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2017 Oscar Nomination Predictions

Here are our best bets to get past the first heat and maybe earn a few nasty tweets from our new POTUS.

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La La Land
Photo: Lionsgate

“While it would be an exaggeration to categorize all this sound and fury about something signifying next-to-nothing ’fun,’ at the very least the hubbub this Oscar year offers welcome respite from the grinding monotony of the presidential race.” So ended the introduction to our Oscar nomination predictions last year. And so ends our collective cautious optimism. Not even Alyssa Edwards’s clicking tongue could summon an exclamation point sharper than the one we now feel reflecting upon the actual stakes of real life amid frivolous, self-congratulating luxury. Unlike we felt when all anyone cared about was getting an Oscar into Leonardo DiCaprio’s hands. Well, we care about a lot more things this year, and so will the Academy. Which means: Expect a lot more films in the Spotlight vein to be nominated, and a lot fewer like Mad Max: Fury Road, with one frivolous exception to the rule that’s going to clearly sing and dance its way to all the wins next month. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Here are our best bets to get past the first heat and maybe earn a few nasty tweets from our future POTUS.

BEST PICTURE

Hidden Figures

La La Land will be nominated.

Those hyperbolically obsessed with identity politics this year, on either side of the debate, can breathe easy that the two films most frantically drawn into the conversation this awards season are mortal locks for nominations. They are Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight, which ticks off every single marginalized checkbox every other film in the hunt this year doesn’t have to, and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. Some people have decided, because it features a straight, white male protagonist, that Manchester by the Sea just ain’t woke enough, but the many encomiums should win out.

And now everyone will get to react to another month’s worth of fresh hot takes in much the same manner as Amy Adams does to all those inky ringworm dispatches in Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. That film, too, is all but assured a nomination. Even though Oscar has shown a tad more resistance to the burgeoning I Fucking Love Science subgenre than IMDb traditionally has, a film which argues so calmly on behalf of global cooperation and collective betterment feels now like the most imaginative kind of sci-fi.

If we were still in a five-deep best picture epoch (or, as we imagine many of the same demographic who were recently purged from the AMPAS would tag it, the special snowflake period), it would be pretty easy to wrap this up by noting the perfectly timed box-office success of Theodore Melfi’s historically corrective NASA drama Hidden Figures. And to point out, as many others already have, that virtually all things the film valorizes—women, minorities, math, and facts—are the same things our future president systemically rejects. All of this housed within a period piece that allows progressives to queasily bask in the afterglow of the Obama years one last time.

Having only five slots would at least allow us to avoid having to wrestle with the guild over-performance of Tim Miller’s blunt, dazzling, and dumb Deadpool, arguably the first Trump-era blockbuster. But its cheerful anti-P.C. attitude suggests nothing so much as Marvel’s Gran Torino, and neither straight superhero flicks nor Clint Eastwood’s zeitgeist curiosity have moved Oscar’s needle much. There just aren’t enough dirtbag lefties in Hollywood.

Instead, with the exception of Tom Ford’s pulp trashterpiece Nocturnal Animals filling what we’ll just call the Black Swan slot, expect the rest of the slate to be filled with the sort of solemn cinematic kale that will help ensure La La Land’s position as the industry’s feel-good tonic for all that ails us.

Will Be Nominated: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, and Nocturnal Animals.

Closest Runners-Up: Deadpool, Fences, and Jackie.

Should Be Nominated: Happy Hour, Knight of Cups, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, and Toni Erdmann.

BEST DIRECTOR

Martin Scorsese

Damien Chazelle will be nominated.

And, as with best picture, so will Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins and Arrival’s Denis Villeneuve, a director whose highly ornamental sensibility probably got him yay close at least once or twice before but now benefits from a script that doesn’t force him to feel as though he’s trying to transcend or, worse, rarify material that would be better served up in a more lurid way.

Like the aforementioned three, Kenneth Lonergan does have a DGA nomination in the bag, but we can’t take his impending nomination as a given. Manchester by the Sea’s direction is precise but comparatively invisible, and even the film’s fans probably regard it as more of an actors’ and writers’ triumph. If he can survive the perceptible cooling off surrounding Jackie, Pablo Larraín’s relentless, self-serving stylism stands a good shot at usurping Lonergan or, more likely, fellow DGA honoree Garth Davis (Lion).

Still, we’re betting on the combination of Martin Scorsese’s status as a living legend, the P.R. reminders that Silence was the one, true passion project in the auteur’s career (we’ve heard that before), and the now-expected late release all but ensuring Oscar voters are the only ones who will get to see it before ballots are due. If Bennett Miller can snare a nod for a best picture non-nominee in this expanded slate era, Scorsese can.

Will Be Nominated: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival; Damien Chazelle, La La Land; Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea; Barry Jenkins, Moonlight; and Martin Scorsese, Silence.

Closest Runners-Up: Denzel Washington, Fences; Garth Davis, Lion; and Pablo Larraín, Jackie.

