777’s Letterboxd

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Oscar Forecast: “1917” with a Good Chance of “Parasite” or “Hollywood”


I’d just like to set the record straight right now and say that if “Jojo Rabbit” wins Best Picture in a complete shock, I actually called it back in November. It has steadily been nominated or won all the right awards to swoop in for a surprise win. People’s Choice Award at Toronto International Film Festival? Check. Golden Globe nominations? Check. SAG ensemble nomination? Check. Best Film Editing nomination, technical nominations, acting, and writing nominations? Check. Heart warming story that makes white people feel better about themselves? Check. Sure it doesn’t have a Directing nod for Taika Waititi but neither did last year’s Green Book and look what happened. Having said that, is it likely to win? Probably not. It hasn't actually won any of the major precursors (ie, DGA, PGA, SAG, BAFTA, Critics Choice, Globes, etc) I’m just saying if it does, don’t pretend like you’re shocked, because I just laid out its path to victory right here. It can easily win Adapted Screenplay and something else (and even if it didn't win anything else “Spotlight” won BP and only for its Screenplay, so there). I’d argue it has a bigger shot than Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at this point. Ok I’m glad I got that off my chest. Let’s get to it...


BEST PICTURE

Who Will Win: 1917.
At this point I’d be pretty surprised if it didn’t win. It makes the most sense to me on paper. This is one of those weird years where every movie nominated has some kind of thing working against it. 1917 has no acting nominations which doesn’t really hurt it but certainly doesn’t help. Slumdog did it way back in 2008. It also didn’t have a SAG Best Cast nomination (but neither did Green Book or The Shape of Water and they turned out ok). It also doesn’t haven an Editing nod (but I guess editing doesn't matter when your film is shot as if it one continuous take right Birdman?). The thing really helping it is the fact that Sam Mendes is practically a lock for Best Director. But Picture and Director have split a lot in the past decade so odds are that a split could happen yet again. But to be safe I’m going with my gut and 1917. Parasite could win but I’d be really shocked if a film also nominated for Best International Film (previously Best Foreign Language Film) would win Best Picture. Unfortunately, a lot of Academy members see a win there as an appropriate consolation prize. (Isn’t that right, Roma?). The only other real possibility is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood whose lack of an editing nomination is more egregious. Hence why I believe Jojo is actually in “third place.” What it really come down to, like I've said in the past, is cracking the code of that damn preferntial ballot. The movie that wins BP will be ranked either first, second, or third on the most ballots. So divisive films don't really have a shot. I think 1917, Once, Parasite, and Jojo all have a decent shot of appearing high on lots of ballots. Truth be told I have no freaking idea what’s going to win, I’ve been wrong the last four years in the row, so you should probably stop reading this now.

Who Should Win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
“Marriage Story” is technically my favorite of the nominees, but I think it’d be nice for a Quentin Tarantino movie to take the top prize, so that’s probably how I’d vote. I pretty much love all the BP movies this year except for The Irishman, a film I admire more than I actually like. And I still haven’t seen Little Women. My preferential ballot would probably look like this: 1) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 2) Marriage Story 3) Jojo Rabbit 4) Parasite 5) Joker

Should of Been Nominated: Us.
Jordan Peele’s impeccable craft was even more honed in his sophomore effort but I suspect an early release date—and the sheer divisiveness of the film—did it no favors.


BEST DIRECTOR
Will Win: Sam Mendes, 1917.
He won the DGA, so it’s practically guaranteed. Unless a surge for Parasite sends Bong Joon Ho to the podium, which could happen. But I suspect he’s more likely to win in Screenplay.

Should Win: Bong Joon Ho, Parasite.
The direction in 1917 is fantastic of course, but Mendes has an Oscar and there’s nothing quite like Parasite, so Bong Joon Ho deserves it.

Should of Been Nominated: Greta Gerwig, Little Woman or Lulu Wang, The Farewell. What does a lady have to do to get a second (or even a first) Best Director nomination, geez?


BEST ACTRESS
Will Win: Rene Zellweger, Judy.
You’ve probably heard this already, but these four acting categories are locked up tighter than Fort Knox. If Zellweger doesn’t win I’d be shocked.

Should Win: Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story.
I’ve always liked Scarlett Johansson, but I never really started appreciating her until her various turns in the Marvel films. And especially this year in a one, two, three punch of Avengers Engame, Jojo Rabbit, and Marriage Story. This was the year of ScarJo. She deserves to win against Rene’s over-the-top borderline SNL sketch work in “Judy.”

