My Opinions on the Oscar Nominees

Earlier this week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the nominees of the 93rd Academy Awards! Among the nominees were award-darlings like Nomadland, Minari, and Promising Young Woman, and some surprises like two nominations for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (supporting actress and adapted screenplay) and all the nominations for The Trial of Chicago 7, which is still a bad movie.

I’m going to go through some of the categories and give me opinions on them. To be clear, I haven’t seen every film nominated, so I won’t judge films I haven’t seen.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE –

The nominees are Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank), and Steven Yeun (Minari)

I really enjoyed Ahmed’s performance in Sound of Metal, which is a great film about a rock drummer that goes deaf and I was underwhelmed by Oldman’s performance in Mank, which I’ve talked about before. The other performances I’m unsure about, as I haven’t seen them, but I will before the ceremonies start. So, by default, my pick goes to Riz Ahmed, but I have a feeling Boseman’s going to win posthumously.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE –

The nominees are Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami…), Paul Raci (Sound of Metal), and Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah)

What a stacked selection. I hate Chicago 7, but I felt Cohen gave a respectable performance. Raci is very good in Sound of Metal and a solid choice. It’s very difficult for me to pick one of the last three. If you read my review, I’m sure you know how much I loved Kaluuya and Stanfield in Judas, and if you read my review, I’m sure you know how much I loved Odom Jr. in One Night in Miami. If I have to pick one, I’m going to go with Daniel Kaluuya.

Also, something to note, both Kaluuya and Stanfield are in the supporting category, but both characters seem to be the main character of Judas, so who is the main character of the film then?

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE –

The nominees are Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)

To be honest, it’s kind of disappointing. My personal pick would be Jessie Buckley for I’m Thinking of Ending Things, which was entirely snubbed, so I don’t know where to go. I was underwhelmed by McDormand and Mulligan’s performance and I haven’t seen the others yet. I do believe McDormand is, unfortunately, going to win.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE –

The nominees are Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Yuh-jung Youn (Minari)

Okay, Bakalova getting nominated is so funny. The sequel to Borat has an Academy nomination for Best Supporting Actress. That’s just amazing. The only other performance I can judge is Seyfried, who does just fine. My pick is definitely Maria Bakalova, I mean, how could I not?

CINEMATOGRAPHY –

The nominees are Judas and the Black Messiah (Sean Bobbitt), Mank (Erik Messerschmidt), News of the World (Dariusz Wolski), Nomadland (Joshua James Richards), The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Phedon Papamichael)

Well, you can’t win them all. Nomadland has some good shots, but ultimately, its visual storytelling is very simplistic and not award-worthy. Chicago 7 is dull and boring. Mank is ugly. I haven’t seen News of the World. So, my pick is easily Judas and the Black Messiah, as I believe it truly deserves the award.

DIRECTING –

The nominees are Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg), Mank (David Fincher), Minari (Lee Issac Chung), Nomadland (Chloé Zhao), Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)

I haven’t seen Minari or Another Round, but I enjoyed Vinterberg’s other film, The Hunt, so I’m looking forward to watching that. Mank is, easily, one of Fincher’s most dull efforts, as it doesn’t really do anything interesting or creative. I was unimpressed by Zhao and Fennell, I felt both of them had some strengths in their respective films, but they faltered and fell apart in the end. I can’t really pick any of them, but I have a feeling about Vinterberg.

FILM EDITING –

The nominees are The Father (Yorgos Lamprinos), Nomadland (Chloé Zhao), Promising Young Woman (Frédéric Thoraval), Sound of Metal (Mikkel E. G. Nielsen), The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Alan Baumgarten)

I think this is one of the better selections of the technical categories. Aside from The Father, I found most of the editing in these films to be good, except for Chicago 7, which sucks. Zhao’s editing is very punctual and I loved how long certain shots were held; it’s trying to gain transcendence but doesn’t go all the way, which I admire the effort. Thoraval’s editing is competent and it’s paced well. However, my pick goes to Nielsen. Sound of Metal has great editing, it’s impactful, exciting, and rarely a dull moment.