Should Be Nominated: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Happy Hour; Terrence Malick, Knight of Cups; Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea; Barry Jenkins, Moonlight; and Maren Ade, Toni Erdmann.

BEST ACTRESS

Isabelle Huppert

Emma Stone will be nominated.

And so will Natalie Portman for Jackie, because, as Michael Koresky deliciously pointed out, it’s hard to ignore a performance that approximates “South Park’s Cartman mixed with a Marilyn Monroe-impersonating drag queen.” Especially when it’s the latest, grating-est inductee into the Hall of Kabuki Celebrity Impersonations, where you’ll find roughly 40 percent of all winners in this category from the last two decades. (And, given that somewhere between five and 10 percent of all female acting nominations in the last decade have gone to Amy Adams, she’s in as well.)

Awards bloggers everywhere who are convinced that the world turns as a result of the Oscar rivalry between Portman and Annette Bening all currently have their fingers on the buttons of their OhMiBods. But Mike Mills’s 20th Century Women doesn’t exactly allow Bening’s mercurial matriarch the chance to settle into her character’s best self until well into the second half, and this year Isabelle Huppert seems to have the market cornered on, shall we say, complexity. Any doubts we had about Huppert landing a spot when there are subpar performances by great actors in terrible films to take into serious consideration—looking your way, SAG Award nominee Emily Blunt—were alleviated by her refreshingly breathless reaction to her Golden Globe win, one which should even win over a few of those who didn’t warm up to her prickly performance in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle.

The same goes tenfold for Meryl Streep, who was no doubt already a soft lock to net her 20th Oscar nomination for her limburger-and-caviar recital in Florence Foster Jenkins but who unquestionably sealed the deal when she put He Who Shall Not Be Named in his place.

Will Be Nominated: Amy Adams, Arrival; Isabelle Huppert, Elle; Natalie Portman, Jackie; Emma Stone, La La Land; and Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins.

Closest Runners-Up: Annette Bening, 20th Century Women; Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train; Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures; and Ruth Negga, Loving.

Should Be Nominated: Sonia Braga, Aquarius; Margherita Buy, Mia Madre; Mackenzie Davis, Always Shine; Royalty Hightower, The Fits; and Isabelle Huppert, Elle.

BEST ACTOR

Andrew Garfield

Ryan Gosling will be nominated.

And he should thank his lucky city of stars this field isn’t anywhere near as crowded as best actress, because Gosling in “Hey, girl” mode hasn’t curried much favor from Oscar up to this point. In fact, Gosling in any mode hasn’t curried much favor from them. And if the Slumdog Millionaire-like juggernaut that’s La La Land can’t net him his second nod, then nothing will.

Speaking of juggernauts, Casey Affleck’s near-uninterrupted streak of critics’ and industry awards for Manchester by the Sea means he’ll get his second nod too, even if he probably doesn’t have Nate Parker’s support. Denzel Washington’s P.R. campaign and proselytizing on behalf of playwright August Wilson probably means a lot more to most Oscar voters than the fact that the Broadway revival that begat the film version of Fences all but swept the Tonys. Either way, he’s also unquestionably contending.

The remaining two slots are in play, but just barely. Viggo Mortensen has beaucoup support for his role as a survivalist in Matt Ross’s Captain Fantastic, and though he’s out-acted by at least three or four of the six kids with whom he shares the screen, SAG and the Globes gave their endorsements. Joel Edgerton has, like his co-star Ruth Negga, performed solidly so far, but Jeff Nichols’s insistently quiet Loving picked the wrong political year to meekly state its case, and the same goes for Sully’s Tom Hanks, though at least his film could be interpreted as a minor-key variation of draining the swamp. Instead, we’re going with Andrew Garfield, who may be brilliant in Martin Scorsese’s Silence but who in Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge looks like we all feel.

Will Be Nominated: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea; Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge; Ryan Gosling, La La Land; Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic; and Denzel Washington, Fences.

Closest Runners-Up: Joel Edgerton, Loving; Tom Hanks, Sully; and Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool.

Should Be Nominated: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea; Adam Driver, Paterson; Andrew Garfield, Silence; Vincent Lindon, The Measure of a Man; and Hidetoshi Nishijima, Creepy.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nicole Kidman

The gluten-free woman in La La Land who regularly takes out her deepest frustrations on studio-lot coffee-shop baristas will not be nominated.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine who outside of the five we’re predicting below actually have even an outside shot of getting nominated. Though fans of Lily Gladstone and Janelle Monae everywhere would be delighted to be wrong, this lineup has been encased in carbonite for weeks and weeks now. The placement of Viola Davis’s fine work in Fences has the category-fraud police on high alert. Color us skeptics, but wouldn’t the argument just as strongly apply to Hugh Grant and Dev Patel in the supporting actor race? Washington’s performance is his film’s central role, and every other character orbits around him. So even though watching Emma Stone taking best actress and Meryl Streep heir-apparent Davis settling for supporting actress feels a little bit like a replay of the conversation Octavia Spencer has in the bathroom with Kirsten Dunst in Hidden Figures, hey, Streep’s first Oscar was in supporting too.

