Well… that was something. The latest Oscar season was as much of a whirlwind as ever. Between Martin Scorsese’s comments about Marvel films, Joker’s eleven nomination upset, and once again a snub for women directors, it was yet another controversial few months for the film community. But even though much of it was more of the same, there were some bright spots for a promising future of the ceremony. Today we’re here to recap it all.
First off, we should discuss the nominations. There were quite a few embarrassing snubs. Jordan Peele’s incredible second feature Us was outright ignored by the Academy, when it really should have been a frontrunner for most of the awards. What also deserved better was Lorene Scafaria’s crowd pleasing Hustlers, which should have at least gotten Jennifer Lopez a nomination. Let’s not forget incredible dramatic returns from Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy, from Uncut Gems and Dolemite Is My Name respectively. And even though Little Women received six nominations, Greta Gerwig was left out of the Best Director boy’s club, which was just disappointing. Todd Phillips of Joker and The Hangover fame got the nomination, yet she somehow didn’t. I wonder why.
The presenters seemed to notice these mistakes, as they made not of it in their presentations. There was a lot of talk of feminism and diversity in the ceremony itself, yet the representation in nominations and winners was severely lacking. Little Women only won once for Costume Design, and that was the only real women-led film up this year. Surprisingly, the most important win for women came from Joker of all things, for Hildur Guðnadóttir’s strikingly dismal score. Another memorable moment was Laura Dern finally winning an Oscar, with a great speech and an awe inspiring sense of respect in the room. But on the other hand, Best Actress was a bit of a letdown, as Renée Zellweger was a predictable choice with an awkward sendoff.
Some of the men oriented picks fared better. As it was nice to finally see Joaquin Phoenix and Brad Pitt received their awards. And everyone loves Elton John, so it was cool to see him win Best Original Song, even though the Rocketman film deserved much better. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was a great pick for Production Design, as Tarantino and company did an amazing job recreating 1969 Los Angeles. And 1917 and Ford v Ferrari deserved their technical awards, to a point. Roger Deakins is an amazing cinematographer, but his work for 1917 was nothing compared to what he did for Blade Runner 2049 or any of his films with the Coen Brothers. And although Ford v Ferrari was well edited, it was child’s play compared to Thelma Schoonmaker’s incredible story structure for The Irishman. Speaking of which, Scorsese came home with nothing this year, continuing his long standing feud with the Academy. Let’s just say, the voters better hope he doesn’t “paint their houses,” if you know you know.
The ceremony itself had its moments. Once again there’s no host, which cuts the whole enterprise by about thirty whole minutes. Most of the time Oscar hosts are irrelevant after the monologue, so I can’t say I miss them. Some of the presenters were funny, with Rebel Wilson and James Corden making Cats jokes being the highlight. Though as always there were some stinkers, in particular Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig depending too much on improv. The musical performances were great, with Janelle Monáe kicking us off, and satisfying showings from Idina Menzel (and many other Elsas), Cynthia Erivo, Randy Newman, and Elton John. But the best moment had to be from Eminem, giving us a long overdue performance of “Lose Yourself.” The confused reactions from Martin Scorsese and Billie Eilish were priceless. Speaking of Eilish, she did a graceful job with the In Memorium, giving us a better cover of “Yesterday” than anything in the movie Yesterday. That girl is going places.
So yeah, so far it seems like a perfectly average Oscars. But no, there was one event that people are going to remember. One aspect that will go down in the history books. This of course being the great Parasite sweep of 2020. Yes, for the first time ever, a foreign language film has won Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and finally Best Picture. Which is a huge deal. It’s almost impossible for anything to win all of those major awards. And it’s hard to believe a foreign film has never won Best Picture until now, especially considering how many forgettable American films have won it. At the Golden Globes, Bong Joon Ho famously said “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Hopefully, this historic event will push foreign films more into the mainstream. It’s also a win just for genre, as Parasite is a dark comedy that slowly devolves into a thriller. That’s a far cry from the biopics and historical dramas that usually win. For all of these reasons, Parasite has to be the most culturally significant winner since Moonlight. Let’s just hope they don’t follow it up with another Green Book.
And as a treat, we have an alternative to the Oscars. Voted by the Observer staff, here are the First Annual Roozies!
Baby Yoda- The Mandalorian
Brandy- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
The Entire Cast- Cats
Goose- Captain Marvel
The Super Rat- Joker
Lupita Nyong’o- Us
Ana de Armas- Knives Out
Billie Lourd- Booksmart
Florence Pugh- Little Women
Linda Hamilton- Terminator: Dark Fate
Regina King- Watchmen
Robert Downey Jr- Avengers Endgame
Adam Sandler- Uncut Gems
Daniel Craig- Knives Out
Joaquin Phoenix- Joker
Keanu Reeves- John Wick: Chapter 3
Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman- Booksmart
Damon Lindelof- Watchmen
Greta Gerwig- Little Women
Rian Johnson- Knives Out
Taika Waititi- Jojo Rabbit
Greta Gerwig- Little Women
Bong Joon Ho- Parasite
Jordan Peele- Us
Martin Scorsese- The Irishman
Todd Phillips- Joker