Tuesday, February 11, 2020

92nd Academy Awards Winners

Now I live across land and a pond to where the Oscars take place so IF wanted to watch show LIVE had to wake up at 1:00am and do not sleep from then on.  My purpose was to do exactly that even when had to miss the red carpet.  That's exactly what I did and gee, I'm so glad was able to do it as Cinema History was written and was able to watch it live!

Much is already written about the irrelevance of the show as did little to honor films and much to honor music -in films-; believe show was more like a music magazine for adults, which is not bad as there are too many shows and awards shows with music to celebrate youth (who are the one that purchase music the most!).  Nevertheless music/songs clips montage was quite emotional for me as recognized almost all films with only hearing the first notes ... and then came the first true surprise: Eminem!  It was kind of weird but yes, it worked as it's always nice to be moved by music to afterwards get shocked by music! (lol)

But the most relevant fact of the show is that kept me awake from around 2:00am to 6:00am as after the show was over I was to excited to try to sleep.  Nothing that keeps me from falling asleep during the wee hours is boring, tiresome, irrelevant or whatever negative thing has been said about the show; the show was entertaining fast passed and when different movies started to win awards became almost exciting to watch.  Truth is that acting Oscars were predictable and nobody doubted Parasite will win the newly minted International Feature Film category -even with all Penelope Cruz speculations- BUT no one imagined film with break so many Oscars barriers.

Parasite was the first South Korean film to get an Oscar nomination in the old foreign-language film or the new named category, was only the 6th movie nominated for Best Picture and International Feature Film.  Those were Parasite credentials before the Oscars awards but now has become the first non-English film ever -in 92 years of Academy's History- to win Oscar top award, the first film to win both Best Picture and Best International Feature Film, the third non-English film with four (4) Oscars (the other 2 are Fanny and Alexander, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), the third film to win Cannes top award and the Oscars Best Picture (1st is 1946 Billy Wilder's The Lost Week End, 2nd 1955 Delbert Mann's Marty ) and gee, sleep deprivation doesn't allow me to think what else belongs here but perhaps later will add more.

When thinking about South Korea, Parasite is the first film to win best film and the international category as well as best director and best screenplay; consequently is the first Korean film to win 4 Oscars for the same film.  More important, was the true reason why I didn't wanted to miss 2020 Oscars show as had to watch live when a glass ceiling is shattered, when the gates are open or when -more realistically- a door is open for World Cinema as we know now there are huge possibilities that a second non-English film could win Oscars top award. Bravo!!!  As The Academy changes with a more international members roster and somehow more younger profile, more open has to become to great movies from the world and not only from America.  But expectations have to be controlled as there will be retaliation, there will be open (or perhaps not-so-open) reactions to non-American films winning the most famous "American" award and surely there will be tints of of infamous "America first" could invade the members (at least the vast majority of older members).

There is only one beacon of light, The Academy Museum!  Yes, the one that will open on December 6th, 2020; the one many claim is the true reason behind The Academy opening to exponentially increase it's non-English international membership.  This opening assures what many in the world felt for years, Oscar is the most international award in the world, one that belongs to World Cinema or should belong.  Money makes the world go around, was needed for the museum and will be needed in the future, so you can fill all the huge space I'm leaving as enough of talking about the future of the Academy and have an important meeting to attend right now.  Will continue later.

Another milestone is Hildur Guðnadóttir winning an Oscar for Achievement in music written for motion pictures - Original Score and becoming the first ever to win for original score dramatic composition as before Rachel Portman and Anne Dudley won in a category then called original musical or comedy score.  Anyway if you consider only the original score part, then she is the first one in 23 years, last one was in 1997 (Anne Dudley for The Full Monty).

If you haven't seen the animated short that won the Oscar, Hair Love, strongly suggest you do so.  Was lucky enough to see it Sunday morning as was the only short broadcasted in CBS morning show Sunday Morning.  If you have CBS News app then you could watch it too, IF they haven't make it unavailable when became an award winner short.  Very nice story with remarkable storytelling techniques.  Talking about animation, yes regret I Lost My Body was not honored as has a great story with outstanding animation techniques and creativity; feature film animation winner for was was more of the same, sigh.

Clearly the BIG winner is Parasite and the big loser has to be The Irishman that with 10 nominations got 0 awards.  Remarkable to find that from all movies nominated for Best Picture all, except one, won at least one award.  Consequently worth noting when Oscars wealth was spread among 8 of the 9 best film nominees plus five more films for a total of 13 feature films with at least one Oscar.  The other 5 films are Bombshell, Judy, Rocketman, American Story, and Toy Story.

