by Jocelyn Illing
Hello, me again. Last year I watched all the Best Picture Oscar nominees and made a definitive ranking. This year I have done it again AND added a list of films that I believe were snubbed by the academy. Enjoy!
Films that should be on this list but were sadly ignored by the Academy: Us, Booksmart, Midsommar, The Farewell, Dolemite Is My Name, The Lighthouse, Waves, Queen & Slim.
9. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)
The Irishman was incredibly underwhelming. Being a major Martin Scorsese fan, I had high expectations for this film, but what did I get? A poorly made recycling of Goodfellas. The plot was conventional, we had seen the characters before, and the pacing was painfully slow. Scorsese is known for having his films be on the longer side but, because of the intense plot and captivating characters, the audience is usually left wanting more. This wasn’t the case for The Irishman. For over three hours I was stuck, in my chair, watching Robert De Niro reflect on “the good old days” when he had a younger, poorly CGIed face.
8. Ford vs. Ferrari (James Mangold)
I have a reputation of judging a film rather harshly before I have even seen it. When I saw the Ford vs. Ferrari trailer, I decided that this film was not worth my time, but I would still watch it for the sake of this list. However, as soon as I began watching the film, I found it to be surprisingly entertaining. The film’s best attribute is its inclusion of the wonderful Christian Bale, going all out in his native British accent, and presenting us with a delightfully charismatic performance. Additionally, on the technical side, the film expertly utilizes sound and is, in my opinion, a strong contender for the Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing awards. Although the plot is not necessarily revolutionary, the film makes a satisfying biopic picture, sure to impress car-lovers alike.
7. Joker (Todd Phillips)
This film left me feeling mixed emotions. On one hand, it is an interesting new turn on the classic DC character, a psychological investigation of Gotham’s most famous villain. On the other hand, it has been seen as a reference to the “incel” movement, something that has gained much controversy over the last couple of months. What I do know for sure is that Joker included one of the best performances of the year (Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker) and one of my favourite scenes (the iconic image of Phoenix dancing on the steps in full clown makeup). The likelihood of this film winning best picture is very slim, and I’m ok with it.
6. Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi)
Jojo Rabbit was a pure delight. It is the movie that you go see if you are feeling down and want to believe in friendship again, but with Nazis. Waititi’s twist on history, a satirical look on the Nazi culture, provides him with the basis to tell a story about a little boy who wishes to prove himself to his peers and himself. Is it weird that his imaginary friend is Hitler? Yes. Is it also amazing and hysterical? Double yes. The film also features an outstanding supporting cast and a standout performance by Scarlett Johannsson. If she wins two Academy Awards this year I will not be upset.
5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)
Don’t hate me but I loved this movie and Tarantino is one of my favourite directors. When watching Once Upon a Time in Hollywood you can tell that he and the cast had a ball making this love letter to Hollywood. The costumes were funky, the music was great and Tarantino managed captured Los Angeles’ seemingly endless golden hour. What also makes Taratino’s films so fun to watch is the way in which he writes his characters. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was full of quirky characters as well as depictions of real people, such as Sharon Tate and Bruce Lee. Topping it all off is the star-studded cast headed by Leonardo Dicaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margo Robbie. Even if this does not win Best Picture, Brad Pitt will definitely take home a statue for Best Supporting Actor.
4. Little Women (Greta Gerwig)
Literary adaptations are tricky. There is a lot of history and expectation surrounding books and their corresponding fans. Some directors get it right, others get it wrong. Greta Gerwig gets it right. Little Women was one of my favourite books as a child and I was ecstatic to hear about Gerwig’s rendition, partly because I thought the 90s version was too drab, but mostly because I am a major fan of Gerwig’s work. She is, almost, an expert at depicting the experience of young women in a way that both demonstrates their complexities and celebrates their relationships with other women. Little Women is a film about women, written by women and directed by women. It also helps that the cast is superb, a highlight being Florence Pugh’s performance as the youngest March sister Amy. I believe that this movie will, in time, become a classic that girls and families watch together yearly. We love little women!
3. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach)
The reason why I loved Marriage Story as much as I did is because it was a lot like Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Although Baumbach didn’t go to such technical lengths as Linklater did, when he shot the film over ten years for character authenticity, he did match Linklater in the time and care put into the writing of the characters. Instead of being a character study of a young boy as he grows up, Marriage Story chronicles the effects that divorce has on a family, allowing us to travel with the characters through both the happy and sad moments. The amazing performances of Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver and Laura Dern also helped to make these characters come to life. They approached the characters with such honestly and intensity that I found myself filled with tears by the films end. Damn you guys and damn you Noah. Enjoy your awards.
2. Parasite (Boon Joon Ho)
Although I watched Parasite quite some time ago I can tell you that it was amazing and is well deserving of this award. I could not shut up about it for an entire month after watching the film on my tiny laptop. It has one of the most original scripts I had ever heard, a complex and, for lack of a better word, delicious story of class struggle/triumph, deception and family, and had me biting my nails up until its awesome finale. Although it is not my first pick, I will be almost equally happy for it to win both because it is a superb film and because it will be the first foreign film to win Best Picture (which would be pretty exciting).
1. 1917 (Sam Mendes)
Before I saw my number one pick for Best Picture I thought to myself “This will just be another war film”. Let me tell you, 1917 is NOT JUST ANOTHER WAR FILM. Sam Mendes joins the rank of Christopher Nolan, with 2017's Dunkirk, as the men who were able to make war films interesting again. Mendes takes all of the elements at his disposal, including sound, cinematography, and production design, and uses them to take us on a journey, alongside a single solider, to deliver a message that will save thousands of lives. The stakes in the film are so high that you are kept on your toes throughout and find yourself becoming emotionally invested in the characters. Watching 1917 is definitely a new kind of viewing experience, one that should be warmly awarded by the Academy.