Speaking of Hidden Figures, habit may be the only thing to explain why Spencer is getting all the attention when her co-star Monae is arguably as integral to the ensemble’s success, and even throws more shade—you know, for the type of Oscar voters who equate corrective gestures of social righteousness with quality acting, or who couldn’t even be asked to consider whether Dunst’s tightly buttoned form of institutional racism might not also be worthy of at least consideration. But Spencer is hardly without her moments. Nor is anyone else tipped for the nod, for that matter.

Moonlight’s Naomie Harris broke her own rule in playing a crackhead single mother, and managed to engender sympathy without entering a plea for it—well, at least not until the third act. Also not asking for sympathy in a role that could’ve been nothing but: Lion’s Nicole Kidman, whose hushed support isn’t a simple clichéd manifestation of piety, but rather a function of her battle with depression. And then there’s Michelle Williams, who’s given only moments in Manchester by the Sea, and still manages to be equally responsible for one of the year’s most devastating scenes.

Will Be Nominated: Viola Davis, Fences; Naomie Harris, Moonlight; Nicole Kidman, Lion; Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures; and Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea.

Closest Runners-Up: Lily Gladstone, Certain Women and Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures.

Should Be Nominated: Viola Davis, Fences; Lily Gladstone, Certain Women; Nicole Kidman, Lion; Hayley Squires, I, Daniel Blake; and Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Aaron Taylor-Johnson

The photographer in La La Land who knows how he wants Ryan Gosling to pose but most certainly doesn’t know the first thing about real jazz and probably listens to post-Jaco Weather Report will not be nominated.

Another year, another reason we’re irritated that Oscar decided to take care of Jeff Bridges when he had so many more compelling options on either side of the not-so Crazy Heart. As Hell and High Water’s Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton, Bridges holds court as decisively as anyone in this year’s field. Well, with the possible exception of Michael Shannon, playing another Texas man of the law in Nocturnal Animals and wearing each acting choice like a badge of honor. Shannon looked to be cruising toward the nod for a while, but then a funny thing happened on the way to the Kodak.

Shannon’s co-star, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, instead got the Golden Globe nod for playing the most flea-bitten, grease-smeared rapist ever to also boast a washboard eight-pack. It would’ve felt like a classic glitch from the always-amusing Hollywood Foreign Press Association, but then Taylor-Johnson went and won, and then cemented his status with a truly out-of-leftfield BAFTA nomination (again, at Shannon’s expense). We like this as much as the next gay hipster, but we’re scratching our heads at this development.

Everything else here is business as usual, with Mahershala Ali standing in for Moonlight’s uniformly excellent male ensemble maybe in part because his is the only role that isn’t played by multiple actors, Dev Patel cashing in on the emotional moment Lion sets him up to bear, and Hugh Grant being more agreeably English than whatever Ralph Fiennes was doing in that eminently .gif-worthy scene in A Bigger Splash. As much as it pains us to say it, we’re predicting Manchester by the Sea’s Lucas Hedges to get lost at sea here.

Will Be Nominated: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight; Jeff Bridges, Hell and High Water; Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins; Dev Patel, Lion; and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals.

Closest Runners-Up: Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash; Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea; and Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals.

Should Be Nominated: Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight; Jeff Bridges, Hell and High Water; Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea; André Holland, Moonlight; and Dev Patel, Lion.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Fences

La La Land, despite being a rather thinly disguised mashup of Damien Chazelle’s favorite samples from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Singin’ in the Rain, and One from the Heart, will not be nominated.

That’s only because it’s being categorized as an original screenplay, obviously. Which is probably for the best overall, since this is the more competitive, stacked writing race. Though he’s been dead for more than a decade, the late August Wilson is assured a nomination for Fences. Barry Jenkins will match his best director nomination with another here. But nominations may also come to a few writer-directors who look likely to miss out in the latter category: Theodore Melfi for the aggressively pedestrian Hidden Figures (co-written with Allison Schroeder) and Tom Ford for Nocturnal Animals.

Nocturnal Animals, adapted from Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan, boasts a “complicated” structure, balancing heightened reality with deadening fiction, which should win over some of those voters who believe, justifiably, that the film itself is more notable for its wounded rough-trade directorial eye than its writerly voice. And the final, and most meta, writing nomination will go to Arrival’s Eric Heisserer, voted most likely among this year’s Oscar nominees to make me think, for a split second, that I myself have been nominated.

Will Be Nominated: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Nocturnal Animals.

Closest Runners-Up: Deadpool, Elle, Lion, and Silence.

Should Be Nominated: Arrival, Elle, The Handmaiden, Love & Friendship, and Silence.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

20th Century Women

La La Land will be nominated.

