Calling Those Oscar Upsets…

Posted in Blog, Movies, News, Theatrical, Theatrical by - February 08, 2020
Calling Those Oscar Upsets…

It’s usually an evening of glitz, glamour and predictability…but there’s often one surprise of the evening…

With the 2020 Academy Awards getting ready to shine the best that the world of cinema has to offer on ABC tomorrow night at 8PM, the film world is pressing their tuxes, making sure the champagne is on ice and getting their predications in at Oscar parties all over the land.  While we could have easily polled our staff and done a “Will Win/Should Win” kind of piece but we decided to do something a little different.

Almost without fail, there’s usually one upset from what is predicted by the pundits to ultimately win the day.  Five of our intrepid staff picked five different categories and made their case for why what is being predicted by all the experts just might not win as they make a case for another candidate.

You can take our advice…or not (Full disclosure; Film Critics usually do pretty poorly on their Oscar pools) but it’s an interesting little sidebar to take with us and wonder “What If”

Thomas Wishloff-Best Adapted Screenplay

Trying to predict the Academy Awards is a maddening task, because there’s an element of spreading the wealth that must occur. Long gone are the days of a single film sweeping all of the major categories. Each award becomes a game of dominos. Joaquin Phoenix provides an excellent performance, but his likely Best Actor victory is also partially a way to reward Joker without having to reward Joker so to speak.

With that in mind, Jojo Rabbit and the aforementioned Joker seem to be the presumptive Best Adapted Screenplay winners. But this should also apply to Little Women, which is an infinitely better screenplay than both, and would be a (read: the only) place to reward one of the year’s best films. Gerwig’s screenplay does what all good screenplays should do: it directs the flow of action. Much was made of how she wrote it to specifically include points of interruption, so that the performers would know where to interject. More importantly, Little Women’s screenplay is what allows the film to elevate itself beyond simple adaptation to become a story about nostalgia, grief, and heartbreak. In a just world, this is wins innumerable things. That the only one it might get is a screenplay award is a disaster.

Steve Norton-Best Supporting Actor

No disrespect, Mr. Pitt but we need to talk. Your role in Once Upon a Timein Hollywood was, arguably, one of the best of your career. It was subtle, charismatic and engaging but it would be great if you could wait another year to bring the gold home with you because, this year, another veteran deserves it more.

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood may not be nominated for Best Picture but Tom Hanks’ transformation into the iconic children’s performer is nothing short of remarkable. Showcasing an authenticity that we haven’t seen from him since the mid-90s, Hanks makes a strong case that this may be the role that should define his career.

Though Rogers was not a flashy gentleman, his humility, genuineness and even his mannerisms are nothing short of iconic and, as the voice of a generation in a visual medium, are exceptionally well-documented. (You can ‘become’ Abraham Lincoln but no one really knows what he was like.) As Rogers though, Hanks disappears into the role so effortlessly that it’s often hard to discern where the performance ends and reality begins.

From every toss of the shoe to the inflection of his voice, Hanks simply exudes grace and strength in infectious ways. (In fact, in one poignant scene where Rogers asks for a moment of silence, the entire theatre that I was in held their collective breath at the same time.)

So, while Pitt’s fairy tale performance deserves all its accolades, it’s Hanks who really needs to have his Beautiful Day at the ceremony this weekend.

Dave Voigt-Best Cinematography

While there’s certainly no denying the technical brilliance of the work that the incomparable Robert Deakins brought to 1917 in crafting the emotionally gripping and tense one shot of being in the trenches of war, there’s something that’s hard to deny.  It’s still a visual gimmick that has been done before.

In Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood as we follow the aging TV star Rick Dalton and his long-time stunt double Cliff Booth struggle to make their way around an industry and a city they hardly recognize anymore in the freewheeling days of 1969 it wouldn’t have felt nearly as lyrical and visually stunning without the cinematography of Robert Richardson who weaves us in and out of this fairy tale world which exists just outside of reality with stunning aplomb.

Ever since its release it’s one of those films that just hasn’t gotten the recognition that it deserves for being as legitimately beautiful as it is and in the grand halls of Hollywood that is the Oscars there’s nothing that it loves more than recognizing and basking it’s past accomplishments.

Don’t get me wrong, Roger Deakins more than deserves to win for his stunning work on 1917, but if there’s an upset to be had in this category, expect from another veteran shooter in Robert Richardson because he even made TV in 1969 look as sexy as all hell.

Anthony Marcusa-Best Picture

In a category dominated by male-directed movies and male-focused narratives, telling stories about war, violence, lone wolves, and dudes driving cars, one film sets itself apart in wondrous ways. Little Women is by all accounts an outstanding movie, well-written, directed, and acted.

While nominations acknowledge the best of the year, winners for Best Picture are usually more about statements. And while those statements tend to fluctuate and even contradict each other from year to year, a best picture award for Little Women would not only help partly atone for Greta Gerwig’s Best Director Snub, but announce to the movie going public that movies can be great , even when they aren’t about men (shocking) and don’t involve chaos and bloodshed and gunfire. There’s a lot of talk about being more inclusive and trying to get a more diverse Academy. There are a lot of women and people of color knocking at door. A win for Little Women would help open it.

Court Jarrell:  Best Actor

Joaquin Phoenix is the clear front-runner favourite to win best leading actor at this year’s Academy Awards for his portrayal of Arthur Fleck/Joker in Todd Phillips’ film ‘Joker’. Further, the actor won the equivalent awards from The Golden Globes, The Screen Actors Guild, and The British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

While I would easily put my money on Phoenix to take home the statue, my dark horse in this race is Adam Driver for his performance of Charlie in Noah Baumbach’s ‘Marriage Story’. While the two films couldn’t be more disparate, they share the quality of pathos. We pity Arthur (at least for a while) as we pity Charlie.

I might argue that the difference comes down to relate to the two characters. Not everyone has experienced (or dealt with) mental illness. However, I would guess that most of us are familiar with the anger and anguish experienced during a bad break-up. Perhaps that being a more universal ordeal, bolstered by the tragic and truthful performance from Driver, and an incredibly naturalistic screenplay from Baumbach, will be enough to propel Driver to the award. It’s a long-shot, but I’m pulling for it.

The 92nd Academy Awards are tomorrow night at 8PM on ABC.

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