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE) –

The nominees are Da 5 Bloods (Terence Blanchard), Mank (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross), Minari (Emile Mosseri), News of the World (James Newton Howard), and Soul (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste)

I don’t remember a single note from Mank’s score, like, at all. I liked Soul’s score, specifically the jazz stuff, as I’m a fan of jazz, but it’s not award-worthy. Blanchard’s work on Da 5 Bloods is amazing. It’s equal parts triumphant and sad, celebratory and reactionary. It’s beautiful. I’d gladly purchase the soundtrack, and I think that tells you my vote.

SOUND –

The nominees are Greyhound (Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman), Mank (Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin), News of the World (Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett), Soul (Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker), and Sound of Metal (Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Blad)

Easy, Sound of Metal. It’s not because it’s the most egregious example of sound in film, but because it’s an example of how important sound is to every day life. The film, to me and many others, is terrifying and borderline horror. It’s about a man slowly losing his hearing. Of course, the best way to do this is to take away the actual sound of the film. Whenever the hearing goes away, you hear the vibrations of people speaking or walking, but you don’t hear it.

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY) –

The nominees are Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Nina Pedrad), The Father (Screenplay by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller), Nomadland (Written for the screen by Chloé Zhao), One Night in Miami (Screenplay by Kemp Powers), and The White Tiger (Written for the screen by Ramin Bahrani)

The Father, again, I haven’t seen, along with The White Tiger. The screenplay for Nomadland is just fine and nothing impressive. The choice between Borat or One Night in Miami is a tough, but funny one. It’s a beautiful portrait of four influential Black men versus Borat Sagdiyev from the glorious nation of Kazakhstan. Nevertheless, my pick is One Night in Miami, it’s a captivating story and beautifully told by Powers and King.

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY) –

The nominees are Judas and the Black Messiah (Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King; Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas), Minari (Written by Lee Issac Chung), Promising Young Woman (Written by Emerald Fennell), Sound of Metal (Screenplay by Darius Marder & Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance), The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Written by Aaron Sorkin)

I’m not sure why Sound of Metal is nominated here, I mean, it’s good but there are others more deserving of a nomination. I do not like Sorkin’s writing style, so that’s a negative on Chicago 7. Promising Young Woman has an interesting screenplay but doesn’t juggle its ideas very well. So, another easy choice, my pick is Judas and the Black Messiah. It’s an incredibly engaging story with a powerful sediment.

BEST PICTURE –

The nominees are The Father (David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne, Producers), Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler, Producers), Mank (Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski, Producers), Minari (Christina Oh, Producer), Nomadland (Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao, Producers), Promsing Young Woman (Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara, Producers), Sound of Metal (Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche, Producers), and The Trial of Chicago 7 (Marc Platt and Stuart Besser, Producers)

Honestly, the nominees are pretty interesting and diverse, which is very welcomed. You know the films I haven’t seen by now, so I’ll just talk about the ones I have. Chicago 7 is a very, very bad film and undermines its supposed relevant and radical message, so, no thanks. Mank is, ultimately, underwhelming and kind of dull. Promising Young Woman and Nomadland have interesting ideas but fail at executing them. Sound of Metal is an amazing film, contains great performances, and wonderful technical aspects. It’s a worthy contender.

However, the film I want to win Best Picture is Judas and the Black Messiah, a film that achieves everything that The Trial of the Chicago 7 wishes it could. It’s a true story about radical revolutionaries and the people that try, and succeed, to take them down. It’s a terribly relevant and gut-wrenching film that needs to be seen. Without a doubt, it deserves Best Picture.

So, those are my thoughts on some of the categories. After the ceremony on April 25th, I’ll make an article about my thoughts on the winners and the night as a whole.

I plan to make a game out of it, like I did last year, with a scoresheet. The winner gets a price, so look out for that email soon.

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