And this will be one of the categories it’s most likely to lose, since it will also square away against three intricate, carefully crafted pieces of writing…and also Noah Oppenheim’s Jackie. Kenneth Lonergan may be on shaky ground in best director, but he will certainly pull his weight in the writing field. He may well win, too, so long as enough voters remember how deftly he handles the moments of comic near-relief and don’t simply presume it all rests on Casey Affleck’s performance. (At this point, Manchester by the Sea’s Oscar profile feels awfully similar to that of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, in that both are unfairly being boiled down to their lead performance.)

Mike Mills’s highly autobiographic and diffusely structured 20th Century Women sure feels like the sort of thing that only manages a nomination in the screenplay categories, and so does the plant-and-payoff case study Hell or High Water, written by Sicario scribe Taylor Sheridan. But in a category that’s yielded far bigger surprises, we’re not quite ready to count out the likes of stalwarts Ethan and Joel Coen (whose Hail, Caesar! has unfortunately been rendered otherwise superfluous in the Oscar conversation by La La Land) or Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou’s The Lobster, which used to be pretty weird until the rest of 2016 happened.

Will Be Nominated: Hell or High Water, Jackie, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, and 20th Century Women.

Closest Runners-Up: Captain Fantastic, Hail, Caesar!, and The Lobster.

Should Be Nominated: Aquarius, The Fits, Happy Hour, Paterson, and Toni Erdmann.

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Awards

Oscar 2020: Complete Winners List

Parasite earned four awards, edging out 1917 for best picture.

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Parasite
Photo: Neon

Across the last month, we contemplated various pendulum swings, drew links between the Oscar voting process and the Iowa caucuses, and generally mulled over the academy’s ongoing existential crisis, only to come the conclusion that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or that’s what we thought prior to the Academy Awards ceremony. In a welcome surprise, Parasite took the top prize, becoming the first international title to do so in the history of the awards show, while Bong Joon-ho became the first director since Roman Polanski to win the directing Oscar after failing to win the DGA prize. (Parasite is also the first Palme d’Or winner since Marty way back in 1955 to claim best picture.)

In the era of the preferential ballot, one stat or another has been thrown out the window each year, but after last night, it feels like every last one was shattered to bits, and that the triumph of Bong film’s could signal a shift in the industry when it comes to not just what sorts of stories can be told. Indeed, Parasite’s victory is redolent of Moonlight’s no less historic one a few years ago, giving us hope that the very definition of an “Oscar movie” has been forever rewritten. Predicting the Oscars has become a little bit harder now.

Here’s the full list of winners.

Picture
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Parasite (WINNER)

Director
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Todd Phillips, Joker
Sam Mendes, 1917
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Bong Joon-ho, Parasite (WINNER)

Actor
Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (WINNER)
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

Actress
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
Renée Zellweger, Judy (WINNER)

Actor in a Supporting Role
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
Al Pacino, The Irishman
Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (WINNER)

Actress in a Supporting Role
Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
Laura Dern, Marriage Story (WINNER)
Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh, Little Women
Margot Robbie, Bombshell

Adapted Screenplay
The Irishman, Steven Zaillian
Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi (WINNER)
Joker, Todd Phillips and Scott Silver
Little Women, Greta Gerwig
The Two Popes, Anthony McCarten

Original Screenplay
Knives Out, Rian Johnson
Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach
1917, Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino
Parasite, Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won (WINNER)

International Feature Film
Corpus Christi (Poland)
Honeyland (North Macedonia)
Les Misérables (France)
Pain and Glory (Spain)
Parasite (South Korea) (WINNER)

Documentary Feature
American Factory, Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, and Jeff Reichert
The Cave, Feras Fayyad, Kirstine Barfod, and Sigrid Dyekjær
The Edge of Democracy, Petra Costa, Joanna Natasegara, Shane Boris, and Tiago Pavan
For Sama, Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts
Honeyland, Ljubo Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, and Atanas Georgiev

Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Dean DeBlois, Bradford Lewis, and Bonnie Arnold
I Lost My Body, Jérémy Clapin and Marc du Pontavice
Klaus, Sergio Pablos, Jinko Gotoh, and Marisa Román
Missing Link, Chris Butler, Arianne Sutner, and Travis Knight
Toy Story 4, Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen, and Jonas Rivera (WINNER)

Film Editing
Ford v Ferrari, Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland (WINNER)
The Irishman, Thelma Schoonmaker
Jojo Rabbit, Tom Eagles
Joker, Jeff Groth
Parasite, Yang Jinmo

Cinematography
The Irishman, Rodrigo Prieto
Joker, Lawrence Sher
The Lighthouse, Jarin Blaschke
1917, Roger Deakins (WINNER)
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Robert Richardson

Production Design
The Irishman, Bob Shaw and Regina Graves
Jojo Rabbit, Ra Vincent and Nora Sopková
1917, Dennis Gassner and Lee Sandales
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh (WINNER)
Parasite, Lee Ha-jun and Cho Won-woo

