2020 Oscars Preview

The Lighthouse

CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Irishman
Joker
The Lighthouse
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

DAVID: Another of the night’s lockiest locks is Roger Deakins’s legendary work on 1917. The guy couldn’t catch an Oscar with a net for decades, and now he’ll have two in three years. Also, shouts to Jarin Blaschke and The Lighthouse!

TYLER: Yeah, it would be great to see The Lighthouse win here. It’s such an oddball work that repeatedly asks the camera to tell the story while the actors twist into madness. But, again, let’s celebrate technical achievement in the face of superior storytelling and honor a master, 1917.

CHASE: After decades without winning an Oscar, Roger Deakins is about to win two out of the last three for his work on 1917. Really I’m just pulling for anything but Joker here. It looks great, but it’s stealing all it’s coolest shots from 1970s and 80s Scorsese films. If it wins then it’s probably a harbinger of other upsets coming.

SEAN: 1917  was destined to win this award as soon as it was announced that Roger Deakins filmed a war film in “one take”. The results are everything that were expected and more, even if the film surrounding the virtuoso camera work is kinda lifeless. Regardless, it’s nice that Deakins gets to come back to the podium again so soon after being snubbed for decades of tremendous work. He really is the best in the business. 

Little Women

COSTUME DESIGN
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

DAVID: It hopefully won’t be the only award Little Women wins, but it’s the likeliest.

TYLER: The costumes in Little Women are so wonderful. I could also see there being an argument for Once Upon a Time since it required its costumer to manage various different television sets, as well as the period stylings of the Manson Summer.

CHASE: After watching Lady Bird go home empty-handed I’ll be thrilled for any awards Little Women manages to win. Keep an eye on Jojo Rabbit for an upset, though. 

SEAN: Little Women does its job well, but the costumes in Once Upon a Time… are instantly iconic (like so many of Tarantino’s other films). It’s time to honor the artists behind his camera. 

Ford v. Ferrari

FILM EDITING
Ford v. Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Parasite

DAVID: This is another category that could be a major bellwether for Parasite, or it could go the usual way and reward the high-octane editing of Ford v. Ferrari. Not sure why Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood isn’t here. Drop Jojo and Joker for that and Uncut Gems, and you’ve got a category.

TYLER: I don’t think I saw the same movie as all these Jojo stans. It is a sweet movie, but also frothy, confused and blunted in ways that all of the things it is nominated for exacerbate. If I was being consistent with my above votes, I should vote for Ford v. Ferrari, whose edit is fantastic. But, as David says, this is a bellwether, and I hope Parasite wins and ruins all my other depressing picks for the night.

CHASE: The ACE Eddie Awards have been a solid, but not perfect, predictor for Oscar wins here, and that indicates a win for ParasiteWhat’s really wild is how few films have won Best Picture without being nominated for this award. 1917 will have to be among them if it’s going all the way.

SEAN: Parasite truly deserves this for its tight, yet wild structure that fluctuates between comedy, thriller, and tearjerker with effortless abandon. So disappointed that the panic-inducing Uncut Gems couldn’t find its way into this category. JoJo Rabbit shouldn’t even be here, but at least the Academy didn’t fall for the “hide the cut” nonsense of 1917

Bombshell

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Bombshell
Joker
Judy
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
1917

DAVID: Bombshell. Boring. Next.

TYLER: Gross. But. Bombshell.

CHASE: The work Bombshell did to make Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly goes beyond impressive into downright creepy. That undersells all the work Theron is doing with the voice and mannerisms, but this would honestly be deserved.

SEAN: Bombshell is the likely winner, but I have a hard time believing that Joker misses here when it is the nominations leader and this just screams ‘gimme’. 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

ORIGINAL SCORE
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

DAVID: My vote here goes to Thomas Newman’s work in 1917, for my money the best score of the year (also Newman has never won, believe it or not). But unless the film is running even stronger than I already expect, this one looks like it’s going to Hildur Guðnadóttir and Joker, and I can only console myself by noting that she would be the first woman ever to win for a non-musical.

TYLER: I think all of these are pretty meh, although I have a soft spot for Baumbach making the Randy Newman choice, and making the composer a part of the story. Bugh, Joker.

CHASE: Joker as well. Let’s take a moment to note how much we take the great John Williams for granted. Sure, he’s won this award five times, but he’s been nominated a staggering 52! For comparison, there’s only six COUNTRIES that have garnered that many nominations in the International Feature category. What a legend.

SEAN: Joker‘s score is deeply unsettling and memorable. Hildur Guðnadóttir is going to make a worthy winner despite what Joker detractors might say. And yes, that she would be the third female winner ever is just the cherry on top. Also it’s time to remember that just because you may personally not like a film doesn’t mean its crafts aren’t worthy of consideration. Joker is firing on all cinders below the line. 

Rocketman

ORIGINAL SONG
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” Toy Story 4
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” Rocketman
“I’m Standing With You,” Breakthrough
“Into the Unknown,” Frozen II
“Stand Up,” Harriet

DAVID: Stop what you’re doing right now and listen to Jessie Buckley bring down the house in Wild Rose’sGlasgow,” and accept that this category is broken beyond repair. Instead, it’ll be Elton John and Rocketman, which isn’t the worst thing, just far from the best thing.

TYLER: Wild Rose! Yes! Gosh, what a lovely little movie. But David’s right, Elton will get the legend’s win here, even if the song is… really bad Elton. Rocketman.

