As many of you know, I like to go to the movies. A lot. Thanks to AMC rolling out their $20 a month for unlimited movies plan, I try to go at least once a week to see whatever is playing, good or bad. I’ve really gotten into the Oscars the last few years or so, and I’ve seen “pretty much” every movie nominated for the big awards this year, so I figured I’d run through the list and give some of my thoughts.
A good thing about this year’s batch is that there aren’t any movies nominated for Best Picture, that I’d classify as “Oscar-bait.” You know what they are when you see them. The “Call Me By Name’s, and the “Roma’s,” of the world. You absolutely have to respect them because of how well they are shot, directed, and acted, but the plot just never really hooks you or appeals to you at all. None of those this year, thank goodness.
(Note: there are still two or three movies that were nominated for the big awards that I haven’t seen)
On to the nominees.
Ford vs. Ferrari: The ultimate Dad movie. Christian Bale, Matt Damon and race cars. What more could a guy in their mid 50s wants. My last two cars have been Subarus, so I wouldn’t be exactly what you’d call a “car guy,” but the last third of the movie where it focused on the 24 Hours of Le Mans, had me at the edge of my seat. That being said, the movie is a little too long, and Damon and Bale don’t make the characters all that memorable. I wouldn’t have nominated it for Best Picture.
The Irishman: Speaking of LONG movies, here we got The Irishman. An absolute epic made by and with some of the gods in Hollywood. Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino, Pesci. This is something I feel like I need to re-watch again because I watched it over three sittings on multiple days. I’d classify it as a “liked, but not loved it” movie. Pacino steals the movie with his role as Jimmy Hoffa. Just an absolute crazy man with some legendary rants throughout. Definitely deserves to be nominated for Best Pic, but I’d throw it in the middle-tier of nominated flicks.
Jojo Rabbit: One of my Top 5 favorite movies of the year. Taika Waititi can do no wrong for me. First Thor: Ragnarok, now this. He’s on an absolute heater and now he’s bringing Christian Bale into the MCU with his next Thor movie. Let’s. Go. A perfect mix of comedy, drama and tension. Waititi as a young, confused Nazi’s imaginary best friend (who happens to be Adolf Hitler), is just a ridiculous concept and he pulls it off so well. Sam Rockwell is in this too as a Nazi general, and you know he’s going to kill in every movie he’s in. Also full marks to Thomasin Mckenzie (go see Leave No Trace, a great movie which literally no one saw. She kills her role in that.) and ScarJo! The year of ScarJo! Her two best acting performances in back to back flicks. I feel like not a ton of people saw this, but once it gets on high demand, I highly HIGHLY recommend it.
Joker: Feel like this is the most divisive movie on the list. People either loved or hated it. Well except me, I’m kind of in the middle here. Joaquin Phoenix killed his role as Arthur Fleck turning into the Joker, and it’s a fascinating character story which dives into the problems of mental illness, and the lack of support for those struggling with the disease. I just didn’t like the “twist” at the end. It was pretty clear to me, that (SPOILER) he was making a lot of shit up in his head. The last scene of the movie with De Niro’s talk show host and Fleck was great tension, but there was also a lot of meh parts in it too. I didn’t think we needed to include the Thomas Wayne subplot. Don’t think it added much to the plot and it seems like it was shoehorned in there so you could be like “Oh, yeah this is a Batman movie.” I would have been fine with just subtle easter eggs that could have appealed to the comic book fans in the room.
Little Women: I clearly wasn’t the demographic this movie was intended for, but I still enjoyed this, DESPITE, the incessant chatter commentating on every single scene of the movie by the two middle-older aged women sitting next to me. And people think millennials are the problem with society… Greta Gerwig is one of the best directors in Hollywood and it’s a shame she wasn’t nominated for this. I hadn’t seen any of the older movies or read the book, so I was only vaguely familiar with the story coming in, which probably made me more engaged with the movie. Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Fighting With My Family) was probably the highlight of the movie for me and I was pleasantly surprised to see her earn an Oscar nom. She was definitely the highlight for me over her more-acclaimed co-star Saoirse Ronan. My biggest complaint was that they told this movie in a non-linear way, when I think they could have told it without switching back and forth between present and past timelines. I could see Gerwig choosing this method to differentiate this version from all the previous iterations, but as a first-time viewer it was a little muddy at times.
Marriage Story: If you were to ask what movie had the best overall acting this year, this would be my number one choice in a heartbeat. Adam Driver and ScarJo absolutely kill it in each of their roles and they have great chemistry together, despite the disintegrating chemistry of their characters. Laura Dern and Ray Liotta also provide a really interesting look at the cutthroat nature of divorce lawyers, although I wonder how realistic some of the tactics that they used actually are. It’s a really well-done movie that has you going back and forth siding with each side of the couple during the course of the movie, while highlighting the tiny details which can make divorce such a painful and messy process. The fight scene in the condo which was getting memed all over the internet may be one of the best scenes of the year.
