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AN OSCAR CHEW

Taking a brief respite from their Grammy speculation, our resident nerds decided to hazard a few picks in the Oscar race, now that the noms are out. And… action:

PICTURE

LB: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood wins; it’s about Hollywood and the industry, TV and movies, people who vote, and it’s great. My other choice would be Pain and Glory, but it wasn’t nominated. Neither was the excellent The Two Popes, which I also highly recommend.

SG: Once Upon a Time is my choice as well; the only contender for an upset is 1917, which belongs in the pantheon of classic war movies. But Quentin Tarantino’s warmest film yet is a valentine to voters.

ACTOR

LB: Joaquin Phoenix over Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Pryce. I would’ve voted for Banderas, and Jonathan Pryce as my close third. This one feels obligatory.

SG: Phoenix takes it, because this is what most people consider “acting” with a capital “A,” complete with extreme weight loss and that laughing-crying thing. It’s a super-showy performance in a problematic film. I think Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in Hollywood was much more interesting.

ACTRESS

LB: Renée Zellweger wins in a romp. She’s fabulous, and I may be the only straight man in America with a serious Judy fixation. Judy never won an Oscar, interestingly.  

SG: This is another Hollywood-loves-Hollywood story, and this kind of tragic biography is catnip to voters. I think it’s worth pointing out, meanwhile, that none of the three most nominated films—Hollywood, 1917 or Joker—had a significant enough female character to earn an actress or supporting-actress nom.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

LB: It’s Laura Dern (Marriage Story) wins easily. She plays the go-to celebrity lawyer and everyone in Hollywood knows her.

SG: I really liked Florence Pugh in Little Women. For that matter, I liked Laura Dern in Little Women, but they didn’t nominate her for that.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

LB: Brad Pitt, who has never been Brad Pittier, has been winning everything for his performance in Once Upon a Time, and that will continue at the Oscars.

SG: I think this is a tough category. I loved Pitt’s performance, which felt like an iconic movie-star turn. Pacino and Pesci probably cancel each other out, though both were great in The Irishman. But I pick Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, because of the extreme likeability factor.

DIRECTOR

LB: This is a tossup, with Sam Mendes, Tarantino and Bong Joon-ho all in contention. I’ll go with the Golden Globe voters and pick Mendes, and Tarantino to win screenplay.

SG: You couldn’t argue with any of those three to win. Hollywood was my favorite movie of the year, but I think Mendes’ combination of technical wizardry and heart in a heroic narrative gives him the edge.

SONG

LB: I expect Elton John to win. Does Cynthia Erivo win because it’s her time? Or does Frozen 2 win because Idina hits the money note?

SG: Elton is the sentimental favorite. A surprise win by the Harriet song would be a “woke” moment and an acknowledgement of the incredibly talented Erivo, and the Frozen 2 song is huge-sounding. But my feeling is Oscar wants Sir Elton and Bernie Taupin at the podium.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

LB: 1917; Roger Deakins is getting lots of praise, and deservedly so. The film is likely to win a number of technical awards.

SG: 1917 is visually ravishing, and Deakins looks like a shoo-in. But Robert Richardson also did wonderful (if less flashy) work in Hollywood.

INTERNATIONAL

LB: Parasite wins over Pain and Glory, which is my favorite movie of the year.

SG: Parasite has all the buzz. It’s a somewhat polarizing film but it’s the one everyone was talking about—and the only “International” contender (don’t you dare say “foreign”) to get a Best Picture nom as well.

 

 

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