In recent years, my wife and I have tried — whenever we can — to see all of the Best Picture Academy Awards nominees each year.
I guess the idea started for us when the local theater chain, Marcus Theaters, started ganging up and showing all the nominees on 2 consecutive Saturdays, in the weeks before the Oscar ceremony. We haven’t been able to make all the shows — this year, we only made one Saturday — but it’s always a great chance to see 4 or more of the nominees.
It’s also cool that they include the nominated shorts one Saturday, and the Animated shorts the next.
This year, we saw the live-action shorts, and they were all excellent. My faves from that were “The Brotherhood” and “The Neighbor’s Window.” Good luck to those and the rest, any of which would be a worthy winner.
As usual, the Best Picture nominees were also very good — maybe even more outstanding than in past years. And between our regular picture going, blu-rays, and Netflix (which had 2 original movies), we’ve managed to see them all.
Here’s my rankings, from least favorite to my personal best. Remember, though, that every one of this movies is worth seeing — and, of course, a bit of commentary.
9) THE IRISHMAN **** — This story of an Irish American who becomes enmeshed with the Mob and Jimmy Hoffa, is well done, with lots of compelling parts, but ultimately, at 3 1/2 Hours, overstays its welcome a bit. Too long for an easy re-watch in future.
8) JOKER **** — Joaquin Phoenix gives a bravura performance as the man who will become (Batman’s) Joker, but though well made, the film is too bleak and depressing end-to-end for me to put it higher on my list. I still may re-watch it at some point.
7) JOJO RABBIT **** — This story of a boy who idolizes a (comical) version of Hitler and gradually comes to see why Nazis aren’t so great. Great film, but so many Nazis are hard to take, even with black comic overtones. Again, not sure I’ll ever rewatch it, despite ScarJo’s nominated supporting performance.
6) LITTLE WOMEN **** — Also strong in acting, and if Saoirse Ronan doesn’t get the Best Actress Oscar this year, she will soon. What dropped it below five stars for me was a sudden break of the fourth wall in the final minutes.
5) FORD VS. FERRARI ***** — If you’re looking for some manliness amid your acting prowess, this film has got cars and adrenaline-filled racing to spare, as well as great heart. A bit of sporting history with your entertainment.
4) MARRIAGE STORY ***** — Exceptional acting by Scarlet Johansson and Adam Driver carry this story of a small family caught up in the “divorce industry” when they try to split up. I wouldn’t want to compete against these 2 in the Best Acting categories — or against Laura Dern in Supporting Actress.
3) PARASITE ***** — A suspenseful black comedy with great characters that also comments on class and wealth in Korean society — that also applies here. Strong Best Picture and Director contention.
2) 1917 ***** — Amazing visuals and heart-rending action highlight this anti-war story of WWI. Strong in every way, and possibly one of the best war films ever. Doing the whole film as one shot is an amazing conceit that works.
1) ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD ***** — Smart & funny story of 1969 Hollywood, during the era of the Manson killings has great, award-worthy acting on top of top-notch everything else. Both suspenseful and full of heart, as well as a portrait of the era, it gets my nod for BEST PICTURE 2020.
So… That’s it. Be sure to stay tuned to my monthly micro-reviews for more film fun!
Oh, and if you want to share your thoughts, you can do so here or on my Facebook page.
— Steve Sullivan
4:30 PM, Central Time, February 9, 2020