And the Oscar Goes to… – Best Picture Nominees of the 92nd Academy Awards

Culture Editorial

I come from a family with real traditions. Every Christmas Eve, our parents get close to either disowning my sister and me, or ‘hunting down the bastard who made this unusable string of lights’. For each birthday, we swear we wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. Then, of course, fail to keep said promise. Another event in our calendar: the Oscars. Here are some thoughts about the nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards’ Best Picture category!

Since 2001, Dolby Theatre has been the place, and though we usually have to wait until the end of February, this year, the accolades are being handed out at the beginning of the month. (Good!) For many years, the question of the host would keep the crowd excited, but since last year’s ceremony went all to well compared to the fact that no celebrity was selected and got paid a fortune for manoeuvring their way through the biggest night of Hollywood, ABC announced that the 92nd will be another concert without a conductor – so no, this one won’t have a host, either.

As a child, I loved everything about the ceremony. I was absolutely enchanted by those famous actresses in their fairy dresses worth more than all the money in the world I’d ever be able to imagine, and the excitement hovering all over the place. To this very day, I have a list of my Favorite Oscar Speeches that I can turn to for some warm tears of comfort and a taste of grandiose success. But once I was old enough to realize the complete madness – talking about racial issues and basically shutting women out of such ‘rather’ important categories like, uhm, let’s say, Directing) – behind all the glamour, year by year I feel more and more disappointed by the Academy members’ lack of recognition for any human being, however talented, who differs from the classic Oscar-worthy mug (ergo, who’s not a white male).

How on earth, for example, Lupita Nyong’o’s performance did not shoot her to the list of nominees for Best Actress in a Leading Role? She was impeccable. JLo’s performance in Hustlers and Awkwafina’s in The Farewell – for which Lulu Wang should have also been nominated based on what I heard about the film so far, as I’m yet to see this one – could have also been recognized.

So yeah, if you take a closer look than a ten-year-old would at the nominees each year, you see these gaps: the blank parts that should have been filled with the names of such talents —— if only they were ‘the right kind’.

But the good news? Parasite. For the second time in a row, a foreign language film was also welcomed in the category of Best Picture. The South Korean masterpiece portraying class issues definitely brought something new to the table, and has been receiving claps from critics and audiences around the world – Hollywood included. Parasite has been nominated for six awards, in the category of Directing, Film Editing, International Feature Film, Production Design, Writing (Original Screenplay), and yes, Best Picture. Fingers crossed, I’d be very happy to see the first South Korean movie nominated for an Oscar succeed.

This year, Joker takes the lead with its eleven nominations – see how it proves the point I just made, right? – which, for me, is slightly controversial, though Phoenix was brilliant without a doubt. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino’s love letter to filmmaking was an absolute thrill for many around the world – myself included. I’m really rooting for Tarantino and Pitt to take the awards this year!

I’m actually going to skip the part about Mendes taking the story of his own grandfather, and jump right to Mr. Roger Deakins. 1917 was filmed “in a series of extended, uncut takes that could be connected seamlessly to look and feel as if it is one continuous shot” – that, the look and feel of one continuous shot, is owed to the genius of this particular cinematographer. Nominated thirteen times in a row before he could finally get the statuette for Blade Runner 2049, I sincerely hope he won’t have to wait that long for the next one.

I love Noah Baumbach. My – strictly cinematographic – crush started with Frances Ha, kept growing for Mistress America, and of course, The Squid and the Whale. Marriage Story, with the astonishing performances of Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, is a heartbreakingly beautiful – or beautifully heartbreaking – ballad of the complexity of love and relationships. Whether you’re dating or single, married or going through a divorce, this movie will speak to you. (No, this title won’t be hiding in the envelope for Best Picture tonight. But it does deservedly belong to the list of nominees this year.) Speaking of Noah Baumbach…Greta Gerwig nailed it again! Little Women was cute – but not in a demeaning way. In a smart, moving, Greta Gerwig way. Go, Laura! Go Saoirse!)

I loved the Hunt For the Wilderpeople. And I liked Thor: Ragnarok. Jojo Rabbit was not perfect, it’s true. But it was heartfelt and had a concept not many directors/ writers would ever be bold – or crazy – enough to try on the screen. (Much like Baumbach’s movie, I don’t think it would win Best Picture this year.) The Irishman didn’t do the trick for me, but I’ve been out of touch with Scorsese ever since he made Silence, which I could only describe as an utter disappointment. (Please, don’t let this be the winner this year!) And, last but not least, Ford v Ferrari is the one movie that feel neutral about. I have to – I haven’t had the chance to watch it so far. (Working on it!)

You still have a few hours to scroll through the full list of nominees, and we’ll be back in the morning with a summary of the 92nd Academy Awards!

Dorothy Mezo

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