2020 Oscar Nominations – A few surprises, a few snubs, a few things to be happy about

Once the Oscar nominations are announced, the front-runner is usually considered the movie with the most nods. This year, its a crowded bunch: Joker with 11, The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 1917 each with 10. Jojo Rabbit, Little Woman, Marriage Story and Little Women each have 6

The biggest surprise (for me) easily is that “Joker” is leading the pack with 11 nominations. Its a good film, but it is elevated by an exceptional acting performance. Its a good movie to be sure, Top 10 of the year, but not that good.

I don’t see Joker sweeping – Best Actor, Original Score and maybe one other.

In the last 19 years, the movie with the most nominations has only won best picture five times. I see this year repeating pattern. In addtion to that, it has been very common of late to give Best Director and Best Picture to two different films.

Last year the fluffy, feel good “Green Book” won the big prize so I don’t see something this dark and nihilistic going down as a best pic.

These four movies lead in nominations. “The Irishman” once considered the front-runner may be the one left out at the end. The Netflix factor.

SNUBS

Always a hot topic. this year is no exception.

I was really hoping to see Lupita Nyong’o nominated for her jaw-dropping dual role in Jordan Peele’s “Us”. That movie came out in February and Oscar Voters have notoriously short memories.

I am quote shocked to see Todd Phillips nominated for “Joker” and Greta Gerwig left out for “Little Women” in the Best Director category. Gerwig is nominated for her Adapted Screenplay and is one of two favourites. But her work here is worthy and her exclusion is probably the most talked about one this year. Both are “end of ballot” nominations but it would have been good to have Greta there again after her great work in Lady Bird.

Lulu Wang’s semi-autobiographical “The Farewell” was shut out completely. This for me is the biggest surprise. Its an excellent, touching film with an Oscar worthy performance from Akwafina. I expected four nominations here. (Picture, screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress).

There was some talk of J-Lo sneaking in for “Hustlers”. What appears to be the fifth and final spot in that category went to Kathy Bates for “Richard Jewell”. I don’t consider this a snub. Its a not a strong category this year and Laura Dern is mortal lock for role as the supportive yet vicious divorce lawyer in “Marriage Story”. When there is a prohibitive front-runner, the nominations at the end of the ballot can get surprising.

Jonathan Pryce is somewhat of a surprise nominee for “The Two Popes” and seems to have bumped Robert DeNiro off the ballot for “The Irishman”. Both solid performances, neither have/had a real chance.

I was also expecting Ruth E. Carter (costumes) and Da’vine Joy Randolf (Supporting Actress) to be nominated for the wonderfully entertaining “Dolemite is My Name“.

PARASITE

If you have not seen this incredible film from South Korean Director Bong Joon-ho, do yourself a favour. Its subtitled but its an thrilling, odd, genre-bending movie, the likes of which I have never seen.

I am delighted to see its 6 nominations, it could have had more.

Also watch Bong’s “Snowpiercer”, currently on Netflix. Another entirely unique film.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Pitt, Pesci, Pacino, Hanks, Hopkins. Wow.

30 nominations and six wins between them. More on this category in another article.

CURRENT FRONT-RUNNERS in the MAJOR 8 CATEGORIES

BEST PICTURE: Seems to be a battle between “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “1917”. I would love to see QT win.

BEST DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes has an Oscar already for “American Beauty” and has done well so far this awards season. Bong Joon-ho has a lot of love for “Parasite” and Quentin is long over due. Mendes is the likely winner but by no means a lock.

BEST ACTOR: Close to a mortal lock for Jaoquin Phoenix for “Joker”. Second place right now appears to be Adam Driver for “Marriage Story“. I did not care for his role that much.

BEST ACTRESS: I have not seen “Judy” (nor has anyone else apparantly) but Rene Zellweger has topped the list for her performance as Garland for months. No one else seems to be close. But one has to wonder if her rather bizarre speech at the Globes hurts her changes. That said, right now on the sites I follow, no-one else is being talked about.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Likely Brad Pitt, don’t count out Joe Pesci, who came out of retirement for an uncharacteristically subtle, low key performance as mob boss Russell Buffalino in “The Irishman“.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Laura Dern, mortal lock at this point. Her performance is easily the best thing about “Marriage Story“.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Quentin Tarantino will likely win an third Oscar here and his writing in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is nothing short of brilliant. However, Parasite winning here would not surprise me. The Academy may want to honor Bong and his movie and this is its best chance.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Seems like a race between Greta Gerwig for “Little Women” and Steve Zallian for “The Irishman“. Zallian has multiple nominations and a win for “Schindler’s List”. Greta Gerwig will likely be honoured here for her movie that is very well-liked.