Tally goes as follows, Parasite won 4 followed by 1917 with 3, then Joker and Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood with 2 each; all other 9 films had 1 Oscar each. Not bad as somehow reflects the state of cinema during 2019 when several great to extraordinary movies were released.  Let's just hope 2020 brings great movies as according to the state of the world audiences really need entertainment and films to make them think twice about their choices.

To check winners at official site go here.   Winners are in *BLUE.

The Nominations

Best motion picture of the year
Ford v Ferrari
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once upon a Time...in Hollywood"s
The Irishman

Best animated feature film of the year
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Missing Link
*Toy Story 4

Best international feature film of the year
Corpus Christi, Poland
Honeyland, North Macedonia
Les Misérables, France
Pain and Glory, Spain
*Parasite, South Korea

Best documentary feature
*American Factory
The Cave
The Edge of Democracy
For Sama

Achievement in directing
Martin Scorsese for The Irishman
Todd Phillips for Joker
Sam Mendes for 1917
Quentin Tarantino for Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
*Bong Joon Ho for Parasite

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cynthia Erivo in Harriet
Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan in Little Women
Charlize Theron in Bombshell
*Renée Zellweger in Judy

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell
*Laura Dern in Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh in Little Women
Margot Robbie in Bombshell

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio in Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
Adam Driver in Marriage Story
*Joaquin Phoenix in Joker
Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes
Al Pacino in The Irishman
Joe Pesci in The Irishman
*Brad Pitt in Once upon a Time...in Hollywood

Original screenplay
Rian Johnson for Knives Out
Noah Baumbach for Marriage Story
Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns for 1917
Quentin Tarantino for Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
*Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won for Parasite

Adapted screenplay
Steven Zaillianfor The Irishman
*Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit
Todd Phillips and Scott Silver for Joker
Greta Gerwig for Little Women
Anthony McCarten for The Two Popes

Achievement in cinematography
Rodrigo Prieto for The Irishman
Lawrence Sher for Joker
Jarin Blaschke for The Lighthouse
*Roger Deakins for 1917
Robert Richardson for Once upon a Time...in Hollywood

Achievement in film editing
*Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland for Ford v Ferrari
Thelma Schoonmaker for The Irishman
Tom Eaglesfor Jojo Rabbit
Jeff Groth for Joker
Yang Jinmo for Parasite

Achievement in visual effects
Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Matt Aitken and Dan Sudick for Avengers: Endgame
Pablo Helman, Leandro Estebecorena, Nelson Sepulveda-Fauser and Stephane Grabli for The Irishman
Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Elliot Newman for The Lion King
*Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler and Dominic Tuohy for 1917
Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach and Dominic Tuohy for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Achievement in production design
Bob Shaw and Regina Graves for The Irishman
Ra Vincent and Nora Sopková for Jojo Rabbit
Dennis Gassner and Lee Sandales for 1917
*Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh for Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
Lee Ha Jun and Cho Won Woo for Parasite

Achievement in costume design
Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson for The Irishman
Mayes C. Rubeo for Jojo Rabbit
Mark Bridges for Joker
*Jacqueline Durran for Little Women
Arianne Phillips for Once upon a Time...in Hollywood

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
*Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker for Bombshell
Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou for Joker
Jeremy Woodhead for Judy
Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten and David White for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis and Rebecca Cole for 1917

Achievement in sound editing
*Donald Sylvester for Ford v Ferrari
Alan Robert Murray for Joker
Oliver Tarney and Rachael Tate for 1917
Wylie Stateman for Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
Matthew Wood and David Acord for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Achievement in sound mixing
Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson and Mark Ulano for Ad Astra
Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Steven A. Morrow for Ford v Ferrari
Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic and Tod Maitlandfor Joker
*Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson for 1917
Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler and Mark Ulano for Once upon a Time...in Hollywood

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
*Hildur Guðnadóttir for Joker
Alexandre Desplat for Little Women
Randy Newman for Marriage Story
Thomas Newman for 1917
John Williams for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away from Toy Story 4 Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
*(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again from Rocketman Music by Elton John; Lyric by Bernie Taupin
I'm Standing With You from Breakthrough Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
Into The Unknown from Frozen II Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Stand Up from Harriet Music and Lyric by Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo

Best animated short film
Dcera (Daughter), Daria Kashcheeva, Czech Republic, 15'
*Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver, USA, 7'
Kitbull, Rosana Sullivan and Kathryn Hendrickson, USA, 9'
Memorable, Bruno Collet and Jean-François Le Corre, France, 12'
Sister, Siqi Song, China and USA, 8'

