As we head into the Screen Actors Guild awards, which will help clarify the frontrunners in the four Oscar acting races, perhaps it is a good time to look at the Academy’s nominees and their current place in the Best Supporting Actor race.
Of all the acting categories, Supporting Actor is, I think, the one without a clear frontrunner. In the other three categories, it is a matter of one nominee poised to win, where any other winner would be viewed as an upset. In this category, there are three actors in this category who could win this award.
Often times, the acting races at the Academy Awards are fairly cut and dry. By the time we get to the Oscar ceremony, it is usually pretty clear which actor is the frontrunner. A lot of this certainty lies in the Screen Actors Guild awards, whose winners often go on to win the Oscar. This is because the acting branch of the Academy is the largest, and the overlap between those voters and the SAG voters is enough to see a general pattern of voting.
This is not to say that upsets are impossible. An upset happened as recent as last year in this very category. So let’s look at who could possibly unseat the frontrunner this year.
It is rare to see two different actors win an Oscar for playing the same role. I can only think of one—Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather II. John Wayne and Jeff Bridges were both nominated for playing Rooster Cogburn in two different True Grit adaptations, but only Wayne won.
This year, we could very well see a repeat character in Joker, which is somewhat surprising given the blockbuster films Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger were a part of are not the usual suspects for the Academy Awards.
Twitter was ablaze the morning the Oscar nominations were announced. Joker received 11 (count ’em, 11!) nominations? No The Farewell? No Uncut Gems? No J-Lo? No Greta Gerwig for Best Director? No this. No that. Why this, but not that? There was room for X, but they choose Y? Blah-blah-blah.
The grumblings from Film Twitter is not without their merit. The Academy is known for its massive oversights year after year, and this has become particularly evident in the past few years. But there is a futile exhaustion to the Film Twitter banter, which is equal parts righteous, ironic, furious, annoyed, and contrarian. The reality is that the Academy is a somewhat arbitrary selection of industry insiders choosing what is culturally relevant. It has its limited import, but it is not worth getting up in arms about.
The buzz surrounding 1917, the new film by Sam Mendes in tribute to his grandfather, is its technical achievement of appearing as if it is two extremely long takes. Aside from one pointedly hard cut, the film hides its edits in its pans across surfaces which cover the frame or in tunnels of darkness.
It is a technique reminiscent of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman or Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (Hitchcock would have attempted a completely one-take film if he were not limited by the technical capabilities of the time, which only allowed about seven minutes of footage before the film had to be changed out). The long tracking shots through trenches might also bring to mind Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, whose long takes make the film feel surprisingly modern.
Following the huge success of Gore Verbinski’s The Ring in 2002, The J-horror franchise Ju-on was remade in the United States as The Grudge in 2004. It was also a success. In the first weekend of 2020, another remake of Ju-on appeared in theaters to little fanfare. To Sony, it seemed like a good idea. The time gap is big enough. The January market is (while a notorious dumping ground) not a moneyless area for horror.
And the premise of Ju-on, like any good myth, is worth retelling. The concept of a house whose primary tenant is a spiritual curse is (while by no means wholly original) intriguing. The story moves from Continue reading The Grudge (2020) Movie Review→
Earlier this year, I toyed with the idea of writing the semi-obligatory “Best of the Decade” list. What films were the best in this arbitrary chunk of time we call the 2010s? The USA Today did it. The A.V. Club did it. The New Yorker did it. Wired did it. IndieWire did it early. CineFiles should at least attempt to do it, too.
I made a list on Letterboxd. It started at around 400 films. I winnowed it down to roughly 200. I could copy those films into a traditional list. Write a pithy blurb here and there. Attach some pictures. But I hesitated. And hesitated. Tweaked a ranking here or there. Again, hesitation. Ultimately, it just didn’t happen.