Guest author Michael D. Burckhardt
People say LA doesn’t experience seasons. They’re wrong. They forget about awards season! The Oscars are this upcoming weekend, but don’t worry if you haven’t had the time to stay up-to-date with this year’s critically acclaimed films. We’ve put together a beginner’s guide of all the films nominated for Best Picture this year, so you can familiarize yourself before the big day—and hopefully, we can convince you to check some of them out for yourself. Think about how much you’ll impress your friends with your high-brow knowledge of ~film~.
Acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese (“The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Goodfellas”) makes his return with this crime drama about a truck driver who gets involved with the mob. At three hours and thirty minutes, this film is not for the faint of heart, but I assure you getting through it is WORTH IT—and the critics think so too. Not only has it earned a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s nominated across the board in multiple categories this year after an overwhelmingly positive response from the festival circuits. And, being a Netflix film, it’s easily accessible. So, grab some snacks, a coffee and get comfortable as “The Irishman” takes you into the gangster world of the 1960s.
The second Netflix film on this list, “Marriage Story” plays as an acting tour de force for its leads Scarlett Johanson and Adam Driver. Emotionally driven, “Marriage Story” is definitely not a feel-good movie about a happy love story, but rather about a gruelling divorce and learning to fall out of love while remaining a family. Emotional as it may be, the incredible performances by the entire cast make this an entertaining must-see movie. Not only are both Scarlett Johanson and Adam Driver nominated for Best Actor and Actress respectively, Laura Dern is nominated for Supporting Actress as well (and has already grabbed a couple wins at earlier awards ceremonies this year). Grab some tissues and stream this on Netflix now.
All you had to do was look at the cast list for this movie to know that Greta Gerwig’s follow up to 2017’s highly nominated Lady Bird fully intended to be an awards contender this year. Let’s hope this time she can actually take home some wins after her infamous five nomination but zero-win run at the 2018 Oscars. With Academy favorites such as Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet and newcomers Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen (hot off of “Midsommar” and “Sharp Objects” respectively), AND Emma Watson for some good old nostalgia, this new take on the classic is a timely retelling of a timeless story. Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh are nominated for Best Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively, but this Campus Crop writer would love to see it take home Adapted Screenplay.
Not enough Americans are watching foreign films, and that’s a shame when masterpieces such as “Parasite” exist. South Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s latest film is a dark comedy thriller that details the story about a poor family that schemes and takes advantage of a wealthy family. Full of genuine twists and meaningful social class commentary, this movie is sure to stick with you long after viewing. Following the footsteps of last year’s film from Mexico, “Roma”, “Parasite” will be competing not only in the International Film category but overall Best Picture category as well. It’s pleasing to see this film compete across the board instead of being stuck in the international category and, regardless of the results, hopefully continues to pave the way to allow more foreign films to do so in the future (and take home some wins).
Quentin Tarantino is a director who has achieved a lot of his acclaim through creating revisionist history/revenge fantasy films such as “Django Unchained” and “Inglourious Basterds.” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” keeps up with this trend, this time tackling the infamous Manson Murders. In addition to that, it also serves as a film that perfectly captures that “hollywood magic” many associate with being on set of a major motion picture. It’s a neat world to step into for a few hours. In addition to Best Picture, Tarantino snagged a Directing nomination, and both male leads Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are nominated for Lead and Supporting Actor as well.
Comedy/drama director Taika Waititi, hot off the success of “Thor: Ragnarok”, has a talent for pushing the envelope in his irreverent humor while keeping it grounded in serious messages. “Jojo Rabbit” certainly fits this mold, as its about a young German boy navigating World War II in the company of nazis, all with the help of his imaginary friend: an idiotic caricature of Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi himself). This movie definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying the value in the anti-hate commentary and is certainly a unique story. Scarlett Johanson is nominated for best Supporting Actress for her role as Jojo’s mother.
The second film on our list that tackles social class commentary (after “Parasite”), “Joker” is the chilling origin story of how the harsh realities of society turned failed comedian Arthur Fleck into the titular Batman villain we all know as the Joker. Todd Philips secured a Directing Nomination for the film, but “Joker” ultimately serves as a showcase for its central character portrayed brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix (“Her”, “The Master”) who deservedly also earned a nomination for Best Actor. With some exceptions, genre and comic films rarely get acknowledged by the Academy, so even if you’re not a fan of “Joker”, its nominations present hope for future genre films to be taken seriously.
The academy sure loves their war movies! “1917” takes place during World War I and tells the story of two British soldiers who are given a mission to cross into enemy territory and deliver a message that could save countless lives. Standing out not only for its raw and immersive atmosphere, “1917” is also an extreme technological feat as the film employs long takes and editing techniques to make the entire feature appear to have been one continuous shot to well executed and incredible effect. Despite no acting nominations, don’t underestimate this film in the technological categories.
All of the films above were highly projected to secure nominations, but the ninth spot this year was the wildcard and up for grabs. It ended up going to “Ford v Ferrari”, a film about the intellectual and physical race between Ford Motor Co. and Enzo Ferrari as they battled not only each other but the laws of physics in order to design a race car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France 1966. Don’t be fooled, this is a lot more than just your average racing movie, and it seems the Academy noticed.
So there you have it, these are the nine nominees for Best Picture this year at the most highly coveted and respected film awards of the year. Check some of these out for yourselves, and tune in on February 9 to see who takes home the big award!