I'm sure the Academy will be unimpeachable
This week, the President was “acquitted” by a “jury” that included Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who said that “Mr. Trump’s request for an investigation of Joe Biden and any effort to tie the release of military aid to investigations were improper and shouldn’t have happened.”
His phone number is 202-224-3353 — just throwing that out there.
But let’s move on to a less-consequential election involving a disproportionately old, white male voting block: the Academy Awards!
As is my tradition, here are my picks and predictions for the Oscars, including who will win (and who should win).
“Ford v Ferrari”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Will win: Why does “1917” have momentum? It’s a technical marvel and safe. This tribute to stunt filmmaking tells a war story that’s safely on the side of the right side of history, which is why it’s also about a war that is a century old.
Should win: This is a joke. The Academy will not collectively vote for a foreign-language film about the class divide, but “Parasite” is the best film here. And its strongest competition, for me, isn’t nominated. “Knives Out” is the kind of delightfully perfect entertainment that the Academy can’t seem to take seriously.
Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”
Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”
Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”
Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”
Renee Zellweger, “Judy”
Will win: Zellweger starred in a movie that was built from the ground up to win this category. I can fault the movie for being Oscar bait, but I can’t fault the performance. It’s the only reason to see “Judy,” but it’s still worth it.
Should win: For the reasons noted above, Zellweger deserves this. Johansson is right there, too, and probably had the best year of any actress except maybe Florence Pugh. More on that later.
Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”
Jonathan Pryce, “The Two Popes”
Will win: Phoenix, not undeserving but by default. I loved “Joker,” which was both shameless and subversive, but everything problematic about it would have been amplified if there was a different actor in the lead. Phoenix is a generational actor. I know who’s played this character. This is still the best Joker performance.
Should win: There are snubs, and there are snubs. I’d argue between Phoenix and Driver, with some love for what DiCaprio did, but the best performance by an actor in 2019 was Adam Sandler in “Uncut Gems,” and his omission in this category would be the Academy’s biggest embarrassment of the year if it weren’t for Harvey Weinstein.
Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”
Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”
Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”
Florence Pugh, “Little Women”
Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”
Will win: This is why the Academy Awards are the Iowa caucuses of movie awards. The leads of “Marriage Story” could win both lead acting categories. Johansson was every bit as good in “Jojo,” and Pugh was a breakout between “Little Women” and “Midsommar.” So Dern will win to give “Marriage Story” an award.
Should win: While the movie was problematic, I hope that Robbie’s “Bombshell” performance gets the win it deserves. But Johansson is the reason the “Jojo Rabbit” so ably navigates its satirical minefield, preserving devastatingly moving scenes between thoughtful laughs.
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”
Will win: It’s odd that Hanks was pretty perfect in a role that was built for the supporting category and won’t win. But with the “Irishman” split vote (which should go to Pesci by a decided margin), Pitt is a clear frontrunner.
Should win: And the Academy will accidentally get this right. Pitt’s less-flashy performance is actually a perfect counterpoint to DiCaprio’s (also great) turn in the buddy-pic. They’re co-stars, and Pitt gets the nod for having a few fewer lines.
Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”
Todd Phillips, “Joker”
Sam Mendes, “1917”
Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite”
Will win: Here’s the upset of the night I’m going to call: Quentin Tarantino will win the lifetime achievement award you win because you should have won for another movie in the past. But he deserves it, and this will be how the Academy makes up its terrible Best Picture vote for “1917” (unless it just plays safe and also makes me mad by giving Sam Mendes this nod, too).
Should win: “Parasite” is the best of the Best Picture nominees (because, again, “Knives Out” somehow isn’t nominated). If the Academy decides that the movie’s shoo-in Best Foreign Language win isn’t enough, honoring Bong Joon Ho would be good mea culpa.
“The Irishman,” Steven Zaillian
“Jojo Rabbit,” Taika Waititi
“Joker,” Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
“Little Women,” Greta Gerwig
“The Two Popes,” Anthony McCarten
Will win: Gerwig is an absolute snub in Best Director, but her take on “Little Women” is so perfectly modern that it will take this consolation prize.
Should win: Waititi’s anti-hate satire, with a comical Adoph Hitler as imaginary friend, has the highest degree of difficulty. You can argue whether he nailed it. I think he did.
“Knives Out,” Rian Johnson
“Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach
“1917,” Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino
“Parasite,” Bong Joon-ho, Jin Won Han
Will win: I don’t generally like adapted movies, because I love movies and think they should be written to be movies, so this is really my Best Picture category, and it comes down to two of my top three movies. It’s a virtual coin toss between this and “Once Upon a Time,” but I’ll give a slight edge to “Parasite.”
Should win: From the pure screenwriting standpoint, “Knives Out” is as brilliant on the page as it is onscreen. And Johnson also made the best “Star Wars” movie ever. I said it.
“The Irishman,” Rodrigo Prieto
“Joker,” Lawrence Sher
“The Lighthouse,” Jarin Blaschke
“1917,” Roger Deakins
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Robert Richardson
Will win: LOL, are you kidding me? The movie that was built around a cinematography stunt? That one will win.
Should win: “The Lighthouse” was a stark masterpiece, but are you kidding me? “1917” might be an undeserving Best Picture frontrunner, but it’s not Deakins’ fault. He nailed it. He and Emmanuel Lubezki can argue over which of the two is the best DP in my lifetime.