By John H. Foote
I am watching the Oscars this year in a seething rage. A great injustice will take place tonight when Martin Scorsese, the greatest living film director, and his magnificent film The Irishman will be ignored for Best Director and Best Picture. Yes, great films are often overlooked, but a film so obviously a masterpiece is being treated very unfairly because it was produced by Netflix, a growing Hollywood studio that also streams films. And here is the pinch, films that were made in Hollywood meaning Hollywood makes money off of Netflix. However, despite Netflix dominating the Oscars this year with several nominations for their films, and more that should have come, there is a backlash against them winning.
And that petty, mean-minded thinking will prevent Scorsese from winning a well deserved second Academy Award.
A very fine war film, 1917 seems to be the odds on favourite for Best Picture and Best Director, barring some kind of crazy upset. There could be a deep love in for Parasite, or who knows they might come to their senses and vote The Irishman. Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to the sixties Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood might nab it, we just do not know.
And with that, I am settled with my laptop, my bottles of water, and here we go.
Janelle Monae knocked her opening number out of the park, the greatest opening I think I have seen. Ever. She was electric. She was stunning, she was magical. THAT is how to open an Oscar show.
Regina King, last year’s Best Supporting Actress, strides out confidently to present the first award of the night, Best Supporting Actor. I am hoping Joe Pesci is called, for The Irishman, the performance of his career. But … Brad Pitt, it is for Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, a hugely popular award within the business. A long time coming. With a quavering voice, he spoke about his journey through the business and the state of affairs in Washington, though with subtle tones.
Animated Feature was next, a major award presented early in the night, before even the shorts. As expected Toy Story 4 takes the award, a bit of a surprise given the love for Klaus, but Pixar usually dominates.
Best Animated Short followed, going to Hair Love, a popular choice. I do not predict the shorts because I just do not see enough of them.
WOW, Best Original Screenplay so early in the night? The love for Parasite continues with an Oscar for South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho. I thought Tarantino had this one in the bag, which proves you never know until that envelope is opening. Good for him.
Best Adapted Screenplay comes next. YES! Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit! Brilliant, perfect, the Oscars have grown a pair. Great to see they did not bow to the pressure of giving Greta Gerwig an Oscar just because. Well earned. I am smiling, and it takes me a bit to smile.
Best Live Action Short is given to The Neighbour’s Widow. Again I do not predict the shorts because I do not see enough of them.
Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig were the comic team of the night in presenting Best Production Design. And the winners are the designers for Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood for the magnificent recreation of sixties Hollywood. Lots of love for their director Quentin Tarantino, say what you will the man is revered.
And Rudolph and Wiig remained onstage to present Best Costume Design. And no real surprise, Little Women takes it for its lovely period costumes.
Does anyone else dislike the performances of Best Song? Bbborrriiinnnggg. Why not cut a clip from the films with the songs on the tracks?? The performances for Best Song have never been the same after seeing Bruce Springsteen perform his Oscar-winning Streets of Philadelphia. Rant over.
Teenaged environmental activist Greta Thunberg makes an appearance via film to introduce the importance of documentaries before the Oscar is given out for Best Feature Documentary. As expected American Factory takes the award. I must confess to being surprised the Academy did not get Miss Thunberg to the awards in person. The lady is headed for a Nobel Peace Prize. Take that Donald Trump!
And on the heels of the Feature Doc Award comes the Oscar for Best Documentary Short. Winning the award is Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone … If You’re a Girl.
The towering Mahershala Ali, last year’s winner for Best Supporting Actor, steps out to applause to present Best Supporting Actress. This is the one category I thought could prove to be a shocker. But no, as expected Laura Dern wins for her vicious lawyer in Marriage Story. Tough to argue, I think Scarlett Johansson deserved it for Jojo Rabbit, but Dern was terrific, seething with anger, ever-supportive to her client. So great to hear a child thank her acting parents, the great Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, both Oscar nominees from the past.
Yes, I bitch about the unnecessary production numbers but only because I prefer they just present the damned awards. That said it was terrific to see Hamilton creator and now Broadway legend Lin Miranda Manuel out to introduce a salute to the great songs from movies, and an entertaining series of scenes. But then up rises Eminem to sing his Oscar-winning song “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile (2002). The man can rock, the man can rap, the man is an artist. All hail Oscar winner Eminem.
The first of the sound awards, Best Sound Editing, begins the wind-down of awards. No big surprise here, Ford v. Ferrari takes the award. Well deserved. Great speech, acknowledging the film as the last film to be produced by Fox studios, now owned by Disney.
And right on the heels of that, the award for Best Sound Mixing. The WWI epic 1917 takes the Oscar. Brilliant sound effects, beautifully put together, great film. Lovely shout out to the director Sam Mendes from his sound team. A much-loved director it seems.
Long time, oft-nominated, one time Oscar winner, now two as Roger Deakins wins Best Cinematography for 1917. Brilliant work, no argument, the man should have five or six of these, instead of just two. The other was for Blade Runner 2049. A wonderfully talented man, great work.
O.K., another great comic team, Julia Louis Dreyfus and Will Farrell, are hysterical together. Arch, snobby, perfect and having a great time. For Best Film Editing the winner was, Ford vs. Ferrari. Great choice though I am shocked anyone could ever best Thelma Schoonmaker for The Irishman. This exceptional woman could cut a masterpiece from short ends of first term film class. She is that good. The editing on Ford v. Ferrari was exceptional, no question.
Leave it to Rebel Wilson and James Corden to come out in their Cats costumes to present Best Visual Effects. Not even the greatest effect will erase the memory of seeing Cats from my mind. Ugh, kitty litter. The winner for Best Visual Effects is 1917 … well deserved, well earned. Once again lots of praise for the film’s director Sam Mendes.
Canada’s Sandra Oh comes out with Ray Romano to present Best Make-Up and Hairstyling. The winner is Bombshell for the transformation of Charlize Theron to Megan Kelly.
The newly named Best International Feature film replaces Best Foreign Film, meaning films from other countries (LIKE CANADA) in English can win! About time. And the winner is, big shocker, lol, Parasite. This was the surest award of the night folks. First film from South Korea to be nominated, to win, and earn a standing ovation. In the past brilliant deserving Canadian films such as Goin’ Down the Road (1970), The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974), The Sweet Hereafter (1997), The Red Violin (1998), Away from Her (2007), Stories We Tell (2012) and many others were snubbed because they were in English! No more.
After hearing a compilation of the scores from the nominated films, Hildred Gundadottir from Germany won the Oscar for Best Musical Score for her haunting theme Joker. A most deserved award for this gifted young lady, who brought an eerie score to the film as important as a heartbeat.
And then we got right to Best Song (in a Motion Picture) after hearing the songs spread out over the evening. Was it any surprise that Sir Elton John and his long time songwriting partner Bernie Taupin won the Oscar for their song in Rocketman. Personally I thought “Stand Up” might have won for Cynthia Erivo for Harriet, but after hearing Elton John sing the song again, O.K., I get it. It was a treat to see the two men who started in the business together and found great success, win an Oscar together. So rare that such friendships endure so many years and so many trials. They both are Rocketmen.
Spike Lee walks out dressed in purple and number 24 (Kobe Bryant) to present Best Director. Terrific, a great director will honour a great filmmaker. WOW! No one called this. The love-in continues as Bong Joon-Ho wins Best Director for Parasite. How in the holy f&%$ does this happen? The Academy got carried away honouring Parasite and now they look like fools, or will very shortly. A love-in for a film is so short-lived, and when they come to their senses they will realize they did not honour Martin Scorsese, who Boon-Ho most certainly did. Shame on the Academy for this. Eternal shame.
Steven Spielberg introduced the In Memoriam spot, ending of course with Kirk Douglas, but also a reminder that we lost Peter Fonda, John Singleton, Doris Day, and so many others this year.
The Academy’s chance to get it done in three hours just passed, it is 11:02. Compress the songs, do away with Steve Martin and Chris Rock’s needless opening after Monae, and the show is half an hour shorter. As I am now disgusted that Bong Joon-Ho won Director, I am ready to go to sleep.
The Best Actor award was a foregone conclusion, and indeed Joaquin Phoenix did win Best Actor for his stunning, strange, intensely electrifying performance in Joker. A brilliant actor, shy, and introverted, yet magical on film, able to shapeshift into something or someone else. A most deserved win for a beautiful actor who should have been here before for The Master (2012), but ran into a greater performance. But this year his was the greatest performance of the year.
Rami Malek, last year’s Best Actor winner, strolls out to present Best Actress, but everyone in the room knows who is going to win. In channelling the soul of the great Judy Garland in Judy, Renee Zellweger was astonishing and gave a performance for the ages. Zellweger won and she deserved to win for her spectacular performance as the troubled Garland. She elevated the film and every actor in the film and every scene she was in. One of the greatest screen performances of the last 50 years. Lot of ums in her speech … um, why?
And finally we get to the big one. Of the nine nominees for Best Picture, only one can win, barring a tie of course, which has never happened. Jane Fonda comes out to present, looking amazing, and announces the shock of the year. Parasite wins Best Picture!!!!???? JESUS H. CHRIST! HAS THE ACADEMY LOST THEIR COLLECTIVE MINDS??
This is the biggest joke since Bengini won Best Actor for Life is Beautiful (1998). Goddamn Oscars.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.