This year: A battle royal between the youth wing of Oscar's voting membership and the AMPAS old guard.
Great assessment. How about an award for the most inaccurate movie? Elvis! I grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, which was defamed. What else can you expect from an Aussie hack?
No one could've predicted Will Smith slapping Chris Rock last year, but I am fully confident Cate Blanchett will not tackle Michelle Yeoh Sunday night. Well, mostly confident.
I'll be bummed if Elvis wins anything. Can we have a ten-year moratorium on 20th-century-musician biopics? I'm tired of watching these films/simulations while loads of that musician's compelling content are available on YouTube. (I might've gone on a multi-tweet rant about this a few weeks ago: https://twitter.com/jsulbyrne/status/1618989314133872642.)
A really wonderful write up, thanks.
Your question: “Do the Oscars still matter?” is an interesting one. As a measure of merit, I don’t think they’ve ever meant much to me—looking at Letterboxd, I’ve watched more than half of the “best picture” winners, and I can’t say that I’ve really liked even half of those. Sure, maybe watching an Academy nominated film is better that throwing a dart and picking a movie totally at random, but it is just not as helpful as the guidance you get from a trusted film critic or enthusiastic art house programmer.
Maybe the Awards actually have the space to be better, now they aren’t at the myopic center of American mass culture. I mean, if you encountered someone who said “In the Mood for Love” or “Yi Yi” was the best film of all time, you might not agree, but you could certainly understand how they might feel that way. If someone told you “Gladiator” was the best movie ever, they are clearly either a madman or Russell Crowe’s mother. But the Academy gave Gladiator a best picture nod, and neither Love nor Yi Yi show up as nominees, even at the “kids table” that was the best foreign language film category.
Hopefully the Oscars will continue to do what any award can do—help people mostly disconnected from a media culture to find something reasonably likely to be better than average. To be a slightly less embarrassing and significantly less corrupt version of the Golden Globes.
Thank you Ty. You are usually right and I usually agree with your picks (I was with you on Parasite). I have to say that I don’t think 2020 was a great year for movies. I was so excited to see EEAAO and then so disappointed when I did. I’m surprised it’s the front runner. I thought Tar and the Fabelmans were excellent and will be disappointed if they don’t win anything. But on the plus side, I thought the foreign films in all categories were much better than the American films.
A special Thank You! for Natu Natu I had no clue about and found myself screaming and laughing as I watched the whole thing.. Brilliant! Does a film go with this that one can actually see?
Good predictions, I agree...but why is "All Quiet.." both a best film and a best foreign film? That never made any sense....
How is EEAAO not nominated for Best Visual Effects? Was robbed!
I’m confused by you saying Avatar Way of Water doesn’t belong in the best picture category since you put it on your best of the year list but you did not recommend Elvis. Have you rethought Elvis or am I missing something?
Wish I could warm up to EEAAO but it just left me cold and dizzy and went on way too long for a "mother & daughter coming to understand each other" movie. Maybe I'll try it again with one of my daughters. I don't know how you pick just one. I haven't seen All Quiet, TAR, or The Fabelman's yet, but how can you beat Avatar's spectacle? Maybe with Banshees depth, humor and darkness. Or with Triangle's complete off the wall-ness? Glad I don't have to pick one.
I would have put Quiet Girl as the should win in foreign films (by a nose over Eo) and I think the cinematography was equal to the nominees in that category, if not flashy. He used an older format - narrower and higher - to great effect and was masterful in framing - the interior scenes reminded me of Ozu’s films.
And I would have nominated RRR for something for the amazing, dizzying visuals and action - cinematography, editing, something.
Should win for best actor for me is Nighy all the way.
But no one’s inviting me for a glass of wine and a fill-in-the winners evening so I’ll be happy to have seen so many good films and performances and to have had the benefit of your writing about them!
Ty - saw that Empire of Light was nominated for only one award, cinematography. Just recently saw it and loved it, especially Olivia Colman, who should have been nominated for best actress. You probably reviewed it when it debuted; can you provide link?
Academy won’t choose Everything unless members are way younger than I am aware of. I don’t believe the Academy can stomach hot dog fingers. I saw all the movies twice. The opposite of Everything, Banchees, should win. And this year I realized how good Colin Farrell is. Woman King is a top 4 movie. Viola Davis not nominated? Criminal.
Well, we watched TAR last night and, while I can appreciate the story and the acting as truly remarkable, it still left me a bit cold and, to be honest, confused. Maybe I'm easily confused these days. So with 7 of the 10 movies watched, none of them have hit me at all like CODA did last year.
Matthew Gilbert commented earlier this week in the Boston Globe that one reason viewership is down these days for the Oscars is that viewers "no longer see all the nominees because of the fractured movie landscape." I beg to disagree. Thanks to streaming options I have seen the films represented by over 75% of all the nominees, including shorts, while only attending one Oscar nominee ("The Fabelmans") in a movie theater. I have plenty of rooting interests as a result, and enjoy being able to base my predictions on first-hand evidence rather than second-hand buzz.