2020 Oscars Preview: Part 1

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This is your guide to the major nominees of the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony. Part 1 takes a look at the films in the running for Best Picture.

There’s always a lot of talk leading up to the big day about who will win what awards. We try to make our predictions based on trends from the past, but we can’t help to be swayed by our own personal opinions. Some movies truly strike a chord with us, while others aren’t interesting at all. Furthermore, Oscar films are usually heavy in the drama department and therefore they aren’t always the easiest or most entertaining movies to watch.

That’s why we’re here. We’ve compiled the following brief summaries, interesting facts, and critical reviews for all these films and people. The goal is to give you a solid background even if you haven’t been able to catch up with this year’s nominees. So read on, and then start planning your Oscar-related drinking game.

The Best Picture Nominees

Ford vs. Ferrari

Directed By: James Mangold

Starring: Matt Damon, Christian Bale

Story: American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary vehicle for the Ford Motor Co. Together, they plan to compete against the race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

None

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

What Our Critic Said: http://www.cinelinx.com/reviews/movies/ford-v-ferrari/

“It is through action-packed race scenes where Ford v Ferrari really hits its stride. By putting its audience into these iconic cars,  they can experience the implications and emotion first hand. This allows for a better appreciation of this moment in history, and in my mind that makes the film victorious.” – G.S. Perno

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 81

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

IMDB: 8.3

Cinelinx: 4.2/5

Interesting Fact: Matt Damon and Christian Bale agreed that the brawl between their characters was the most fun scene to film. Both have experience extensively choreographed fight scenes that took weeks to learn, so it was a positive change that they only had to rehearse the brawl for twenty minutes and weren’t required to look lethal while doing it. 

The Irishman

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Starring: Robert De NIro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino 

Story: In the 1950s, truck driver Frank Sheeran gets involved with Russell Bufalino and his Pennsylvania crime family. As Sheeran climbs the ranks to become a top hit man, he also goes to work for Jimmy Hoffa — a powerful Teamster tied to organized crime.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

AFI Movie of the Year

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Ensemble

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (x2)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Best Achievement in Production Design

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

What Our Critic Said: http://www.cinelinx.com/reviews/movies/the-irishman/

“The Irishman breaks away from the typical mafia mold, while still utilizing some of the genre’s most trusted tropes. It’s definitely a long film, but The Irishman manages to hook you a very real and engaging way.” – Jordan Maison

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 94

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

IMDB: 8.1

Cinelinx: 4.3 / 5

Interesting Fact: The house that appears in the beginning of the film is the same house that appears in Goodfellas

JoJo Rabbit

Directed By: Taika Waikiki

Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johanssen

Story: Jojo is a lonely German boy who discovers that his single mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his imaginary friend — Adolf Hitler — Jojo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

AFI Movie of the Year

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Young Actor/Actress

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Best Achievement in Production Design

Best Achievement in Film Editing

What Our Critic Said: http://www.cinelinx.com/reviews/movies/jojo-rabbit/

“ It may be the kind of story you’ve seen in film countless times before, but the placement of that story in the middle of dire straights and still being able to come up with something inspirational says a lot about the merits of the film.”– G.S. Perno

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 57

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

IMDB: 8.0

Cinelinx: 3.9 / 5

Interesting Fact: Even though all the spoken dialogue is in English, all written or printed text is in German. 

Joker

Directed By: Todd Phillips

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro

Story: Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks — the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

Golden Globes – Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Drama

Golden Globes – Best Original Score, Motion Picture

Screen Actors Guild Awards – Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Actor

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Score

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

What the Critics Said: 

“Phoenix supercharges this Martin Scorsese-lite polemic with a bombastic, electrifying portrayal of unyielding sympathy for Arthur, whose desperation to connect with others descends into despair.” – Dann Gire, Chicago Daily Herald

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 59

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

IMDB: 8.6

Interesting Fact: All clocks in the movie show the time as 11:11. 

Little Women

Directed By: Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Laura Dern

Story: In the years after the Civil War, Jo March lives in New York and makes her living as a writer, while her sister Amy studies painting in Paris. Amy has a chance encounter with Theodore, a childhood crush who proposed to Jo but was ultimately rejected. Their oldest sibling, Meg, is married to a schoolteacher, while shy sister Beth develops a devastating illness that brings the family back together.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Adapted Screenplay

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures

What The Critics Said: 

“The adaptation is faithful to its historical roots, yet it runs on contemporary energy.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 91

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

IMDB: 8.3

Interesting Fact: Florence Pugh had just finished filming Midsommar a few days prior to when she started shooting Little Women. She said that getting to play Amy after making such a stressful and anxiety-inducing film was her version of therapy. 

