Did you watch the Oscars?

I didn’t. My two favorite movies of the past year, Little Women and The Lighthouse were barely acknowledged in the nominations, so I was uninterested. I still have opinions, though!

Best picture and best director: Parasite. OK, good choice. It is a great movie, but did the voters even realize what it was about? It’s a horror movie where the monster is class and wealth inequality. Hollywood obliviously chose the anti-Hollywood movie.

Best actress: Rene Zellweger in Judy. I haven’t seen it, although I’d like to, and Zellweger does good work.

Best actor: Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. Joker was a better movie than I expected, but it was still a hopeless muddle in what it was trying to say. Phoenix did put in a very strong performance though, so I won’t complain.

Best supporting actress: Laura Dern in Marriage Story. Another one I haven’t seen, because I’m in a happy marriage and have no interest in a story about a marriage self-destructing. I’m gonna pretend Dern won this for Little Women.

Best supporting actor: Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I like Brad Pitt but despise Quentin Tarentino, so this is another one I skipped.

Best adapted screenplay: Jojo Rabbit. A really good movie. I was surprised that Taika Waititi actually pulled off a comedy that was respectful of the tragedy.

Cinematography: 1917. Look. This was a mundane story with a simple plot that went from A to B on a linear trajectory. But what it really was 2 hours for Roger Deakins to show off, and it deserved this award.

Hmmmph. Little Women did win best costume design, but The Lighthouse was skunked. I could probably complain more, but generally I think The Academy made some safe choices.


  1. garnetstar says

    PZ, thanks for saying that about Tarantino, I thought I was alone in the world on that. And, to make a full confession, I didn’t get Pulp Fiction. At all. And didn’t like it, seemed like a lot of pointless violence. Don’t understand why it’s such a good movie and people love it.
    Please don’t hurt me! It probably is excellent, and it’s just an aberration of my brain that I didn’t get it.

  2. says

    I sort of watched it. Bits of it, I really enjoyed. Especially when they did the live performance of the nominated Frozen 2 song.

    For those that didn’t see it
    Each song nominated for Best Song was performed live. For the one from Frozen 2, they had several of the non-english version singers on stage performing in their respective language. I’d recommend googling that bit. I thought it was quite nice.

  3. chigau (違う) says

    I didn’t know it was on.
    And as usual, I haven’t seen most of the movies. I’m always about a year behind.

  4. chigau (違う) says

    Wait, I did see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
    I liked it, despite my agreement with PZ about Tarentino.

  5. waydude says

    I watched it, after recording it so I could zoom through all the speeches and commercials

    Parasite was a good movie and a good win. I used to live in South Korea, so trust me when I tell you they are going nuts over there. My god the Soju being spilled tonight. I don’t actually think they were oblivious to the message but I am cynical enough to believe they felt good making an Asian movie win awards to cover the lack of diversity and the snub to women

    Brad Pitt was as usual enjoyable in Once upon a time… but that movie, while at times fun and quippy, like most Tarantino movies, was plotless and a bit boring. There’s not movement in the film, there’s almost no point to it. Just barely makes a nod to the vagaries of Hollywood but gives it up to side plots that were essentially meaningless. And the portrayal of Bruce Lee was so out there and inaccurate to everyone that knew him, that was was personally offensive. He was martial, but he was peaceful, didn’t seek fights and was certainly not a braggart as shown in the movie.

    Haven’t seen Little Women or 1917 but they’re on the list. I may skip 1917, enough of these nostalgic war glorifying pieces but I kinda want to see the whole one take thing.

    I like Joker, mostly becuase I like Joachim Phoenix. It’s better on a second viewing, you can let go of any Batman baggage and get into the story. However, I find it a bit distasteful to make a sympathetic figure out of a homicidal maniac. I get it, society made the Joker and we get what we deserve. Still an asshole. Also, poor use of a pedophile song

    The best part of course was Janelle Monae opening with song and the awkward mic to face moments to get people to sing along. The bit with Idina Menzel was a nice touch too, having the other singers from dubbed versions around the world get a chance to perform on the Oscar stage.

    The host/ no host thing worked all right although after the opening bit I would’ve been happy to have Steve Martin and Chris Rock stand there quipping all night

  6. says

    Parasite is the first film in a language other than English to win BP. It is pretty obvious that the larger voting bloc and the voting mechanism change (that went into effect c. 2010) has fundamentally shifted the Academy’s taste. Parasite’s win solidified a string of un-Oscar-y (to lesser and greater extent) films winning awards; others include Moonlight, 12 Years a Slave, Shape of Water and Get Out (for script). I would even throw in Spotlight and Birdman has less typical choices. I haven’t seen Parasite but I am pleased that 1917 didn’t win. It was nearly the weakest film of the nominees that I saw (all but Parasite and JoJo Rabbit. Only Joker was worse) and it is hopelessly traditional Oscar bait. I can’t tell you how glad I am that it didn’t win.

    Through I must say I think the cinematography of 1917 is my biggest problem with how the film was realized. Even the script was more polished in terms how how the concept was actualized. The seeming two shot construction is distracting. It makes the entire film feel stagy and stilted because where the filmmakers cheated is really obvious. Doing everything in one (or extremely limited number) shots has been used several times now-Birdman being the other really well known one but there’s also Russia Ark. There are a handful of films that use the technique in more limited ways. I.e. The Player, Roma, Gravity, Children of Men, The Revenant etc. In each case I thought the exact camera movement was better at making the film more engaging than 1917. It was really annoying when the flipping the general location of the camera relative to the characters (i.e. following from behind to being in front of them) happened and I started to predict it about a 1/3 into the film. Hell I think the few scenes that Marriage Story that were staged as one shots were better realized than much of 1917.

    The Lighthouse should have won cinematography as there the moody gorgeous B&W added to the claustrophobic feeling of the film and the queer subtext of the story.

  7. Scott Simmons says

    +1 to Mike Smith #8. I don’t know if I was more disappointed that it didn’t win the best original screenplay award, or that it didn’t even get nominated in any of the top categories.

  8. tacitus says

    Saw all the Oscar nominated live action short films last weekend — they were all very good, but I was a little disappointed in the choice of the winner — The Neighbors’ Window — which I thought wasn’t as strong as the others.

  9. chrislawson says

    Nobody is going to agree with every award — but I’d have to say that this is one of the best years in Oscars history in terms of awards going to reasonable choices.

  10. addiepray says

    Do see “Marriage Story”. I, too, am fortunate to be in a happy marriage, but the film is a terrific exploration of how systems warp individuals, and how good intentions can be twisted by external interests. The acting is superb, but what I liked best is that it builds to a humane and even hopeful ending. It’s a terrific mix of comedy and drama, and I found I could relate deeply to the characters in their mistakes, foibles, and aspirations.

    Parasite was a deserving winner. A beautiful melding of exquisite craftsmanship, intelligence, humor, drama – everything movies can be. Hated Joker, but JP deserved the award. Haven’t liked a QT film since Pulp Fiction and didn’t see this new one. Lighthouse is next on my list to see.

    As an animator, though, I found the Toy Story 4 win to be total BS.