The Directors Go To 1917

When it comes to precursors correctly picking what the Academy voters will do on Oscar night, none is more reliable than the Directors Guild of America and their choice for Best Director. That’s why last night’s DGA ceremony was so anticipated among prognosticators like me. The narrative went like this: the 2019 nominees had become a showdown between Sam Mendes (1917) and Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite). It appeared unlikely that the three other nominees – Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), and Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) had much of a shot.

Sam Mendes took the award and this sets up the filmmaker for his second directorial Oscar two decades after he won for American Beauty. To give you some context as to how accurate DGA is – 17 of the 19 previous victors in the 21st century have gone on to win Oscar. The two that didn’t are Ang Lee for 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Ben Affleck for 2012’s Argo. 

When it comes to that victorious director’s movie winning Best Picture, that’s happened on 13 out of 19 occasions. That’s where it gets interesting. There is no doubt that the Mendes DGA prize (he also won the Golden Globe) puts him in definite front runner status for Best Director two weeks from today. Yet the possibility of a Picture/Director split is still quite possible with Parasite and Hollywood as the strongest competitors. That said, 1917 is certainly picking up the right awards at the right time and has to be considered the soft favorite for the biggest prize.

Oscars 2019: The Case of Antonio Banderas

In my Case of posts outlining the pros and cons of pictures, directors, and actors vying for Oscar glory in the major categories, we arrive at the thespians. Now that my write-ups for the nine film nominees are complete, we start with Best Actor. The plan is to mix it up with these posts among the four acting races. We start with Antonio Banderas and his role in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory.

The Case for Antonio Banderas

Pain and Glory is one of the most acclaimed foreign language features of 2019 not named Parasite and it earned Banderas career best notices in a nearly 40 year cinematic span. The pic, which draws on Almodovar’s real life experiences, sports a 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating and continues a partnership with his lead actor that began in 1982 and includes such features as Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, and The Skin I Live In. Banderas nabbed a Golden Globe nod and won some key critical precursors: the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Circle. The buzz for his work started months ago when he also took Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. This nomination marks his first ever from the Academy despite a long and fruitful career.

The Case Against Antonio Banderas

Best Actor was absolutely packed this year and it was uncertain whether Banderas would even get in. He missed a SAG nod. It’s extremely rare for an actor to win from a foreign language feature. For Best Actor, the list stands at one non-English speaking role with Roberto Benigni for 1998’s Life is Beautiful. 

The Verdict

For Banderas’s first shot at an Academy victory, the prize is the nomination in a field where there were at least 10 viable contenders and he made the cut.

My Case of posts will continue with my first Best Actress contender… Cynthia Erivo!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Parasite

We have reached the final film in my Case of posts for 2019’s nine Best Picture nominees and it’s time to consider Bong Joon-Ho’s South Korean export Parasite. If you need to catch up on my previous eight entries, you can peruse them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/17/oscars-2019-the-case-of-jojo-rabbit/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-joker/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-little-women/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/19/oscars-2019-the-case-of-marriage-story/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/20/oscars-2019-the-case-of-1917/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/20/oscars-2019-the-case-of-once-upon-a-time-in-hollywood/

And now to Parasite!

The Case for Parasite

The pic, which defies easy genre descriptions, certainly has critics on its side. With a 99% Rotten Tomatoes score, this is the best reviewed film of the year and its admirers are passionate and vocal. This is a slam dunk winner for the newly coined Best International Feature Film. Over the weekend, Parasite won Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards and it was the only to ever do so. For a subtitled film, it’s been a box office success stateside at $27 million and counting. The buzz has been strong for months after it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Joon-Ho is an acclaimed filmmaker (with heralded efforts like Memories of Murder, The Host and Snowpiercer) who’s at last garnering the awards season love.

The Case Against Parasite

If this were to win Best Picture, it would constitute a first. A foreign language title has never won the top prize. Last year’s Roma was the front runner, but it lost to Green Book. It is also rare for a Picture recipient to have none of its actors nominated and that’s the case here.

The Verdict

Even with the fact that it would need to make history, Parasite currently stands alongside 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as the biggest threats to win it all. If the Directors Guild of America (DGA) honors Joon-Ho instead of Sam Mendes for 1917 this weekend, expect that chatter to get even louder.

My Case of posts will continue right up until Oscar day! While the movies themselves have all received their treatment, the nominated directors and actors will get their attention as well. Stay tuned…

Oscars 2019: The Case of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

We have reached the eighth post in my Case of series outlining the pros and cons of films up for Best Picture at the Oscars. Up now: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. If you missed previous write-ups, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/17/oscars-2019-the-case-of-jojo-rabbit/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-joker/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-little-women/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/19/oscars-2019-the-case-of-marriage-story/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/20/oscars-2019-the-case-of-1917/

Let’s get at it!

