Disclaimer: Stephen King is my favorite author. Has been for years. I am not a sycophant, not someone who likes everything he says and does — especially all the politics he too often gets wrapped up in — and I haven’t enjoyed every story he’s ever written, but the majority of his work is at least entertaining and, some of it, amazing.
Love him or hate him, the man is one of the most prolific and greatest living writers on the planet.
My second favorite movie of 2019 was a King adaptation by talented director Michael Flanagan which somehow threaded the needle with Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining masterpiece and a sequel. It blew me away.
Even as great as King is, though, and again I’m merely one of his many Constant Readers, he can still be flamed on Twitter over stepping into thorny issues.
Case in point: diversity in the Oscars.
the “Carrie” author posted. “For me, the diversity issue — as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway — did not come up. That said … I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”
What King says in the quote above is logical. The problem is when we talk about quality from filtered, biased sources quality is already being impacted. King realized this mistake and backpedaled with another tweet a few hours later:
He wrote, “The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.
Kudos, well said.
I never checked who was behind the Oscars nominations until this year. Just assumed it was some body of secret voters. Encyclopedia Britannica provides the answer:
The rest of the academy members are not listed, but we can guess who a few are by looking at some of the requirements to join the institution. To qualify, an individual must work in the film industry. This means that neither individuals who work exclusively in television nor members of the press may join. Oscar nominees are often considered for membership automatically, while other candidates must be sponsored by two active members of the branch they wish to join. Each branch also has its own specific requirements. Directors, for example, must have a minimum of two directing credits, at least one of them within the past 10 years.
In this case, we know the source of nominations comes from the members themselves, including Stephen King it sounds like — although he admits only being able to nominate in writer-related categories. I can vouch for King’s diversity in book recommendations. I’ve seen him recommend all kinds of varieties of authors and I believe Mrs. Harry Potter J.K. Rowling is one of his favorite writers.
So, the answer to the problem of diversity in Oscar nominations starts with the people who are doing the nomination. If it’s the same group of mostly Hollywood actors and actresses they have their own elite club that needs more women, minorities in there.
It isn’t going to matter if more movies are made by women, minorities and LGBTQ, it means more of these people need to become members of the academy.
Until the academy voting collective itself becomes more diverse, the overall diversity in Oscar nominations will continue to be suspect.
Continuing a tradition since May 16, 1929, the 92nd Oscars will air Sunday February 9, 2020 at 8e, 5p (GMT-8).
I’m going to tackle predictions for the majority of categories, 14 in total, and almost every major category. The ones being skipped are where I haven’t seen every movie nominated in the category. For example, International Feature Film, where I’ve only seen one of the nominees (Parasite). I do not think it is fair having an opinion on movies not watched, rated and reviewed.
Let’s dig in…
Of the 9 choices pictured above, here’s how I see it:
My pick: 1917
Likely Picks (if not mine): Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood – this one won the Golden Globe and cannot be counted out Ford v Ferrari Little Women
Unlikely Picks Joker, The Irishman,Marriage Story
Long shots Parasite, Jojo Rabbit
MY THOUGHTS Of all films nominated, 1917 is the most immersive viewing experience. It’s also a technical marvel considering the camera work, the whole “one continuous shot” which if it wasn’t shot that way doesn’t give the same effect. The acting by the two soldiers is also spot on, given they don’t have a lot of dialogue or complicated story. It’s mostly like a videogame: run to the end goal, avoid the obstacles.
Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood is a strong, strong likely pick because of the Golden Globes win. Personally, I wouldn’t put that film ahead of Ford v Ferrari or Little Women, but something tells me this could be the voter’s choice.
Joker and Marriage Story have a small chance, but are real long shots. The Irishman almost certainly has no chance, but anything with Scorsese, DeNiro, Pacino and Pesci can never be completely discarded.
Forget about Parasite and Jojo Rabbit. Parasite deserves to be nominated, but that’s not the case for Jojo Rabbit. If Jojo Rabbit beats out the other eight movies nominated, it will be total travesty. Parasite at least has the critical acclaim to be considered but it should not win.
