Combustible Celluloid

The 92nd Academy Awards

Gold Standard: The Oscars 2019

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Here are my reviews, notes, predictions, and thoughts about this year's Academy Awards. This year's nominees were announced the morning of January 13. Surprisingly, Joker led with 11 nominations. The Irishman, 1917, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood followed with 10 each. Then, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story, and Parasite each came in with six. The awards will be held on Sunday, February 9. Keep checking back... this page will be updated throughout awards season!

Update: I was surprised and/or pleased with most of the results, except for Best Actress and Best Song. Parasite was the big winner, with four top awards, followed by 1917 with three technical awards. Joker, Ford v Ferrari, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood each took two. And a smattering of titles, American Factory, Bombshell, Jojo Rabbit, Judy, Little Women, Marriage Story, Rocketman, Toy Story 4, and the shorts Hair Love, Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone, and The Neighbors’ Window, each won one. I did pretty poorly on my predictions, getting 16 correct and a whopping 8 wrong (I reversed my guesses for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing...), which is a roughly 67% success rate, or a D+. Bleh. Maybe next year.

Best Picture:
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Notes: Notable omissions here include my favorites Waves, Avengers: Endgame, Little Woods, Dark Waters, Harriet, Knives Out, and many others. But this batch of nine is -- despite its whiteness -- a pretty good bunch of films. I like all nine, and four out of the nine received four-star ratings from me. Update: Parasite won the ensemble SAG award, which means it's still a contender, but 1917 won the PGA award, so for my prediction, I'm giving it the slightest edge.

If I Had a Vote: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
My Prediction: 1917
The Winner: Parasite

Lead Actor:
• 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

Notes: Adam Driver is the only one out of my five picks from my SFBAFFC ballot that made it, so he's my pick now. (I'm still not sure how much I like the film, but I am sure that Driver is a great actor.) The most notable omissions, at the moment, are Mark Ruffalo for Dark Waters, Adam Sandler for Uncut Gems, Eddie Murphy for Dolemite Is My Name, and Daniel Craig for Knives Out. Just goes to show that the Academy still doesn't like comics. [Banderas and Price have their first-ever nominations, Driver has his second, Phoenix his fourth, and DiCaprio his sixth, for acting, including one win.]

If I Had a Vote: Adam Driver, Marriage Story
My Prediction: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
The Winner: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Lead Actress:
• Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
• Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
• Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
• Charlize Theron, Bombshell
• Renee Zellweger, Judy

Notes: Again, only one out of my five picks from my SFBAFCC ballot made the cut, Cynthia Erivo for the underrated, misunderstood Harriet. I actually had four black women in my list, including Tessa Thompson for Little Woods, Alfre Woodard for Clemency, and Lupita Nyong'o for Us. It's a shame that the Academy went with the very predictable (and very poor) performance by Zellweger rather than any of these. My other choice, Cate Blanchett for the misunderstood Where'd You Go, Bernadette, is also sadly absent. On a brighter note, I am thrilled to see Johansson, whom I've been championing for nearly 20 years, get her first two nominations this year. [Erivo has her first nomination, Ronan her fourth, Theron her third (including one win), and Zellweger her fourth (including one win).]

If I Had a Vote: Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
My Prediction: Renee Zellweger, Judy
The Winner: Renee Zellweger, Judy

Supporting Actor:
• 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

Notes: They may be all white, but these five guys are powerhouses of acting, living legends. Pitt is my favorite this year, and he's the only one here that hasn't already won at least once (though it would be nice to see Pacino get an Oscar for something else besides Scent of a Woman). Pitt is my choice, and he may be my prediction, too, but stay tuned. [Pitt has his fourth nomination (not counting producer credits), Pesci his third (incuding one win), Hopkins his fifth (including one win), Hanks his sixth (including two wins), and Pacino his ninth (including one win).]

