Arts Review

“And the Envelope, Please…” Marc Glassman’s 2020 Oscar Picks

“And the Envelope, Please…” Marc Glassman’s 2020 Oscar Picks featured image

Oscars 2020, part one
By Marc Glassman

Even in the streaming age, winning an Oscar still means a lot. The prestige conferred on being a winner is huge in terms of public recognition and salary expectations for everyone from actors and directors to cinematographers and scriptwriters. While most films don’t benefit the way they used to when a winner could stay in cinemas for months after garnering an Oscar, it does mean that there will be more downloads and streaming opportunities.

The main thing is that Oscars are still a lot of fun. Picking winners makes for great conversations for a month before the event while the night itself is often party central for movie enthusiasts.

This week and next, I’ll be picking winners. This week I’ll be offering my selection for Oscars in 16 categories, including Best Supporting Actress and Actor, Best Foreign Film, Best Screenplays—original and adapted, and best cinematography and editing.

Next week, I’ll give you my choices for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Animation and Feature Documentary.

Fair warning: I tend to get too enthusiastic about films and artists I enjoy and end up getting only 60% right. But, hey, this may be the year I turn it around!

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story” (W)

Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”

Florence Pugh, “Little Women”

Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”

Marc’s comments: Here’s one where I won’t miss. Laura Dern’s brilliant performance as the tough, witty and high-powered lawyer in Marriage Story is one for the ages. She absolutely aces the film, offering Scarlett Johansson the right advice to win her divorce proceedings against Adam Driver. Dern is cool, composed and a feminist in her reasoning; she creates a true character, not a caricature. It doesn’t hurt that she’s Hollywood royalty, the daughter of veteran actor Bruce Dern, and a star since her astonishing performance in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, decades ago.

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” (W)

Marc’s comments: This is a crowded field with a number of fine performances but the standout is Brad Pitt, playing a laid back, slightly cynical stunt man, whose career has been blighted by a history of domestic abuse. It’s taken years for Pitt to evolve into a fine actor and even in his mid-50s, he could rely on his good looks to keep him a Hollywood star.  He handles Tarantino’s dialogue brilliantly and is the centre of the director’s complex script. Pitt has never won an Oscar for his acting. This is his year.

Marc’s comments: Let’s go with the Golden Globes and reward the moody evocative score for The Joker by Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

South Korea, “Parasite” (W)

Spain, “Pain and Glory”

France, “Les Misérables”

North Macedonia, “Honeyland”

Poland, “Corpus Christi”

Marc’s comments: Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite is the clear winner in this always worthy category. In fact, it’s truly the film of the year, though it may win in the Best Picture category. Parasite is a devastatingly witty look at capitalism and the class system. Though it’s set in South Korea, it could be anywhere: the film outrageously dissects how our culture is controlled by money. The film’s mixture of comedy and violence makes it compulsively watchable even for those who won’t want to think about what it’s really saying about the world we live in today.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Little Women” (W)

“The Two Popes”

“Joker”

Marc’s comments: All of the scripts in this category are worthy of awards! Will the Academy reward Scorsese even if the scenario for The Irishman is too long? Or will they go for Jojo Rabbit because it’s so outrageous? My guess—and hope—is that Greta Gerwig, denied even a nomination for Best Director will get her Oscar for a revisionist take on Alcott’s classic Little Women. Warning: I might be voting with my heart.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“Marriage Story”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (W)

“Parasite”

“Knives Out”

“1917”

Marc’s comments: It would be hilarious if Noam Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, the NY-Hollywood intelligentsia couple, won for the two best scripts. I love what Baumbach wrote but this feels like the time to give Tarantino yet another script-writing Oscar. So I’ll go with Once upon a time…in Hollywood.

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

“In the Absence”

“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)”

“Life Overtakes Me”

“St. Louis Superman” (W)

“Walk Run Cha-Cha”

Marc’s comments: St. Louis Superman is my pick here and it certainly doesn’t hurt that one of the film’s co-directors is Canadian Sami Khan. A stirring biopic, it benefits from a charismatic “performance” by its lead, politician-activist-rapper Bruce Frank, Jr. an African-American from Ferguson who shows that Black Lives do Matter.

ORIGINAL SONG

“I’m Standing With You,” “Breakthrough”

“Into the Unknown,” “Frozen II”

“Stand Up,” “Harriet”

“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” “Rocketman” (W)

“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” “Toy Story 4”

Marc’s comments: Rocketman came out in the wrong year. Turns out that even Elton John can’t follow Freddie Mercury on film. But, for music, why not? Let’s go for Elton and Bernie and love them again.

PRODUCTION DESIGN

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“The Irishman”

“1917” (W)

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Parasite”

Marc’s comments: 1917 evokes the life and death in the trenches of World War One brilliantly. In a tough category, it’s the standout for me.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“1917” (W)

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“The Irishman”

“Joker”

“The Lighthouse”

Marc’s comments: Sam Mendes’ best casting decision was employing the legendary Roger Deakins to be his cinematographer. Shot in a series of long roving takes, the film feels like one flowing vision of what war was like in 1917. It should—and will be taught—in film schools as a superb example of what can be achieved by a great DOP.

COSTUME DESIGN

“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” (W)

“Little Women”

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Joker”

Marc’s comments: Arianne Phillips has done an impeccable job in recreating the look of the late Sixties in Once upon a time…in Hollywood. Trust me, I was there—not in Hollywood but in Montreal and New York. She has nailed the era.

SOUND EDITING

“1917”

“Ford v Ferrari”( W)

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

“Joker”

Marc’s comments: (Overwhelming sound of sportscars racing at high speeds). Marc says, the winner is Ford vs. Ferrari. (Jean and Mike say) Can’t hear you, Marc.

SOUND MIXING

“1917”

“Ford v Ferrari”(W)

“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

“Ad Astra”

“Joker”

Marc’s comments: Repeat and stir! (Overwhelming sound of sportscars racing at high speeds). Marc says, the winner is Ford vs. Ferrari. (Jean and Mike say) Can’t hear you, Marc.

ORIGINAL SCORE

“1917,” Thomas Newman

“Joker,” Hildur Guðnadóttir (W)

“Little Women,” Alexandre Desplat

“Marriage Story,” Randy Newman

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” John Williams

Marc’s comments: Let’s go with the Golden Globes and reward the moody evocative score for The Joker by Icelandic composer Hildur Guonadottir.

VISUAL EFFECTS

“Avengers: Endgame” (W)

“The Lion King”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

“The Irishman”

“1917”

Marc’s comments: The Marvel Universe ought to win one prize. I’ll go with the visual pyrotechnics in Avengers: Endgame.

FILM EDITING

“The Irishman”

“Ford v Ferrari”

“Parasite”

“Joker” (W)

“Jojo Rabbit”

Marc’s comments: Another strong category. I’m going with Jeff Groth’s bravura work on Joker, which successfully flips from fantasy to reality throughout this complex film.

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Bombshell” (W)

“Joker”

“Judy”

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

“1917”

Marc’s comments: I’m going with Kazu Hiro’s team for their amazing work on Bombshell. It’s not just that they got the Fox News anchors’ look perfectly; they made John Lithgow into a creditable version of the obese and terrifying Roger Ailes.

Click here for more film reviews from Marc Glassman.

Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus

Tune in to hear Marc Glassman’s Art Reviews
Friday’s at 9:07am on Classical Mornings with Mike and Jean

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