(*homocinematically inclined)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Oscars, 2019: Random Thoughts & Trivial Pursuits

Best Picture Nominees, Class of 2019

It seems that the drill the last few years following the announcement of the Oscar nominations is to spill a lot of ink (virtual or actual) on who or what wasn't nominated as opposed to who or what was nominated. Much righteous indignation is expressed, "hashtags" are created, boycotts are threatened... it all gets a little repetitive and more than a little tedious. So there will be no talks of "snubs" here (we'll save that for our "Egregiously Overlooked" section in our annual "If We Picked the Oscars" piece next month), just some general observations, trivia and the like on the artists and films that did receive nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards.

Best Picture Spotlight:
  • At 209 minutes, The Irishman is the longest Best Picture nominee this year and the sixth longest Best Picture nominee of all time.
  • Joker is the second movie based on a comic book to be nominated for Best Picture, following Black Panther last year.
  • 1917 is the only Best Picture nominee with a number for its full title. If it wins, it will join Gigi (1958) and Argo (2012) as the Best Picture winners with the shortest titles.
  • Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood is the only Best Picture nominee to have... an ellipsis in its title.
  • Parasite is the first South Korean film to be nominated for Best Picture as well as the first to be nominated for the International Feature category, a.k.a. the category formerly known as Foreign Language Film. It is also only the 6th movie to be nominated in both of those categories and the 11th non-English-language film to be nominated for Best Picture.
  • Every Best Picture nominee this year has at least four nominations, while every other nominated movie this year has less than four nominations, a feat that has never happened before in Oscar history.

Five guys, a girl and a pizza

Acting Spotlight:
  • This year's first time acting nominees are Antonio Banderas, Cynthia Erivo, Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Pryce and Florence Pugh.
  • Adam Driver is the only nominee this year (for Marriage Story) who was also nominated last year (for BlacKkKlansman).
  • With her two nominations (Best Actress for Marriage Story and Best Supporting Actress for Jojo Rabbit), Scarlett Johansson becomes the 12th actor to be nominated in two acting categories in the same year. The odds are in her favor to win; seven of the the 11 previous actors in this scenario won.
  • The Irishman's Al Pacino and Joe Pesci are the 19th co-stars from the same movie to both be nominated for Best Supporting Actor. The odds of one of them winning aren't very high though; only six times in the past has one of the actors in this scenario won.
  • All five of this year's nominees for Supporting Actor are previous Oscar winners. Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino all won for Best Actor (Hanks twice), while Joe Pesci won for Supporting Actor. The only nominee who has not won an acting award is Brad Pitt; his Oscar win was as one of the producers of 2013 Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave.
  • In addition to the five Supporting Actor nominees, previous winners in the acting categories are Kathy Bates, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron and Renée Zellweger.
  • Nine of the twenty acting nominees played real people: one Best Actor nominee (Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in The Two Popes), three Best Actress nominees (Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in Harriet, Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly in Bombshell and Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in Judy), four Supporting Actor nominees (Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI in The Two Popes, Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa and Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino in The Irishman) and one Supporting Actress nominee (Kathy Bates as Bobi Jewell in Richard Jewell).

Scarlett fever

Double Features:
In addition to double acting nominee Scarlett Johansson, who starred in Avengers: Endgame as well as Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit, several other of this year's Oscar nominated artists acted in more than one nominated movie this year, including:
  • Laura Dern in Marriage Story and Little Women (both Best Picture nominees)
  • Adam Driver in Marriage Story and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Toy Story 4
  • Al Pacino in The Irishman and Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (both Best Picture nominees)
  • Brad Pitt in Ad Astra and Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  • Margot Robbie in Bombshell and Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  • Taika Waititi in Avengers: Endgame and Jojo Rabbit

  • Martin Scorsese is now the most nominated living director with his nomination for The Irishman, his ninth nomination for Best Director.
  • With his 52nd nomination this year (his 47th in a score category) for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, John Williams extends his own record as the living person with the most Oscar nominations. The all-time nominations record is held by Walt Disney, with 59 nominations.
  • With the nomination for How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the How To Train Your Dragon series is the only animated trilogy to receive a nomination for Animated Feature for each of its three parts.
  • Honeyland is the first movie to be nominated for both Documentary Feature and International Feature, a.k.a. the category formerly known as Foreign Language Film. 
  • 63 women are nominees this year, a new record.

Big Sister

Shorts and Soundtracks:
  • Two of the short film nominees have practically identical titles: Sister in Best Animated Short and A Sister in Best Live Action Short.
  • Two of the Best Picture nominees feature Stephen Sondheim songs: "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music in Joker and "Being Alive" and "You Can Drive a Person Crazy" from Company in Marriage Story.
  • Meanwhile, two nominated movies — The Irishman and Pain and Glory — feature Édith Piaf singing "La Vie en Rose" on the soundtrack.

