Marriage Story. The Irishman. 1917. Parasite. Jojo Rabbit. Ford vs Ferrari. Joker. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Little Women.
Which one of these films will win he Oscar? If you look at the Las Vegas odds, they have 1917 as the film to beat. They give it 4/7 odds of winning, better than half. They list Parasite with 5/1 odds of winning. What is that – a 20% chance? After that – it’s Once Upon a time in Hollywood, with 6/1 odds. Joker comes next with 14/1 odds. The Irishman then follows with a 50/1 chance.
I’m kind of surprised that Marriage Story didn’t get better odds. It was in the “others” category, when I checked the odds. Marriage story is a movie that normally Oscar voters love. It’s about life – and what happens when we go through big transitions. Kramer vs Kramer was kind of like Marriage story, and won Best Picture.
Laura Dern is favored to win an Oscar for her role as the cut-throat lawyer that fights for Scarlett Johannsen in her court battle with Adam Driver.
Other movies that won Oscars – based on life transitions include Ordinary people (Best Picture), Leaving Las Vegas (Best Actor – Nicholas Cage), and Silver Linings Playbook (Best Actress, Jennifer Lawrence).
In Leaving Las Vegas, Nick Cage’s character’s drive is to drink himself to death after encountering some tragic losses. A beautiful but essentially broken prostitute, played by Elizabeth Shue, slows him down and almost stops him by offering him compassion, friendship and a place to stay.
In Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper’s character (dealing with bipolar disorder) comes out of a mental facility driven to get back together with his ex-wife. Jennifer Lawrence’s character stands in his way, and eventually prevails, as they fall in love.
In Ordinary People, a young boy fails to save his brother from drowning and after his death, is wracked with guilt, and eventually attempts suicide. The antagonist in Ordinary People is his cold-hearted mother played by Mary Tyler Moore.
She not only holds the boy responsible for his brother’s death, but goes on to make a big show of living her “perfect” suburban upper middle-class lifestyle, denying affection to her depressed son. She stands in the way of the boy’s recovery.
You could say that Little Women is about life transitions. Jo is coming into her own in life. Realizing her dream of becoming a writer and finding her mate. You could also say Jojo Rabbit was a coming of age story. You have a boy growing up in Germany, trying to figure out how he feels about the war, and how to think for himself.
One Upon a Time in Hollywood is about an actor going through a rough career transition. Will he get the starring roles in feature films that he craves – or will he be relegated to small parts on the small screen.
Joker can be seen as a disenfranchised character Arthur Fleck, coming to terms with his life changes – in his care, mental illness. The Irishman (at least towards the end) examines how a hitman who’s sold out his friends, and killed one f them, has to deal with the guild and pain.
Ford vs Ferrari looks at Christian Bale’s character – an impulsive race car driver who’s made a deal his wife to walk away before he gets killed. He’s sorting out what to do with his life after racing, but decides to put is life on the line one more time to beat Ferrari in a Shelby Cobra.
In 1917, young men go to war for what they believe in. War tests the soldiers as they’ve never been tested before. Lance Corporal Blake is charged with a mission. He must take a message up the line to soldiers who are about to walk into a trap. He must warn them – or watch 1600 soldiers – and his brother –die in battle.
That leaves Parasite. Those characters are members of a poor Korean family. They are all out of work. The story follows them as the find jobs – actually they con their way into the good graces of a rich Korean family – and work for them as cooks, nannies, chauffeurs.
Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Joker take deeper looks at their characters, and feel more Oscar-esque than the others in my opinion. However, Academy do voters love their war movies. That’s why 1917 has the best odds of winning. Not only do the characters get tested in war movies, but those movies look great. The stakes are high in war movies – it’s always life or death. And in this case – Sam Mendes – the director – had a great cinematographer in Roger Deakins.
Deakins has been nominated 11 times for best cinematography since 2001. He won last for Blade Runner – the sequel.
My pick – Parasite. It was totally original. It blended satire with horror seamlessly. It took on the subject of class anxiety, which is in the news every day – and it was beautifully shot and acted. It won the Palm D’or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier in the year. It’s handicap – however – is it won the Palm D’Or at Cannes. Only once has the Academy and the Cannes jury picked the same movie – Marty. They don’t vote for the same things. Also, Parasite is in Korean.
I would be happy if it won.
Who’s really going to win the Oscars in 2020. Best Picture. 1917. Best Actor – Joaqin Phoenix. Best Actress – Renee Zellweger. Best Supporting Actress – Laura Dern. Best Supporting Actor – Brad Pitt.