If I Had a Vote: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
My Prediction: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
The Winner: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Supporting Actress:
• Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
• Laura Dern, Marriage Story
• Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
• Florence Pugh, Little Women
• Margot Robbie, Bombshell

Notes: Again, only one nominee made it from my SFBAFCC ballot, and that's Johansson, so she's my pick. My others were Julia Fox for Uncut Gems, Anne Hathaway for Dark Waters, Da'Vine Joy Randolph for Dolemite Is My Name, and Annette Bening for The Report. As much as I like Robbie, did she really have more to do in Bombshell than Randolph did in Dolemite? [Pugh has her first nomination, Johansson has her first of two, Robbie has her second, Dern has her third, and Bates has her fourth (including one win).]

If I Had a Vote: Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
My Prediction: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
The Winner: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

• Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
• Todd Phillips, Joker
• Sam Mendes, 1917
• Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
• Bong Joon Ho, Parasite

Notes: Everyone has already complained, but let me just ask: did they really have to nominate the guy who made The Hangover Part III and not the woman that made Lady Bird? I like Joker, but Phillips's filmography is too full of garbage for him to really deserve this one, although, sadly, I suppose he has a good shot to actually win it. Any of the others would be better. My top three are Tarantino, Scorsese, and Bong. I'll pick one soon. [Bong and Phillips have their first directing nominations, Mendes has his second (including one win), Tarantino has his third, and Scorsese has his ninth (including one win).] Update: Mendes has won the DGA award, which is usually the best predictor of the Oscar winner...

If I Had a Vote: Bong joon-ho, Parasite
My Prediction: Sam Mendes, 1917
The Winner: Bong joon-ho, Parasite

Animated Feature:
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Dean DeBlois
I Lost My Body, Jeremy Clapin
Klaus, Sergio Pablos
Missing Link, Chris Butler
Toy Story 4, Josh Cooley

Notes: Interesting that Frozen II was omitted, but I didn't care enough to see it, so I can't comment. The Lego Movie 2 was also omitted, but that movie lacked the freshness of the first (which also wasn't nominated) and faded away rather quickly. These five are about as good as it gets this year. For me, Toy Story 4 was the most surprisingly good and the least flawed of the batch.

If I Had a Vote: Toy Story 4
My Prediction: Toy Story 4
The Winner: Toy Story 4

Animated Short:
Dcera, Daria Kashcheeva
Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry
Kitbull, Rosana Sullivan
Memorable, Bruno Collet
Sister, Siqi Song

Notes: I have now seen all five of these. I still love Kitbull, but I concede that Hair Love ought to win. Memorable is also excellent, and the other two are not bad at all. This is a pretty good batch for once.

If I Had a Vote: Hair Love
My Prediction: Hair Love
The Winner: Hair Love

Adapted Screenplay:
The Irishman, Steven Zaillian
Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi
Joker, Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
Little Women, Greta Gerwig
The Two Popes, Anthony McCarten

Notes: I'd suggest that only three of these, Little Women, The Irishman, and Jojo Rabbit deserve to be here, and they're equally strong in the writing department. But given that Gerwig was snubbed for directing, the Academy would do well to award her this one. As for me, I'd cast a vote for Waititi, for making me laugh so much.

If I Had a Vote: Jojo Rabbit
My Prediction: Little Women
The Winner: Jojo Rabbit

Original Screenplay:
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

Notes: I have three favorites here, Knives Out (which did not receive any other nominations), Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Parasite. Risking sadness in excluding two others, I will have to go with my favorite film of the year, for all those incredible scenes that just start one way and go another, and delving into all those different themes, complex yet simple.

If I Had a Vote: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
My Prediction: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
The Winner: Parasite

The Irishman, Rodrigo Prieto
Joker, Lawrence Sher
The Lighthouse, Jarin Blaschke
1917, Roger Deakins
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Robert Richardson

Notes: So many good ones. These are all great, with special mention going to the narrow-aspect-ratio, black-and-white work on The Lighthouse. But my vote goes to the genius Deakins.