Should of Been Nominated: Lupita Nyong’o, Us.
I’m still not over it, Academy. Scarlett gave two great performances in two movies and you nominated her twice; Lupita gave two great performances in one movie and got zip.


BEST ACTOR
Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker.
Geez, it’s getting to the point where playing the Joker is an automatic Oscar. If Phoenix doesn’t win I’d be shocked.

Should Win: Adam Driver, Marriage Story.
This is a tough call. I’m not a Joker hater like 98% of Film Twitter, but Driver is so freaking good in Marriage Story that it makes me sad that he hardly has a chance. His quivering chin deserves an Oscar all its own in that scene at the end of the film when he read’s his ex-wife’s open letter to him. AND HE SINGS.

Should Have Been Nominated: Taron Egerton, Rocketman.
Sure, the Academy should of nominated more people of color, but the one white person who really, really should have been here was Taron.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Will Win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story.
Marriage Story’s only likely win will occur here, especially without Jennifer Lopez here to give her any competition. If Dern doesn’t win I’d be shocked.

Should Win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story.
No one is gonna say this is the best Laura Dern has ever been, but she’s certainly a scene stealer and the film offers her plenty to do what she does best.

Should of Been Nominated: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers.
I’m still in mourning.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will Win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Hollywood legend/heartthrob Brad Pitt is finally going to win an acting Oscar (he has one for producing 12 Years a Slave, fun fact). One of the last really great true movie stars, Pitt is actually much more successful as a quirky character actor and he’s finally getting his due. If Pitt doesn’t win I’d be shocked.

Should Win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
If Pitt wins the Academy would have gotten it right for sure.

Should of Been Nominated: Song Kang Ho, Parasite.
The cynic in me thinks Parasite had no acting nominations because they didn’t know who was who in the film. But that’s what iMDB is for, people.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will Win: Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit.
Initially I thought Greta would win this in a cakewalk, but I think there’s more love for Jojo than most people think. He won the WGA award which is telling, but this race is far from over. If Jojo even wants a chance in hell of winning Best Picture it should probably win here first. Look for Little Women to take it if Jojo isn’t as beloved as we thought.

Should Win: Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit.
Another divisive film according to all the cool people on social media, I think it’s a brilliant satire. Does it go as “dark” or take as many “risks” as it could have? Perhaps no, but it certainly doesn’t play it safe. Besides, rewarding the umpteenth adaptation of Little Women just feels like the boring, stuffy Academy of yesteryear.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Will Win: Bong Joon Ho & Jin Won Han, Parasite.
Deep down, I feel like Quentin is probably going to take this, but I feel like the Academy will want to reward the film outside the International Film category. It’s certainly the most original script of the bunch. Foreign films don’t traditionally prevail in the Screenplay categories, but it isn’t unheard of. It certainly doesn’t help its case.

Should Win: Bong Joon Ho & Jin Won Han, Parasite.
Certainly one of the most original films of the year. I wouldn’t cry if Quentin won, but he’s won twice.


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Will Win: Klaus.
Okay, hear me out. Toy Story 4 is probably going to win, but it’s not quite the lock you think it would be. Not having Frozen II as competition helps, but besides Toy Story 3, the Academy rarely rewards sequels in this category, and that third film had a Best Picture nomination. Klaus was on Netflix and was widely available to everyone AND it just won a slew of Annie Awards (and the BAFTA) which are also very predictive of where the industry is leaning. Having said all that, I won’t be surprised if Toy Story 4 wins, but sometimes you just have a feeling and the need to take a risk.

Should Win: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.
Ok, full disclosure here. This is the first year where I haven’t seen ANY of the nominated animated films. I started watching Toy Story 4 but never finished it. This feels like such a “meh” year for animation. I probably wouldn’t even vote here if I had the privilege but the Dragon films have never won so I’m willing to throw it a bone.


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Will Win: 1917.
Did you SEE what Roger Deakins was able to accomplish? Now that Deakins has finally won an Oscar, I’m betting on him winning a half dozen more times over the next decade.

Should Win: 1917.
No contest this year.


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Will Win: Little Women.
Conventional wisdom says Little Women wins this in a cakewalk, but even royal period piece The Favorite couldn't win against the more colorful Black Panther last year. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything particularly flashy this year (especially since Dolemite is My Name and Rocketman got snubbed). So unless the Academy wants to reward the nostalgic Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or even Jojo Rabbit, I don’t see how Little Women doesn’t win this, considering it’s the only category here with dresses.