Costume Design
The Irishman, Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson
Jojo Rabbit, Mayes C. Rubeo
Joker, Mark Bridges
Little Women, Jacqueline Durran (WINNER)
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Arianne Phillip

Visual Effects
Avengers: Endgame, Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Matt Aitken, and Dan Sudick
The Irishman, Pablo Helman, Leandro Estebecorena, Nelson Sepulveda-Fauser, and Stephane Grabli
The Lion King, Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Elliot Newman
1917, Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler, and Dominic Tuohy (WINNER)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach, and Dominic Tuohy

Original Score
Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir (WINNER)
Little Women, Alexandre Desplat
Marriage Story, Randy Newman
1917, Thomas Newman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, John Williams

Sound Mixing
Ad Astra, Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, and Mark Ulano
Ford v Ferrari, Paul Massey, David Giammarco, and Steven A. Morrow
Joker, Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, and Tod Maitland
1917, Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson (WINNER)
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler, and Mark Ulano

Sound Editing
Ford v Ferrari, Donald Sylvester (WINNER)
Joker, Alan Robert Murray
1917, Oliver Tarney and Rachael Tate
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Wylie Stateman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Matthew Wood and David Acord

Makeup and Hairstyling
Bombshell, Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan, and Vivian Baker (WINNER)
Joker, Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou
Judy, Jeremy Woodhead
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten, and David White
1917, Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis, and Rebecca Cole

Original Song
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” Toy Story 4, Randy Newman
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” Rocketman, Elton John and Bernie Taupin
“I’m Standing with You,” Breakthrough, Diane Warren
“Into the Unknown,” Frozen 2, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“Stand Up,” Harriet, Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo

Live-Action Short
Brotherhood, Meryam Joobeur and Maria Gracia Turgeon
Nefta Footfall Club, Yves Piat and Damien Megherbi
The Neighbor’s Window, Marshall Curry (WINNER)
Saria, Bryan Buckley and Matt Lefebvre
A Sister, Delphine Girard

Documentary Short Subject
In the Absence, Yi Seung-jun and Gary Byung-seok Kam
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl), Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva
Life Overtakes Me, John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson
St. Louis Superman, Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan
Walk, Run, Chacha, Laura Nix and Colette Sandstedt

Animated Short
Daughter, Daria Kashcheeva
Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver (WINNER)
Kitbull, Rosana Sullivan and Kathryn Hendrickson
Memorable, Bruno Collet and Jean-François Le Corre
Sister, Siqi Song

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Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Picture

How could the essentially non-political 1917 not arrive as sweet solace in our cultural moment?

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1917
Photo: Universal Pictures

We now have roughly a decade’s worth of data to postulate how ranked-choice ballots have altered the outcome of the top Oscar prize, and we’ve come to understand what the notion of a “most broadly liked” contender actually entails. And in the wake of wins for The Artist, Argo, 12 Years a Slave, Spotlight, The Shape of Water, and most especially Green Book last year, we’re left with the impression that the biggest change in what defines a best picture is no change whatsoever. In fact, what appears to have happened is that it’s acted as a bulwark, preserving the AMPAS’s “tradition of quality” in the top prize during a decade in which the concept of a run-the-table Oscar juggernaut has shifted from the postcard pictorials of Out of Africa to immersive epics like Gravity and Mad Max: Fury Road, both of which won two to three times as many awards as the films they lost out to for the top prize.

We’re far from the only ones who’ve noticed that—Moonlight eternally excepted—the contours of best picture winners seem to be drifting in the opposite direction of where Academy representatives have indicated they want to go. Wesley Morris recently concluded that, despite his fondness, if not downright love, for the majority of this year’s top contenders, the slate still just doesn’t jibe with a purportedly forward-thinking, brand-spanking-new academy: “Couldn’t these nine movies just be evidence of taste? Good taste? They certainly could. They are. And yet … the assembly of these movies feels like a body’s allergic reaction to its own efforts at rehabilitation.” Melissa Villaseñor’s jovial refrain of “white male rage” two weeks ago knowingly reduced this awards cycle down to absurdly black-or-white terms, but if the YouTube comments on that SNL bit are any indication, raging white males aren’t in the mood to have a sense of humor about themselves, much less welcome serious introspection.

Neither is that demographic alone in its disgruntlement. What was yesteryear’s “brutally honest Oscar voter” has become today’s “blithely, incuriously sexist, racist, and xenophobic Oscar voter.” As the saying goes, this is what democracy looks like, and given sentiments like “I don’t think foreign films should be nominated with the regular films” and “they should have gotten an American actress to play Harriet,” it looks a lot like the second coming of Hollywood’s Golden Age gorgons of gossip, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons.