Best live action short film
Brotherhood, Meryam Joobeur and Maria Gracia Turgeon, Tunisia, Canada, Qatar and Sweden, 25'
Nefta Football Club, Yves Piat and Damien Megherbi, France, Tunisia and Algeria, 17'
*The Neighbors' Window, Marshall Curry, USA, 20'
Saria, Bryan Buckley and Matt Lefebvre, USA,  23'
Une sœur (A Sister), Delphine Girard, Belgium, 16'

Best documentary short subject
In the Absence, Yi Seung-Jun and Gary Byung-Seok Kam, South Korea, 28'
*Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl), Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva, UK, 39'
Life Overtakes Me, John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson, Sweden and USA, 39'
St. Louis Superman, Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan, USA, 28'
Walk Run Cha-Cha, Laura Nix and Colette Sandstedt, USA, 20'


A few days back the Academy announced the nominations for the edition that honors films from 2019 and there were no huge surprises, except for some films that were snubbed.

For me the most noticeable news are the differences between what film critics and journalist prefer and industry choices as two remarkable differences are in the actress and documentary categories.

Lupita Nyong'o was the clear press winner but unfortunately her performance was in an horror film, which AMPAS hardly honors in any way; so, no surprise that got no nomination.  Apollo 11 was also the clear by far most press honored but got no nomination and still wondering the reason why, even do I was not particularly pleased with the documentary that yes, put me to sleep (but then consider I saw the real thing live-lol).

Another very noticeable difference between press and industry is in the best picture category as press undoubtedly honored more Parasite while AMPAS not only gave film only 6 nominations but, as many,  I wonder if has chances to win best picture Oscar.  It's all about what some of us discuss every single year, are the Oscars honoring American movies? or English-language movies or World movies?  We know that Oscars have become like the "world" cinema award and nowadays there are more world filmmakers related Academy members than ever plus lately there have been nominations for non-English and non-American nor British productions; but, if you have been paying attention you will notice that awards winners go back to the traditional, what has prevailed during 92 years.  Perhaps last year was when many of us had hope AMPAS will honor great cinema and break the ceiling allowing a great film in Spanish and Mixtec to win.

Obviously AMPAS lost a great opportunity as did not honor Roma and instead top award went to a mediocre film like Green Book.  Have to mention Roma incredible achievement as this year Parasite did not match it; Roma got 10 nominations and Parasite has 6.  But there is a huge difference between these two excellent films, Roma is more a work-of-art while Parasite is extraordinary entertainment.  Don't take me wrong, Parasite left me astounded, what a fantastic movie!  It is precisely because Parasite is outstanding entertainment that found so much success in the American market and elsewhere in the world, while Rome was more modest not only because was released in Netflix but also because is a work of art.  Nevertheless, as Parasite got a best film nomination this year again I'll be rooting for a win in the top category and change everything for non-English cinema.

Have no doubt that Parasite has to win the newly minted International Feature Film category and yes, will become the first South Korean movie to do so in that category as well as in the old foreign-language film category.  By-the-way Parasite is the 11th non-English language film nominated for Best Picture and the 6th nominated for both International Feature Film and Best Picture in the same year. Out of the 6 with both nominations, all 6 went to win former Foreign-language film category but not Best Picture; none of these movies has ever win the category.

Another very noticeable achievement is Netflix having the most nominations, 24 nominations including 10 for The Irishman; Netflix is followed by Disney which scored 23 nominations and Sony with 20.  But the big winner of the 2020 Oscars nominations is Joker with 11 nominations followed by three films with 10 nominations each, The Irishman, Once A Time... In Hollywood and 1917.

As film was so divisive since it's premier in 2019 Venice -and consequently Golden Lion win- it is NO surprise the many non-positive reactions to this movie nomination in social media as in the press.  So many passionately disliked film and many liked film.  I belong to the later as film mesmerized me and truly made me recall not the obvious films -the one that inspired director- but the amazing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  Sorry but this is no regular Comic book film.  Yes, the main character is a comic book character and yes, have seen Joker pajamas in Target (google this to laugh loud about what Todd Phillips was told); but, this is a very complex, layered film with an outstanding Joaquin Phoenix performance. So chapeau to Phoenix and Phillips, well deserved honor for both and all the other honors the film gathered.  No, I would mind if film wins top award but many speculate that under current industry (or Academy?) circumstances it is not possible a "comic book" movie to win top award.

Many of you know I'm huge fan of great French cinema and the key word is "great"; so no surprise when I said Les Misérables is not my cup of tea -was hoping for Portrait of a Jeune Fille en Feu to represent France-; nevertheless, it's great that French cinema was honored with three film Oscars nominations in International Feature Film, Animation Film and Animated Short Film.  Animated film I Lost My Body is Netflix and if you haven't seen it, strongly suggest you do as is fantastic animation plus the story undoubtedly is the only -out of the five nominees- that is adult oriented.

