Every year, Hollywood hands out gold statues proclaiming certain movies or performances as the ultimate “winner.” It’s inherently silly, as no one can objectively name a piece of art as the “best.” But those lucky enough to have their names called at the Academy Awards get to revel in worldwide acclaim for their accomplishment. They also carry the title of Oscar-winner forever.
That’s why a meaningless trophy means so much. Since we can’t agree on who they should go to though, it’s much easier to just root for our own favorites. So that’s what we’re doing. Here are the nominees the Nerdist staff is hoping to see win at the 2020 Academy Awards.
Parasite, Best Picture
Bong Joon-ho’s mesmerizing feature would make Oscar history if it took home the Best Picture statue. As it very well should. The South Korean film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and recently picked up the SAG Award for Best Ensemble, and deserves the prestigious Academy Award as well for one simple reason: It was the best film of 2019. A film that defies genre distinctions or easy categorization, but tells the story of class warfare between two Korean families and the sacrifices we make for a taste of luxury.
It’s a story we need right now, and need to champion on a large scale. A historic Best Picture win would send a strong message that Eastern cinema deserves the same platform as English-speaking films.
Antonio Banderas, Lead Actor for Pain and Glory
I wake every morning in hysterics over the fact that the Academy has yet to recognize the rich and storied artistic output of Antonio Banderas. But if ever there were a due outlet for the Oscars’ reliable tradition of “make-up awards” (Pacino’s Scent of a Woman, Scorsese’s The Departed, Leo’s The Revenant) it is Banderas’ turn in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory.
As Almodovar surrogate Salvador Mallo, Banderas evokes an upsurge of appreciation for all the heart and soul that both men have poured into their years of filmmaking. Defined by his past, but paralyzed by the uncertainty of his future, Banderas delivers a man just trying to figure out where to place himself next, and forever onward. The performance earns shivering tears for both its grand existential portraiture and its more personal instances from loneliness to boredom to joy.
Greta Gerwig, Adapted Screenplay for Little Women
There is so much to love about Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. It’s a remarkable feat in and of itself, bringing a fresh perspective to one of the most beloved and adapted American novels. But Gerwig—who also directed the film, though that grossly misguided snub is a different conversation—did it with apparent ease. Her approach to adapting Louisa May Alcott’s novel is both loving and analytical, seizing opportunities to add nuance, context, and humor. She breathes new life into Alcott’s iconic passages, complementing them with moments that enrich each character; making them feel lived-in and real. The magic of the script not only lies in the big moments, like Amy’s searing marriage monologue or Jo’s devastating thoughts on loneliness. But on every page, from the energetic cross-talk to each sisterhood squabble.
Bringing nuance to the long-vilified Amy alone should earn Greta Gerwig the Adapted Screenplay Oscar, but in truth she deserves it for all of the reasons above and more. I’ll end my argument with one of Gerwig’s (and my) favorite lines from the film: “You will be bored of him in two years and we will be interesting forever.”
Quentin Tarantino, Director for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
So, here’s the thing: I think Bong Joon-Ho deserves to win Best Director for Parasite. It’s a genius film and he ought to win. That said, I want to throw my support in this piece behind a filmmaker who has consistently gotten better throughout his career and never gotten much support from the Academy. That is, of course, Quentin Tarantino, whose screenplays are almost always in the running for Writing categories, but who is usually passed over for Directing.
But why? Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood has shown how much he’s matured as a director, allowing for much more introspection and quiet reflection than most give him credit for. It’s an elegiac look at the waning days of Hollywood’s “Golden Age,” before everything changed in the ‘70s, which directly reflects Tarantino’s own career. He’s made his big, bombastic spectacles; this is him showing he can just make character dramas that don’t lose any of his vigor or voice. He’s not just a writer who directs, but a high-mark director raising the bar of what “the top of his game” truly is.
Renée Zellweger, Lead Actress for Judy
As a film, Judy is just an okay, fairly standard biopic about the legendary singer/actress. But Renee Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland is actually transcendent. It captures the tragic essence of the real Judy in her final months. Zellweger is great throughout the whole film, but it’s two scenes in the movie that truly make this an Oscar worthy performance.
The first is when Judy hangs out with a pair of gay fans in their London apartment. In an agonizingly human moment they share the pain of their existence together. The other is when a barely standing Judy, propped up by pills and alcohol, performs for an adoring crowd. She somehow still manages to perform even as she’s barely holding herself together. For these scenes alone, Zellweger deserves to take that statue home.
Knives Out, Original Screenplay
Crafting a good whodunit film isn’t easy, which is one reason there aren’t many outstanding movies in the genre. In Rian Johnson’s script for the hilarious, head-spinning romp through a twisted family, Knives Out earns a spot in the hall of stellar whodunits.
But what makes the movie stand apart from others is how detailed the film is. Small moments that seem inconsequential hold a more significant meaning once the mystery is unraveled. Jokes become clues. Johnson ensures that (almost) every line spoken drives the story forward in some way. Knives Out wastes nothing.
As Lindsey Romain said in her review of the film, “It’s a perfect movie for the times: funny and sharp, with something important to say.” What more could you want from the Best Original Screenplay?
Klaus, Best Animated Feature Film
I know the obvious frontrunner in this category is a very popular story about toys. But I’d love to see Klaus win. This film examines the history of Santa Claus and Christmas, as well as why this character has prevailed over the years with a delightfully inventive origin story. Klaus takes all of its characters through powerful growth arcs as they break free from cynicism, prejudices, selfishness, and chosen isolation to restore joy and hope to a desolate place. The explanations behind letters to Santa, flying reindeer, and other classic Christmas elements are humorous and heartfelt. Klaus is truly a hopeful and at times heartbreaking experience.
This movie also brings back the wonders of 2D animation for a nostalgic element, yet it is unmistakably a modern creation. A win would be major for director Sergio Pablos, a former Disney animator responsible for the Despicable Me films. Pablos tried to get Klaus made for 10 years until he was finally given the green light at Netflix. It’s clear that this creative team put a lot of careful details and passion into this film. And every detail screams Oscar-quality.
Parasite, Production Design
Watching Parasite it’s not hard to understand why it should win Best Production Design on Sunday. The gorgeous thriller is a masterclass in crafting two completely different worlds. But it becomes even more impressive when you discover that under the watchful eye of production designer Lee Ha-Jun, the film made the Park family’s house and the entire street where the Kim family live completely from scratch.
The world of Parasite is both beautiful and terrible. It’s completely immersive, and you never once doubt that you’re inhabiting living breathing places where people spend their daily lives. Parasite is a marvel in many ways. But if there’s one award that it was made to win then it’s Best Production Design.
Brad Pitt, Supporting Actor for Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood
Sometimes actors win their first Oscar because they gave the best performance that year. Other times they win their first as a de facto lifetime achievement award. It’s the Academy’s way of rewarding a great career. Both will be true when Brad Pitt wins for playing aging Hollywood stuntman Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood. It was a nuanced performance that still stood out. Cliff was charming, complex, and captivating. It’s always great watching a huge star in a huge film live up to his billing.
In an absolutely loaded category full of film legends, he stands out as the clear best. But it will also be nice to see a great career finally recognized with the industry’s top trophy. Especially since he deserved to win Best Actor for Moneyball.
But who do you want to see win? We want to know who you’re rooting for, so tell us in the comments below.
Featured Image: Sony/LD Entertainment/Barunson E&A