Apologies, Loyal Reader – it’s been a while. Seven months, in fact, have passed since my last blog post. I had decided not to write my annual Oscars post this year, in favor of a where-have-I-been post that I still owe you. Alas, though, I was posting my thoughts about this year’s Oscar nominees in another forum, and as I jotted them down, there was enough content to simply paste into the WordPress format.
The 2020-21 Oscars ceremony was a lackluster affair. The host-less, COVID-distanced ceremony took place in LA’s Union Station. “Nomadland” was the expected winner, but the show’s producers decided to save Best Actress and Actor for the end, thinking that “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” co-stars Viola Davis and (the late) Chadwick Boseman would win top honors. As presenters Rami Malek and Olivia Colman read off the names of Frances McDormand (for “Nomadland”) and Anthony Hopkins (for “The Father”), jaws dropped. Hopkins wasn’t even present to accept his statuette, and the show ended on an anticlimactic note.
This year, mask mandates have been withdrawn and the show returns to the Kodak Theater. The Academy has also reinstated the fixed number of Best Picture nominees at ten; the slate of nominated films this year is diverse, ranging from a Guillermo del Toro-directed period noir (“Nightmare Alley”); to a don’t-let-anyone-deny-your-dreams sports drama (“King Richard”); to a story about the hearing-enabled Child of Deaf Adults, or “CODA;” to a cerebral, subtitled play-within-a-movie drama filmed in Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, English, and Korean Sign Language (“Drive My Car”); to a chaste, 1970’s romantic comedy (“Licorice Pizza”); to an epic about otherworldly spice warfare and indentured servitude (“Dune”); to a child’s-eye-view of life in 1970’s “Belfast;” to a deconstruction of the toxic western (“The Power of the Dog”); to a colorful musical as interpreted by Steven Spielberg (“West Side Story’); to, finally, a satire of global warming (“Don’t Look Up” – a film that I absolutely hated).
The nomination tally is as follows: “Power of the Dog” with 12 nominations, followed by “Dune” with ten and “West Side Story” with seven. Who shall win? Find out below!
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is reinventing the wheel this year when it comes to their annual Academy Awards ceremony. For one thing, being 14 months into a global pandemic has changed the presenting space. I am told that the Dolby Theater will still be used, but that downtown L.A.’s Union Station will be another location as well, with nominees and a single guest apiece in attendance, but no seat-fillers or anyone else.
For another thing, the “Oscars so white” outcry that popped after the crop of nominees from 2019 produced just a single major-category nominee of color (Cynthia Erivo of “Harriet”), eligible best picture nominees (as few as five films and as many as ten) must meet at least two of the following criteria: have a major character be handicapped, LGBTQ, or a racial minority (or have over 30% of the cast be female), and have a storyline revolving around one or more of the aforementioned subjects; have at least two of the top production staff members involved in the film’s production fit the above ethnic/physical/gender criteria; offer internships and apprenticeships to the above-mentioned persons, as well as job opportunities for them in below-the-line roles; and have a marketing and distribution staff that includes representatives from the above group. (Specifics can be found here).
Finally – and for the third year in a row – the event will be sans host. I have little doubt that the show will still near the four-hour mark, even with the Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing categories being merged int one. Having multiple venues (including locations abroad for overseas nominees to appear as well) will surely carry with it some technical challenges…and there are always surprises, from the streaker of 1974 who appeared behind a game David Niven; to the occasional tie (in 1968, Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn shared Best Actress honors, for “Funny Girl” and “The Lion in Winter,” respectively); to Faye Dunaway announcing “La La Land” as the Best Picture winner in 2017, only for it to be retracted in favor of “Moonlight.” What a night that was!
This year, “Mank” leads the pack with 10 nominations, followed by “The Father,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Minari,” “Nomadland,” “Sound of Metal,” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” with six nods apiece? Which films will win? Read on!
For the second time in a row, the Oscars will be host-less. Last year, original host Kevin Hart, whose name had briefly become associated with homophobia, dropped out, lest the Oscar broadcast become besmirched in controversy. The end result was a leaner show, still long at three hours, 23 minutes, but a full hour shorter than the longest-ever Oscars, 2002’s four-hour, 23-minute snooze-fest.
Aside from the “Oscars so white” outcry that popped up again this year with just a single major-category nominee of color (the excellent Cynthia Erivo of “Harriet”), this year’s pre-show drama was decidedly low-key. I expect a show with lower-than-normal ratings, considering that many fans of “Joker,” the year’s most-nominated film, probably aren’t the target viewing demographic for the Oscars, and that last year had a much more mainstream slate of nominees but disappointing ratings nonetheless.
Here are my picks for the winners. Interestingly enough, this year’s acting categories each seem to have all-but-guaranteed winners, which is unusual. That being said, there are always surprises; last year, I was wrong on both Best Actor (Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Best Actress (Olivia Colman for “The Favourite”).
This concluding entry about every movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture doesn’t need the four-paragraph intro that Part One did. All you need to know is that the list begins with the 1970’s – generally believed to be the best decade for quality filmmaking – that my all-time favorite movie is on the list, and that after March 4, 2018, another movie will join this list.
(Also, films in italics are especially worth watching. Read on.)
It was just two weeks ago that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced the 2017 films, film stars, and filmmakers that were nominated for Academy Awards. There weren’t many surprises, certainly not among the nine films nominated for Best Picture, among them “The Shape of Water,” which leads the race with a not-quite-record-setting 13 nominations, followed by “Dunkirk” with eight and “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” with seven.
You can watch for my predicting-the-winners post closer to Oscar night, which this year isn’t until Sunday, March 4th. I will wax poetic at that time about who I think will win, as well as who I think should win. For now, I’m still trying to catch up on some of the nominees, particularly in the categories of Best Documentary Feature and Best Foreign Film.
In the meantime, I’ve had a chance to write up a summary review of the previous 89 winners of the Best Picture Oscar. If this seems like a lot of work, know that I first had the idea last year, but it literally took me 12 months to gather my thoughts, and to re-watch some of the winners in question.