It might be a stretch but we can imagine that, to many voters, the presumptive frontrunner, Sam Mendes’s 1917, comes off a lot less like a first-person video game mission and a lot more representative of what it feels like to navigate our landmine-strewn cultural landscape as your average politically neoliberal, artistically reactionary academy member circa 2020. Especially one forced to make snap decisions in the midst of an accelerated Oscar calendar. And even if that is, rhetorically speaking, a bridge too far, there’s no denying the backdrop of representational fatigue and socio-political retreat liberal America is living through.

How could the stiff-lipped, single-minded, technically flawless, quietly heroic, and, most importantly, essentially non-political 1917 not arrive as sweet solace in this moment? It’s the same reason why we suspect, despite ranked-choice ballots pushing Bong Joon-ho’s insanely and broadly liked Parasite in major contention for the prize, it’s actually Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit we most strongly fear pulling off an upset. After all, how many Oscar voters are still more concerned about Nazis than they are global income inequality? Or, if you’d rather, how many of their homes look more like the Parks’ than like the Kims’?

Will Win: 1917

Could Win: Jojo Rabbit

Might Win: Parasite

Should Win: The Irishman, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, or Parasite

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Awards

Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Director

Given the academy’s long history and resurgent embrace of technical triumphs, we’re not holding our breath for an upset here.

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Sam Mendes
Photo: Universal Pictures

Last week, when Eric brought to my attention the New York Times article that exposed the myth of Hollywood being in the tank for movies about the industry, I used the piece as a jumping-off point for why Quentin Tarantino was vulnerable in the original screenplay category. At the time, I thought I was stepping on Eric’s toes by referencing his intel, believing him to be charged with giving our readers the lowdown in this category. Turns out he was tasked with whipping up our take on the film editing contest, meaning that I had stepped on my own toes. Which is to say, almost everything I already said about why QT was likely to come up short in original screenplay applies here, and then some.

Indeed, just as math tells us that the academy’s adulation for navel-gazing portraitures of Hollywood has been exaggerated by the media, it also tells us that this award is Sam Mendes’s to lose after the 1917 director won the DGA award, the most accurate of all Oscar precursors, having predicted the winner here 64 times in 71 years. A win for the pin-prick precision of Bong Joon-ho’s direction of Parasite would be a welcome jaw-dropper, as it would throw several stats out the window and, in turn, get us a little more excited about predicting the Oscars next year. But given the academy’s long history and resurgent embrace of technical triumphs—trust us, the math checks out—we’re not holding our breath.

Will Win: Sam Mendes, 1917

Could Win: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

Should Win: Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

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Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Film Editing

The only thing louder than the vroom-vroom of James Mangold’s dad epic is the deafening chorus of “Best. Movie. Ever.”

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Parasite
Photo: Neon

This past Monday, while the nation waited hour after embarrassing hour for the Iowa caucus results to start rolling in, Film Twitter puzzled over an AMPAS tweet that seemed to leak this year’s Oscar winners—before the voting window had even closed. It didn’t help matters that the slate of “predictions” tweeted by the academy seemed plausible enough to be real, right down to Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite for best picture.

As it turned out, the academy’s problems weren’t so unlike the DNC app gumming up the works in, as the New York Post shadily dubbed it, “Duh Moines.” And sure enough, AMPAS fessed up to a quality-control gremlin (sorry, “issue”) that resulted in someone’s personal predictions going out on the main account. As Iowa’s snafu reaffirmed that Occam’s razor isn’t just something you need to keep out of Arthur Fleck’s hands, we’re 100% certain that the intern who posted that ballot on the academy’s account meant to post it on their personal one.

Speaking of Joker, if you would’ve asked us even just a few days ago whether we thought Ford v Ferrari was any more likely than Todd Phillips’s dank meme to take the Oscar in the category that has frequently been characterized as the strongest bellwether for a film’s overall best picture chances, we’d have probably collapsed in a fit of incontrollable giggles. And yet, with a BAFTA film editing win in Ford v Ferrari’s favor, we’re not the only ones wondering if the least-nominated best picture nominee actually has more in its tank than meets the eye.

The only thing louder than the vroom-vroom of James Mangold’s dad epic, however, is the deafening chorus of “Best. Movie. Ever.” being sung on Parasite’s behalf, and indeed, it was selected as the academy’s unofficial, accidental prediction in this category. As Ed noted yesterday, momentum is in its favor like no other film this year. Well, maybe one other, and it was mere providence that the one-shot gestalt kept Sam Mendes’s 1917 off the ballot here, or else one of the tougher calls of the night could’ve been that much tougher.

Will Win: Parasite

Could Win: Ford v Ferrari

Should Win: Parasite

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Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Original Screenplay

One of the realities of the Oscar race is that you never want to peak too early.

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Parasite
Photo: Neon

So much has happened across the home stretch of this perversely shortened awards season that it’s almost difficult to process it all. Believe it or not, at the start of our rolling Oscar prediction coverage, just after the Golden Globes and a few days before the Producers Guild of America Awards announced its top prize, I was still confident in my belief that we were heading toward another picture/director split, with Jojo Rabbit taking the former and Quentin Tarantino the latter. But flash forward two weeks and we’re now looking at an Oscar ceremony that will be in lockstep with the final wave of guilds and awards groups, leaving frontrunners in various categories up to this point in the dust.

