Kevin: It’s Oscar Sunday! The votes have been cast! The controversies have been debated! The hosts have not been hired! If Debbie Allen doesn’t choreograph a troupe of contemporary dancers rolling around stage in Joker makeup to the film’s nominated score, then I don’t even know why we bother with this ceremony anymore. Other than, I guess, to hand out awards, which people seem to have stopped caring about. Or do they matter more than ever? The conversation seems to change each year, each second. In any case, what do you think? 1917 wins everything, Brad Pitt does his tight five at the mic, and we all go home?
Marlow: If I have to hear one more joke about Brad Pitt’s sexy ass being on a dating app… How about Taylor Swift (in full Cats costume) dosing a presenter (or dance troupe) with catnip and sending them into a feverish frenzy? As many Cats jokes as possible, please! It’s the only way we’ll get through this four-hour carnival of horrors intact.
Kevin: Both Rebel Wilson and James Corden are presenting. I can only presume—and hope—they provide that very service.
Marlow: Ah, yes. Let us hope. But sure, it looks like the Oscar-bait war film, 1917, is going to win Best Picture—because as we’ve discussed, the preferential ballot voting process for Best Picture typically awards the least-disliked film, as opposed to the best one, and most of the people voting on this have the movie taste of your Dad. But I am hoping—nay, praying—that Bong Joon-ho’s class-warfare satire Parasite pulls an upset in Best Picture, though I think we’re likely headed toward a split like last year, where 1917 wins Best Picture and Bong Joon-ho, despite losing the DGA, takes home Best Director.
Kevin: As with any millennial film pundit, obviously I want Parasite to win, but I will say that at the very least 1917 isn’t an embarrassing Oscar winner. When we look back 15 years from now at the list of this decade’s Best Pictures, it should stand up and be, well, fine—not like, for example, Green Book, Shape of Water, Birdman, or The Artist, which elicit facepalms and head-scratches.
Marlow: Don’t forget Argo, aka Hollywood Saves the World! I still haven’t gotten over Green Book beating Roma, or Shape of Water besting Get Out, Call Me by Your Name, Phantom Thread, Lady Bird and Dunkirk—which, by the way, is a vastly superior war film to bloody 1917!—or Birdman besting the brilliant Boyhood. It’s enough to send me into a white-hot rage.
Kevin: Though I wouldn’t necessarily put money on it, pennies they may be, there’s still a shot for Parasite. Statistically, after winning the PGA, the DGA, and the BAFTA, 1917 is the safe bet. But so, too, was La La Land, with those same stats behind it when it was beat by the passionate favorite, Moonlight, which benefited from Best Picture’s ranked preferential ballot.
Marlow: And Brad Pitt as its producer, whipping up votes from his famous Academy-voter friends!
Kevin: The Academy growing in number so rapidly in recent years, especially when it comes to international members, could go either way in that regard: ranked ballots favoring a smaller favorite like Parasite, or the thing that more often tends to happen as organizations balloon in size—which is to say that the whims and oddities of once influential outliers zero out in favor of the safer consensus.
Marlow: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: 1917 is the Pete Buttigieg of Oscar picks—safe, unimaginative, studied, boring. Parasite is Bernie Sanders—radical class warfare. And The Irishman is musty Joe Biden. Parasite is far and away the best film among those nominated for Best Picture, too, and by the most gifted filmmaker of the bunch.
Kevin: #BongHive! Etc...
Marlow: Plus, in a year when the Academy really shit the bed when it came to diversity, failing to nominate The Farewell, or Last Black Man in San Francisco, or The Souvenir, or the one and only J.Lo, it would be nice to award the big prize to a pitch-perfect Asian film, especially after, in yet another racist move, snubbing its entire cast. As the Los Angeles Times’ Justin Chang, one of our finest film writers, wrote: “The Oscars need ‘Parasite’ more than ‘Parasite’ needs the Oscars.” It’s proven its point already, and will go down in history as a groundbreaking film, so now it’s up to Oscar to prove that it’s capable enough to honor the best movie nominated.
Kevin: At this point, I’d settle for the Academy just proving it’s capable enough to honor a movie that’s at least good. Thankfully, Parasite, 1917, and Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, the only other film with enough Academy support to pull off a surprise upset, all fit that bill this year.
Marlow: I found Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood to be a fun little navel-gazin’, hangin’-with-the-fellas romp but rather emotionally hollow. I’d swap Marriage Story in. I could give a rat’s ass about the problems of a New York theater couple, feel terrible for Jennifer Jason Leigh, and continue to shake my head at Scarlett Johansson’s boneheaded statements and yet found it to be a heartfelt meditation on falling out of love. But the movie that really deserves to be in the mix is The Farewell.
Kevin: Beyond that, is there any point in even debating the acting races? We’ve given ourselves carpal tunnel these last few weeks talking about what actors and actresses should have made it into the lineup but didn’t. And at this point, you’d be able to knock me over with a feather if any of the quartet of Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger, Brad Pitt, and Laura Dern don’t repeat their 725 other wins from this season. Of the four, Zellweger is the only one who would have gotten my actual vote in her category. (Team Antonio Banderas, Tom Hanks, and Florence Pugh in the other ones.) The only shock I could see is Scarlett Johansson upsetting Dern, considering that Jojo Rabbit is way more popular with award voters than any of us are really giving it credit for, and it would be a way to reward her for her double nods.
Marlow: We disagree on Judy, which was, to my eye, a hokey, Lifetime-quality film with an aggressively showy, ACTING performance at its center. Though Elisabeth Moss delivered the best performance of the year as an unhinged, aging punk rocker in Her Smell, and Adam Sandler the best male turn in Uncut Gems, of the nominees, I’d give Actor to Adam Driver and Actress to Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story. In Supporting: Pugh for Little Women, even though I felt the film had structural issues, and Pesci for The Irishman—overlong and overstuffed though it was, a masterful display of control that anchored the picture. But, yes, they’re likely going to Zellweger, Phoenix, Dern, and Pitt, though I agree that Scarlett may upset in Supporting given how many Academy members loved (the dreadfully unfunny) Jojo Rabbit! Boomers, man.