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 The Irishman

Continuing with my Oscar series outlining the cases for and against nominees in the top six categories, we arrive at Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. This is my second of (gulp) 34 posts for films and individuals picked in the Picture, Director, and the acting races. If you missed yesterday’s writeup about Ford v Ferrari, you can find it here:

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

Let’s get to it!

The Case for The Irishman

Scorsese’s latest is an epic unification of screen legends Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci in the genre they’re known best for… the gangster tale. The three and a half hour opus certainly has awards gravitas. It was pegged as a likely nominee from the moment it was announced. Both Pacino and Pesci were named in Supporting Actor and the pic sports 10 nominations, which is tied for second along with 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Scorsese is obviously a legendary figure and this is his ninth effort to get a Picture nod (the only winner being 2006’s The Departed).

The critics have been on its side and it has a 96% Rotten Tomatoes score. Several critics group named it as the year’s best.

The Case Against The Irishman

That attention has not translated to the big awards shows yet. The Golden Globes surprised most when they picked 1917 over this in Best Drama. The Critics Choice Awards chose Hollywood. Some have griped about its length. De Niro, unlike Pacino and Pesci, couldn’t manage a nod with the Globes, SAG, or the Academy. And then there’s the still unsettled notion that the Academy could have a Netflix problem, despite the streamer leading this year’s studios in total number of nominations. In 2018, Roma appeared to be the front runner until that Netflix property lost to Green Book. 

The Verdict

There was little doubt that The Irishman would garner plenty of attention in various categories, including here. Yet viability as a winner is much in question. Scorsese’s latest could still take the top prize, but it appears to be a bit of a long shot at the moment.

Up next in my Case of posts… Jojo Rabbit!

2019: The Year of Netflix

Today kicks off my posts on the performers who will be remembered for having a strong 2019 and making an impact on the silver screen. However, as I have in previous years, my first writeup goes to a studio. And while Disney could be named every year nowadays (and they certainly had a terrific year), we turn to Netflix in 2019.

It’s hard to believe now, but it was a few short years ago that their big budget TV series House of Cards was considered a risk. Could this streaming service provide truly quality original content? Times have changed, ladies and gents.

Netflix has become an undeniable hub for high profile directors and actors. 2019 saw the studio give us successful comedies such as Murder Mystery with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston and the acclaimed rom com Always Be My Maybe. 

Action directors like Michael Bay turned to the service with 6 Underground starring Ryan Reynolds. We have filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh making Netflix a home with both High Flying Bird and The Laundromat. Millions of eyeballs were tuned to the Breaking Bad continuation El Camino. 

Most notably, 2019 seems destined to be the year when Oscar voters won’t be able to ignore it. The conversation about Netflix being able to garner multiple Academy nods is about to become a moot one. 2017 and 2018 saw voters nibble around the edges. Two years ago, Mudbound managed a Supporting Actress nod for Mary J. Blige and Adapted Screenplay. 2018’s Roma received a number of nominations and Alfonso Cuaron won for Best Director. It was considered a frontrunner for Picture, but lost to Green Book. Some blamed it on bias against the biggest streamer.

This year, we have two films that could win the largest prize of all – Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. Other contenders for a nomination include The Two Popes and Dolemite Is My Name, which returned to Eddie Murphy to form. Between those four pictures, you could see as many as a dozen acting nominations.

There’s little doubt that 2019 gave us a shifting in the tide of Netflix’s credibility. And that’s likely to stay. My Year Of posts will continue soon with some of the actors who had a lot to celebrate…

The Irishman Takes The NBR

The National Board of Review announced its victors this afternoon for their best of 2019. For the pictures and performers who were named as winners, you could say that it’s a double edged sword.

Allow me to explain. In this 2010’s, only one of their Best Film recipients took home Best Picture at the Oscars. That was last year with Green Book. This year, the award goes to Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. So from an odds perspective, that could mean it faces an uphill battle for the big gold statue. On the other hand, all of the NBR Film winners from this decade, with the exception of 2014’s A Most Violent Year, have scored an Academy nod. This isn’t really in doubt for The Irishman so expect that trend to continue.

The Board always goes on to name their additional favorite 10 motion pictures and this year they are: 1917, Dolemite Is My Name, Ford v Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Richard Jewell, Uncut Gems, and Waves. In 2018, only three of the ten additional NBR selections got Picture noms: Black Panther, Roma and A Star Is Born. Some notable titles that didn’t make the NBR cut for 2019: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Bombshell, The Farewell, Joker, Little Women, Parasite, and The Two Popes. 

When it comes to Best Director, the news is even worse for the NBR recipient. No movie this decade has seen that winner match with Oscar. In fact, the last direct match was in 2006 for… Irishman maker Scorsese for The Departed. The NBR named Quentin Tarantino today for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He’s got history against his side for a walk up the Academy steps.