If I Had a Vote: Roger Deakins, 1917
My Prediction: Roger Deakins, 1917
The Winner: Roger Deakins, 1917

Best Documentary Feature:
American Factory, Julia Rieichert, Steven Bognar
The Cave, Feras Fayyad
The Edge of Democracy, Petra Costa
For Sama, Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts
Honeyland, Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov

Notes: I choked down so many downer documentaries this year (One Child Nation, etc.), and -- wouldn't you know it? -- the Academy went and chose a whole bunch that I didn't see. Bleh. Where is the incredible Apollo 11? Where is Hail Satan?, which is perhaps the year's most useful doc? How did They Shall Not Grow Old fall through the cracks? Where is Varda by Agnes? Why is this category so stuck on the most soul-killing movies? I'll vote for American Factory, simply because it would be awesome to see the Obamas take the stage and get an Oscar (although I'm not sure, as the heads of a production company, they would actually get the statue)...

If I Had a Vote: American Factory
My Prediction: American Factory
The Winner: American Factory

Best Documentary Short Subject:
In the Absence, Yi Seung-Jun and Gary Byung-Seok Kam
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone, Carol Dysinger
Life Overtakes Me, Kristine Samuelson and John Haptas
St. Louis Superman, Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan
Walk Run Cha-Cha, Laura Nix

Notes: I almost never watch these, but I might give them a shot this year, depending on availability. Stay tuned. Update: Based on what I'm seeing from experts, I'm predicting Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone here.

If I Had a Vote: n/a
My Prediction: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone
The Winner: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone

Best Live Action Short Film:
Brotherhood, Meryam Joobeur
Nefta Football Club, Yves Piat
The Neighbors' Window, Marshall Curry
Saria, Bryan Buckley
A Sister, Delphine Girard

Notes: I've seen all five of these now... None of them are particularly great, but they're also not at all bad, and even worth seeing for various aspects. The best, and the front-runner, is arguably Brotherhood; it's paced very well, like a small feature. The others often seem like they're too long, even though they're short.

If I Had a Vote: Brotherhood
My Prediction: Brotherhood
The Winner: The Neighbors' Window

Best International Feature Film:
Corpus Christi, Jan Komasa
Honeyland, Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov
Les Miserables, Ladj Ly
Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar
Parasite, Bong Joon Ho

Notes: I'll have to re-post my rant about the stupid rules behind this category, but at least two excellent films got in this year, Pain and Glory and Parasite. Only the latter was on my ten-best list, though.

If I Had a Vote: Parasite
My Prediction: Parasite
The Winner: Parasite

Film Editing:
Ford v Ferrari, Michael McCusker, Andrew Buckland
The Irishman, Thelma Schoonmaker
Jojo Rabbit, Tom Eagles
Joker, Jeff Groth
Parasite, Jinmo Yang

Notes: I have a personal rule that this award should go to movies that can tell their stories in less than 2 hours. I know that's a silly thing, especially when masterpieces like The Irishman and Parasite have every reason to go longer. It's just a personal preference. I admire concise, snappy, rhythmic editing, and so there's only one vote for me.

If I Had a Vote: Jojo Rabbit
My Prediction: Ford v Ferrari
The Winner: Ford v Ferrari

Sound Editing:
Ford v Ferrari, Don Sylvester
Joker, Alan Robert Murray
1917, Oliver Tarney, Rachel Tate
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Wylie Stateman
Star Wars: The Rise of SkyWalker, Matthew Wood, David Acord

Notes: According to the New York Times, "In layman's terms, sound editing is about collecting the sounds needed for a film. Sound mixing refers to what is done after they are collected." In that case, just going with my gut, my vote would go to 1917.

