Forums - Movies Discussion - The 2020 Oscars

I'm a little late on the uptake here, but I just now noticed that the Oscar nominees for this last year have been selected by the Academy. Although I haven't seen all of these films by any stretch, I have seen most of those nominated for Best Picture at least, as well as some of the others here. Some of the choices here I find baffling, like...

-Why does the Joker movie lead the pack with nominations in 11 categories, i.e. nearly half of the 24, while the higher-rated and far more popular Avengers: Endgame movie in the same genre is nominated in only one (Visual Effects)? *sighs* Could this be to with the fact that the one picture is rated R (and is thus serious, you know?) while the other is rated PG-13 (and thus juvenile nonsense unworthy of recognition)? These seem to be the sorts of pretentious prejudices of the Academy.

-Why is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood nominated in categories like Best Direction and Best Picture even though it was widely regarded as simply an average-quality movie (to say nothing of rather disconnected from the public's broad contempt for Hollywood as an institution, as shown clearly in the rapturous reception that Ricky Gervais's takedown thereof at the Golden Globes has met with)? I felt that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which has been often, and aptly, described as "a love letter to Hollywood", indeed if anything represents something of a betrayal of what Quentin Tarantino has in the past stood for. His breakout film, Pulp Fiction, has been rightly credited with bringing independent filmmaking much more into the cultural mainstream than it had ever been before in the same sort of way that Braid did so for independently-developed video games. It was a culturally significant movie in that regard, and one which specifically represented a revolt against the Hollywood establishment. What a journey from their to authoring the institution a proverbial "love letter", especially at this moment wherein it is so widely disliked!

-As Trevor Noah of the Daily Show has pointed out of the five movies nominated for Best Direction (Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Irishman, 1917, and Parasite), "Those aren’t just all male directors, those are all very male movies. If you take out Parasite, women probably have 10 minutes of dialogue in all the other films combined." To judge by the five best-selling movies in the U.S. over the last year, ordinary moviegoers seem less biased that way than the Academy, as do most professional critics if the average review scores on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are to be considered. Seriously, why wasn't Greta Gerwig nominated in this category for Little Women even though the movie was nominated for Best Picture, for example? Both critics and audiences alike loved Gerwig's framing and content choices, i.e. her direction! Tod Phillips gets nominated in this category for Joker and Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but Gerwig gets snubbed on her objectively better-made picture? It's truly remarkable indeed that only one female-directed film has ever won the Academy's coveted Best Picture award to date, and that that one was a war-themed movie featuring almost no girls or women (The Hurt Locker). It's for reasons like these that I'm in favor of the Academy establishing separate categories male and female directors (as in with hypothetical titles like Best Direction by a Man and Best Direction by a Woman), similar to how there are separate categories for male and female actors at these ceremonies. It's clear that such separations are necessary for the work that women do at high levels in movie-making to be recognized, given the obvious prejudices of the institution in favor of heavily male-centric material created by men.

So those are some of my early beefs.

Anyway, personally my favorite movies this last year were Parasite and Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Neither of these are American-made films though and for that reason it's hard to imagine either winning too many awards (especially since the latter, astonishingly, hasn't even been nominated for any!), as unfortunately the national biases of the Academy tend to prevail even when they really shouldn't. Anyway, these two were among the most critically acclaimed pictures of the year and deservedly so!

Parasite is a hilarious and insightful portrayal of the impact that social class on people's psyches and of the kind of kind of tension that arises when they are forced to coexist in the same space (and thus why the classes are usually separated from each other geographically). It does so in a way that reflects both the humanity and the imperfections of working class people in a highly entertaining way that abolishes the line between art films and, as they are called, "popcorn movies". There's not a dull moment in it. South Korea is indeed fast becoming a hub of excellent filmmaking more largely as well! I really hope that Parasite gets the recognition it deserves at the Oscars. I doubt it will, but its victory at the SAG Awards recently does give me at least some hope.

The worldview of Parasite's director, Bong Joon Ho, may also be a factor that limits the ability of his movie to achieve deserved recognition. "We are living in an era when capitalism is the reigning order, and we have no other alternative," he has commented, going on to say that "It's not just in Korea, but the entire world faces a situation where the tenets of capitalism cannot be ignored. In the real world, the paths of families like our four unemployed protagonists and the Park family are unlikely ever to cross. The only instance is in matters of employment between classes, as when someone is hired as a tutor or a domestic worker. In such cases there are moments when the two classes come into close enough proximity to feel each other’s breath" and are "pulled into a situation where the slightest slip can lead to fissures and eruptions." These unusual views of the capitalist system itself may not be what a prestigious institution such as this wants to be associated with, even if (or perhaps even because) they ring true.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is quite possibly the best romance I've yet seen. I think much of that has to do with the fact that the director, Celine Sciamma, and her lead actress, Adele Hanael, were once involved with each other romantically, and you can feel that in the bittersweet tone of the movie and the way it's constructed as an exercise in two key subjects studying each other continuously in a longing way that's forbidden by the context in which they find themselves. The film's conclusion is a highly passionate expression of their findings the likes of which I've not seen before in movies! (I recommend A.A. Dowd's review for A.V. Club.) Unfortunately, and frankly amazingly, Portrait of a Lady on Fire hasn't been nominated in a single category (not even the obvious International Feature Film category, remarkably!) despite its staggering average review score of 90.5% on Rotten Tomatoes and 95% on Metacritic, both of which are better scores than those that most of the Best Picture nominees have earned. *sighs* No nominations for this picture, but The Rise of Skywalker gets one?