A Little Woman Is Born:
Believe it or not, Little Women is this year's A Star Is Born, as it is the third remake of a Best Picture nominee from the 1930s that is also nominated for Best Picture in the 2010s. In fact, there are several similarities between the four Oscar nominated versions each of both stories:
  • Both of the original versions, 1933's Little Women and 1937's A Star Is Born, were nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, and both won a Writing Oscar.
  • The generally regarded "worst" versions, 1949's Little Women and 1976's A Star Is Born, each won one Oscar, while the widely regarded "best" versions (at least prior to this century, arguably), 1994's Little Women and 1954's A Star Is Born, both received multiple nominations but didn't win any Oscars.
  • The newest versions, this year's Little Women and last year's A Star Is Born, are/were both nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress and Adapted Screenplay. This A Star Is Born won one Oscar; we'll have to wait and see if this Little Women matches or bests that on February 9th.

Jo, Jo, rabbit

And speaking of Little Women:
  • Of the four actresses who have played Jo March — 1933's Katharine Hepburn, 1949's June Allyson, 1994's Winona Ryder and 2019's Saoirse Ronan — only the latter two were nominated for Best Actress. However, Hepburn did win her first Best Actress Oscar in 1933, for her performance in Morning Glory.
  • The 1994 Little Women received three nominations — Best Actress, Costume Design and Original Score — which are three of the six categories that the 2019 version is nominated in.
  • Thomas Newman was nominated for his score to the 1994 Little Women and is also nominated for Original Score this year for 1917, competing with the 2019 Little Women score by Alexandre Desplat. In 1994 the Original Score Oscar didn't go to Newman, it went to The Lion King, which was also remade in 2019.

And speaking of A Star Is Born:
Wait, Bradley Cooper is a producer of Joker? It actually isn't that unusual once you remember that Joker director Todd Phillips directed all three Hangover movies, starring Cooper, and Warner Bros. is the studio behind both A Star Is Born and Joker (not to mention all three Hangover movies).

And speaking of Little Women and Joker:
In addition to Saoirse Ronan being nominated for playing Jo March, a character that was previously played by Winona Ryder in an Oscar nominated performance, this year also sees Joaquin Phoenix  nominated for playing the Joker, a character that was previously played by Heath Ledger in an Oscar winning performance.

A pair of jokers

And furthermore... because Phoenix is nominated in the Best Actor category and Ledger won in the Supporting Actor category, if Phoenix wins the Oscar it will be the opposite of the only other time two actors won Oscars for playing the same character. In 1972, Marlon Brando won Best Actor for playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather, followed two years later by Robert De Niro winning  Supporting Actor for playing a young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II. Interestingly, both Joker and Corleone are "criminal masterminds" and, bringing it full circle, De Niro co-starred alongside Phoenix in Joker.

All in the family:
Cousins Randy Newman and Thomas Newman are competing with each other in the Best Original Score category, for their work in Marriage Story and 1917, respectively. And indie power couple Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig directed two of the Best Picture nominees, Marriage Story and Little Women; and while neither were nominated for Best Director, they are both nominated for Writing Awards, Baumbach for Original Screenplay and Gerwig for Adapted Screenplay.

"Over the Rainbow", 80 years apart

Original Songs Redux:
Twelve previous nominees for Original Song (including four winners) were reprised in nominated films this year:
  • "Over the Rainbow" (winner) from The Wizard of Oz (1939) and "The Trolley Song" from Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) in Judy
  • "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" from Orchestra Wives (1942) in Ad Astra
  • "Unchained Melody" from Unchained (1955) in Walk Run Cha-Cha
  • "A Time for Love" from An American Dream (1966) in Marriage Story
  • "Take My Breath Away" (winner) from Top Gun (1986) in Corpus Christi
  • "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast (1991) and "Circle of Life", "Hakuna Matata" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (winner) from The Lion King (1994) in The Lion King
  • "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story (1995) in Toy Story 4
  • "Let It Go" (winner) from Frozen (2013) in Frozen II

And speaking of Original Song:
  • With "You've Got a Friend in Me", "When She Loved Me", "We Belong Together" and now "I Won't Let You Throw Yourself Away", Randy Newman has had a Toy Story tune from each of the four  movies nominated for Original Song.
  • For the past three years, three actress/songwriters have received two nominations – in an acting category and for Original Song –for the same movie: Mary J. Blige for Mudbound, Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born, and now Cynthia Erivo for Harriet.
  • And listen to this year's nominees here...

My favorite nominations this year:
The three that made me go "yes!" when they were announced were: Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit for Best Supporting Actress, Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory for Best Actor and Little Women for Best Picture.

Thanks for playing:
Several high profile contenders were surprisingly left empty handed post-Oscar Nomination Morning, including Apollo 11, Dolemite Is My Name, Downton Abbey, The Farewell, Hustlers, Just Mercy, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Uncut Gems, Us and Waves. Parting gifts will include a bag of sour grapes, a Starbucks gift card and/or an Independent Spirit Award.

And finally, I'd like to thank the Academy:
For not nominating Dark Waters, Gemini Man, Her Smell, A Hidden Life, Motherless Brooklyn and The Painted Bird, films I really had no desire to see and if they had been nominated I would have been forced to watch them. Having to sit through Breakthrough will be hard enough.

Stay tuned to Movie Dearest for more Oscars, 2019.

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