Random Thoughts: The 2020 Oscars

 

oscarsTHOUGHTS

Can you believe Oscar season has come and gone? The last big show reflecting on a great 2019 movie year took place last night at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. This year was one of the better years for nominees which made watching even more fun. Sure there were snubs and oversights but there always are. But 2020’s batch of nominees were a fantastic improvement from recent years.

So how did the show go? Who won and who didn’t? Did they get more right than wrong? As always here are a few Random Thoughts from the 2020 Academy Awards.

  • This was the second year without a host but that really didn’t save any time. They ended up throwing in several weird things like people presenting presenters and out-of-the-blue musical numbers that chewed up a lot of air.
  • The show did feature the non-hosts combo of Steve Martin and Chris Rock. While I kinda like the no hosts format those two were really fun.
  • There was so much online negativity going into this year’s show (the bulk of it undeserved). Overall the Academy not only chose some good nominees but many of their winners were so deserving.
  • “The Irishman” was the only film out of the 9 Best Picture nominees not to get a single Oscar. Each of the other 8 got something. Not a big surprise but a shame.
  • What a night for “Parasite”. It takes home the big prize – Best Picture. There was so much shock and awe on social media but this was a two-picture race and “Parasite” had been surging. It was a surprise but not a huge one.

Bong

  • That wasn’t the only big win for “Parasite”. It also took home Best Director, Best International Film, and Best Original Screenplay. All well deserved.
  • Was Spike Lee saying “Pong Joon-Ho”?
  • Speaking of “Parasite”, it made quite a bit of history. It is the first Korean film to win Best Foreign Language/International Film. Even bigger, it became the first foreign language film ever to win Best Picture.
  • “1917” didn’t fare quite as well. The visceral World War I movie did pick up three Oscars for cinematography, sound mixing, and special effects. But the one-time front-runner didn’t win any of the bigger prizes.
  • Boy the Academy’s theme for the night was glaringly obvious – girl power. But applauding themselves as forward thinkers and taking shots at the Oscars does nothing if they’re dead silent the rest of the year. Just sayin’.
  • Consider this my obligatory mention of “A Hidden Life”. It was the best film of the year and should have been represented. There, I said it.
  • “American Factory” wins Best Documentary and I can’t help but wonder if it got an Obama bump. It’s a pretty good doc but “Honeyland” and “For Sama” were considerably better. And don’t get me started on the glaring omission of “Apollo 11”.
  • There was practically no drama in any of the acting categories this year. All four winners have pretty much swept the awards season.
  • Brad Pitt takes home the Oscar for Supporting Actor to no one’s surprise. It was the right choice and Pitt was great in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”.
  • Speaking of Pitt, he had been killing it with all of his speeches but last night he looked tired and very “blah”.
  • Laura Dern wins Supporting Actress for “Marriage Story”. It’s the only Oscar the film would win on the night. And what a tender moment thanking her parents.

92nd Annual Academy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Feb 2020

  • I loved the video montage celebrating music in movies. So many great films and songs represented. But then Eminem came out.
  • I don’t want to be hard on the Eminem thing. I could have done without it, but a lot of people enjoyed it so…..
  • Speaking of music, Cynthia Erivo was terrific singing her Oscar-nominated “Stand Up”. Too bad the Oscar went to Elton John who sang a song that sounded like every other tune of his.
  • How about Taika Waititi winning Adapted Screenplay for “Jojo Rabbit”? I really thought Greta Gerwig would take this category for “Little Women” but I have no problems with Taika.
  • Back to Bong Joon-Ho, what an incredibly nice moment during his acceptance speech for Best Director. He honored Martin Scorsese actually bringing tears to the eyes of his fellow nominee.
  • Joaquin Phoenix took home the Best Actor Oscar for his brilliant turn in “Joker”. It was a mind-blowing performance and unquestionably the right choice.
  • And then Phoenix proceeded to give the worst speech of the night. It was a weird, never-ending ramble about the state of humanity and the injustices of cow’s milk. Even the courteous but dead-silent crowd seemed bewildered. It’s a shame because you could see he was genuinely moved by his win. I wish he would have actually talked about the movie.
  • Contrast that with Hildur Gudnadóttir who won Best Score for “Joker” against such legends as John Williams and Randy Newman. Her music was essential to the film, but just as great was her humble, deeply moving speech. Maybe the best of the night.
  • Not a great night for Netflix. The streaming giant entered with a whopping 24 nominations. It left with only two awards. Is the Academy still reluctant to award a streaming platform? I don’t know. Maybe it was simply a tough field this year.