The Case for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Tarantino is a legendary filmmaker and his efforts have yet to win Best Picture despite nominations for Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained. With critical acclaim and healthy box office ($141 million), this star studded entry might simply feel like QT’s time has come. The precursor love has extended to Brad Pitt (the major front runner for Supporting Actor) and a Golden Globe victory for Best Musical/Comedy. It’s tied for the second most nominations with 10 along with The Irishman and 1917.

The Case Against Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

This might not seem like a big deal. but its omission for Best Editing kind of seems like a thing. The Best Picture recipient almost never misses that final five. Furthermore, its loss in the PGA race to 1917 and SAG ensemble to Parasite are significant exclusions.

The Verdict

A narrative is being established that the race could be between 1917 and Parasite. Yet Hollywood still feels like the third viable contender even with the lack of SAG and PGA attention.

Up next in my Case of posts… Parasite!

Oscars 2019: The Case of 1917

My next Case of post for this year’s Best Picture nominees brings us to 1917. If you missed my other posts thus far, you can peruse them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/17/oscars-2019-the-case-of-jojo-rabbit/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-joker/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-little-women/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/19/oscars-2019-the-case-of-marriage-story/

Let’s break it down:

The Case for 1917

It’s become significant. 1917 might be the strongest example of the nine nominees for perfect timing. The World War I epic from director Sam Mendes came to the attention of awards voters just as it was opening to better than expected box office and sterling reviews. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 89%. Mendes is a known quantity whose American Beauty won Best Picture (and Director) twenty years ago. The precursor love has been impressive with a Golden Globes victory for Best Drama and the Producers Guild of America (PGA) top prize. 13 out of the last 19 PGA winners went on to win Best Picture. The ten Academy nominations is tied for second along with The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

The Case Against 1917

If it wins Best Picture, it would be the first to do so without any acting nomination since 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire (SAG ignored it as well). Additionally, it would be the extremely rare recipient to win without an Editing nod. A case could be made that the Parasite fans are more rabid.

The Verdict

Despite missing some recognition in key races, there is no doubt that 1917 could absolutely take the biggest race. It could even be called the soft front runner.

Up next in my Case of posts… Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!

Parasite Invades SAG

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards remained on script for about 99% of its running time last night. And then it went ahead and made this year’s Best Picture race at the Oscars all the more interesting.

Before we get to that, I went four for four in my acting category predictions and did so by sticking with the front runners. Those would be Joaquin Phoenix in Joker and Renee Zellweger in Judy in the leads and Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Laura Dern for Marriage Story with supporting. Let’s be clear: 2019 appears to be a year where there’s strong favorites in all four races. Anyone other than this quartet winning on Oscar night at this point would constitute an upset.

When it comes to the biggest race of all, it’s still open. One could argue that 1917 is a soft front runner after winning Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America (where 13 of 19 recipients this century took the Oscar) and Best Drama at the Golden Globes. The Sam Mendes World War I epic wasn’t nominated for SAG. And therefore the narrative going into yesterday evening is that the winner here could serve as the most viable Academy alternative.

I projected that movie would be Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Yet the SAG branch went with Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite. Perhaps I should have suspected this when its cast (presenting clips) received raucous applause that eclipsed all others. However, I chose not to predict its win, in part, due to no actors getting individual nods for their work. The Parasite victory here is major as its the first foreign language feature to be named in this category. It certainly sets up an argument that the Best Picture derby at the Oscars has really come down to three: 1917, Hollywood, and Parasite.

So what’s next? The Directors Guild of America (DGA) announces their winner this Sunday. That feels important because 16 out of the past 19 directing winners there have taken the gold statue. It’s probably Joon-Ho vs. Mendes and the honoree could then see their film vault to the front of the Picture pack.

Bottom line: SAG solidified the four actors vying for their statues while further complicating the Picture derby.

Oscars 2019: The Case of Marriage Story

My Case of posts for the nine 2019 Best Picture nominees arrives at Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. If you missed my first five entries, you can look them over at these links:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/17/oscars-2019-the-case-of-jojo-rabbit/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-joker/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-little-women/

Let’s look at the pros and cons for this particular story:

The Case for Marriage Story

This would be the acting showcase nominee. With three nods for Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, and Laura Dern, it has more performance nominations than anything else and Dern is seen as the front runner in Supporting Actress. The pic’s 95% Rotten Tomatoes score is certainly on the high end for the nine pictures recognized. Baumbach’s Oscar exposure previously consisted of a sole Original Screenplay nod for 2005’s The Squid and the Whale and this is his awards breakout.

The Case Against Marriage Story

The Netflix venture has yet to produce a signature victory at any of the major precursors. Baumbach was left out of the final five in Best Director and that’s almost always a troubling sign for a Best Picture victory. And there’s still the matter of potential Netflix bias from voters. Even if the streaming service doesn’t face opposition, Academy members will probably look at Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman instead.

The Verdict

Laura Dern could represent the film’s sole win on Oscar night. Baumbach could make a run at Original Screenplay with serious competition from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Parasite. A Best Picture win doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

Up next in my Case of posts… 1917!