My Pick: Sam Mendes – 1917
Likely Picks (if not mine): Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood Martin Scorsese – The Irishman
Long Shots: Todd Phillips – Joker Bong Joon Ho – Parasite
MY THOUGHTS Would like to see Sam Mendes win this, I think he’s the best choice, but something tells me that the critics want to favor the genius of Quentin Tarantino. Let’s be honest, of his 9 films, this one isn’t even in the top 3. Same for Scorsese, who also could win based on his career rather than The Irishman being one of his best movies.
Joker is seen by some as a ripoff and/or heavily inspired by multiple Scorsese films, so don’t think Todd Phillips has a chance of winning. Bong Joon Ho might be the people’s choice on this one, but he’s a huge long shot. Mendes is the best pick. We’ll see what happens.
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
My Pick: Bombshell – Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker
Likely Picks (if not mine) Judy Joker
Long Shots 1917 Maleficient: Mistress of Evil
MY THOUGHTS Somebody get Kazu Hiro’s name engraved on this already because what he did with prosthetics and makeup on Charlize Theron is amazing. I’m not sure what Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker contributed, but if their names are there, start engraving them too.
I liked how Renee Zellweger was done up as Judy, but it’s not as impressive as Theron as Megyn Kelly. Joker? You got to love his makeup work. So either Judy or Joker are good alternate picks.
Not feeling 1917 in this category. Hairstyles? Makeup? They are soldiers and looked realistic to the time period, but … ? Puzzling nomination.
Maleficient: Mistress of Evil I can see the nomination, but not as sure where the CGI begins and the makeup begins — except for Angelina Jolie, I guess. Am saying no here as well. Better choices.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
My Pick: Renee Zellweger – Judy
Likely Picks (if not mine) Scarlett Johannson – Marriage Story
Long Shots Cynthia Erivo – Harriet Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
Should not have been nominated Charlize Theron – Bombshell
MY THOUGHTS Renee, Renee, Renee! She acts and sings, and had to do so in one take in front of an audience singing Judy fricking Garland songs. We can debate all day long how difficult this was, but I’d argue nobody else even comes close.
ScarJo has the best script of the bunch to work with and some really meaty divorce drama material, so if we’re looking at pure acting and not considering her very minor song number (which was cute, but not that noteworthy), then she’s a good second choice.
I also like Cynthia Erivo who had the most physical role of everybody nominated. She made me believe she was Harriet Tubman. I like her as an alternate choice.
Can’t get behind Saoirse Ronan, despite loving the film she was in. It’s OK Ronan fans, she’ll be nominated for an Oscar again and it might actually be in a film that’s original enough for her performance to win. The others — except for Charlize Theron who should never have been nominated — a case could be made to win. If Theron wins for Bombshell, the voting is rigged and we should demand a recount.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
My Pick: Joe Pesci – The Irishman
Likely Picks Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood
Long Shots Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes Al Pacino – The Irishman
Should not have been nominated / travesty Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
MY THOUGHTS Joe Pesci somehow managed to play a subdued Joe Pesci. That alone deserves an Oscar. I thought for sure we’d get another Casino Joe Pesci — but we didn’t.
Brad Pitt probably wins this, like he did the Golden Globe. It’s not deserved vs. the others but Hollywood seems to have a love affair with all things Pitt. Personally, I think he’s a good actor, but not one of the all time greats. Hopkins, Pacino, Hanks, all better performances than him by a mile.
Speaking of Hanks, though, he’s got no business being nominated in this category. They are considering him as a “supporting actor” when he was Mister Rogers in a movie about Mister Rogers? The logic is lost on me. Somebody please explain.
My Pick: Roger Deakins – 1917
Likely Picks Once Upon a Time .. In Hollywood Joker
Unlikely Picks The Irishman The Lighthouse
MY THOUGHTS Seriously, just give Roger Deakins the award already. The man is like the Wizard of Oz behind the camera.
My Pick: Little Women – Jacqueline Durran
Likely Picks Joker – Mark Bridges The Irishman – Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson
Long Shots One Upon a Time .. In Hollywood – Arianne Philips Jojo Rabbit – Mayes C. Rubeo
MY THOUGHTS My pick is suspect here. I’m mainly going with Little Women because I felt the costumes seemed very period-accurate. This is not an areas of expertise for me at all, so I might be all wet and am admitting as much. I also liked the Joker costumes a lot, so would be fine with that pick.