1917: HAVEN’T SEEN YET.
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood: We’re getting to my two favorite movies on the list now. I am a big Tarantino fan (Inglourious Basterds might be my favorite movie of all-time and I even enjoyed The Hateful Eight, which many people hated.) This is just Tarantino, Leo and Pitt at their absolute best. I could watch Leo and Brad do anything together, and it’s crazy that this is the first time they’ve ever worked together. Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate is awesome as well, and she puts in a great performance showing a burgeoning actress at the peak of her life who was on the cusp of superstardom. The whole movie, you are just sensing the obvious dread for her, until Tarantino throws a complete u-turn into the whole movie with one of the most incredible sequences I’ve seen in a movie in a while. My biggest gripe with the movie is probably that the acting scenes of Rick Dalton go on a bit too long, but I understand the necessity of them to fully understand and flesh out Dalton’s character.
Parasite: My favorite movie of the year. I was absolutely blown away. I came into this movie pretty much completely blind, just knowing that the film was completely in Korean and that it had a positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And it was awesome. It is essentially two different movies. The first half being a social commentary about class and wealth, and then halfway through, the movie is completely flipped upside down and becomes something else completely. It is a completely original concept and there really has never been a movie anything like this one. I really hesitate to say more, because I feel like not many people have seen this movie yet as it wasn’t even released in the AMC theater near me. Had to venture into Providence to go find it. Now that it’s nominated for Best Picture, it’s just going to get more and more buzz, I cannot recommend this enough. Don’t let the subtitles scare you away.
Knives Out: Damn, I wanted this to get nominated so bad. Such a fun experience. Daniel Craig was just born to play a Southerner, I guess? I love movies that plant little clues throughout the movie that are eventually tied together at the end, and this does it with the best of them. Also one of the funniest movies of the year, the running gags they have and some of the one-liners are just hysterical. Brilliant script and I’m glad Rian Johnson got at least nominated for screenplay. Only nitpick I have,is that the true “mastermind” was a little predictable, even if the reveal of how they did it was not.
Uncut Gems: Adam Sandler, Kevin Garnett AND Mike Francesa??? Yes, please. No Oscar nominations for this movie is super sad, because this is one of the more anxious and tense movies I’ve ever sat through. It’s also one of the noisiest. There’s no time to breathe, no silence. Something loud is happening in literally every scene. Just a whirlwind of a movie that absolutely flies by. Julia Fox is going to be an absolute star in the future. Must-see.
Avengers: Endgame: Obviously, no chance of getting nominated for Best Pic, but it would be criminal for me not to include it here. Brilliant end to a decade-long stretch of incredible movies.
Now, some rapid fire takes on the other five major noms :
Antonio Banderas — Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
Adam Driver – Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix – Joker
Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes
Haven’t seen Pain and Glory or The Two Popes. Still sounds like a three-way race between Leo, Driver and Phoenix either way. I’m a big Leo fan so I will be rooting for him to win it, but I think Joaquin Phoenix will get an overdue first Oscar. Sandler needs to be in here.
Cynthia Erivo – Harriet
Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
Charlize Theron – Bombshell
Renée Zellweger – Judy
Haven’t seen Harriet. Give me ScarJo here, although quick shoutout to Charlize Theron, she looks and sounds so much like Megyn Kelly in Bombshell, that it’s a little scary. Zellweger as Judy Garland will probably win and she was very good in her role, but the movie was a snoozefest.
Best Supporting Actor
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
Haven’t seen The Two Popes. Just a couple of no-name struggling actors in this category, eh. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, was a little different than I thought it would be, but very enjoyable movie, and Hanks absolutely deserves a nomination, and it is rightfully as a supporting actor. I would give this to Pacino, but I have no qualms if Pitt wins it.
Best Supporting Actress
Kathy Bates – Richard Jewell
Laura Dern – Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh – Little Women
Margot Robbie – Bombshell
Not the strongest batch in my opinion. Robbie was better in Once Upon a Time, than she was in Bombshell. Dern was really good, but she was basically playing the same character as she did in Big Little Lies, and she had limited screen time. Bates was fine, but nothing spectacular in Richard Jewell. Comes down to Pugh or ScarJo for me, and I’ll take ScarJo here, but I think Dern wins.
Martin Scorsese – The Irishman
Todd Phillips – Joker
Sam Mendes – 1917
Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Bong Joon-ho – Parasite
Bong Joon-ho is my new king, and he absolutely deserves this award. Although I wouldn’t be that upset if Tarantino wins. Mendes won the Globe, but I’ll reserve my opinions until I actually see the movie. Gerwig should be here instead of Phillips.
Top 5 Movies of the Year (NON-ENDGAME DIVISION):
5. Jojo Rabbit
4. Knives Out
3. Uncut Gems
2. Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood