Every year, the Academy Awards are held to honor the most outstanding achievements in film and television. Generally, viewers and critics alike praise the Academy Awards, stating that they are an accurate reflection of the best work that year. Furthermore, they are seen as a forerunner as to which awards are most likely to be given out at the end of the year, leading to considerable interest in seeing who will walk away with the most Academy Awards this year.
While it is always exciting to see which films achieve critical and commercial success, it is of course interesting to see who wins the Academy Awards. Every year, the contenders are announced and the voting is open to the public, so there is always some interest in seeing the results. Furthermore, because some of the categories are based on perception and popular vote, it is of utmost importance that the right combination of films is released in the preceding year, as this will greatly influence which movies garner the most interest and support from moviegoers and critics alike.
Best Picture: 10 Years Of Marvel Cinematic Universe
For the first time ever, the Oscars will not have a Best Picture category. Instead, the Academy has decided to honor the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with its own special category. The move has been widely praised by film enthusiasts and experts, as it provides an opportunity to celebrate the films that have been released to date in the MCU. Furthermore, it recognizes the consistent quality of these films, which has led to mainstream interest and success.
Since its premiere in 2010, the MCU has continued to amaze audiences with its complex worldbuilding and colorful cast of characters. Furthermore, the series has grown in both popularity and recognition, leading to its inclusion in the 2020 Oscars. In light of this success, it is no wonder that the Academy would want to include the MCU in some way for their biggest night. However, it should come as no great surprise that the Academy has decided to include several other Marvel and superhero-related films in the running for best picture.
Best Director: Damien Chazelle
The 2019 Academy Awards marked the first time in history that the Best Director category did not feature one of the major Hollywood directors. While the DGA Awards and BAFTA Awards regularly honor the director of a film, the Oscars have traditionally been a platform for recognizing the work of auteurs, which is most evident in the Best Director category. Nevertheless, this trend is beginning to change, as major Hollywood directors are beginning to branch out and take on various production roles, gaining valuable experience while also contributing to the success of their films.
This approach is paying off, as the directors behind some of the most popular films of the past year have either won an Academy Award or are in the running for one. Among these films, Damien Chazelle’s directorial debut, the musical drama La La Land, is arguably the biggest hit of the year and among the most discussed films of the decade. Audiences and critics alike have hailed Chazelle’s ability to bring the music of the 60s and 70s to life on the big screen. Furthermore, the film features an all-star cast, led by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as a couple living in Los Angeles circa 1961. The film also received a record-breaking 14 nominations, winning 3 awards out of its 14 nominations, including Best Director. While Chazelle is undoubtedly happy with the success of his debut, he also expressed his disappointment at not being able to attend the Oscars ceremony, as he had to be in London for the premiere of his next film, The Beach Bum.
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix
One of the biggest surprises of the 2019 Academy Awards was Joaquin Phoenix’s win for Best Actor for his portrayal of Joker in Todd Phillips’s Joker. Phoenix, who many pundits predicted would win for his role as Johnny Romano in Vogue, has always been a favorite of critics and audiences alike for his unique and commanding performances. In fact, Phoenix has been referred to as one of the most talented actors currently working in Hollywood.
Although many have predicted that Phoenix would walk away with the Best Actor award, the fact that it took this long for the world to recognize his talents is a testament to his incredible commitment to his craft. In addition to his Best Actor win, the award-winning actor also took home the Golden Globe and SAG Award for his role as Joker. While the Oscars did not bestow him with an award, Phoenix was nonetheless delighted by the recognition that his talent has finally been acknowledged by the Academy.
Best Actress: Lady Gaga and Gretchen Mol
Lady Gaga and Gretchen Mol co-starred in the drama Marriage Story, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last month. After the film’s premiere, many started to anticipate an Oscar win for one of the actresses, as the film was hailed as a masterpiece. Indeed, many considered Lady Gaga the best female actor of her generation, and audiences agreed, voting her the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Venice Film Festival. Furthermore, Marriage Story marks the second collaboration between Gaga and Mol, following their 2016 film The Breadwinner, in which they also starred. It is perhaps not a coincidence that both Lady Gaga and Mol won the Best Actress award, as this was a platform for them to celebrate their partnership.
Best Supporting Actor: Andrew Scott
Walking on the Moon, a science-fiction comedy-drama about a man (Bill Bailey) who sets out to recreate the experience of a lifetime, was one of the biggest debuts of 2019. The film’s premiere was followed by an impressive array of award nominations, including Best Film and Best Actor for Bailey. However, it was the film’s portrayal of deaf culture that won it praise and accolades, leading to its inclusion in the 2020 Oscars.
Bailey plays the role of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, with Scott portraying Armstrong’s translator, who is deaf. Scott has long been considered one of the most talented British actors working in Hollywood, and his performance in Walking on the Moon has undoubtedly established him as one of the industry’s greats. The fact that the Oscars recognized his talents and deemed his performance memorable and insightful is testament to his significant impact on the film industry as a whole.
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern
The first installment of the Travis Beachbum trilogy was released in late 2019 and was met with rave reviews. Based on the critically acclaimed series of novels by Donald Trump (yes, that Trump), the film follows Beachbum as he travels across America performing stunts and facing adversity in order to become a great stuntman. When the film first premiered at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles, audiences and critics alike spoke highly of its unique and fresh take on the concept of a stuntman. Following its premiere at AFI Fest, the film was invited to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award – Favorite International Film.
After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film was released in theaters on August 31, and has since been discussed widely by audiences and critics alike. Leading to its inclusion in the 2020 Oscars, Beachbum was awarded the Best Supporting Actress Globe and SAG Awards, as well as receiving a nomination for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. Although she did not win the Oscar, Laura Dern’s performance as Trixie as memorable and insightful, proving why she is considered one of Hollywood’s greats.
Best Original Screenplay: Taika Waititi
Two and a half years ago, Crimson Peak was one of the biggest movies of all time, grossing almost $500 million worldwide while garnering 7 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Scarlett Johansson. While Crimson Peak did not fare as well as its predecessor, the critically acclaimed Jojo Rabbit, at the box office (its domestic gross of $125 million was ranked 9th among 2019’s top grossing films), it nonetheless remains one of the most discussed and praised films of the decade. Its unique humor and portrayal of the horror genre led to many comparisons to Roald Dahl’s Matilda, a book which both films are based on, and it is perhaps not a coincidence that both films and books were directed by Waititi, who also wrote the screenplay for Jojo Rabbit, its prequel.
In the lead up to the release of Jojo Rabbit, many anticipated an Oscar nomination for the film, as it was lauded for its writing, acting, directing and production values. While Waititi did not win an Oscar, he did receive a nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category for Jojo Rabbit, proving that while he may not be on the same level as the writers of Crimson Peak, he is certainly among the best. Not only did his work on Crimson Peak earn him recognition, but it also made him the first New Zealand director to receive a Best Director nomination.