For the most part, the 94th Academy Awards ceremony, things went the way the Oscars normally go, To my pleasant surprise, the three-pronged attack of hosts Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes worked really well, with the telecast allowing them to shine as a group but also as individuals. CODA won the three awards it was nominated for, which is a big deal when you understand that those three awards were Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. There were moving speeches and celebrations of films that made a lot of sense (the 50th anniversary of The Godfather) and significantly less sense (the 28th anniversary of Pulp Fiction). There was a star-studded version of Encanto‘s “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” that was, at best, confusing. There were laughs and tears and too much cheese and shrimp consumed by one particular person watching from home. It was a typical Oscars night, and considering I think of the ceremony the way people think of the Super Bowl, that was a good thing.
So, I’ve been predicting the nomination, and I’ve been feeling strangely good about my picks, which is almost a guarantee that I’m going to crash and burn Sunday night. But, while I have given my predictions for what I thought would win and be nominated, I haven’t said what my personal nominees would have been had the Oscars been left up to me, which seems like a pretty great idea, now that I think about it.
So, here is what I would have nominated. Leaving out a few categories out (International Feature, all shorts, Best Documentary) because I don’t feel like I’ve seen enough to make a well-educated group of nominees.
Last year’s Oscars ceremony was such a spectacular blunder, if you tried to make a movie out of it, no studio would release it because of how unbelievable it was. And there was no better example of that than the trainwreck that was how the ceremony ended.
Paul Thomas Anderson hasn’t made a bad movie, and I don’t think he could if he tried. Well, I mean maybe if he tried. He could keep the camera out of focus or give all the actors shrooms or make a shot-for-shot remake of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. And Licorice Pizza, Anderson’s ninth film (and the third nominated for Best Picture) is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a bad movie. It’s anchored in two amazing lead performances (neither of whom have acted before) and has very funny and touching moments and definitely has a light and easy feel with which Anderson drives the film effortlessly.
But Licorice Pizza does have one big problem. Perhaps, more accurately, the movie has two problems rolled into one. The first has to do with the core of the relationship between the film’s two main characters. And the second is the film’s (and filmmaker’s) complete lack of interest in even wanting to address the first problem. If this sounds layered and confusing, it shouldn’t surprise you.
With his nomination for West Side Story, Steven Spielberg joined Billy Wilder at third place for the most Best Director nominations of all time with eight. He’s four behind the great William Wyler, but it’s who is just one ahead of him that I find more interesting: Martin Scorsese.
I don’t think Spielberg has much of a chance to win this year, which means he will have lost that category six times. Now, to put that in perspective, that is a very impressive number especially when you consider that he has more LOSSES than some of the greats like Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, etc.) have total nominations.
Here’s what I find interesting about Scorsese having more nominations: while he is an amazing and influential filmmaker, Steven Spielberg is the greatest director of my lifetime. And to be in his sixth decade of moviemaking with only two Oscars and eight nominations is kind of an insult to the man. And I know it seems crazy to be so revered and decorated AND underrated at the same time, but Spielberg has been redefining the concept of success in the art of film his entire career.