CATS

  • “Cats” had a presence at the Oscars as James Corden and Rebel Wilson came out in full Cat attire stating how they understand the value of good special effects. It was a short but hilarious bit.
  • I’ve always appreciated the In Memoriam tributes but how can the Academy keep botching it with terrible omissions and goof-ups. This year saw they completely leaving out Luke Perry, Michael J. Pollard, Tim Conway, and Sid Haig. Sigh…
  • Rene Zellweger wins for Best Actress. While “Judy” wasn’t a top-notch movie her performance was very worthy. Her speech started off nice but went on and on and on and on….
  • “Ford v Ferrari” quietly won two Oscars last night. It won for Best Editing and Best Sound Editing. That’s some good editing.
  • I got a kick out of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell presenting for Cinematography and Editing. Both were very funny and played off each other very well. Still doesn’t get me excited for their strange “Force Majeure” remake this weekend but I’ll still see it.

And those are a few Random Thoughts about this year’s Academy Awards. What did you think of the winners, the losers, and the show in general. Please let me know in the comments section below. Lets do it again next year.

30 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: The 2020 Oscars

  1. You mean Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t need win Best Editing again? 😛 You’re definitely right to highlight Joker’s soundtrack. The girl power theme never seemed to highlight Joker’s music even though there hasn’t been a female winner in years.

    • I just get annoyed with Hollywood patting themselves on the back and being so vocal during the Oscars but then doing nothing when it ACTUALLY counts. And the constant jabs at the lack of female directing nominees was so misguided. The Academy gets the blame while the studios who actually make the movies and supposedly offer opportunities get off the hook?

  2. Interesting take and I usually just keep tabs on the winners over social media. I was cheering for 1917, since A Hidden Life was some how absent. I just didn’t care for Parasite, I found it extremely boring. As to the other winners, no real big surprises. But at the end of day, the movies I enjoyed the most are still my favs, winning an Oscar never changes my mind.

    • Thanks for reading. I’m with you, the Oscars never change my personal choices. But I do have fun watching and covering them. I really did like Parasite. Watched it a second time on a screener recently and was still impressed. I really like 1917. I was listening to a podcast where the critics were dismissing it as a movie that felt like a video game. I never once got that impression from it.

  3. Seems a little off to award the same movie both the Best International Picture and Best Picture. They probably need to rethink that.

    There does seem to be an attitude among some of the people in the business (see Natalie Portman’s cape) that if a woman (or a minority) isn’t nominated, it’s because of discrimination, not merit. Almost like they want a quota system put in place, check all the diversity boxes….

    “Great” Gerwig is an interesting typo 🙂

    • It’s strange because it seems to me they are putting their blame in the wrong place. I loved Gerwig’s direction Little Women, but I also think all of the five nominees are deserving. Assuming discrimination is a bit harsh. On the other hand, are women getting the opportunities they deserve to make more films? If not, that isn’t the fault of the Oscars.

      And thanks for the mentioning the typo. Fixing it now.

  4. I don’t watch the award shows, or really bother about them, seems all very inbred to me. But I am glad Mr.Pitt won a trophy, am looking forward to seeing that movie eventually. Going to the actual pictures!! to see 1917 on Wednesday, I hope it isn’t like a video game!!

  5. I got 17/24 predictions. My initial gut told me that 1917 and FORD V FERRARI would win Sound Mixing and Sound Editing respectively, but then I switched them after reading about their wins in previous ceremonies! Fuck! Here’s what I wrote while I was watching:
    1) Wow! A foreign film won Best Picture! Awesome!
    2) I know sometimes the Oscars spoil movies with the clips… but showing the final shot of JUDY?! Come on! OK, I guess it’s fine since that moment doesn’t actually reveal anything.
    3) Wait, I thought the Academy forbade people from applauding during the in memoriam segment a couple of years ago.
    4) I know it’s common to cut off speeches, but I can’t remember ever seeing the camera showing the actors of the movie reacting to the crew members of the same movie getting cut off (it happened tonight with BOMBSHELL).
    5) Why do a recap rap halfway through the show? Neil Patrick Harris does that at the end of the Tonys.
    6) LOSE YOURSELF is my favorite rap song of all time and 8 MILE is one of my favorite movies of 2002… but why did Eminem perform it? Was it because he wasn’t present when he won back then? It felt out of nowhere (I don’t remember even reading his name in the “Presenters and performers” list before the show) and it didn’t connect to anything, not even the montage that preceeded it. I mean, they showed how songs were used in movie scenes, but that song was played during the end credits.
    7) I love that every year they choose actors from non-nominated movies to present… but what’s up with the PEANUT BUTTER FALCON guys? I get that Zack Gottsagen has a mental disability and can’t read/speak well, but you can still plan things around it. It seems that he and Shia LaBeouf didn’t rehearse. It was awkward.
    8) Doing what’s essentially live-action version of the “Disney song in many languages” videos is a great idea! I just hope the people in Spain don’t get mad at the whole “Spanish/Castillian” thing.
    9) A montage with different clips of the nominated actors is a new idea and a good one… but what’s the point if the presenter will still read the names one at a time?
    10) If there are going to be presenters that do nothing more than introduce other presenters, why not just have a host? Yes, I’m aware that George MacKay made a joke about that, but it’s lampshading.

