We’re kicking things off with how movies get started and how the tone is set- the scripts, the sets, the lighting, and the music.
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood; The Irishman; 1917; Jojo Rabbit; Parasite
John: This year’s nominees are mostly typical but these all feel like they deserve the nom. The majority of the nominees are period flicks which are no surprise, with the only outlier being Parasite, which is a more contemporary setting. I’m surprised Joker wasn’t nominated as well, but I understand why. Its production design takes from other films’ aesthetic and is hardly original. Personally, I would have loved to see Knives Out nominated just for the Thromby house alone.
I feel like it’s anyone’s game, but I’m personally rooting for Jojo Rabbit or Parasite. Jojo Rabbit’s setting parodied the trappings of facism but also embraced that Germany is a beautiful yet corrupted place. Parasite expertly uses its locations to reinforce the themes in plainly obvious and subtle ways that I am still discovering upon repeat viewings.
Kelly: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and The Irishmen somewhat feels like cheating since there’s a lot of source material they were able to pull from and a lot of those structures still exist. And I’m sure there might have been some scouting to it, but it almost feels like, “‘Memba this? We liked this!” I’d like to see this one go to either the simple yet stylish Jojo Rabbit or 1917, purely because those miles and miles of trenches can’t have been easy to dig. Where is Little Women in this? And where is Midsommar!? (Midsommar count: 1)
1917; Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood; The Irishman; Joker; The Lighthouse
John: This category feels like it’s going to come down to either 1917 or Joker. 1917 feels like the sure bet being that the Academy loves war films, and also the fact that the film is being lauded for it’s “one take” style. On the other hand, the Academy might give it to Joker for the good press it will earn with the casual movie-going audience.
Joker’s cinematography was my favorite thing about it; so it would be deserving if it took home the prize. From what I have seen 1917 seems to be deserving as well.
Kelly: If 1917 wasn’t on this list, I would have said Joker because it has a great palette and overall tone. But… 1917‘s consistency is just impressive. How they were able to do those long takes and stitch those together- everything is carefully managed in this movie, but this aspect most of all. It’s impossible to ignore this achievement. (Midsommar count: 2)
1917, Thomas Newman; Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir; Little Women, Alexandre Desplat; Marriage Story, Randy Newman; Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, John Williams
John: Unfortunately I have only seen two of the nominees. Joker’s score was pretty good and elevated parts of the film. Us was snubbed. Star Wars is dead to me. NEXT!
Kelly: I think this is going to go to Joker. Out of all the movies nominated, it’s the only one that used to truly emphasize the film’s imagery and is therefore the most deserving in my eyes. Surprised that Waves isn’t nominated, like, anywhere, especially for its score by previous winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
I think if Star Wars can be nominated here, then Us should have been nominated as well. Such a haunting use of nursery rhymes and kids chanting and of course- that absolutely terrifying and iconic use of “I Got 5 On It.” Boss. (Oh, and Midsommar count: 3)
I’m Standing With You, Breakthrough; Into the Unknown, Frozen II; Stand Up, Harriet; (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again, Rocketman; I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away, Toy Story 4
John: I really want Rocketman to take this one just for the sheer fact that it was snubbed for Taron Egerton’s performance. (More on that later.) Regardless, the other songs that I’ve listened to didn’t stick out very much to me. Into the Unknown is a lesser Let it Go, and I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away isn’t one of Newman’s best work.
Kelly: LET’S GET THAT EGOT, CYNTHIA ERIVO. Stand Up from Harriet all the way. She’s had an amazing three years for her film and television career, but let’s not forget that her start was on stage. This is also an opportunity to reward her if she doesn’t win for Best Actress and for the Academy to claim that they’re not racist! I can also see Rocketman taking this as a chance for Hollywood to give Elton John a big ol’ hug, because that was also not nominated anywhere else for just one reason that is Bohemian Rhapsody. Shrug.
(I am pretty jazzed that Speechless from Aladdin wasn’t nominated and as much as I fucking love Beyonce, Spirit from The Lion King was ignored, despite those original animated movies taking both score and song back in the day. Stop force feeding us, Disney!)
The Irishman; Jojo Rabbit; Little Women; The Two Popes; Joker
John: Another category where it’s anyone’s game and all are worthy entries. I have a feeling Jojo and Popes won’t make it, but it’s possible. I see it coming down to the other three, with the most likely winner being Joker.
Personally, I feel like Little Women is a more deserving film considering that Greta Gerwig has updated the material for a modern lens while still maintaining the spirit of the original novel.
Kelly: I’m putting my money on Greta Gerwig picking this up for Little Women, half because it is incredibly deserving and the other half being the outrage over her not being nominated for Best Director (which also would have been deserving). It’s one of the more successful contemporary takes on classic literature while maintaining the heart of the work, and it would be nice to see that recognized. I feel like Joker being nominated here is kind of… uneducated in a way, simply because it doesn’t really draw from any thing in particular. It’s rather a mish mosh of backstory and without the delivery of Joaquin Phoenix, I don’t think it was anything spectacular.
I’m not sure where it would have fallen, but I feel like this was a missed opportunity to nominate Rocketman. There’s something refreshingly honest in the dialogue and the delivery and it gave the actors a lot to work with.
Marriage Story; Once Upon a Time in Hollywood; Parasite; Knives Out; 1917
John: I have a gut feeling that Tarantino is going to take this home. The Academy loves the guy, despite Once Upon a Time not really saying anything and being his typical style. Of course, that’s just my take. I’m personally rooting for either Knives Out or Parasite. Rian Johnson delivered a solid, hilarious and emotionally touching script that celebrated and subverted the murder mystery genre. Parasite is everything I love in a script. It is full of subtle messages, feels genuinely human, and is downright funny.
Kelly: Screenplay is Tarantino’s game and Hollywood just loves itself and how cool it was back in the day- but how cool would it be for Gerwig to take Adapted Screenplay and Noah Baumbach to take Original Screenplay? I can see Marriage Story creeping its way in there due to the small scale nature and it being a pure “actor’s piece.” It’s hard to write a for this limited amount of characters and to keep it interesting throughout, and the flow and dynamic movement between the characters is just really well done here.
I’m sorely disappointed that Ari Aster for weirdly complex Midsommar and/or Lulu Wong weren’t nominated here for The Farewell as it so delicately and brilliantly manages the comedy and drama. Much like how The Big Sick’s nomination shone a big light on that little movie, a nomination here could have opened a lot of eyes and doors for those works. (Midsommar count: 4)