Oscar Watch: Emma

Emma is the latest adaptation of the 1815 Jane Austen novel and it’s out this weekend in limited release and posting solid numbers. This version stars Anya Taylor-Joy in the title role. She’s best known for her work in the horror genre with The Witch, Split, and Glass. Reviews are praising with a current 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film marks the debut of director Autumn de Wilde and arrives at an awfully early frame for awards voters to remember it. One of the last renderings of the book was in 1996 with Gwyneth Paltrow starring. It opened in the summer of that year and nabbed Oscar nods for Costume Design and Score. The former category is certainly a possibility. However, like what came before nearly a quarter century ago, I am skeptical this Emma contends for top of the line races.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t be a surprise for this to be placed in the Musical/Comedy lane at the Golden Globes. We have seen years where the Actress derby there is rather weak (including in 2019 when none of the five nominees managed Academy recognition). That could allow Taylor-Joy to be noticed at the Globes. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscars 2019 Recap: The Parasite Show

There was certainly an international flavor to last night’s Oscar ceremony and it was in a history making way. The Academy Awards honoring the pictures and performers of 2019 will forever be known as The Parasite Show as voters fell hard for Bong Joon-Ho’s South Korean export.

So how did I do on predictions? 18/21 and I’m pretty darn pleased with that. There were few surprises that didn’t involve Eminem popping up for an out of nowhere performance of his 2002 Best Song winner “Lose Yourself” (of which he missed that acceptance speech 17 years back).

Best Director was certainly the biggest race I missed. That’s because Sam Mendes (1917) was undeniably the front runner after taking home the Golden Globe and especially the Directors Guild of America, which almost always previews the eventual Academy winner. Yet the Parasite love extended to Joon-Ho, whose interpreter seemed to get more airtime than anyone. The film also was victorious for Best Picture, International Feature Film, and Original Screenplay, which I correctly projected. In doing so, Parasite is the first foreign language entry to take Best Picture in its 92 year history. The four victories ended up leading the night over 1917, which took three in tech categories (Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Visual Effects).

In the acting races, everything was according to script as the quartet of Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Renee Zellweger (Judy), Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), and Laura Dern (Marriage Story) went to the podium. Anything else happening would have constituted serious upset territory.

Other correct calls are as follows:

Adapted Screenplay – Jojo Rabbit

Animated Feature – Toy Story 4

Costume Design – Little Women

Film Editing – Ford v Ferrari

Makeup and Hairstyling – Bombshell

Original Score – Joker

Original Song – “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from Rocketman

Production Design – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Besides Director, I whiffed on Documentary with my slight upset pick of For Sama. It went to the front runner American Factory. Same goes for Sound Editing, which Ford v Ferrari took as opposed to 1917.

I was correct in my thinking that The Irishman would be the only Best Picture nominee to come up completely empty-handed, despite 10 nominations. Lucky for Martin Scorsese, he received plenty of shout-outs including from the maker of Parasite. Joon-Ho (and his interpreter) certainly came away as the story of the evening. And I’m ready to get the 2020 Oscar speculation rolling!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Renee Zellweger

My Case of posts for thespians competing for Oscars comes to our final Best Actress nominee – Renee Zellweger in Judy:

The Case for Renee Zellweger

She’s one of the comeback stories of the year and in the strong front runner position for this award. This is Zellweger’s fourth nomination, but it’s been awhile. The actress failed to achieve gold for her first two mentions with Bridget Jones’s Diary and Chicago, but the third time was the charm in Supporting Actress with 2003’s Cold Mountain. Her role as Judy Garland has already earned her the Golden Globe, SAG, and Critics Choice honors.

The Case Against Renee Zellweger

The film itself drew a mixed reaction from critics. Challengers to Zellweger could point to last year when Glenn Close (The Wife) picked up the same precursors, but was upset on Oscar night by Olivia Colman for The Favourite. 

The Verdict

There are some who feel Zellweger could be vulnerable to an upset by either Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story) or Charlize Theron (Bombshell). However, there’s no doubt that the smart money is on her to win 16 years after her initial podium trip.

My Case of posts will continue with the direction of Martin Scorsese in The Irishman!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Florence Pugh

Florence Pugh’s Supporting Actress nod in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is next up in my Case of posts!

The Case for Florence Pugh

The actress broke out in a major way in 2019 with well-reviewed roles in the wrestling dramedy Fighting with My Family, Ari Aster’s horror pic Midsommar, and in this latest iteration of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. Even though Saoirse Ronan is nominated for Best Actress, it was Pugh who got a lions share of critical attention. Pugh’s ascendance into the mainstream will blossom even more in 2020 with a prominent role alongside fellow Supporting Actress nominee Scarlett Johansson in the MCU’s Black Widow. If the Academy wants to pick a young upstart, this is the way to go.

