Oscar season is once again upon us. Between Kevin Hart stepping down as host to the awards ceremony to the Academy’s short lived decision not to televise the awards for cinematography, editing, live action short, and makeup and hair, resulting in its swift and subsequent retraction of that decision, there has been plenty of chatter which, for the most part, has been far from positive.
At the end of the day, however, whether there’s a host, no host, a three hour show or a condensed one hour version, I’m sure we all collectively do want to find out what’s at the end of all the awards season anticipation and who the winners of the coveted Oscars are in our preferred categories, if not for the chance to see what are arguably the year’s very best, then to to decide in what order we will be adding them to our must-see lists immediately following the show!
At our VIFF offices, we got a few staff members to weigh in with their thoughts – good and bad – on this year’s Oscar nominees. Take a read through, share your comments if you wish, and make sure to grab an Oscar ballot for your predictions if you’re joining us at our annual VIFF Oscars party this Sunday.
Tom Charity, Programmer:
I thought 2019 was a good year for movies. But that is not reflected in the 8 nominees up for Best Picture, which seems to me embarrassingly feeble, an indication that the Academy is ready to celebrate mediocrity just so long as it sells. I won’t name names, but I will say a better line up would have included Chloe Zhao’s The Rider, Debra Granick’s Leave No Trace, and Andrew Bujalksi’s Support the Girls, and the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, easily the best superhero movie of the year. Of course I am pulling for ROMA for Best Picture, but also Alfonso Cuaron for Cinematography (Roma again) and Barry Brown for Editing (BlacKkKlansman), categories which deserve their 2 minutes in the spotlight.
Curtis Woloschuk, Associate Director of Programming:
I’ll keep the griping to minimum but I do want to take a moment to echo Tom’s sentiments about some of the confounding nominees. Perhaps more egregious than the Best Picture category is Best Actor, which seems to have opted for celebrating imitation if not outright caricature over artistry. How Ethan Hawke’s masterful work in First Reformed isn’t recognized here is rather baffling. That snub is but one more reason to pull for Paul Schrader and his riveting First Reformed script in the Best Original Screenplay category. Somehow, the scribe responsible for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and American Gigolo is only now receiving his first Oscar nomination. Likewise, I’ll be backing Spike Lee for Best Director in hopes that he finally walks away from this event a winner (and a deserved one at that) for his equally uproarious and incendiary BlacKkKlansman. Finally, I’ll be holding out hope that Goran Lundstrom and Pamela Goldammer pull off an upset in Best Makeup & Hairstyling for Border and that it inspires even a few dozen more people to seek out one of the year’s most idiosyncratic and entrancing films.
Jane Harrison, Ticketing and Sales Coordinator:
Ah, Oscars season is upon us once again!
Inside the hallowed halls of VIFF Towers, there’s been a lacklustre response to this year’s contenders from even the resident Film Nerds™ (aka Tom and Curtis), which means the rest of us non-professional film-fanciers have barely stood a chance when to comes to getting riled up about any particular category. That said, it has been pretty fun making Mr. Charity flinch using a mere four words:
Best Picture: Bohemian Rhapsody.
That won’t happen, of course.
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that VIFF’s Best Picture hopes are firmly invested in Roma, which I’m hoping manages to do the double and also win Best Foreign Language Film (although it might have some stiff competition from Shoplifters).
I’m formally putting my hat in the ring for Spike Lee (Best Director) for managing to instil BlacKkKlansman with an entertaining sense of urgency most of the other big pictures of the year resolutely failed to achieve. Lee’s also a long-suffering New York Knicks fan, so it would be nice if he could experience a win for once. Beyond that, my real allegiance will be with the criminally-not-nominated Lynne Ramsay, wherever she’ll be on the night.
Best Actor is too blah this year for me to even fake a preference but, being British and having grown up with Olivia Colman entertaining me from Peep Show onwards, I’d be happy for her to have some well-earned recognition in the Best Actress field, even if The Favourite didn’t give her a chance to fully showcase her astonishing range.
Finally, there’s one category where I feel like the people getting rowdy in the atrium (usually VIFF Staff) at our annual Oscars Party can get a little excited: Best Live-Action Short. Fauve is a Canadian short which screened in our ‘Matters of Grave Importance’ shorts program during the 2018 festival. It was a standout film of the festival for me; beautifully shot, huge in scale but also devastatingly simple. Here’s hoping a win signals big things for director Jeremy Comte.