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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Commentary: And the Oscar goes to … And the Oscar should go to …

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The child in me has never completely gone away – and here’s hoping it never does.

And among my favorite things to do since I was a youth is watching a good movie. Heck, even a bad movie can have it’s rewards (there is something to be said for being the one person in a crowd who owns a copy of “Manos, the Hands of Fate).

Ever since I was a child movies have taken me to another world, especially when seen in a theater on a big screen. Sure, like many, we have a big TV at home, and it’s much better than my younger days when it was half the size of a coffee table, but it still pales to sitting in the darkness of a movie theater, popcorn on one side, beverage on the other, in front of a screen so big it dwarfed my first college apartment.

Along with my love of cinema has been my annual passion for the Academy Awards. First, I eagerly await the Oscar announcements, even getting up early to hear them announced live. And, as the big night approaches, I make sure I’ve seen all the major nominees, either in a theater or at home, thanks to more streaming services than there are people on the planet these days.

And now, as the ceremonies draw close, it is time for our annual will win, should win column concerning the major categories. With the voting period being much shorter this year (nominees were announced Jan. 13 and the awards are Feb. 9), it could make for some interesting and surprising results.

But who doesn’t love a surprise? Well, I guess the favorites might not so much. I wonder if Joan Plowright and Melissa Redgrave are able to laugh about it now after their stunning loss to Marissa Tomei for Best Supporting Actress in 1993?

BEST PICTURE

Will win: “1917.” Director Sam Mendes’ World War I drama won both the Producers Guild of America and Directors Guild of America (Mendes) awards, and those are always accurate precursors to Oscar night.

Should win: “Parasite.” This terrific film from South Korea has gained much momentum of late, to the point where many prognosticators are saying it’s a three-movie race between “1917,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Parasite.” The film is about a poor family of grifters who work their way into the world (and home) of a naive wealthy family. It magnificently combines humor, drama, satire, and even a darkness that oddly ties it all together.

BEST DIRECTOR

Will win: Mendes.

Should win: Bong Joon-Ho for Parasite. He created a piece of art that could make history as the first foreign language film to walk away with the Best Picture Oscar. It’s a virtual shoo-in to win in the foreign language film category.

BEST ACTOR

Will win: Joaquin Phoenix for “Joker.” In the performance of his career – and he’s had numerous incredible performances – Phoenix made me do what I did not want to do, become interested in how the Joker came to be. Before the release of the movie my one complaint was that I liked the mystery that surrounded Heath Ledger’s legendary portrayal, having no clue where he came from.

Should win: Phoenix, but I would also be pleased to see the deeply emotional performance of Adam Driver in “Marriage Story” be rewarded.

BEST ACTRESS

Will win: Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland in “Judy.”

Should win: Scarlett Johansson for “Marriage Story.” While it’s hard to overlook Zellweger’s powerful performance, I was overwhelmed in the best of ways by Johansson. She and Driver took a modern take on “Kramer Vs. Kramer” and turned it into it’s own wonderful, though sad, piece of work that pushes our tear ducts to their limits. Though she’s a longshot, Charlize Theron was nothing short of fabulous as Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell.”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Will win: Brad Pitt for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Should win: Pitt. His performance as a Hollywood stuntman with a laid-back attitude who spends more time driving around his boss and friend (Leonardo DiCaprio) is perhaps the best thing about this movie which has plenty of great things going for it. Also, Pitt is the sentimental choice as well, but it would also bring a nice smile should Tom Hanks pull off a surprise and win as Mr. Rogers.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Will win: Laura Dern for “Marriage Story.”

Should win: Dern, who was hypnotically fierce as a ruthless divorce lawyer. It would be cool to see Johansson make history with a double-win (she’s also nominated in this category for “Jojo Rabbit”), but Dern deserves the win hands-down.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Will win: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Should win: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Quentin Tarantino’s take on what might have happened the night of the Manson massacre might be his best work yet, rivaling “Pulp Fiction.”

BEST ADAPTED SCREEN PLAY

Will win: “The Irishman.”

Should win: “Jojo Rabbit.” Taika Waititi, who also directed and plays Hitler in the film, turned one of the quirkiest narratives in years into a sad, yet heartwarming satire/serious story about the horrors of war and the possibilities that can come out of being forced to face the truth.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Will win: “Toy Story 4.”

Should win: “Toy Story 4.” A perfect end to the saga with Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

BEST INTERNATIONAL (FOREIGN LANGUAGE) FILM

Will win: “Parasite.”

Should win: “Parasite.” See above.

BEST SONG

Will win: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from “Rocketman.”

Should win: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again.” Elton John wins again, this time with his great friend Bernie Taupin.

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