Little Women was my next favorite after those two.

SO ANYHOW, that's my take. Are there any films you're rooting for?

Last edited by Jaicee - on 26 January 2020

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WOW. I had not realized Endgame was snubbed hard. Not even Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Film Editing?



YaY, Parasite wound up being the surprise Best Picture winner! Well-deserved!

I am, however, disappointed that Little Women only won the Best Costume Design award while even the Joker movie walked away with two awards. Let me point something out here, people:

Average review scores on Rotten Tomatoes:

Little Women: 85.7%
Joker: 72.4%

Average review scores on Metacritic:

Little Women: 91%
Joker: 59%

Audience review scores:

Little Women

PostTrak: 5 stars
CinemaScore: A-
Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 92%

Joker

PostTrak: 4 stars
CinemaScore: B+
Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88%

Matter-of-factly, Little Women similary out-scored most of the of other Oscar nominees similarly, including not only such movies as Joker and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but also the the likes of 1917, which was considered to be the frontrunner for Best Picture going into tonight (and which came away with wins in three categories). Yet only the "girly" award that's about outward appearance? *sighs* Just because a movie is directed by a woman and about the domestic lives of women rather than male violence doesn't mean it's therefore undeserving of any recognition, jeez.



Jaicee said:

YaY, Parasite wound up being the surprise Best Picture winner! Well-deserved!

I am, however, disappointed that Little Women only won the Best Costume Design award while even the Joker movie walked away with two awards. Let me point something out here, people:

Average review scores on Rotten Tomatoes:

Little Women: 85.7%
Joker: 72.4%

Average review scores on Metacritic:

Little Women: 91%
Joker: 59%

Audience review scores:

Little Women

PostTrak: 5 stars
CinemaScore: A-
Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 92%

Joker

PostTrak: 4 stars
CinemaScore: B+
Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88%

Matter-of-factly, Little Women similary out-scored most of the of other Oscar nominees similarly, including not only such movies as Joker and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but also the the likes of 1917, which was considered to be the frontrunner for Best Picture going into tonight (and which came away with wins in three categories). Yet only the "girly" award that's about outward appearance? *sighs* Just because a movie is directed by a woman and about the domestic lives of women rather than male violence doesn't mean it's therefore undeserving of any recognition, jeez.

What do you mean by "even Joker movie walked away with two awards" ? 

Joker was an amazing movie and it deserved the awards.



Jaicee said:

Matter-of-factly, Little Women similary out-scored most of the of other Oscar nominees similarly, including not only such movies as Joker and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but also the the likes of 1917, which was considered to be the frontrunner for Best Picture going into tonight (and which came away with wins in three categories). Yet only the "girly" award that's about outward appearance? *sighs* Just because a movie is directed by a woman and about the domestic lives of women rather than male violence doesn't mean it's therefore undeserving of any recognition, jeez.

Those scores you've cited do not matter to the Academy Awards, and neither are they some objective measure of quality. The voting members of the Academy select the winners of the respective Oscar categories, and every individual has their individual opinion. If you did the work necessary to be a voting member of the Academy, presumably you would vote for Little Women across the board, and cheers to you. But others preferred other films, and that's okay, too.

Inferring that this difference of opinion is because the movie "is directed by a woman and about the domestic lives of women rather than male violence" is unwarranted. That would be like me suggesting that you prefer Little Women because it is directed by a woman, which would be insulting and beneath us both; I am certain that the film stands on its merits irrespective of the genitalia of its director.

In fact, Little Women has been lauded in one form or another for about a hundred-and-fifty years, and it's absurd to equate this film being nominated for Best Picture with a claim that the Academy considers it "undeserving of any recognition." That's recognition that 99.99% of filmmakers would kill for.



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Good deserved wins for Parasite and Joker, both movies had my movie group discussing them passionately. And for example Joaquin Phoenix got the Oscar we said he would win!

