Alright guys. So there have already been some other Backseat Directors articles on the Oscars that you should totally check out. I want to use this spot to simply list out the results for the winners, whether I think they were deserving, and who were some snubs. I’ll look mostly at the more popular categories as well as a couple that I thought were especially noteworthy.
My Pick: Marriage Story
Nomination Snubs: Peanut Butter Falcon, and Farewell
To be fair, I think Parasite was a wholly unique and engaging movie with stunning visuals and insightful themes of class divisions and animosity; if anything, it’s awesome that it made history as the first foreign language film to win Best Picture. However, of all the movies that were nominated, this was probably the least likely to inspire or resonate emotionally. It’s a realistically cynical (albeit important) movie, but I don’t think it deserved Best Picture.
Even though this next movie was in no way a true competitor with Parasite in certain areas, I believe that it had it all when it comes to a worthy ‘Best Picture’ win: Marriage Story. No other nominee was so timelessly applicable nor poignantly touching. The acting was heartbreaking and heartwarming, the screenplay masterful; and the topic something that most can either connect with from personal experience, or at least better understand, all because of how genuine this film was. I suppose the next big trend-breaker is when a Netflix original will win Best Picture—maybe that’s why the foreign language film, Roma, didn’t win the title last year (and lost to Green Book, no less).
Winner: Bong Joon Ho (Parasite)
My Pick: Bong Joon Ho
Nomination Snub: Greta Gerwig (Little Women)
Honestly, I’m okay with this one. I still wish Best Picture went elsewhere, but Bong Joon Ho at least deserved some individual recognition.
I do think it would’ve been awesome to see Quentin Tarantino finally win Best Director (which is long overdue); Todd Phillips and Sam Mendes both in their own way brought game-changing movies to light, and I would’ve been happy with any of them winning.
At the very least, Greta Gerwig probably should’ve been nominated. I wouldn’t necessarily replace another nominee with her, but I don’t understand why she was passed up. It would’ve at least helped to put the Oscars in a more inclusive light (only one woman has ever won ‘Best Director’), and the fact that she deserved the nod made it all the more confusing.
BEST LEAD ACTOR
Winner: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
My Pick: Joaquin Phoenix (second choice is Adam Driver for Marriage Story)
Nomination Snubs: Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems) and Michael B. Jordan (Just Mercy)
Come on… This was a shoe-in, and honestly, some of the best acting of all time. One thing I’ll mention about the brilliance of this specific portrayal of the Joker is that it takes a villain—and shows that he wasn’t always the eloquent, cool, untouchable Ledger-like antagonist that we’ve all come to know, obsess over, and see in others like Hannibal Lecter and Anton Chigurh. Like most disturbed individuals, there’s more to the person (like social ineptness, vulnerability, and utter tragedy) that leads that person to break and then rebuild for the worse. That’s Joaquin’s Joker, and it’s the most captivating performance of at least this year. Great win.
BEST LEAD ACTRESS
Winner: Renée Zellweger (Judy)
My Pick: Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
Nomination Snub: Awkwafina (Farewell)
I can’t really say much here. I didn’t happen to see most of the movies with nominated ‘Best Actresses’, including this one. I thought that Judy was going to be your run-of-the-mill, Oscar-bait movie that would be quickly slated and ignored (I honestly don’t know a single person who saw it). I was surprised when Zellweger got nominated and dumbfounded when she had won. I guess I’ll definitely need to give Judy a watch.
I will say, I was really hoping for Scarlett Johansson to win. If you haven’t seen the movie Marriage Story, go and watch the fight scene between Adam Driver’s and her character, along with her monologue when she’s with her lawyer. Absolutely amazing.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Winner: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood)
My Pick: Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)
Nomination Snubs: Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy) and Shia Labeouf (Honey Boy)
I really enjoyed Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. He’s honestly one of the biggest highlights of the film… but it’s solely because he’s just cool. Super cool. He won for a role where he basically plays himself (or at least, how we all see him).
