With “Oscar Season,” typically September through December, wrapping up and with the Golden Globe nominations dropping December 9, critics and Oscar experts now have a tentatively finalized list of predictions. While the Golden Globes and BAFTA awards will inevitably alter predictions over who wins what, it’s safe to predict the nominees at this point.
It has been a decade now since it was announced that the Academy Awards’ most distinguished and prestigious award, Best Picture, would expand from five nominations to ten. On behalf of everyone, I want to continue giving thanks for this decision, because in a year like 2019, there is a long list of movies worthy of a Best Picture nomination. However, we are here to narrow that list down to three movies that will have the most realistic chance at taking home the industry’s most coveted statue.
“The Irishman” — The legendary Martin Scorsese has directed 24 feature films prior to “The Irishman,” and while some of these features like “Taxi Driver,” “Goodfellas” and “The Departed” are considered some of the greatest movies ever made, “The Irishman” might just be Scorsese’s masterpiece.
When it’s all said and done, it may not go down as his most entertaining or even most memorable film, but at three hours and 30 minutes, Scorsese makes the most of every minute. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci are all miraculous in this telling of a mob hitman’s involvement with the life and death of Jimmy Hoffa.
It’s a gangster movie throughout and appears so on the surface, but its themes and purpose extend far beyond its display of riveting moments of surprising brutality and entertaining gangster talk. Scorsese uses this tale to deliver a statement about old age and decline, even if it only becomes apparent near the movie’s end.
This is a movie that could only be pulled off by Scorsese, and at this late point in his career. If it takes you a couple nights to watch this movie, so be it, but be sure to watch it soon because “and the Oscar goes to …” will be preceding “The Irishman” a lot Feb. 9. You have no excuse. It is on Netflix, after all.
“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” — Another beast of a movie at two hours and 41 minutes, we should feel so fortunate to be graced with both an epic Scorsese and Tarantino movie in the same year. Like Scorsese, this is a movie Tarantino could have only made at this point in his career.
The film is, perhaps, his most mature and meticulously crafted to date. He takes his time getting things going, making sure his audience is completely immersed in a Hollywood of a bygone era with incredible set design. But when it gets going, it really gets going, chock full of signature Tarantino moments in the back half.
It’s also Tarantino’s most unique film to date. For this reason, the general public did not love this movie as much as the critics, which is pretty different from all of his other films.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are an absolute blast in this movie, both delivering knockout performances as an aging movie star and his stunt double, respectively.
The movie will certainly be nominated for Best Picture and many other categories, likely to have a big night all around Feb. 9.
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“Marriage Story” — Writer, director and producer Noah Baumbach made his directorial and writing debut in 1995 with his feature “Kicking and Screaming” to some small critical acclaim. He didn’t truly establish establish himself within Hollywood until the early 2000s, however, when he co-wrote screenplays with the esteemed Wes Anderson. Like Anderson, Baumbach has become a critical darling with unparalleled film style.
I haven’t seen a lot of Baumbach films, but his fans are saying “Marriage Story” is his best film to date. Critics and the general public seem to agree as the movie currently rocks an 8.5 on IMDb with an elite 94 metascore.
“Marriage Story” is essentially about two people going through a divorce, trying to figure out how to stay together as a family for their son.
Baumbach is pretty unflashy with the camera, but the movie is wildly ambitious in its execution and character choices. Baumbach lets his quirks shine with his unconventional writing style, depicting life’s small, odd and awkward interactions, as he often does in “Marriage Story.” He also gives his actors room to breathe and dominate the screen.
What he gets from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in “Marriage Story” is truly remarkable. It doesn’t take long after the movie starts for you to recognize the two stars solely as their characters. The specificity of each character’s personality become so real and authentic throughout the movie that the next time you see Driver or Johansson in another movie, you might expect them to act like these characters.
To viewers unfamiliar with Baumbach’s style, “Marriage Story” may come off as a little absurd. Some of the writing choices may feel odd, and the constant witty, comedic moments could feel like it’s getting in the way of building tension and drama. If you come into the movie expecting a crushing relationship drama like “Blue Valentine,” you will get a movie that feels far different from your expectations.
Movies yet to be released to wide audiences like “Little Women” and “1917” have earned the praise of being other certain Best Picture locks with a great chance to win.