Thursday January 16, 2020
The 2019 Oscar Nominations: Thelma and the First-Timers, That '90s Show, and Bringing a Rock to a Bomb Fight
Oh right. The Oscar nominations.
Remember when I used to get up early on those Tuesday mornings—wasn't it always Tuesday mornings?—to be ready when whichever supporting star or stars strode to the podium to announce the year's nominees? Good times. Remember when I used to be outraged by Oscars' choices? Better times. Now I'm just bored with those who are.
The outrage today almost completely revolves around identity politics—#OscarsSoWhite, #OscarsSoMale—but you also got your hipster film fans who trash longtime character actors like Rami Malek because they don't want them to win in a particular year. And sure, Rami probably shouldn't have for “Bohemian Rhapsody”; but don't trash the man. I remember when he sprang off the screen in 2010 in “The Pacific.” His career is more than your petty animosity.
This year's Rami seems to be Joaquin Phoenix, which is even more insane to me, because he's fucking amazing in “Joker.” Plus he has the longer, more storied career. Still, idiots/trolls keep trashing his performance. Not sure who they‘re pulling for at this point. Antonio maybe? Anyway I’m tired of it all. I'm tired of the Twitter of it all. It feels like Bernie bros all over again.
Stephen King had the temerity to weigh in the day after. Here's what he said over two tweets:
As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issueas it applies to individual actors and directors, anywaydid not come up. That said...
...I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.
Of course the knives came out. He was attacked, maligned; his name trended. Two hours later, he tried to clarify:
The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.
Howls. It was as if he'd killed MLK rather than stated a version of judging people not by the color of their skin but by the conscience of their character.
I suppose it's in the general that this conversation doesn't interest me. In the specific, I'm fine with it.
Example: Some thought J Lo should‘ve gotten nominated for “Hustlers,” which they think a great movie. I think she was fine in a lousy movie so don’t see it as a big loss. But not nominating Zhao Shuzhen from “The Farewell”? 不好意思！
Some thought Awkwafina was a cinch for lead actress in “The Farewell.” Again, eh. But Lupita Nyong'o in “Us”? C‘mon, Academy. That shit blazed.
The main thing I was disappointed in was the complete lack of anything for LuLu Wang’s “The Farewell,” which I think one of the best movies of the year. But I didn't even have time to get that complaint out. I picked up my rock only to see everyone around me tossing bombs. Classic Erik: bringing a rock to a bomb fight.
Here are the nominees. With thoughts/factoids. Some of the latter come from Nathaniel.
- Ford v Ferrari < If you'd told me when this opened it would get nominated, I would‘ve shaken my head. Need to see it. Mangold has about as solid a track record as a director can have (“Logan,” “3:10 to Yuma,” “Walk the Line”) without ever blowing me away.
- The Irishman
- Jojo Rabbit
- Joker < The most nominations this year, 11, making it the most-nominated film to ever come out of the superhero realm. But of course it’s not really a superhero film. It's “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy” with clown makeup. “From the director who brought you ‘The Hangover Part III’”
- Little Women < Sixth time this has been made into a feature film. Previous: 1918, 1933, 1949, 1994, and last year. Oprah lists all the other versions, too. It's the second time the film has been nominated best picture. The first was the ‘33 with Katherine Hepburn; it lost to “Cavalcade.”
- Marriage Story
- Once upon a Time...in Hollywood < My early pick to win: a Hollywood movie about Hollywood movies. Generally, Hollywood can’t resist. Plus it's the most poignant movie from a long-time celebrated auteur whose films have never won best picture.
- Parasite < It's the 10th foreign film to be nominated for best picture, and the first from Korea. The others: Grand Illusion (1938), Z (1969), The Emigrants (1972), Cries and Whispers (1973), Il Postino (1995), Life is Beautiful (1998), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Amour (2012), Roma (2018). None won. Oddly unsatisfying list, isn't it? I mean, considering all the great foreign films that could‘ve been nominated? Nary a Kurosawa, to begin.
DIRECTING < Though attacked for leaving off Greta Gerwig, the directing award, in terms of winners, has gone from least diverse (always white men) to most (always with the Mexicans). Among the last 10 winners: one woman (American), and then this veritable UN of men: France, Britain, Taiwan, U.S., and three Mexicans sharing five awards. The last American man to win the award was Damien Chazelle for “La La Land.” Before him? The Coen Brothers for “No Country.”
- Bong Joon-ho, Parasite < First Korean ever in this category
- Sam Mendes, 1917 < His first nomination since he won for “American Beauty” 20 years ago. That’s right: 20 years ago.
- Todd Phillips, Joker < Some are trying to Rami Malek him, but I was impressed.
- Martin Scorsese, The Irishman < His 9th directing nomination. What was his first? Nope, not that. It was “Raging Bull.” Interesting what was passed over when he was young.
- Quentin Tarantino, Once upon a Time...in Hollywood < His year? Or do they keep the UN going and choose Bong?
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
- Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory < The indie choice; the gay film Twitter choice. His first nom, btw. He's had five Golden Globe noms and six Goyas. Zorro lives.
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Once upon a Time...in Hollywood < Not enough people are talking about how good he was in this.
- Adam Driver, Marriage Story
- Joaquin Phoenix, Joker < His speech will be magnificent.
- Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes < His first! And least memorable! Maybe. I still need to see it. Or do I?