Case in point: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood in original screenplay. Even after a recent New York Times article used old-fashioned math to expose the myth being propagated by awards pundits—even us!—that Hollywood is in love with seeing its image reflected back at itself, we figured that the film, even if it isn’t our stealth best picture frontrunner, and even if it isn’t Tarantino’s swan song, couldn’t lose here. After all, the category is practically synonymous with QT, who only needs one more win to tie Woody Allen for most Oscars here.

And then—tell us if you’ve heard this one before—Parasite happened. Here’s a category in which Oscar voters aren’t reluctant to award genre fare, or re-imaginations of that fare. That’s Tarantino’s stock in trade…as well as Bong Joon-hoo’s. Parasite’s screenplay, co-written by Bong and Han Jin-won, found favor with the WGA last weekend, and while we weren’t ready to call this race for the film at that time—Tarantino isn’t a WGA member, and as such can’t be nominated for the guild’s awards—we’re doing so in the wake of the South Korean satire winning the BAFTA against Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. That victory proves, among other things, that one of the realities of the Oscar race is that you never want to peak too early.

Will Win: Parasite

Could Win: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Should Win: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

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Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Adapted Screenplay

Oscar has a long-standing history of using the screenplay awards for token gestures, especially toward writer-directors.

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Jojo Rabbit

As soon as the Oscar nominations were announced and the headlines were dominated by the academy’s cold shoulder toward female directors, it sure felt like the balance of this race was tipped in Greta Gerwig’s favor. After all, Oscar has a long-standing history of using the screenplay awards for token gestures, especially toward writer-directors; they’re where filmmakers like Spike Lee, Sofia Coppola, Pedro Almodóvar, Jordan Peele, Spike Jonze, and, to date, Quentin Tarantino have won their only Oscars.

Gerwig’s status as the most conspicuous best director castaway in this category might not in itself have been enough to push her through, but virtually all the press on her exceptionally good Little Women has focused specifically on how successfully she remixed the novel vis-a-vis jaunting back and forth between different periods in the chronology. Her framing device allows the novel and its modern fans to have their cake and eat it too, to be told a story overly familiar to them in a way that makes the emotional arcs feel fresh and new, to be enraptured by the period details that have always fascinated them but then also come away from it feeling fully reconciled with Jo’s “marriage” to Professor Bhaer. Within the world of pop filmmaking, if that doesn’t constitute excellence in screenwriting adaption, what indeed does?

Alas, as was confirmed at this weekend’s BAFTA and WGA awards, the token gesture this year looks to be spent not on Gerwig, but the category’s other writer-director who missed out in the latter category. We’re no fans of Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, and we aren’t alone, as it boasts the lowest score of any best picture nominee this year on Metacritic. Still, we admit that it must touch a nerve somewhere in the average academy voter who not only finds the Holocaust so irresistible a subject that they’re willing to back a film that this year’s crop of “honest Oscar posters” memorably dubbed Lolocaust, but who also, while continuing to feel increasingly persecuted about the online catcalls over their questionable taste, would right about now love to drop kick Film Twitter out a window like Jojo does Waititi’s positively puckish Hitler.

Will Win: Jojo Rabbit

Could Win: Little Women

Should Win: Little Women

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Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Production Design

Oscar voters are suckers for scale, throwbacks, ostentation, and, above all, a sense of prestige.

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Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Oscar voters are suckers for scale, throwbacks, ostentation, and, above all, a sense of prestige. No film nominated in this category checks off all those boxes, but two come close: The Irishman and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. While the former never caught fire the way it needed to in order to vie for even the major prizes, the latter has been cruising toward more than just a win in this category from the second people laid eyes on it out of Cannes last year. Regardless of what you think of Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, it’s difficult to imagine the scope of Quentin Tarantino’s sense of regard for a bygone Hollywood being possible without Barbara Ling’s production design and Nancy Haigh’s set decoration.

Still, this one is going to be a squeaker. First, there’s the matter of 1917’s late-in-the-game surge and whether or not the film can run the table in the technical categories, even in this particular one where war films almost never prevail. And then there’s Parasite. Near the start of our rolling Oscar coverage, I mentioned how almost every day is bringing us some article praising the perfectly lit and designed architectural purgatory that is that film’s main setting. Now there’s a black-and-white version of the film making the rounds that will certainly allow people to think anew on the dimensions of the film’s thematic and aesthetic surfaces. Because winning in most of Oscar’s tech categories isn’t about restraint, but “more is more,” Parasite’s concentrated sense of texture is more likely the spoiler to the vividly haunted past-ness that clings to every surface across Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood’s plethora of settings.

Will Win: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Could Win: Parasite

Should Win: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

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Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Visual Effects

The tea leaves are reading that it will be another win for middlebrow respectability.