The other picks? The Irishman seemed accurate but plain, One Upon a Time … Hollywood did a great job capturing the end of the 60s. Jojo Rabbit? They were WWII Nazis, yes, that seemed accurate too.
Really there are multiple picks that could be chosen and I won’t protest one way or another. I liked Little Women costumes the best.
WRITING – ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
My Pick – Little Women – Greta Gerwig
Likely picks: Joker The Irishman
Long Shots The Two Popes Jojo Rabbit
MY THOUGHTS Greta Gerwig clearly had the most difficult task, adapting a novel that has already been adapted 7 times! And she delivered. The non-linear narrative was risky but it worked.
The Irishman is too long and Joker is strongest for the ad-lib acting by Joaquin Phoenix, not the script.
Likely Picks Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino Knives Out – Rian Johnson
Long Shots 1917 – Sam Menedes Parasite – Bong Joon Ho
MY THOUGHTS I don’t think Tarantino’s alternate timeline Manson-era script is all that original, but it is creative. Rian Johnson’s Knives Out was a lot of fun. Noah Baumbach just hit it out of the park with Marriage Story.
My Pick: Joker – Jeff Church
Likely Picks Ford v Ferrari
Long Shots Jojo Rabbit Parasite
Should not even have been nominated The Irishman
MY THOUGHTS Joker had the best editing of everything here. It made viewers feel all kinds of nasty and shock. The Irishman was badly in need of more editing. I could see a case being made for Ford v Ferrari as well. The racing scenes were fantastic.
My Pick: 1917
Likely Picks Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood
Long shots The Irishman Parasite
Should not even have been nominated Jojo Rabbit
MY THOUGHTS That night time scene with the flares going off in the war torn city? My goodness, that scene alone was gorgeous. The production design in Parasite was very creative too.
MUSIC – ORIGINAL SCORE
My Pick: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – John Williams
Likely Picks Joker
Unlikely Picks Little Women Marriage Story
Should not even have been nominated 1917
MY THOUGHTS Not a fan of the movie, but a huge fan of John Williams. When it comes to Star Wars, is there any better music fix?
My Pick: Ford v Ferrari
Likely Picks Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 1917
Unlikely Picks Joker
Should not even have been nominated Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood
My Pick: Ford v Ferrari
Likely Picks 1917 Joker
Unlikely Picks Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood
Should not even have been nominated Ad Astra
MY THOUGHTS Why is Ad Astra nominated? Sound-wise the mix of auto racing sounds was excellent in Ford v Ferrari. I could also get behind 1917 here. Forget about Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood.
My Reviews For All 2019 Oscar Nominated Movies
For reference, below are my ratings and reviews for all Oscar nominated movies (click the title to read). Note: some titles are nominated in categories I didn’t profile above because I haven’t seen all the movies in that category.
Now, given, we’ve only ever seen two movies in that format (the other ironically was showing Ford v Ferrari on the side screens for the first 20 minutes or so of the movie due to a technical error), but still, if you think of being in a driver’s seat and having landscape go by you in a blur along the sideviews that is the beauty of ScreenX.
This is also the movie that’s getting the least award and best movie of 2019 buzz that also did well at the box office.
Here we are 55+ days later in the theater and it’s still cruising along, a respectable 12th place in sales recently, past the $100 million mark and still showing in 700+ theaters.
No, to all those films. The only one with any chance to equal or jump ahead is 1917, since that hasn’t been available to watch in the United States theaters until tonight.
The highest audience rating with over 22,500 reviews and 98% audience rating is … (drumroll)
Now we can debate the critic portion of RT, but personally I like the audience score. That is the RT gauge that I pay the most attention to and it usually syncs up closer to my own feelings about a movie. Not always, of course, but certainly more often than the RT critic score.
Will Ford v Ferrari get more love at the Oscars next month than it did at the Golden Globes? Hope so. It’s my second most favorite film of 2019.
Reviews by Others
Have seen a few more reviews by others posted since my last recap of Ford v Ferrari to share. Most bloggers like being linked up by other bloggers, so despite the time this takes, I continue to hand select these quotes from the 1,000+ other movie bloggers I follow to highlight their good review write-ups. Enjoy!
