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Picking The Oscars – Part One

Arts Review2021-4-15By: Marc Glassman

 

Picking the Oscars Part One

Let the Games Begin

By Marc Glassman

 

We all claim to love the movies but let’s face it, the one time of the year when everyone pays attention to films is when the Academy Awards are given out. Suddenly our attention is focused on one place—Hollywood, still the Dream Factory, if only for its star studded night. That evening will be Sunday, April 25, with presentations taking place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood,  special show elements sent out from Union Station in L.A. and some celebrity announcements broadcast in international locations via satellite. The Oscars will be televised live in over 225 countries at 8pm EST on ABC.

The Oscars will be host-less again but there will be celebs including Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Bong Joon Ho, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger and Zendaya. Only the nominees, their guests and the show’s presenters will be present at Los Angeles’ Union Station so the Oscars will be real, or as real as anything can be, in Hollywood. 

It’s my pleasure to offer my Oscar picks to Classical audiences through our website with highlights being broadcast on Classical Mornings with Mike and Jean on the two Fridays leading up to the Oscars. In part one, this Friday April 16, I will share my choices for director, supporting actor and actress, animation feature, original screenplay writer, editor and cinematographer. Next week, you’ll get to know my Oscar selections for film, actor and actress, documentary feature, international feature and adapted screenplay. 

On this site, you’ll get a chance to read my other choices—music, costume design, shorts, etc. Quite frankly, that’s where I often make mistakes, which allows Jean and Mike to have some fun with me. And they’re right to do so. This year, I’ll try my best to get 100% correct. And, if I don’t, feel free to let me know about my errors. The Oscars should be fun and if I can contribute in any way,  that makes me happy. 

Here are the nominees in the categories I’m choosing this week, followed by my reasoning. Let the fun begin. 

 

DIRECTING

ANOTHER ROUND
Thomas Vinterberg

MANK
David Fincher

MINARI
Lee Isaac Chung

NOMADLAND – Marc’s choice as winner
Chloé Zhao

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Emerald Fennell

“Directing” offers an odd set of nominees, with three relative new filmmakers competing with old pros Fincher and Vinterberg. But Mank and Another Drink aren’t the best either has done and, quite frankly, Emerald Fennell’s script is better than her direction. That leaves Chung, whose Minari is fine but no match for the moody, powerful work done by Chloé Zhao in Nomadland. 

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Sacha Baron Cohen in THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Daniel Kaluuya in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH—The winner

Leslie Odom, Jr. in ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…

Paul Raci in SOUND OF METAL

Lakeith Stanfield in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

Paul Raci is wonderful as the deaf mentor to Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal but he won’t win. And while there’s much to recommend from the other nominees, none have accomplished what this year’s Oscar-winner has done.  This is a walk—nay, a saunter–to Academy Award glory for Daniel Kuluuya, who is riveting as Fred Hampton, the martyred Chicago Black Panther, and, well, Black Messiah. Kuluuya is on his way to stardom after this show-stopping performance. 

 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Maria Bakalova in BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM: DELIVERY OF PRODIGIOUS BRIBE TO AMERICAN REGIME FOR MAKE BENEFIT ONCE GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN

Glenn Close in HILLBILLY ELEGY

Olivia Colman in THE FATHER

Amanda Seyfried in MANK

Yuh-Jung Youn in MINARI—the winner

This is a strong category, with everyone offering eye-catching performances. Many love Bakalova’s high spirited comic turn in the Borat sequel while others prefer Seyfried’s brilliant interpretation of Marion Davies in Mank. As for me, I love Olivia Colman’s understated partnering with Anthony Hopkins in The Father: like a jazzy pianist accompanying a cunning saxophonist. But the winner here is an absolute newcomer to English cinema, Yuh-Jung Youn, whose gambling grandmother raises Minari into a truly wonderful character-oriented film.

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

ONWARD
Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae

OVER THE MOON
Glen Keane, Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou

A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE: FARMAGEDDON
Richard Phelan, Will Becher and Paul Kewley

SOUL—the winner
Pete Docter and Dana Murray

WOLFWALKERS
Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young and Stéphan Roelants

This is two film race between the Irish folksiness of Wolfwalkers and the very hip Pixar lushness of Soul. Normally, I would go for indie Irish but the story of Wolfwalkers is just too much of a cliché for me to handle. Soul has great jazz and two fine stories—one about a man finding himself and the other, rather philosophical about identity and the meaning of life. A lot for Disney? Sure, but Peter Docter—Up, Inside Out—is a genuine auteur and deserves another Oscar. 

 

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King
Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas

MINARI
Written by Lee Isaac Chung

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN—the winner
Written by Emerald Fennell

SOUND OF METAL
Screenplay by Darius Marder & Abraham Marder
Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Written by Aaron Sorkin

Original screenplays are tough to write so kudos to all of these nominees, but especially to Berson & King for Judas, Chung for Minari and Fennell for Promising Young Woman. While both Judas and Minari are based on true stories, Fennell crafted hers after hearing hundreds of true stories about how too many men treat too many women. Her script is tough, witty and brilliantly crafted. Absolutely deserving of an Oscar. 

 

FILM EDITING

THE FATHER
Yorgos Lamprinos

NOMADLAND—the winner
Chloé Zhao

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Frédéric Thoraval

SOUND OF METAL
Mikkel E. G. Nielsen

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Alan Baumgarten

A great film rarely happens if the editing isn’t terrific. All of the nominees in this category have worked on top notch films and their editing has ensured that the finished movies are excellent in terms of craft. But there’s one that stands out for me: Chloé Zhao has sat in the edit suite to make Nomadland the superb film it is. Mixing documentary and drama, she has made her film the best of the year.

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Sean Bobbitt

MANK
Erik Messerschmidt

NEWS OF THE WORLD
Dariusz Wolski

NOMADLAND—the winner
Joshua James Richards

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Phedon Papamichael

This is a three-horse race between Judas and the Black Messiah, Nomadland and Mank. All are, of course, very well shot, so it comes down to which film deserves another Oscar. Mank isn’t going to win many Oscars—if any—and Messerschmidt’s cinematography is showily brilliant. Bobbitt has given the requisite Sixties street-smart atmosphere for Judas and Richards delivers a realistic texture, which is absolutely necessary for Nomadland to work. I’m going for a Nomadland sweep—or nearly one—and so let’s call this for Richards. 

 

Part 2 of Marc’s Picks can be found here.

Marc’s full list of winners can be found here.

 

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