    “And then Phoenix proceeded to give the worst speech of the night. It was a weird, never-ending ramble about the state of humanity and the injustices of cow’s milk. Even the courteous but dead-silent crowd seemed bewildered. It’s a shame because you could see he was genuinely moved by his win. I wish he would have actually talked about the movie.”
    Joaquin has expressed his negative feelings towards awards in the past. That’s why, every time they do the roll call of nominees, he doesn’t smile. I think that he doesn’t want to mention the movie or those who worked in it, so it won’t feel like a “I’m embracing this moment” speech. Hey, at least he shows up, unlike Woody Allen.

    “Not a great night for Netflix. The streaming giant entered with a whopping 24 nominations. It left with only two awards. Is the Academy still reluctant to award a streaming platform?”
    If that was true, I think they wouldn’t have been given any awards… or nominations, for that matter.

    • So many good thoughts. Thanks fir them.
      2) I noticed that too! They did the same thing by showing a pivotal scene close to the end of Joker. It shouldn’t be that hard to show clips without spoiling key parts of the movie.
      5) The rap recap was weird and completely unnecessary.
      7) I actually liked that they included Shia and Zack Gottsagen. Honestly, I thought he got nervous which caused him to stumble. I could be wrong though.
      9) I like them too and I know what you mean. All I can figure out is that they read the names just because they didn’t put them on the screen during the montage. I’m not sure why.

  6. I was actually quite impressed with Phoenix’s speech — emphasis on cow milk and all. I thought it was sincere, fairly coherent and concise and it was, IMO, refreshing to hear one not all focused on the “artistic passions I have, and oh gosh I have to thank all these people that no one watching at home knows.” Sometimes those speeches come across well too, but I thought his was actually . . . . weirdly charming. I will have to say though, I’m kinda filling up on all the talk about the Joker. Looking forward to moving on hahah.

    One of my favorite moments was Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig presenting. They’re so goofy. A perfect way to kind of offset some of the stuffiness of the evening. Though on the whole I think this year’s presentation was much lighter on the soap-box speeches and self-aggrandizing moments. It felt more “casual,” maybe because Eminem was also invited (?).

    • I guess I just wanted him to talk about the movie. I may be wrong but I don’t think he thanked anyone at all. And that’s fine, I fully believe it is their time and their platform. I just tend to check out on those types of speeches. I want to hear what the role meant to you, etc. I will say his emotion was 100% genuine and that always warms my heart.

      And I think you may be right about the more casual feel. It didn’t feel as staged and (as you said) self-aggrandizing.

  7. I got hung up on Joaquin’s speech too. I appreciated the emotion, he was clearly very passionate about what he was trying to convey. The last bit he shared about his brother made me tear up. Can you ever really recover from the loss of a sibling? I know what you mean, I wanted to hear more about what that role meant to him but I guess he felt it more important to share other thoughts crowding his head space.

  8. It was cool to see Parasite take home so many awards. I thought it was incredibly well done and very deserving. Although I expected Rene Zellweger would win for Judy, I had a secret hope that Cynthia Erivo would get it for Harriet. I really liked that movie and she was just fantastic in it. It also would have been nice to see 1917 and JoJo pick up a few more awards – I thought 1917 definitely deserved Production Design over Once Upon a Time. And agreed – the random Eminem performance was a bit bizarre to me, but whatever gets them through that long ceremony I guess!

  9. It was a good Oscar. I’m happy for Brad Pitt and Laura Dern. I liked Joaquin’s speech. I’m also happy for Sir Elton and Bernie and Taika. BTW, is it me or did Billie Ellish mumble through “Yesterday”? Is that the new thing nowadays? I don’t like it.

    While I wanted Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to win big, I was elated for Parasite and Bong Joon-Ho. Honestly, you can’t help but enjoy a victory like that as that was the film that deserved it. I haven’t felt that good about a win since the Atlanta United won the MLS Cup in 2018. Now my mom wants to see that movie.

    • YES! I was wondering the same thing! Ellish did seem like she was mumbling. It stuck out to me too.

      As for Parasite, no issues here. I liked every movie nominated but was particularly happy for that one. And didn’t you love their genuine enthusiasm? It was great.

  10. The Oscars need to prove that they actually learned something this year with all the statements the hosts made.

    I’m glad Parasite made all this history! So well deserved.

    I wanted Cynthia to get that EGOT but I can’t be mad about Elton winning.

    I’m SO happy for Taika. That gorgeous man deserves several Oscars.

    • I guess for me many of the statements are pointed in the wrong direction specifically when it comes to director. IMO Greta Gerwig was the one female director close to being considered for a nomination (Lula Wang perhaps but I like her screenplay most). That’s the real shame of it all. But Oscar doesn’t make the movies or offer the opportunities. That’s why I think the studios are the ones who are being let off the hook. I think they are the ones who have to be held accountable and face the ire of those of us wanting a diversity of voices.

      Ahem…sorry for the babbling rant! 😂

  11. I didn’t stay up for the Oscars this year, the main 4 acting categories are my favourite and there was just no chance at all for any surprise wins there, which is a shame.
    I’m over the moon for Parasite and for Taika though!

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