AmandaSushma: “I really like this movie! Usually, I wouldn’t go for such an emotional type of movie, but I didn’t know what it was about. My brother just chose it, and I went with him. Very pleasantly surprised!”
Book Beach Bunny: “…fun and interesting if you’re into racing and cars or honestly if you’re just looking for a good movie over the holiday. It’s not going to rewrite the book or anything but it’s worth a watch.”
CinemaClown: “…is a competently crafted & technically polished biopic that narrates the real-life events with gusto despite going a bit overboard at times, and is a downright thrilling, incessantly fun & wildly entertaining fare that will satisfy both racing enthusiasts & casual filmgoers”
Eternality Tan (Grade: A): “I was surprised to find myself with tears in my eyes because car racing is not easy,”
Geek’s Landing: “…tells a riveting true story of creativity with enormous flare and respect. Rather than trying to upend the genre, James Mangold utilizes the tools at his disposal to deliver the best the genre can possibly offer and then some.”
Homebody Movies: “…a competently-made crowd-pleasing movie not based on any existing or aspiration cinematic universes that serves as a showcase for its stars to shine. There used to be a time when movies like this dominated our cineplexes”
Isabelle Reviews Movies (Grade: A-): “another great film from James Mangold. Bale and Damon have impeccable chemistry and the racing sequences take your breath away.”
Jason’s Movie Blog: “I really liked this movie. It was definitely quite an engaging feature that boasted plenty of high-octane moments (behind the wheel, of course), but also provide an entertaining narrative with some quality acting talents to play the feature’s characters.”
Keith & The Movies (4/5): “…a rousing racing drama that doesn’t shirk on the human element. Bale and Damon have a snappy chemistry, and the supporting cast is fantastic”
Lost in the Dark: “If you love a good race car movie (and who doesn’t?), drive at a safe and reasonable speed to your friendly neighborhood cinema to see”
Mike Miller / Ticket To Ride: “This film won’t break any box office records but it is a film that will live on through streaming and other media.”
Mirza Baig: “…an engaging, emotional, and downright thrilling sports film that is incredibly well told and very well acted.”
moviejoltz: “I am not fond of watching car races, but I would see this picture again. The acting was outstanding, matching the well-done script that captured the 1960s perfectly. I found the racing scenes thrilling and felt at times I was sitting in the race cars.”
Did I miss your Ford v Ferrari review? Use the comments or Twitter to tell me about your movie-related/review blog. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quotes from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.
They have some other curious picks like Best Actor — no to Joaquin Phoenix — to Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory (haven’t seen yet), Best Screenplay to Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time .. in Hollywood ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Best Actress to Lupita Nyong — not Renee Zellweger — in Jordan Peele’s Us (haven’t seen yet) and Best Director to the Safdie brothers for Uncut Gems (not released yet). No awards to 1919, Knives Out ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ or Jojo Rabbit⭐️⭐️⭐️½
So, booting up another post to share more on this $159 million Netflix Original movie, The Irishman. Haven’t seen it yet and have Netflix? Where have you been? Get to it, already. You’re missing an award winning gem!
Maybe in my critique, I spent more time talking about the negatives than the positives. Let me say this again: the third act of this film is my favorite of anything else I’ve watched in 2019. That’s why this movie is #3 on my best of 2019 list right now. I put two other films ahead of it, because both moved me in different ways and were better overall stories told than this one (all three acts).
Yes, it’s 3 1/2 hours and that runtime is daunting, but the beauty is you can watch it in parts. Watch the first hour, then the second hour, and finish with the final act. Or watch up until Al Pacino enters the picture as Jimmy Hoffa, and then watch the rest in one sitting. Neal Brennan on Twitter has divided The Irishman into a four part miniseries, if you want it even chunked up further:
Seems crazy to me that we have four episodes of The Mandalorian and those four episodes combined + the upcoming fifth episode this Friday are not as long as The Irishman, but hey, it is what it is. Martin Scorsese made the film at the length he wanted to make it and not even an editor that has worked with him on other films could edit this down any shorter.
