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Picking the Oscars – The Big Winners

Arts Review2021-4-23By: Marc Glassman

 

Forecasting Sunday’s award winners

By Marc Glassman

 

While it’s a lot of fun predicting the Oscar winners, the task can be difficult if you’re a film critic. After all, it’s expected that a critic has seen everything nominated, making their choices well nigh foolproof. Critics have generally seen all–or most—of the top films each year but that can make choices for best films or artists in a category that much tougher. The media sometimes derides a film or two but let’s face it, most of the nominations are quite good. The actor category this year features stunning performances by at least three leads—Boseman, Hopkins and Ahmed—while Yuen and Oldman are certainly fine, too. Of course, that is part of the fun—it shouldn’t be easy, should it?

I’ve gone with a theory that this pandemic year has been best represented by Nomadland, a tough film about people surviving difficult times with integrity and understated grace. Like a gambler on what is hopefully a hot streak, I’ve chosen Chloé Zhao’s film to win in six categories: Picture, director, actress (Frances McDormand), script, editing and cinematography. If I’m right, I’ll be doing just fine with my Oscar selections. If not, well…

As for the winners in other top categories, I’m going with Chadwick Boseman’s brilliant farewell performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as best Actor, Garrett Bradley’s extraordinary Time as best Documentary and Thomas Vinterberg’s drama Another Round about Danish drinking for best International film. Last week, I listed other big winners: Daniel Kuluuya as best Supporting Actor in Judas and the Black Messiah, the funny and wise Yuh-Jung Youn as best Supporting Actress in Minari, Pete Docter’s Soul for best Animation and Emerald Fennell for best original script for Promising Young Woman.  

The list of all of my choices can be found separately here.

 

BEST PICTURE

THE FATHER

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

MANK

MINARI

NOMADLAND—Marc’s choice as winner

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

SOUND OF METAL

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

The tough, compassionate Nomadland is the best picture of the year for a number of reasons.  It is set in truly contemporary times, when people have to work until they drop—but handle the situation with dignity; so much of it is set across the U.S., making it an epic; and the mixture of documentary and drama works exceedingly well. 

 

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Riz Ahmed in SOUND OF METAL

Chadwick Boseman in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM—the winner

Anthony Hopkins in THE FATHER

Gary Oldman in MANK

Steven Yeun in MINARI

Although this is a strong category, let’s assume that this year of Black Lives Matter (and they most certainly do!), the Academy will do the right thing and give the prize to Boseman in his final film. It will give us all a moment to be emotional about a fine actor who will never get a chance to have the great career that was his due. 

 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Viola Davis in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

Andra Day in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY

Vanessa Kirby in PIECES OF A WOMAN

Frances McDormand in NOMADLAND—the winner

Carey Mulligan in PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

Another excellent group of thespians but this is the year of Nomandland (sez I) and McDormand is the only Oscar winner who could pull off being a “real” person in this film, which is partially documentary as well as a drama. She never gives away her acting roots, nor does she appear at all glamorous. Most important: she creates a three-dimensional character who we can believe in throughout the film. 

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

COLLECTIVE
Alexander Nanau

CRIP CAMP
Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder

THE MOLE AGENT
Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez

MY OCTOPUS TEACHER
Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster

TIME—the winner
Garrett Bradley

In this age of Black Lives Matter, a film like Time should be embraced if all it did was simply tell the story of a single mother fighting to raise her kids while her husband was serving an impossibly long jail sentence. Garrett Bradley’s complex and emotional feature documentary does far more than that: it’s an intimate character study, a fierce condemnation of the racist prison system in the U.S. and a philosophical meditation on the meaning of time. 

 

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

ANOTHER ROUND—the winner
Denmark

BETTER DAYS
Hong Kong

COLLECTIVE
Romania

THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN
Tunisia

QUO VADIS, AIDA?
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Thomas Vinterberg, the brilliant auteur whose Celebration is one of the finest dramas ever made about parental sexual abuse, has made a black comedy about toxic male identity and alcohol in Another Drink. Sounds awful, but just like Celebration, Another Drink is compulsively watchable and, yes, sometimes very funny. Don’t believe it? Check out this deserved Oscar winner (I’m hoping!).  

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM: DELIVERY OF PRODIGIOUS BRIBE TO AMERICAN REGIME FOR MAKE BENEFIT ONCE GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern
Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Nina Pedrad

THE FATHER
Screenplay by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

NOMADLAND—the winner
Written for the screen by Chloé Zhao

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…
Screenplay by Kemp Powers

THE WHITE TIGER
Written for the screen by Ramin Bahrani

Talk about auteurs: Chloé Zhao not only wrote Nomadland, she also directed, co-produced and edited it. She deserves the acclaim for my pick of film of the year. 

 

To see Part 1 of Marc’s Oscar Picks, click here.

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