Scene one, hot take one: An Oscars preview — what will win, what should win and what should have been nominated

5 of the top films of 2019 displayed in a row: Uncut Gems, The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, and Ash is Purest White.
(Waverly Wang • The Student Life)

The 92nd Academy Awards are right around the corner, and that means it’s time to place bets on who or what will take home the gold this year. As someone who thinks the Academy always finds a way to get it completely wrong, I list my predictions for the Academy’s chosen winners, in addition to what should win instead and also what was completely snubbed in the major award categories. 

Best Picture: 

What will win: As much as I hate to admit it, it looks as if Sam Mendes’ World War I film “1917” will take the prize on Sunday. While the film’s one-take aesthetic is impressive, it’s ultimately the only memorable thing about this tired take on the war genre. In fact, “1917”’s seemingly inevitable win at the ceremony is a symptom of an overall issue with the Oscars — they always pick the most boring and forgettable film to win the top prize. 

What should win: “The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese’s three hour mob epic, is one of the best films of his career.  The film feels like a summation of the great director’s career, while also acting as an interrogation of the toxic masculinity within Scorsese’s male anti-heroes.

How the hell was this not even nominated: In what has to be the worst snub in recent memory, the Safdie brothers’ masterpiece of grime, “Uncut Gems,” is a film that I believe to be the best of 2019. To be honest, I am about 80 percent sure that the film was designed in a lab for me. It has everything I could ever want in a film: sports gambling, tension, judaism, New York crime, the “sports pope” Mike Francesa and the legendary Adam Sandler. 

Best Director: 

What will win: Unfortunately, I think Sam Mendes will take home the award. The academy loves gimmicks like a one-take film, and “1917” is set up to be the latest gimmick film to earn its director an Oscar. 

What should win: No one else could have done what Martin Scorsese did with “The Irishman.”  His voice looms over the entire film and gives it a sense of mastery only possible from a legend like him. 

How the hell was this not nominated: The Safdie brothers’ ability to work with untrained actors in “Uncut Gems,” from NBA legend Kevin Garnett to my new favorite Instagram follow Wayne Diamond, shows just how in tune they are with their vision of New York City, where even the scummiest of characters can be three-dimensional. If the Safdies keep up their meteoric rise, this will be the last time they are snubbed from a directing nod. 

Best Actor:

Who will win: Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but it seems like the Academy might actually get this one right by awarding Joaquin Phoenix for his phenomenal work in “Joker.”

Who should win: Joaquin Phoenix is the best actor of his generation. Give him the gold. 

How the hell was this person not nominated: I’m guessing you’re beginning to sense a pattern, but the snub of Adam Sandler’s work as Howard Ratner in “Uncut Gems” was an egregious call by the Academy. His unmatchable charisma allows the audience to find something redeemable in the degenerate gambler Ratner, and his performance of resentful anger is uniquely skillful. In fact, it’s almost poetic that Sandler’s performance as a man who never gets what he wants was snubbed from a nomination at the Oscars.

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Best Actress: 

Who will win: I’m going to be honest, I haven’t seen Renée Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland in “Judy.” I’m not sure anyone has. However, the Oscars don’t shy away from awarding a well-liked celebrity for their unseen film. 

Who should win: A famous cliché about the Oscars is that actors never get their Oscars wins for their best role, but rather later in their career to make up for an earlier snub. In 20 years, when Saoirse Ronan wins an Oscar, we will all be saying it was really for her phenomenal performance in “Little Women.” Ronan’s performance carries the whole film as she routinely steals scenes from the likes of Meryl Streep and Laura Dern. No one is more deserving of an Oscars win this year.  

How the hell was this person not nominated: No one carried a film more than Elisabeth Moss as Becky Something in Alex Ross Perry’s “Her Smell.” The camera almost never leaves Moss’ face as she oscillates between self-destruction and self-improvement. 

Best Supporting Actor:

Who will win: Once again, I have a feeling that the Oscars are going to get this one right with Brad Pitt taking home the gold for his effortlessly cool and career-defining performance in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” 

Who should win: Brad Pitt does not have an Oscar. Let’s fix that. 

How the hell was this person not nominated: A hope of mine for this year was for Shia LaBeouf to get an Oscar nomination for his role as his own abusive father in the autobiographical “Honey Boy.” I’ve been a long-standing fan of LaBeouf, and his performance in the film was one that I had been waiting a long time for — it’s honest in a way that only he is capable of being.

Best Supporting Actress: 

Who will win: I must admit that I’m having the hardest time nailing down a winner in this category. However, I’m going to go with my heart and pick Laura Dern for her brutally funny performance as a high-end divorce lawyer in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” Dern may have the smallest amount of screentime among the nominees, but her brief moments in the film pack a punch. 

Who should win: Laura Dern is a national treasure. Give her the gold.

How the hell was this person not nominated: I can’t remember most of Lorene Scafaria’s stripper heist film “Hustlers.” However, everything I do remember has to do with Jennifer Lopez’s return to movie stardom as the endlessly watchable Ramona Vega. 

Ben Hafetz PZ ’20 is one of TSL’s film columnists. He’s a media studies and politics double major who likes to not only see movies, but also tell his friends why they should or should not like certain ones.

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