After a long journey at the awards season, we reach our stop at the prestigious 92nd Academy Awards which will take place on February 9 at the glamorous Dolby theatre in Los Angeles. Let’s dive into the nominees for the best picture at Oscars 2020 in order of preference.
Nominees for the Best Picture at Oscars 2020:
All unemployed, a low-life family takes a peculiar interest in a wealthy and glamorous family and how they slowly gain control over, at least seemingly so. What follows is a masterclass of seamless filmmaking elevated by captivating performances and a fantastic score. This film serves as a scathing commentary of social and class struggle effortlessly blended with satire, slapstick comedy, and touches of psychological family drama. This one’s surely among the frontrunners in the category of the Best Picture at Oscars 2020. #BONGHIVE
It’s only a representation of how good the nominations are this time around considering how the gangster epic, by none other than Martin Scorsese, is being overshadowed at the awards season. An adaptation from the book ‘I heard you paint houses’, it follows as a retrospect of his own life. Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, delves into many past lives of being a war veteran, as he once accidentally meets mobster Russel Bufalino and then goes on to be his closest confidante. A classic mobster tale with a contemplative and a moving ending for a life full of regrettable choices. Helmed by a sublime direction from Marty, Irishman features extraordinary performances from an angry Al Pacino and meditative, yet powerful, Joe Pesci and of course, De Niro.
Arguably the most talked-about film making the cut to the nominations of the Best Picture at Oscars 2020. There’s a kind of nihilism the film drowns us in. A world where there’s no warmth at all, not even a ray of hope, pushing people like Arthur to the edge of his sanity. Joker follows a mentally ill loner and looks at the morally decaying society through their twisted lenses. As the director himself said, it borrows heavily from Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy; make no mistake, it is neither. While the film has some shortcomings like underdeveloped characters other than Joker and a few thematic inconsistencies, it certainly has great themes, a hauntingly eerie score by Hildur Guonadottir and an extremely physical, towering performance by Joaquin Phoenix, who is a favourite to win the Academy Award.
Set at the heights of WW1, two young British soldiers are given a seemingly impossible mission, to deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on their soldiers by crossing enemy territory. 1917 is one of the finest technical achievements of the year. Roger Deakins, possibly the award winner for cinematography this year, controls the camera with bomb-diffusing precision and creates vividly gorgeous frames out of thin air (literally!). It is a bit disappointing once you’re tuned into the “one-take” illusion, it feels rather fabricated and it drives the narrative, rather the other way around. I wasn’t as emotionally invested as much as I would have liked to. Still, this is going to be a frontrunner for many categories on the big night.
Ford v Ferrari
This biographical drama, directed by James Mangold (of Logan fame), contains some superbly crafted driving sequences, backed by brilliant editing and thunderous sound design. The plot follows car designer and engineer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and British World War II veteran and professional race driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) building a revolutionary race car for Ford, with the movie’s narrative centering Miles as the heart. Keep aside the races and we are left with a typical “templatish drama”. The feud between the Italian and American powerhouses feels one-noted but Bale is as captivating as always. Shelby and Miles work together to battle corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford Motor Company. They take on the dominating race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966 in a bittersweet tale of friendship and passion.
Once upon a time…in Hollywood
In Los Angeles, 1969, TV star Rick Dalton, a struggling actor specializing in westerns, and stuntman Cliff Booth, his best friend, try to survive in a constantly changing movie industry. Dalton is the neighbour of the young and promising actress and model Sharon Tate, who has just married the prestigious Polish director Roman Polanski. The film covers events on three days, two in February and one in August. On a production design, world-reconstruction level, this is obviously outstanding work. This majorly operates a collection of nuanced set-pieces, a rumination of the golden days of Hollywood.
An adaptation of the 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott, following the lives of four sisters in 19th century America. It’s the eighth adaptation of the material, with this particular version from writer and director Greta Gerwig disposing of the chronological structure of the novel. Instead, Gerwig chooses to unfold the narrative with the use of flashbacks and parallel visualization of past and future intercutting leading up to a meta climax adding modernity to a retelling of the classic novel. The film is so full of the warmth of the family, their bonds through adversity, their flaws in conflicting with each other’s paths, their sacrifices to help each other, their ambitions in life, and their love…it all felt quite well handled with an interesting non-linear structure and solid performances to match.
A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, Jojo confronts his blind nationalism, in a way you could imagine a kid would. With an amazing supporting performance from Sca Jo holding the inconsistent and messy plot together, some of its ideas feel all over the place with a girl-in-the attic subplot and our youthful hero undergoes a change of heart from Nazi sympathizer to a love-struck puppy. While it has ambitious motives and even at times try to build on them, it wasn’t as impressive as the other ventures.
Fuelled by some terrific performances, Marriage Story is yet another acclaimed film that has been nominated for the Best Picture at Oscars 2020. Starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, this film by Noah Baumbach has won accolades from the critics for its presentation of a sensitive relationship. The story deals with the journey of a couple going through a breaking marriage while balancing their careers.
Article by Akhil Dusi