Best Picture 2019: The Final Five

We have reached 2019 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut?

In 2019, there were nine films vying for the prize. We know one thing for sure. Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is in since it made history and became the first non-English language title to take Best Picture. It had a big night as it also won Director, Original Screenplay, and International Feature Film.

There’s 8 others to consider. Only half make cut. Let’s get into it!

Ford v Ferrari

James Mangold’s 1960s set sports drama starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale had four total nominations and won 2 of them (Sound Editing and Film Editing). It wasn’t as fortunate in Picture or Sound Mixing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. I say this knowing the Film Editing victor usually lands a BP nod (though not the case with 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum and 2011’s The Girl with Dragon Tattoo). However, Ford achieved the least number of overall mentions among the 9 contenders and missed key races including Director, any acting derbies, and screenplay.

The Irishman

Martin Scorsese’s return to the Mob genre was Netflix’s highest profile Oscar player yet. It earned ten overall nods including for Scorsese, two Supporting Actor bids for Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and Adapted Screenplay. Going 0 for 10, Robert De Niro was a somewhat surprising omission for his lead work.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the lack of wins, the sheer number of inclusions indicate the legendary filmmaker and cast would vie for the top award.

Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi’s unique take on WWII was up for 6 races including Scarlett Johansson for Supporting Actress and Film Editing. The sole victory (a major one) was Adapted Screenplay where it beat out three other BP nominees.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but this was easily the hardest to leave off. The Screenplay win suggests it certainly could have. A miss in Director was a deciding factor and the fact that I couldn’t omit any of the final five I ended up going with.

Joker

Warner Bros. had unexpected bragging rights as this Scorsese inspired take on the DC Comics villain had the best haul with 11 nods. This includes Todd Phillips in Director and key precursors like Editing and Adapted Screenplay. The two wins came courtesy of Joaquin Phoenix in the title role and in Original Score.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Usually the leader of the pack does and this popped up in categories it originally wasn’t anticipated to.

Little Women

Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed version of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel was also up for Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Supporting Actress (Florence Pugh), Adapted Screenplay, Score, and Costume Design (which was its only victory).

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Simple math here. If I didn’t put Jojo in (which won Adapted Screenplay), I can’t justify vaulting this over it.

Marriage Story

Just like Little Women, Noah Baumbach’s drama was up for six and managed one. The win was Laura Dern (who was also in Women) in Supporting Actress while it also vied for Actor (Adam Driver), Actress (double nominee Scarlett Johansson), Original Screenplay, and Original Score.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Just like Little Women – no. Like Women, not making the Director race and not winning screenplay make this a fairly easy forecast.

1917

The World War I epic from Sam Mendes boasted 10 nominations with 3 statues for Sound Mixing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. The Editing miss was obvious since the picture famously used few cuts.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. In fact, this was likely the runner-up to Parasite. It went into the evening as the favorite for BP and Director until Joon-ho’s film made its history.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth feature was slotted for 10 categories including QT for director, Leonardo DiCaprio in Actor, and Original Screenplay where its two-time winning scribe lost to Joon-ho. The two victories were Brad Pitt in Supporting Actor and Production Design.

Does It the Final Five?

Yes though I admit the Editing snub had me questioning it. An argument can be made for Jojo, but I ultimately think Quentin and company get in.

So that means your 2019 Final Five is:

The Irishman

Joker

1917

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

I will note that this quintet mirrors the individuals who were up for Best Director. That is typically not a 5/5 match. It happened occasionally when there were 5 BP nominees and I feel this is a time where it would’ve.

2020 will be up soon and if you missed the posts covering 2009-18, they can be accessed here:

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