I already agreed to go to someone’s home for this year’s Academy Awards, so I cannot throw an Anti-Academy Party. So, I decided to write this post. I hope to keep the ranting at a minimum, but I make no promises. I am deeply disturbed, though not surprised, by the nominations for the 2020 Academy Awards.
Here are some questions and my musings:
How many films about Hollywood do we really need each year? Another movie-going friend said “one.” This year we had at least two: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Judy. I thought Renee Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland, late in her career, was great, much better than her speech at the Golden Globes was. And I learned a great deal about Judy’s horrible childhood and teenage years, specifically the body-shaming she endured. I tried to watch Once Upon a Time on dvd, got bored, and turned it off.
How many woman directors should be nominated each year? The ones who have earned it! I cannot believe, oh yes I can, that Greta Gerwig was not nominated for directing Little Women. Personally, which is what I get to be in a blog, I also think Lulu Wang deserved a nomination for directing The Farewell, about a Chinese family who returns to the homeland to see a dying grandmother.
How could they shut out Just Mercy? This is a really, really important story and a pretty darn good adaptation of a very important piece of writing. I have admired Michael B. Jordan since he was in the last few seasons of Friday Night Lights. His day will come and he will earn an Oscar. But Jamie Foxx, who plays the wrongly convicted Walter McMillian, should have been nominated. Thank goodness the Screen Actors Guild recognized his work with a nomination. It looks like Brad Pitt will win the Oscar; see my notes about Once Upon A Time above. I would love if the presenter would say, “Actually Brad, this is for your performance as Billy Beane in ‘Moneyball.'” I wanted Pitt to win so badly back in 2012.
Are there nominations I’m happy about? Sure. Zellweger (see above), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes), Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Saorise Ronan (Little Women), Laura Dern (Marriage Story), all the nominations for Parasite, Ford V. Ferrari, the Irishman (though it was very long).
What is my criteria for a good film? I will admit that I really love an interesting relationship. Much as I loved the racing scenes in Ford V. Ferrari, it was Shelby and Mile’s relationship that really kept me engaged. I enjoyed the way Gerwig freshly interpreted the relationships in Little Women. I was intrigued by the dialogue between The Two Popes. I loved the relationship between McMillian and Stevenson in Just Mercy. All that said, I can enjoy a film that is pure entertainment. Knives Out should have been nominated for more than just original screenplay.
What makes the Academy love some music biopics and shut-out others? Beats the heck out of me. Bohemian Rhapsody won four of the five Oscars it was nominated for. Rocketman, an even better film in my humble opinion, has only one nomination. Weird.
What else should we see that has not been discussed yet? Jennifer Lopez stole every scene and broke my heart in Hustlers. I absolutely adored Wild Rose, a small film about a single mom from Glasgow, Scotland who wants to go to Nashville and become a country music star. The relationships explored in this film were interesting and sometimes just beautiful. I do not know if it was Oscar worthy, but I did enjoy, primarily because of the the mother-daughter relationship, Where’d You Go Bernadette.
Is this comprehensive? Absolutely not. I have not seen all of the films nominated, some because I ran out of time and some by choice. Other articles, podcasts, and award shows have named performances and films which I have also not seen but seem to be missing from the Oscar nominations list. These are just thoughts by a amateur film critic writing mostly for her friends and parishioners.