If I Had a Vote: 1917
My Prediction: 1917
The Winner: Ford v Ferrari

Sound Mixing:
Ad Astra
Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Notes: I keep thinking about the Sound in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, how those tinny car radios are always blasting, or how sometimes, it's just kind of quiet. So, yeah.

If I Had a Vote: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
My Prediction: Ford v Ferrari
The Winner: 1917

Production Design:
The Irishman, Bob Shaw and Regina Graves
Jojo Rabbit, Ra Vincent and Nora Sopkova
1917, Dennis Gassner and Lee Sandales
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh
Parasite, Lee Ha-Jun and Cho Won Woo, Han Ga Ram, and Cho Hee

Notes: I'm dancing about architecture here. While it's impressive to make a place look like a different time period, I was in awe of how the team on Parasite used buildings and windows and furniture to elevate the movie's themes, from that bizarre, half-basement apartment, to the entire layout of the mansion.

If I Had a Vote: Parasite
My Prediction: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
The Winner: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Original Score:
Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir
Little Women, Alexandre Desplat
Marriage Story, Randy Newman
1917, Thomas Newman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, John Williams

Notes: I don't really get the love for Newman's score, but the other four are excellent. Even if Williams didn't do too much different with The Rise of Skywalker, it did its job and gave me a lump in my throat. Desplat's score is lovely, and Newman's is powerful, but the one I listened to the most has been the spooky, mysterious, unsettling Joker score.

If I Had a Vote: Joker
My Prediction: Joker
The Winner: Joker

Original Song:
• "I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away," Toy Story 4
• "I'm Gonna Love Me Again," Rocketman
• "I'm Standing With You," Breakthrough
• "Into the Unknown,"" Frozen 2
• "Stand Up," Harriet

Notes: Good Lord. This category. Has anyone even heard of the movie Breakthrough? Did anyone remember that there was a song in Toy Story 4? I haven't seen Rocketman, but I'm not much of an Elton John fan. Fortunately, there is one knockout song here, and that's Cynthia Erivo singing "Stand Up." If you haven't heard it, then you need to. Amen.

If I Had a Vote: "Stand Up"
My Prediction: "I'm Gonna Love Me Again"
The Winner: "I'm Gonna Love Me Again"

Makeup and Hair:
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Notes: I didn't see Maleficent, Joker's clown makeup is effective, but not extraordinary, Judy's makeup sometimes made Zellweger look like her, but only from a distance and in profile. So my vote goes for Bombshell, which did a really astonishing job in transforming Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly.

If I Had a Vote: Bombshell
My Prediction: Bombshell
The Winner: Bombshell

Costume Design:
The Irishman, Sandy Powell, Christopher Peterson
Jojo Rabbit, Mayes C. Rubeo
Joker, Mark Bridges
Little Women, Jacqueline Durran
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Arianne Phillips

Notes: I guess it's not too surprising that all these nominees take place in the past. It seems wrong to give an award for creating Nazi uniforms. So, as much as I love Margot Robbie's white boots, I think I would cast my vote for Joker's simple, streamlined purple suit.

If I Had a Vote: Joker
My Prediction: Little Women
The Winner: Little Women

Visual Effects:
Avengers Endgame
The Irishman
The Lion King
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Notes: The visual effects in The Irishman are impressive, but I'm not sure how seamless they are (some of my critic friends were complaining about how the eyebrows don't move, which I didn't notice). My vote here goes for a movie that had me so wrapped up in its story that the awesome visual effects were almost secondary.

If I Had a Vote: Avengers: Endgame
My Prediction: Avengers: Endgame
The Winner: 1917

Parasite - 4
1917 - 3
Ford v Ferrari - 2
Joker - 2
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - 2
American Factory - 1
Bombshell - 1
Jojo Rabbit - 1
Judy - 1
Little Women - 1
Marriage Story - 1
Rocketman - 1
Toy Story 4 - 1
Hair Love - 1
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone - 1
The Neighbors’ Window - 1

Movies Unlimtied