The 2020 Oscars are coming to town on Sunday, Feb. 9, at 6:30 pm, with a special screening event at the M.V. Film Center. Attendees will be able to pick the winners as well as watch the show on the Film Center’s big screen. Here are your movie reviewer’s choices.
Best Picture is the most important category, now expanded to nine possibilities. They are “Ford v. Ferrari,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Joker,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story,” “1917,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and “Parasite.”
I think the winner should be Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” As I say in my Nov. 28 review, this tale of gangsters and Jimmy Hoffa captures an important part of American history, well beyond the narrow subject of gangsters. But “The Irishman” is a long shot, and I haven’t seen “Joker,” a major contender, with 11 nominations to “The Irishman’s” 10.
For Best Actor, there are five options: Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”), Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”), Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”), and Jonathan Pryce (“The Two Popes”). It’s a hard one to decide, but Banderas gave one of his greatest performances. Driver and Phoenix are possibilities, too.
Best Actress nominees are Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”), Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”), Saoirse Ronan (“Little Women”), Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”), and Renee Zellweger (“Judy”). Erivo gets my vote. She was terrific in a film that’s a terrific and neglected piece of history.
Supporting Actor goes to Anthony Hopkins (“The Two Popes”). Who knew that a film about two Roman Catholic leaders could be so fascinating? Hopkins’s performance is a tour de force. For Supporting Actress, Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”) earns the Oscar. She almost outshines Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson.
Best Director is another important category, with nine choices like Best Picture. My choice, once again, is Martin Scorsese for his impressive work in “The Irishman.” Close behind him is Sam Mendes for that too-violent film, in my mind, “1917.”
Cinematography has a lot to do with what makes a film great, and “Joker’s” Lawrence Sher ties with “The Irishman’s” Rodrigo Prieto for me. Another underrated category is Screenplay, which offers two options. For Original Screenplay, check out Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” with Bong Joon Ho and Jin Won Han’s “Parasite” close behind. Best Adapted Screenplay goes to Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit.” What a great idea to match a boy with Hitler as a friend. But then Anthony McCarten deserves credit for the unusually interesting “The Two Popes.”
In the Best International Feature Film category, my pick is Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” one of this celebrated director’s best films yet. Can’t comment on Best Documentary, since I’ve only seen “Honeyland.” Documentary Films are always worth checking out, though. The others that deserve perusing are “American Factory,” “The Cave,” “The Edge of Democracy” and “For Sama.” Another set of nominees I haven’t seen are Best Animated Feature. Make your choice for me among “How to Train Your Dragon,” “I Lost My Body,” “Klaus,” “Missing Link,” and “Toy Story 4.”
More nominations come with Best Animated Short, Best Live Action Short, and Best Documentary, all of them just played at the Film Center. Plus Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Original Score, Makeup and Hair, Costume Design, and Visual Effects. For them, best to see the results on Oscar night Sunday.
This list merely sketches out my often idiosyncratic choices of the many films up for awards. With luck, readers will look for the ones they haven’t seen yet. Feel free to chastise me for wrong choices.
Information and tickets for the M.V. Film Center’s Oscar Night Party are available at mvfilmsociety.com.