CHASE: Seems like they’ve cleared the way for Elton John to win for Rocketman, but I’m keeping an eye on Cynthia Erivo’s song “Stand Up.” If she pulls the upset then she’ll have completed the EGOT.

SEAN: Elton John wins for Rocketman and the song is just fine. Not great, but the movie surrounding it is and that’s usually just a bonus in this category. 

The Irishman

PRODUCTION DESIGN
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Parasite

DAVID: These are all great nominees, though three stand out above the rest: The immaculate detail of 1917, which was planned down to the inch along with the choreography; the brilliance of Parasite, featuring that amazing house that’s as much a character as the Parks or Kims; and the loving recreation of 1960s Los Angeles in Hollywood. Considering how many old-timers are still hanging around the Academy, it’s prudent to expect they’ll be pleased by what they recognize.

TYLER: The production design of Once Upon a Time… is truly spectacular. A wide-open visage of a Los Angeles that’s getting wiped away, it’s nostalgic and loving, where The Irishman and Jojo are sneering and cynical. Would love to see Parasite pull an upset for the house and, really, the apartment. But Hollywood certainly deserves it.

CHASE: This is the award I have the least confidence in, but I’ll take Parasite simply because I think it’s the best. Call me crazy. Hope and love aren’t much of an Oscar strategy.

SEAN: Once Upon a Time… should win this in a walk. It’s gorgeous work that blends realism through the lens of Tarantino’s heightened cinematic memory. And this would be the first time a Tarantino film has picked up a craft category win! Pretty crazy when you look over his singular filmography — how in the world did Kill Bill or Inglourious Basterds miss here?

Ad Astra

SOUND EDITING
Ford v. Ferrari
Joker
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

SOUND MIXING
Ad Astra
Ford v. Ferrari
Joker
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

DAVID: These categories could be getting merged next year, as most voters still can’t tell them apart. This year’s results will only reinforce that, as both will — and should — go to 1917. How is Joker even here?

TYLER: I want to believe Parasite is going to have a good night. So, I make the argument that Ford v. Ferrari is the way to go here, because it really is fantastically done. War movies are always terror to bet against in the sound categories, and sound plays a decent enough role in 1917’s story that it feels more well thought-through than the rest of it. But I am not a car man. And Ford v. Ferrari made me want to be a car man. Vote for a couple upsets.

CHASE: I like your style, Tyler, but 1917 was running featurettes for the film before it was even released. I can’t see it not winning these technical awards.

SEAN: 1917 should have a pretty easy time of it in these categories minus the possibility of the revving engines of Ford v. Ferrari taking one home. I’ll split the difference: 1917 for Mixing, Ford for Sound Editing. 

Avengers: Endgame

VISUAL EFFECTS
Avengers: Endgame
The Irishman
The Lion King
1917
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

DAVID: Considering the mixed success of The Irishman’s effects and Lion King and Skywalker as films, this is between the practical detonations of 1917 and the galactic scale of Avengers: Endgame. Will voters give any thought to rewarding the MCU saga at its (temporary) close? Eh, I’m not so sure.

TYLER: Yeah, I think this is an award that goes to a series that has, for mostly worse, defined visual effects in the 2010s. I admire the practicality of what 1917 is doing, but I think the Academy gives Feige’s crew an Oscar for a movie that was, essentially, just a visual effects reel put to music. Avengers: Endgame.

CHASE: Time to get weird. The Oscars have a history of picking the film that looks like it features the least visual effects in this category. Remember First Man winning this award last year? Remember Ex Machina stunning the world and beating Mad Max: Fury Road? I think The Irishman’s de-aging technology is the future, and I’m picking it to be awarded.

SEAN: The Irishman would make a very intriguing win, but would likely be too divisive of a pick (the de-aging works over the course of the film’s 3 and a half hours, but only taken as a whole and through the lens of a memory piece). This should be a pretty easy win for the practical showmanship and hidden CGI of 1917.

Hair Love

ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Dcera (Daughter)
Hair Love
Kitbull
Memorable
Sister

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
In the Absence
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Life Overtakes Me
St. Louis Superman
Walk Run Cha-Cha

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
Brotherhood
Nefta Football Club
The Neighbors’ Window
Saria
A Sister

DAVID: I’m usually wrong no matter how much research I do, but let’s give the nod to the oddsmakers and say Hair Love, Learning to Skateboard, and Brotherhood.

TYLER: The live action shorts weren’t terrible this year! It was so lovely to watch those and see some not torturous, message-driven half-hours of pain. Brotherhood was great, but I left wanting to watch it in feature, and feeling shortchanged by the form. So I’ll vote for the quirky little turkey at the end, Nefta Football Club. There was a lot of stop-motion in this year’s animated categories, which was refreshing given the preponderance of CGI in the previous few years’ nominees. Still, Hair Love has this in a walk, and deserves it. The docs were laborious as ever, so I’ll give the vote to the least laborious of the group (other than the fluffy light Cha Cha), Learning to Skateboard.

CHASE: My goal is to get the live action award correct this year. I’ve gotten the other two right twice since I started covering the shorts, but the third has continued to elude me. So while I think The Neighbors’ Window is the best, I’m picking Nefta Football Club because it’s the kind of easy message film that seems the most in-line with previous winners SingThe Silent Child, and SkinHair Love allows the Academy to pat itself on the back for diversity without really risking anything, and it’s good too! Learning to Skateboard rings true as well.

SEAN: There’s going to be a year where I make seeing all of these shorts a reality. Until then here’s my usual shot in the dark: Hair Love, Learning to Skateboard, and A Sister

Winner: David with 20. Hooray!

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