Should Win: Little Women.
What a lame category this year, huh?

Should of Been Nominated: Rocketman.


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Will Win: American Factory.
Another year another round of shocking omissions. With no Apollo 11 in site, I guess the only English language film takes it. Plus its on Netflix and easily available to voters.


BEST FILM EDITING
Will Win: Ford v Ferrari.
When looking at the nominees in this category it makes the most sense. What doesn’t make sense is that this could be the only award Ford v Ferrari wins. It’s rare for a film to win Editing as it’s only win. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo pulled it off, but that was a surprise upset. Which makes me think that Ford v Ferrari could actually win one or both sound awards…

Should Win: Ford v Ferrari.
I still don’t know how anyone puts together a film like this and ends up as sane person.


BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Will Win: Parasite.
One of the most sure things of the night besides the acting categories. If Parasite doesn’t win this it’d be the shock of the decade.

Should Win: Parasite.
Hands down. I don’t even need to see the other nominees to know that.


BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Will Win: Bombshell.
Like Vice last year, Bombshell is about actors being transformed into real life people. Everyone makes a big commotion about the makeup on Charlize Theron, but more impressive is the prosthetics on John Lithgow leaving him practically unrecognizable.

Should Win: Bombshell.


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Will Win: Joker.
I, like most Oscar-obsessed people, were prepared for composer Thomas Newman to finally win a freaking Oscar. And then the woman who wrote the haunting score for Joker started winning all the awards. And folks, it looks like Newman is gonna lose for yet another Best Picture frontrunner helmed by Sam Mendes. At least if Joker does win, it’ll be the first time a woman won an Oscar for Best Score since the 90s. Newman still has a shot, but don’t count on it.

Should Win: 1917.
Jesus what does Thomas Newman have to do to win a friggin’ Oscar?


BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Will Win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” Rocketman.
What somewhat dull year for original songs. Especually when the best song wasn’t even nominated (that would be ‘Catchy Song’ from “The LEGO Movie 2”). You’d think one of the songs from the animated films would prevail but that seems unlikely. Though watch out for a possible win from Best Actress nominee Cynthia Erivo and her team from “Harriet” who could pull a Lady Gaga here.

Should Win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” Rocketman.
I mean if I HAD to choose…


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Will Win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The set design of 1917 was so integral to how that film was actually made but I feel like films that are set predominately “outside” rarely win in this category. I think the transformation of 1969 Hollywood will be too flashy to ignore here. (If the modern-set La La Land could pull it off Once should have no problem). Besides, this category is notoriously tied to the Best Costume Design award, and the last film to win this award without also being nominated for Costumes was 2009’s Avatar. It really could go either way. Unless Parasite pulls an upset…

Should Win: 1917.
The film deserves to win for the burning church scene alone. Though the house in Parasite was practically its own character.


BEST SOUND EDITING
Will Win: 1917.
I was way off last year when I went with A Quiet Place here. Truth be told, Best Picture nominees really do well in these categories since the BP lineup expanded to up to ten nominees. That means it’s truly a race between 1917 and Ford v Ferrari. A part of me thinks Ford v Ferrari is gonna win this and Film Editing because it’s so rare for a film to only win Film Editing and nothing else. But I’m going with the war film for both…
Should Win: Ford v Ferrari.
Flip a coin really. Both films are aurally impressive.


BEST SOUND MIXING
Will Win: 1917.
I’m pretty sure I understand the difference between these sound categories more than your average Academy member. War films and music films and generally loud films tend to win here. Either 1917 or Ford v Ferrari could take this. I think general love for the war film that’s also the BP frontrunner will sweep these tech categories ala The Hurt Locker.

Should Win: 1917.


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Will Win: 1917.
My hunch has always been “The Lion King.” I mean look at that movie, it’s 100% visual effects. And The Jungle Book won just a few years ago. But no one seems to be going with it. It’s hard to win against a BP nominee in this category, but the little film Ex-Machina did it when it was up against THREE BP nominees. And that’s why. With only 2 BP nominees in the category this year, 1917’s subtle but effective effects work should prevail over the de-aging in The Irishman who no one really liked much anyways.

Should Win: The Lion King.
I hated this movie but good effects are good effects.


BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Will Win: “Hair Love”


BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Will Win: “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl)”


BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Will Win: “The Neighbors’ Window”