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
- Cynthia Erivo, Harriet < She goes from never nominated to twice nominated: here, and in original song (“Stand Up” from “Harriet”)
- Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story < Her, too! She goes from never nom‘ed to two in one year: here and supporting (“JoJo”). Of course she’s been attacked for taking up all those acting spots. It's like there's shame in it now.
- Saoirse Ronan, Little Women < She's 25 and this is her fourth acting nomination (“Atonement,” “Brooklyn,” “Lady Bird”). Only Jennifer Lawrence got to four faster—also at age 25. Fastest to five is Kate Winslet, who was 31.
- Charlize Theron, Bombshell < I'd have gone Lupita. She should‘ve gotten nom’ed for “Young Adult” seven years ago.
- Renée Zellweger, Judy < Welcome back. Stop messing with your face. Do I have to see this movie? Do I hafta?
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE < AKA That ‘90s Show
- Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood < I still think of him getting nominated every year but this is his first since “Castaway” in 2000. Also his first in a supporting role. Way to go, Kip!
- Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes < Another ’90s perennial (“Silence,” “Remains,” “Nixon,” “Amistad”). His first since ‘97.
- Al Pacino, The Irishman < His ninth nomination and first since he won for lead in “Scent of a Woman” in ’93. It's ‘90s reunion week.
- Joe Pesci, The Irishman < And again! Third overall, first since he won for “Goodfellas” in ’90.
- Brad Pitt, Once upon a Time...in Hollywood < First nominated in ‘95 (“Twelve Monkeys”) and last nominated in acting in 2012 (“Moneyball”), he’s apparently the shoo-in. He's also the youngest of the five: My age, 56. He's about eight months younger than me.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
- Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell < Fourth overall, first since “About Schmidt” in 2002. Won't see this unless I need to do a piece on later Eastwood. He's increasingly problematic.
- Laura Dern, Marriage Story < Third nom, no wins. Likely winner here.
- Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
- Florence Pugh, Little Women < Still need to see “Midsommar.”
- Margot Robbie, Bombshell < Her second nom after “I, Tonya.” She‘ll win soon. She’s too good and too hot not to.
- Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story < Second screenplay nom. The other was also about divorce (“Squid”).
- Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin Won, Parasite
- Rian Johnson, Knives Out < QT spoiler? Only nom for a popular film that adults can enjoy. Particulary Trump-hating adults.
- Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, 1917
- Quentin Tarantino, Once upon a Time...in Hollywood < His fourth screenwriting nom; he's won twice (“Pulp”; “Django”). Didn't win for killing Hitler.
- Greta Gerwig, Little Women < Her third nom, second in screenplay
- Anthony McCarten, The Two Popes < He's the one I know least about in this category. Turns out he's written some of the flattest British biopics of the last 10 years that keep getting honored: “Theory of Everything,” “Darkest Hour” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And this.
- Todd Phillips & Scott Silver, Joker
- Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit
- Steven Zaillian, The Irishman < The Old Hand. Fifth nomination. Won for “Schindler's List.”
- Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse < First timer. Did “The Witch” in 2015.
- Roger Deakins, 1917 < 15th nom in 25 years! I still think of him as the guy who never wins, but he won last time out, for, of all things, “Blade Runner 2049.” So never with Scorsese (“Kundun”), or the Coens (“Fargo,” “O Brother,” “No Country,” “True Grit”), or stellar work like “The Assassination of Jesse James...”
- Rodrigo Prieto, The Irishman < Storied career, third nom (“Brokeback,” “Silence”).
- Robert Richardson, Once upon a Time...in Hollywood < With Deakins, the other Old Hand: 10th nom, 2 wins. Was Oliver Stone's guy (“Platoon,” “JFK”), sometime Scorsese (“Aviator,” “Hugo”), now QT‘s.
- Lawrence Sher, Joker < “From the DP of ’The Chumscrubber.'” His first. Other 2019 credit: “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”
FILM EDITING > AKA Thelma and the First Timers
- Tom Eagles, Jojo Rabbit < His first. He's still editing TV shows in NZ.
- Jeff Groth, Joker < His first.
- Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland, Ford v Ferrari < Buckland's first, McCusker's second (“Walk the Line”). Only the second film Buckland has been editor on, after 2016's abyssmal “The Girl on the Train.”
- Thelma Schoonmaker, The Irishman < Longtime Scorsese collaborator with her 8th nom. Three wins: “Raging Bull,” “Aviator,” “The Departed.” How her editing of “Goodfellas” lost to the editing in “Dances with Wolves” is a true crime that needs investigating.
- Yang Jinmo, Parasite < His first. Only Hollywood credit: “Assistant to Mr. Kim,” the director of the 2013 Schwarzenegger flick “The Last Stand.”
PRODUCTION DESIGN < Is there a good doc about production design? Would love to see it.
- Dennis Gassner and Lee Sandales, 1917
- Ra Vincent and Nora Sopková, JoJo Rabbit
- Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
- Ha-jun Lee and Won-Woo Cho, Parasite
- Bob Shaw and Regina Graves, The Irishman
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
- I Lost My Body
- Missing Link
- Toy Story 4 < Saw this one
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE < Saw none of them, but many are now streaming on the usual suspects (Neflix, Hulu).
- American Factory
- The Cave
- The Edge of Democracy
- For Sama
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
- Corpus Christi, Poland
- Honeyland, North Macedonia
- Les Misérables, France
- Pain and Glory, Spain
- Parasite, South Korea < Saw this one.
The rest of the categories are here. The broadcast is early this year: Sunday, Feb. 9, 5 PM PST. BYOP. Popcorn. Kidding. We pop. But no bombs allowed.