I can’t believe Pitt’s performance won over Tom Hanks’. If you haven’t seen the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? that was snubbed at last year’s Oscars, you should absolutely see it. Count how many times you cry, acknowledge how you feel about this near-perfect human being, and then watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and see how it compares. Hanks did such a good job so that all those feelings came right back as if I was watching the real man. In a day and age where kindness, sensitivity, and gentleness are tossed aside for power, imperviousness, and cynicism, this portrayed figure couldn’t be more appropriate. I know Hanks has two Oscars already and Pitt may have been long overdue for his, but if we’re basing this on performance and its impact alone (and forgetting “alumni” context) it’s obvious who should have won.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Winner: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
My Pick: Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)
Nomination Snubs: none
Why Laura Dern wasn’t nominated for her role in Little Women over this is beyond me, but the fact that she won is downright bizarre. Her role isn’t bad—it’s actually interesting: she’s an aggressive, feministic lawyer that’s just as sisterly with her client as she is cutthroat with her client’s husband. But in the end, it’s really not a memorable character as she’s completely overshadowed by Driver and Johansson’s performances… And I swear she only had like 10 minutes of screen time.
Very rarely does an actor/actress get two different nominations for two different roles, but Johansson truly deserved both. In Jojo Rabbit she’s a quirky, playful mom to the main character that makes for some hilarious, and touching scenes between mother and son. She’s also a single parent, and works as a steadfast moral compass to her Nazi youth son and others—a strong, impactful female character. I would’ve loved to see her at least win this.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY BITS
- Jojo Rabbit wins Best Original Writing.
I was pumped with this result! Taika Waititi has managed to make a name for himself rapidly in Hollywood. All of his movies are just fantastic (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpoeple, Thor: Ragnarok), and this may be his best work so far. He was able to bring a story that used an extremely difficult era and subject matter to create genuine laughter, tears, and celebration of triumph over (apparently) clumsy and whimsical evil. If anything, it’s encouraging to see a film this lighthearted and optimistic receive accolades, and I wish it happened more often. Also, Waititi is the first person of Maori (New Zealand aborigine) descent to win an Oscar!
- 1917 wins Best Cinematography.
All I really need to say about this movie is that it’s a spectacle during the entire runtime. What makes 1917 stand out, and what should put it near the top (if not at the top of every ‘Best War Movie’ list) is the master class cinematography by Roger Deakins. Honestly, guys, the whole flick is like two different shots both lasting about an hour, and the way the camera follows the intensity and action is something that will catch the eye of even the most unsuspecting movie goer. Please try so hard to see this in theaters, or see it on a jumbo screen somehow, because this will prove to be one of the best movie going experiences you’ve had in a while.
- Joker wins Best Music (Original Score).
I would have been okay with a number of the nominees winning. Randy Newman’s work in Marriage Story was as tear inducing as ever. Probably my favorite composer ever, Thomas Newman (The Shawshank Redemption, Finding Nemo, American Beauty), built up the tension to another degree in 1917. But honestly, Joker’s score was probably the most fittingly haunting music I’ve heard in a film. It’s truly a unique style, and now I can’t imagine any other sound wordlessly telling the story of a misfortuned psychopath. On top of that, (and I did not know the composer’s gender until she came on stage) Hildur Gudnadottir is the first woman to win Best Original Score ever! Being that the Oscars have often been polarizing for some with a feeling of exclusion toward certain race and gender, this was an awesome win.
- Eminem’s Performance.
A lot of people felt like Eminem’s performance of “Lose Yourself” during the Oscars felt misplaced and random. I for one loved it, especially when I considered the context. At the 2003 Oscars, Eminem was nominated and won Best Original Song for “Lose Yourself”, which he had written for 8 Mile. Thinking that there was no way he would win, he not only didn’t attend the Oscars, but he was apparently asleep at home when it was announced that he had won. It was great to see him finally give his acceptance speech of sorts 17 years later.
- Shia Labeouf and Zack Gottsagen announce Best Live-Action Short Winner.
As previously mentioned, I think Peanut Butter Falcon was snubbed for not getting a nod for Best Picture (or for at least something else). Suffice it to say, if you haven’t seen it, you need to. It’s become one of my all-time favorite feel-good movies. It utilizes a Mark Twain-type atmosphere, and takes two unlikely actors (a pretty much blacklisted child star, and a man with Down syndrome) puts them in powerfully suitable roles and makes a beautiful relationship/adventure out of it. During and before production, Shia made sure that he and Zack spent plenty of quality time together. He even credits Zack for being part of the reason why he’s seemingly got his life back in order. And seeing them up there together—double teaming the announcement—was a really sweet moment.
Alright guys, let me know if you agree/disagree, who you would’ve picked to win, snubs I missed, or thoughts in general about the Oscars!