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1917
Photo: Universal Pictures

Typically, it’s the short film categories that are most likely to trip up Oscar pool participants hoping to run the table, and not just among those who haven’t bothered to watch the nominees. A check on our own record reveals a number of years in which we failed to correctly guess at least one of them. It’s far more rare for the visual effects category to be one of any given year’s toughest calls. A quick glance at recent category history shows that Oscar voters clearly prefer what the industry refers to as “supporting” effects in a respectable movie for adults, like Life of Pi, Inception, and last year’s winner, First Man. Heck, voters are so counterintuitively serious-minded about this category that they eschewed the rollickingly impolite Mad Max: Fury Road—a juggernaut in the technical races back in 2015—instead opting for the not-just-comparatively minimalist Ex Machina.

Unfortunately, this year’s slate is almost ominously balanced between highbrow supporting effects, photorealistic animated animals in a kiddie epic, and template-oriented maximalism in support of action franchises. The result is the only slate where a bet on any given nominee would pay out more than double your investment, according to the latest Vegas oddsmakers. Still, the Visual Effects Society just handed the better chunk of their honors to The Lion King. It’s tempting to take stock of that, to consider The Jungle Book’s win three years ago, and to admit that the Disney remake is largely in a lane of its own here, and then take that as our cue to “hakuna matata” our way out of any further deliberation.

And yet, we’re not troubled by the VES awards’ preference for The Irishman over 1917 in their “serious movies” category. For one, the effects industry’s own affinity for character-oriented work is well-documented. Out in the wild, the uncanny valley of Scorsese’s age-reversing trickery has been as widely ridiculed as it has been embraced, especially that moment when Robert De Niro’s hitman roughs someone up in flashback, bearing a waxy youthful face but a very much seventysomething body. Given 1917’s 11th-hour surge, its Gravity-ish use of effects to blur cinematography, editing, and postproduction, and the fact that its grandest fabricated images never get in the way of the story, cue another win for middlebrow respectability.

Will Win: 1917

Could Win: The Lion King

Should Win: 1917

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Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

One of the great mysteries of this year’s awards season is the ultimate fate of Jojo Rabbit.

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Laura Dern
Photo: Netflix

One of the great mysteries of this year’s awards season that won’t be answered until the end of next week’s Oscar telecast is whether or not Jojo Rabbit will go home empty-handed. Taika Waititi’s film seemed destined for the top prize as soon as it won last year’s audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and then, well, lots of things happened since then, but nothing quite so damaging to the film’s awards ambitions than 1917, with which it likely shares more of a fan overlap than any other film in the best picture race. We don’t believe that there are enough academy members who cast votes with the intention of “spreading the wealth” to sway races in unexpected directions, but we do believe that Jojo Rabbit remains a major player in any category where it isn’t nominated against 1917.

That’s us saying that a win for Scarlett Johansson in the supporting actress race wouldn’t surprise us. And the only reason that we’re not going to call it for her is because there are other narratives that we believe in when it comes to securing an academy member’s vote, such as a nominee’s devotion to the campaign trail. The stars have lined up perfectly across the last few months for three-time Oscar nominee Laura Dern, a celebrated veteran of the industry who, for us, sealed the deal with her gracious SAG speech, which she prefaced with a touching pit stop at the Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood table in order to give her father, Bruce Dern, a hug. Also, given that Johansson is the likeliest spoiler in the best actress race, for a performance that would be difficult to imagine without her Marriage Story co-star’s collaboration, we’re also of the belief that if enough voters consider a vote for Johansson here an act of redundancy, if not betrayal, Dern’s victory is all but guaranteed.

Will Win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Could Win: Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Should Win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

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Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Costume Design

The path of least resistance and most chronological distance almost always wins here.

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Little Women
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When we shared Odie Henderson’s un-improvable joke, “Who wins the Costume Design Oscar for Joker? The Goodwill?,” we admit we hadn’t yet bothered to look up the person responsible for its downtrodden anti-chic shabbery. And seeing it was none other than Phantom Thread’s Oscar-winning Mark Bridges chastened us only long enough for us to remember that he was left off the ballot at the BAFTAs in favor of Jany Temime’s work on Judy, which, no matter what you think of the film itself, makes a lot more sense as a nominee in a category that, as Bridges well knows, often defaults to frock fervor. So while we could easily get more bent out of shape that the Costume Designers Guild this week gave its award for excellence in period film costuming to Mayes C. Rubeo for Jojo Rabbit, and while we could also ponder how this year’s slate skews not only surprisingly modern, but also far more male-centric than usual (from Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson’s baggy midcentury suits in The Irishman to Arianne Phillips’s groovy Cali duds in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood), the path of least resistance and most chronological distance almost always wins here. Jacqueline Durran’s win is both deserved and assured.

Will Win: Little Women

Could Win: Jojo Rabbit

Should Win: Little Women

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