So, what to say about the International Feature Film category?  Parasite will (has to) win.  Very pleased Almodovar got a nod for his great Pain and Glory as well as newly named North Macedonia long-form advertisement Honeyland, which indeed has 2 nominations as also grabbed a spot in the documentary category-.  Hugely pleased with Honeyland honors as even if it seldomly happens advertising can also be art.  Very curious about Corpus Christi and quite sad Czech Republic's The Painted Bird didn't got a nomination but due to story nature knew was quite improbable.

This year Oscars was not kind to Latin American cinema as no film from the region made the International Feature Film category list of 10.  As we learn all nominees in the 24 categories there is a remarkable absence of LatAm filmmakers in any of the categories; so, undoubtedly, was a huge surprise to discover a short film telling an awful story set in one country from the region.  Saria is an Oscar nominated live action short film by Bryan Buckley about a tragic fire which claimed the life 41 young female orphans at the Virgen de la Asuncion Safe Home in Guatemala.  Sigh.

Will not get into the gender controversy as deeply inside me absolutely understand the situation of male-oriented prevalence and that has to change in the film industry -and elsewhere.  My conflict comes to what to honor in art related pieces, the piece itself or who made the piece?  Obviously I believe it has to be the piece; so, when I think about great cinema and art cinema hope the oeuvre speaks more than who made it.  Indeed great cinema should be honored for what the film is but then, Oscars usually do not honor great films so... well, at least should include more female filmmakers honored. (LOL)

There are some milestones worth mentioning this year; first, after no Oscar nominations ever Scarlett Johansson gets two, one for Best Actress in Marriage Story and one for Supporting Actress in Jojo Rabbit.  Achievement allows her to join the so-called Elite Oscars Two-Timers Club.  Second, Saorise Ronan is the second-youngest performer, male or female, to ever receive 4 Oscar nominations, the other one is Jennifer Lawrence.

Talking about best actress nominees there are a few issues where some agree while others disagree.  Found Judy to be really not-good film, so bad that couldn't really appreciate Zellweger performance but have to agree that she is the best in this awful movie.  Does she deserve recognition?  Not sure, but well, no doubt makeup and hair should get a nod.  Same with Bombshell, Charlize Theron transformation is amazing but her performance is much less than her transformation and film goes more to the mediocre range of the scale.  Then there is Margot Robbie who in my opinion stole the complete movie and absolutely deserves de nomination.  See, there are TV movies dealing with the same story and honestly, even the documentaries are better than Bombshell, sigh.

It is a fact that Bradley Cooper got another Oscar nomination but this time is not for acting; it's for producing Joker!  Just saying.

Alright, let's talk about snubs.  Sorry but I did not enjoy Hustlers in any level as found movie less than average with idem performances, so no surprise as believe Jlo did not deserve a recognition for this role.  The Farewell was an okay movie with not much to praise, no even the lead female performance; so for me was ok no nominations came its way. Idem for Dolemite is My Name.  Do not enjoy horror films so have no idea if Lupita Nyong'o deserved or not a nomination, but as me, The Academy doesn't like horror films (lol).

Agree with many that Rocketman is a better movie than Bohemian Rhapsody plus absolutely in agreement that Taron Egerton performance was better than Oscar winner Rami Malek; so, it's remarkable that was not honored more than last year music-related film.  Still, from the three major pop-singers only Elton John gets a nomination for Original Song, while Taylor Swift and Beyonce got snubbed.  Just for Oscars-show purposes is a shame we will not see those three performing in the same show. (LOL)

Just to close let me share that no one is going to make watch Jojo Rabbit, no.  Believe The Irishman special effects were not good and distracted me from story; like Tarantino movies a lot but dislike his public persona, and eventually will watch a war movie as have to be in a special mood to watch those stories no matter how good movie could be, sigh.  Loved Marriage Story and yes, more Adam Driver than Johansson performance but there are several moments where she truly shines.  To my huge surprise enjoyed as great entertainment Ford vs Ferrari, strongly suggest you watch as is not "only" a race or racing cars movie, is a lot more than that.  Still pending Little Women as yes, have to be in the mood-to-watch-classic stories told so many times.  With these comments, finished talked about all movies nominated for best film and the nominations for these year that seems could gives us a TV-show as boring as last year was.

Wish to thank you loyal readers for your communications and be sure your words motivated to write this post.  Thanks.

To check the nominations at official site go here.  Awards ceremony will be on Sunday, February 9, 2020.

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