I have yet to see Little Women, but remakes like these I rarely see, and if I do just leave them to watch at home. The 1994 film of Little Women looks bounds better than this new version.



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To me this were the best Oscars since 2015. Most (almost all) winners were very predictable - yet all of them very deserving. I am very much happy with Parasite winning best picture and I couldnt picture anyone beating Joaquin, Brad Pitt, Laura Dern and Renee to the acting awards. They were all the favorites and they all won. No surprises there.

I expected Sam Mendes to win for best director, but I had Bong Joon Ho as my second pick, so it was a good result for me either way. 1917 winning for visuals and cinematography is well deserved and im very glad that Taika won his first Oscar. Jojo Rabbit was my favorite film of last year. So all in all im very much satisfied with this Oscars.

As for Little Women, I did watch it, I did enjoy it. Its a very good period drama film, but as far as im concerned it won the one award it truly deserved. I think Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh both deserved their acting nominations but I never expected either to win considering the competition they were against and I do think quite frankly the film had no business being in the Best Picture category. It felt like it was the filler film of the bunch. 

Although I dont have any particular complaints about it, I dont think Greta Gerwig's direction was particularly outstanding, certainly not as much as it was in Ladybird and I dont think I'd take any of the directors nominated for Best Director to add her in their place so I do not consider her snubbed in that category. However I do think if there is a case to be made for a female director being snubbed in my opinion is for Lulu Wang. As a whole I think The Farewell was one of the best films of 2019, as good if not better than most of the nominated, so its beyond me how it was completely overlooked for this Oscars. But even with that into account, like I said, I very much enjoyed this year's awards. Im very satisfied with these winners. 

Last edited by Jpcc86 - on 10 February 2020

Radek said:

What do you mean by "even Joker movie walked away with two awards" ? 

Joker was an amazing movie and it deserved the awards.

It was a decent movie, IMO. It has an interesting and socially pertinent premise, but it's also a film riddled with cliched, one-dimensional characters (aside from our protagonist, that is) and I feel that as much lessens the weight of its message. It was a movie worth making and worth seeing, but it is not a masterpiece.

My essential complaint was that Little Women received so little recognition compared even to films that weren't as acclaimed. The Joker movie was the least critically successful movie among the nominees, and yet also the most prolific, with nominations in 11 categories: more than any other film. Surely a genuine masterpiece like Little Women should've gotten at least as much recognition! In my mind, there is simply no universe in which it's even remotely fair or objective for Little Women to be less recognized than the Joker movie as a work of art.

Still, I'm in agreement with the choice of Parasite for Best Picture and Best Direction.

Last edited by Jaicee - on 10 February 2020

Hey, remember when I said here that I couldn't decide whether Parasite or Portrait of a Lady on Fire was my favorite movie of the last year? Well the latter is getting a wide release here in the U.S. today, appropriately for Valentine's Day! Thought I'd mention in case anyone would be interested in seeing it because you really should.



Radek said:
Jaicee said:

YaY, Parasite wound up being the surprise Best Picture winner! Well-deserved!

I am, however, disappointed that Little Women only won the Best Costume Design award while even the Joker movie walked away with two awards. Let me point something out here, people:

Average review scores on Rotten Tomatoes:

Little Women: 85.7%
Joker: 72.4%

Average review scores on Metacritic:

Little Women: 91%
Joker: 59%

Audience review scores:

Little Women

PostTrak: 5 stars
CinemaScore: A-
Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 92%

Joker

PostTrak: 4 stars
CinemaScore: B+
Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88%

Matter-of-factly, Little Women similary out-scored most of the of other Oscar nominees similarly, including not only such movies as Joker and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but also the the likes of 1917, which was considered to be the frontrunner for Best Picture going into tonight (and which came away with wins in three categories). Yet only the "girly" award that's about outward appearance? *sighs* Just because a movie is directed by a woman and about the domestic lives of women rather than male violence doesn't mean it's therefore undeserving of any recognition, jeez.

What do you mean by "even Joker movie walked away with two awards" ? 

Joker was an amazing movie and it deserved the awards.

Was it, though? did it, though? I saw every one of the nine films leading up to the Awards Ceremony and joker was by far the least engaging of the films. Parasite, Marriage Story, Little Women, and 1917 were easily the best films going in, and Joker just sort of bored me. See, with Joker, if you knew a handful of things going into the movie, it was boring and predictable and bland. Even if you knew 100% of the plot of Marriage Story or Parasite going in, those films were still gripping, engaging films that grabbed you and held you for their duration. 

I don't dislike Superhero movies, I'm not a ponce (My top 10 movies of 2019 list is topped by Avengers Endgame and has I think two or three other superhero movies on the list as well), but Joker...didn't work for me. Yeah, Joaquin Phoenix's performance was outstanding, but nothing about the movie really stood out.