Okay.... As usual, I saw all of the Oscar Best Picture nominees (9 of them this year), and here I am with my annual rankings of how I liked them -- from my layperson and admittedly somewhat twisted point of view. Definitely not predictions. The Oscar telecast is this Sunday, February 9.
Here is something different for me this year: I liked all of the nominated films. It's hard to compare and select from such vastly different cinematic styles and genres -- a Korean class study to a Batman prequel to Louisa May Alcott and everything in between -- but it's decision time.
So my Oscar picks and comments go to --
1. ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD. This is a Quentin Tarantino revisionist-history story, this time taking place in Hollywood in 1969. Of the nine nominees, this is the one that haunted me the most afterwards because I remember 1969 all too well and preferred Tarantino's bloody storybook ending to what really happened. Tarantino for Best Director Oscar.
2. 1917. OMG, this is an amazing film, and, if I could ever make a war movie my #1 choice, this would have been it. If you've ever wondered what it would feel like to be in the trenches in World War I, 1917 will do that for you in muddy detail. This movie should win Best Cinematography for its seamless filming that makes it feel like it's all been filmed in one take.
3. PARASITE. This is a really hard movie to describe. It goes from comedy to tragedy, but it pulls us along through the cool story of two families, one impoverished and one well-to-do, all in Korean with English subtitles. It will win Best Foreign Film at least.
4. MARRIAGE STORY. Even though this in some ways feels like a re-do of 1979's Kramer vs. Kramer, the acting is superb and the story is so real for many of us. Adam Driver deserves an Oscar.
5. JOJO RABBIT. For quite a while, this movie is pretty uncomfortable as we find it hard to laugh at Nazi Germany jokes. But it comes around, and by the end we get the jokes. Very original.
6. FORD VS FERRARI. I'm not at all an auto-racing guy (because I like being the driver), but this is a good story (especially the struggle against the corporation), Christian Bale is cool, and the auto-racing itself is deserving of a Best Film Editing Oscar.
7. THE IRISHMAN. Doesn't it feel like we've already seen this movie before (Goodfellas?), except that this one added Jimmy Hoffa, plus it's a lot longer? But it's good Martin Scorcese anyway.
8. JOKER. Of the nine nominees, I saw this one last because I had such low expectations. But it's actually very entertaining, especially after the first hour or so.
9. LITTLE WOMEN. This is a beautiful movie, of course. My main complaint is that it assumes from the beginning that you've read the book, have seen the other film adaptations, and already are very familiar with the characters. I've seen the other films (long ago), have never read the book, so I kept confusing in my mind who was who.
So that's it. Actually, my favorite movie of the year was Blinded By The Light, which apparently wasn't Oscar-caliber level. If you need a feel-good movie, try that one. It's nice to feel good..