One of my only other criticisms about the film is that I wished there had been more family scenes in the first two acts, setting up that amazing third act punch and power. De Niro acknowledges that there could have been more parts for Anna Paquin and him: “She was very powerful and that’s what it was,” De Niro tells USA TODAY. “Maybe in other scenes there could’ve been some interaction between Frank and her possibly, but that’s how it was done. She’s terrific and it resonates.”
Anyway, it’s good to see a Netflix Original movie winning Best Picture. I’ll admit being a bit bummed out seeing these Best Of lists before 2019 has finished, but I guess editors want to get a jump on January 2020 for their Google SEO.
Let’s see what more of the moviegoer audience are saying …
Reviews by Others
As warned with almost all reviews, there could be SPOILERS … so proceed carefully from here on out …
alexwrightmovieman: “Through Scorcese’s masterful filmmaking, it’s safe to say that he has immortalized the long forgotten Jimmy, along with such characters as Howard Hughes, Travis Bickle, and Jake LaMotta.”
Ashby Reel: “…hits all the right notes and has restored my faith in Martin Scorsese as a director. It has many of the classic elements of Scorsese’s previous gangster works. The ensemble cast, the catchy soundtrack, the startling violence and the in depth character study. This is all tied beautifully together by stylish cinematography and slick editing.”
Dylan Hanson: “…a great story with great actors and in my opinion is one of the greatest films of all time. It stands with other mafia classics such as The Godfather and Goodfellas and was a perfect “farewell tour” for mafia movie legends Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci.”
filmsbyqfu: “…takes story of the little known Frank Sheeran and brings to life one of twentieth centuries greatest crime riddles, what happened to Hoffa? Offering a credible answer. If in the unlikely event that Scorsese was to retire after this film, it would be a fitting film to bow out on. Masterful.”
James Palmer Film / Flipscreen: “It may have been labelled as another Scorsese gangster flick, but this is by far his most personal film yet. The last hour of this film is some of the best work in Scorsese’s already immaculate career.”
Lee Butler / Movie Meister Reviews (4/5): “…a hard film to sit through in one go, but it’s worth the attempt. It’s Scorsese getting to have one more crack at the mafia movie now that he’s older and wiser and it’s certainly different enough that it earns considerable respect. I don’t think it’s his best work”
Motionswee7 (Grade: A): “The production design, cinematography, music, crowd control is all top notch. A CGI background here and there looks fake, but these are minor gripes.”
Pete / Clear Blue Eye (2.5/5): “Overall, a detailed look at Frank Sheeran’s life (the eponymous Irishman) is not a bad idea. There is lots to tell, particularly as related to Hoffa. But, Scorsese didn’t know when to stop. Either have some self-discipline and bring the story down to 2-hours, or else make it a series. As it stood, I spent the time reading emails and searching the web. Definitely not what I expected from a cast and crew of this caliber.”
Reel Movie Critic: “It is a slow burn for a three and a half hour movie. With all that said, we need to appreciate a movie where we will see Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Martin Scorsese at the helm. This may be the last time we will see all these guys together making a mob film that is interesting, thrilling, and good.”
The Film Authority: “…often looks like cut-scenes for a video-game, with mottled skin-tones and slick hairstyles that distract from what the characters say. There would be no place for an expensive dud The Irishman at the cinemas; even on streaming, it’s likely to vanish quickly as a bizarre footnote to Scorsese’s career.”
The Reviewing Network: “…still a really enjoyable well made movie with brilliant acting, a good story to tell, great direction and cinematography as well as nice visuals, the editing and run time really does drag the movie down a lot unfortunately.”
Wall Street Widow: “The Irishman is not necessarily high cuisine. For me it was more like a pretentious microwave dinner, like Healthy Choice’s Beef Merlot, containing reheated mafia tropes that miss the flavors and nutrients of earlier classics.” (ed. Of the many reviews I’ve read, this is one of my most favorites — comparing MCU to The Irishman — extremely well done!)
Zach Vecker: “The runtime is a big factor that certainly handicaps the film’s re-watchability, as well as the more serious and thought provoking aspects. But I am completely comfortable admitting that I could be misreading audiences. It is unfair to compare it to films that have had decades to build up a legacy and following, so only time will tell if this will achieve the same impact.”
Have you seen The Irishman yet? What were your thoughts?