Marriage Story

Directed By: Noah Baumbach

Starring: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson

Story: A stage director and his actor wife struggle through a gruelling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them to their personal and creative extremes.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

Golden Globes – Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Screen Actors Guild Awards – Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Supporting Actress

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures

What The Critics Said: 

“It’s a triumph, a mix of pleasure and pain that cuts so deep it leaves a scar. It hurts, but it hurts so good.” – Adam Graham, Detroit News

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 93

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

IMDB: 8.1

Interesting Fact: Adam Driver had to punch the wall 15 times due to multiple takes. At one point he punched so hard he almost punched through the wall behind the breakaway wall. 

1917

Directed By: Sam Mendes

Starring: Dean-Charles Chapman, George McKay

Story: During World War I, two British soldiers — Lance Cpl. Schofield and Lance Cpl. Blake — receive seemingly impossible orders. In a race against time, they must cross over into enemy territory to deliver a message that could potentially save 1,600 of their fellow comrades — including Blake’s own brother.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture, Drama

Golden Globes – Best Director, Motion Picture

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Director (Tie)

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Cinematography

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Editing

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Best Achievement in Production Design

Best Achievement in Music Written for a Motion Picture

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

What Our Critic Said: http://www.cinelinx.com/reviews/movies/1917-2/

“1917 makes the audience into foot soldiers. At the beginning of the film, we are given our orders, some grenades and extra rations, and the rest of the film we struggle to continue walking upright. “ – G.S. Perno

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 79

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

IMDB: 8.7

Cinelinx: 4.3 / 5

Interesting Fact: Over 5200 feet of trenches were dug for the film. 

Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood

Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt

Story: Actor Rick Dalton gained fame and fortune by starring in a 1950s television Western, but is now struggling to find meaningful work in a Hollywood that he doesn’t recognize anymore. He spends most of his time drinking and palling around with Cliff Booth, his easygoing best friend and longtime stunt double. Rick also happens to live next door to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate — the filmmaker and budding actress whose futures will forever be altered by members of the Manson Family.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Golden Globes – Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Golden Globes – Best Screenplay, Motion Picture

Screen Actors Guild Awards – Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Picture

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Supporting Actor

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Original Screenplay

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Production Design

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Best Achievement in Production Design

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

What Our Critic Said: http://www.cinelinx.com/reviews/movies/once-upon-a-time-in-hollywood/

“For those of you who are interested in classic film (and see reason to celebrate Hollywood as ground zero of American pop culture), the setting is definitely interesting. Even more interesting is to understand how this setting has so strongly influenced Tarantino. We see his fascination in how the machine of old Hollywood really worked. As a whole, we see the glitz and glamour.” – G.S. Perno

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 83

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

IMDB: 7.8

Cinelinx: 3.3 / 5

Interesting Fact: The Cadillac in this movie belongs in Michael Madsen. It also appears in Reservoir Dogs, where it is driven by Madsen. 

Parasite

Directed By: Bong Joon-Ho

Starring: Kang-Ho Song, Woo-Sik Choi, Sun-Kyun Lee

Story: Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.

Biggest Awards Wins So Far:

Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language

Screen Actors Guild Awards – Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Director

Critic’s Choice Awards – Best Foreign Language Film

AFI Special Award Winner

Palme d’Or Winner

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Achievement in Direction

Best International Feature Film

Best Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Production Design

Best Achievement in Film Editing

What Our Critic Said: http://www.cinelinx.com/reviews/movies/parasite/

“What Parasite starts off as and what the film ends up as are two different things. The beginning beckons you in, soothes you as it rallies for the improvement of characters who are living in tough times. But the plot contorts itself, becomes jagged and rough. Instead of smooth sailing, it becomes shocking and thrilling.” – G.S. Perno

Overall Critic Consensus:

Metacritic: 96

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

IMDB: 8.6

Cinelinx: 4.9 / 5

Interesting Fact: The first song of the closing credits is written by director Bong Joon-Ho himself and sung by lead actor Choi Woo-Sik. 

Click here for Part 2 of Our Oscar Preview!