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Columns Eleanor Ringel Cater

A sign of normalcy – Oscar picks (and snubs) for 2020 movies

93rd annual Oscars to be held April 25

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

Since the world turned upside down in 2020, it perhaps makes some sort of oddball sense that we look to traditions like award shows to give us an illusion of balance. But with theaters shut down for much of the year, nobody knows exactly what to expect from the granddaddy of all the award shows, the 93rdannual Oscars.

The nominations, which were announced March 15, are generally encouraging. There were snubs (as usual) and questionable picks (as usual). But overall, it’s a good group with only a few omissions that really get your gut.

Best picture nominees:

“The Father” Based on a French play, it shines with British acting royalty like Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” Oscars not so white anymore.

“Mank” The sort of movie that might’ve been a runaway frontrunner in a normal year (Thankfully, it’s not a normal year).

“Minari” Another unexpected and well-deserved nomination.

“Nomadland” Here’s your frontrunner — and it’s hardly “Titanic II.”

“Promising Young Woman” Probably the Academy’s most daring choice. #MeToo isn’t going away (fingers crossed).

“Sound of Metal” Not my choice, though I recognize it has much to offer.

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” If “Nomadland,” “Minari” and “Promising Young Woman” weren’t nominated, I’d be soooo behind this movie.  Baby Boomers have rarely looked so good.

Snubs:

“News of the World,” the Tom Hanks western, is just wonderful and a lot better than “Mank.” Better than “Sound of Metal” too. I’m surprised that “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “One Night in Miami” were left out.  Neither is one of my faves, but still…both are better than “Mank.” So is the miniscule indie “First Cow.” And Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods.” And, gee, I wish the Oscar voters had had the moxie to go with “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” one of the best – and most important – pictures of 2020.

Best actor:

Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal” It is impressive work (He’s a musician losing his hearing). Plus, he’s the first Muslim to break into this category.

Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” How could he not be nominated? For this performance, for his past performances and for all his future performances we won’t get to enjoy.

Anthony Hopkins, “The Father” This is the best work of the year. As good as his Hannibal Lector.

Gary Oldman, “Mank” Oh, please…the truth-speaking alcoholic screenwriter. Who cares?

Steven Yeun, “Minari” Gosh, from cocky young Glenn in “The Walking Dead” to Oscar nominee. Love this journey. Plus, he’s the first Asian American ever to be nominated for Best Actor.

Snubs:

C’mon Academy. What’s your beef with Tom Hanks? He is beyond superb in “News of the World.” Okay, he already has two Oscars, but so does Frances McDormand. And you could’ve gone out on a limb and recognized Sasha Baron Cohen for his Borat movie. Delroy Lindo could’ve used the boost for “Da 5 Bloods,” but it seems the Academy is feeling as dismissive of Spike as it is of Hanks.

Best actress:

Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” She is now the most nominated Black actress in history.

Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” She’s the best thing in a bad movie.  But her nomination proves the Globes still have a certain power.

Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman” Pulls off a difficult role in a difficult movie.

Frances McDormand, “Nomadland” It’s between her and Carey Mulligan.

Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman” It’s between her and Frances McDormand.

Snubs:

Mostly Amy Adams (“Hillbilly Elegy”) who may be en route to becoming the next Glenn Close (always in the mix, never a winner).

Best supporting actor:

Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” Very glad to see his acting chops being recognized.

Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah” Fine with me.

Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami” Fine with me.

Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal” Okay with me.

Lakeith Stanfield, “Judas and the Black Messiah” Fine with me.

Snubs:

How can they ignore the rest of the “Chicago 7?” Especially Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance.  And what about adorable Alan Kim from “Minari”?

Best supporting actress:

Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” Hooray! The Academy didn’t chicken out.

Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy” What is known as a Pity Nomination (her 8th). She’s been so much better in so many things.

Olivia Colman, “The Father” She’s spectacular. But then, she always is.

Amanda Seyfried, “Mank” Another best thing in a bad movie.

Yuh-jung Youn, “Minari” She’s spectacular, too. Glad the Academy took the time to notice. First Korean to be nominated in this category.

Snubs:

Close just isn’t much as MaMaw (Her t-shirts do a lot of her acting for her). Two much better choices: Helena Zengel, the wild child in “News of the World,” and Jodie Foster in “The Mauritanian.” (or maybe just her reaction when she won an unexpected Golden Globe)

Best director:

Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari” He’s done a beautiful job. And he briefly lived in Atlanta.

Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman” Though we know her as Camilla in “The Crown,” this is her feature film debut Wow. I mean, wow!

David Fincher, “Mank” 21st-century Hollywood showmanship at its showiest. Waste of a nomination.

Thomas Vinterberg, “Another Round” He’s very good (Check out “The Hunt” and “Far from the Madding Crowd”). He’s also superfluous.

Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” First Asian woman ever nominated in this category.

Snubs:

Though I’m not a huge fan of “One Night in Miami,” I think Regina King deserved Fincher’s slot. And no Aaron Sorkin for “Chicago 7?” The Academy needs a good slap (and remember, the whole world is watching….)

“Mank?”  Really?????

93rd annual Oscars to be held April 25

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Eleanor Ringel

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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1 Comment

  1. Margaret McDaniel March 17, 2021 11:15 pm

    So happy to have found you. Didn’t realize you were still actively reviewing movies.

    I almost totally agree with your comments – especially on Mank. I thought it was nothing special and definitely not Oscar worthy. Of course, seems like lots of films in the past with high number of nominations fall flat when it comes to wins. Maybe that will be the case for Mank. News of the World is a much better movie. One of my faves this year is Another Round. Original and great acting – most likely, too few people will see it. Anthony Hopkins in The Father was mesmerizing. He should win hands down but most likely it will go to Chadwick Bozeman. (Best James Brown ever.).Report

    Reply

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