The Case Against Florence Pugh

She missed out on both Golden Globe and SAG nods and that’s never a solid sign. Laura Dern, her Little Women costar, is the massive front runner for Marriage Story. 

The Verdict

A solid 2019 for Pugh culminated in this nomination. It won’t end in a win.

My Case of posts will continue with the direction of Todd Phillips for Joker!

The British Fall for 1917

The BAFTAs took place today and they’re the British equivalent of the Oscars. And it was 1917 continuing its epic run in precursors by winning 7 trophies, including Best Picture and Director. That said, the victory comes with a caveat and not a minor one. The last five BAFTA Picture recipients did not go on to nab the top prize with the Academy. So if you’re still considering going with Parasite or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or something else to take the biggest Oscar, there’s reason to do so.

In the acting races, nothing changed the narrative of having major front runners in all four. The winners (and it’ll look familiar): Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) for Actor, Renee Zellweger (Judy) in Actress, and Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Laura Dern (Marriage Story) for the supporting derbies. Simply put, anyone other than this quartet taking Oscar gold would constitute an upset.

One day after the Writers Guild named Jojo Rabbit as Adapted Screenplay as its winner and Parasite in Original Screenplay, BAFTA followed suit. It puts them in the driver’s seat for the Academy and that’s not welcome news for Little Women in Adapted or Hollywood in Original.

Another race to watch is Animated Feature because it seems wide open at the moment. Toy Story 4 is seen as the favorite due to Oscar’s penchant for Pixar. However, that sure seems iffy because other titles keep picking up precursors. Today it was Netflix’s Klaus taking the award.

Here’s the list of other winners for the BAFTAs:

Outstanding British Film – 1917

Film Not in the English Language – Parasite

Documentary – For Sama

Score – Joker

Casting – Joker

Cinematography – 1917

Editing – Ford v Ferrari

Production Design – 1917

Costume Design – Little Women

Makeup & Hair – Bombshell

Sound – 1917

Visual Effects – 1917 

Look for plenty more Oscar speculation as we are now one week away from the show!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Sam Mendes

My second Case of post discussing the directors up this year brings us to Sam Mendes for his World War I epic 1917:

The Case for Sam Mendes

The Englishman who became known for his theatre work became a Best Director winner with his first feature 20 years ago – American Beauty. Since then, he’s made a slew of pictures that never quite achieved full Academy attention: Road to Perdition, Jarhead, and Revolutionary Road among them. Over the past decade, he’s been in 007 land after making the last two Bond adventures Skyfall and Spectre. His latest effort has brought him back to serious contention and he’s got the hardware to prove it. Mendes has won the Golden Globe, Directors Guild of America, and BAFTA awards for his direction. Those three prizes alone puts him in the driver’s seat for a second Oscar 20 years apart. That, by the way, would be the longest stretch between a filmmaker taking the trophy.

The Case Against Sam Mendes

From a pure precursor standpoint, there really is no case against him. Yet there’s a lot of love for Bong Joon-Ho and his critically heralded Parasite. He serves as the chief competitor.

The Verdict

It is very hard to ignore the fact that Mendes has won everything that needs to be won in order to emerge victorious here.

My Case of posts will continue with Joe Pesci in The Irishman!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron in Jay Roach’s Fox News expose Bombshell is the fourth Best Actress hopeful to be profiled in my Oscar Case of posts:

The Case for Charlize Theron

Sixteen years after winning gold for her first Oscar nomination for Monster, Theron is back in the mix as journalist Megyn Kelly in Bombshell. It marks her third nod after also being named for 2005’s North Country. She drew raves for her transformation (with the help of the film’s makeup crew) to the former Fox News anchor. There are sturdy front runners in all four acting races, but some feel Best Actress is most ripe for an upset. So while Renee Zellweger in Judy is the heavy favorite based on precursors, Theron and Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story) are looked at as most likely to surprise.

The Case Against Charlize Theron

While she picked up Golden Globe and SAG attention, she lost both to Zellweger (who won Supporting Actress for Cold Mountain the same year Theron took Actress). Bombshell failed to pick up significant nods beyond acting (Margot Robbie is in Supporting Actress) and Makeup and Hairstyling.

The Verdict

The chance of Theron pulling an upset victory is slim, but at least somewhat feasible. I wouldn’t count on it, however, given Zellweger’s ongoing sweep.

My Case of posts will continue with the direction of Sam Mendes for 1917!