In Best Actor, it’s the same story as only Casey Affleck for 2016’s Manchester by the Sea won NBR and Oscar in the 2010s. Adam Sandler is the winner for Uncut Gems. He’s part of a packed Best Actor race where there’s about a dozen viable candidates looking for five spots. This victory could at least help him get in as only Oscar Isaac (Violent Year in 2014) and Tom Hanks (2017’s The Post) didn’t land nods.

The numbers improve only slightly for Best Actress with two matches: Julianne Moore for 2014’s Still Alice and Brie Larson for 2015’s Room. The NBR bestowed the award this year to Renee Zellweger for Judy, who could be considered a soft front-runner for Oscar.

This brings us to Brad Pitt, winner today for Supporting Actor in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He also holds the status of apparent favorite to win the Academy’s love. Yet there’s just two matches this decade between them and NBR: Christian Bale in 2010’s The Fighter and Christopher Plummer from 2011’s Beginners. 

Last year was the only match of the decade for Supporting Actress: Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk. Kathy Bates took the NBR for Richard Jewell. I don’t see her winning the Oscar, but it could help her nomination odds.

In Original Screenplay, it’s interesting to note that 7 of the past nine NBR winners didn’t even get an Oscar nomination. Could that be a sign of trouble for honoree Uncut Gems? Time will tell…

And for Adapted Screenplay, the NBR went with The Irishman. Par for the course, just two matches here: 2010’s The Social Network and 2011’s The Descendants. 

Bottom line: the NBR announcements might help with fleshing out who certain nominees will be. As far as winners, that’s a whole different story…

Venice Crowns Joker

The Venice Film Festival has drawn to a close and the awards bestowed today are sure to generate some controversy. The Golden Lion prize (equivalent to Best Picture) has gone to Joker, with its acclaimed performance from Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic villain. It won out over numerous foreign titles and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, which drew raves and is anticipated to be a major Oscar contender.

A year ago, the Lion went to Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which nabbed multiple Academy nominations including Picture. In 2017, the recipient was the eventual Oscar Pic winner – Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water.

I didn’t have Joker predicted as a nominee for the past couple weeks. Does the Venice action change the dynamic? Well it’s certainly a boost. I’m still skeptical it will make the final cut, but this publicity and its expected massive box office will be feathers in its cap.

Perhaps an even bigger shocker was the winner for the Grand Jury prize – essentially the runner up spot. It went to Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy. Controversy surrounding the filmmaker is not the only reason for prognosticators being surprised. The pic currently sports a middling 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. Unlike last year’s Jury winner The Favourite, don’t expect this to be in the Oscar derby.

Acting races also showcased performers not on the Academy radar. Luca Marinelli took Best Actor for Martin Eden and Ariane Ascaride was named top Actress for Sweden’s About Endlessness. That film also saw its director Roy Andersson victorious in his race. A nod for Best International Feature is feasible for it.

All in all, Venice gave Joker a hoped for ace up its sleeve in precursor activity. Let’s see if momentum continues to grow…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

We’ve arrived at the biggest contest of all in my inaugural Oscar predictions for 2019 – Best Picture! If you missed my first takes on director and the acting categories, you can read them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/26/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-director/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

As a reminder, Picture is the only race where the number of nominees can fluctuate anywhere from 5 to 10. In recent years, the magic number is normally 9. However, there were 8 movies up in 2018. My initial late August projections last year yielded three of the eventual 8: BlacKkKlansman, A Star Is Born, and Roma. Three other flicks nominated were mentioned in my other possibilities: Black Panther, The Favourite, and Vice. Interestingly, eventual winner Green Book wasn’t quite on my radar screen at that time.

I’ll go with nine for the time being. The multitude of film festivals starting Thursday and over the coming weeks will shape all races tremendously. My first ranked predictions in the top 6 categories will start this Thursday and be updated weekly.

Let’s get to it!

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST PICTURE

1917

Bombshell

The Farewell

The Irishman

Little Women

Marriage Story

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

The Report

Other Possibilities:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Ad Astra

A Hidden Life

Avengers: Endgame

Dark Waters

Ford v Ferrari

The Goldfinch

Harriet

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Just Mercy

The Laundromat

The Lighthouse

Pain and Glory

Rocketman

The Two Popes

And there you have it! Expect a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts stemming from Toronto, Telluride, Venice, and New York in the near future…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Director

My initial Oscar predictions for the 2019 season continues with Best Director with Picture on the horizon! If you missed my first takes on the acting categories, you can find them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

In 2018, my inaugural projections yielded 2 out of the 5 eventual nominees. That includes the winner Alfonso Cuaron for Roma and Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman. My ten other possibilities section a year ago called out two additional nominees – Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) and Adam McKay (Vice).

Here we go:

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST DIRECTOR

Greta Gerwig, Little Women

Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

Sam Mendes, 1917

Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Other Possibilities:

Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory

Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

Todd Haynes, Dark Waters

Kasi Lemmons, Harriet

Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life

James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari

Jay Roach, Bombshell

Steven Soderbergh, The Laundromat

Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

Lulu Wang, The Farewell

Best Picture tomorrow!