Mon. Jan 20th, 2020

Frontrunner Friday Oscar Predictions: Marty vs Marvel; Nigeria disqualified from contention

Martin Scorsese incurred the ire of Marvel fans but does it matter in the Oscar big picture?

A few weeks ago (was it only a few weeks?) Martin Scorsese made an off-hand comment in an interview with Empire magazine that Marvel movies weren’t “cinema” and fans of the comic book series of films went ballistic, as if Marty himself had ripped out Tony Stark’s electromagnetic heart from his chest with his bare hands. Even cursory films fans gave the Oscar-winning director the side-eye. Some even made bizarre ‘Well, what has Scorsese ever done for independent filmmakers?’ comments, obviously without realizing that he’s been one of independent films’ biggest champions, a curator of classic films that ensures their restoration and started the non-profit World Cinema Project, whose sole focus is the preservation and restoration of neglected world cinema.

“It was about characters – the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves,” said Scorsese in a penned op-ed in the New York Times.

Marvel, which is now owned by Disney, has been a box office money making machine for the last decade but only this year earned Academy respect. Black Panther became the first comic book movie to earn a Best Picture nomination and it won three Oscars: Original Score, Production Design and Costume Design. As a result, Disney is making a full-fledged push for the final film of the Avengers trilogy (a $2.8B worldwide Hulk smash) to hit that high mark again. And, as fate would have it, they could brush right up against Scorsese with his first project with Netflix, The Irishman, which is in select theaters now. In realistic Oscar chances, it’s The Irishman that will likely come out on top here but when it comes to cash, Marvel will remain champ.

Also this week was the news that the Academy had disqualified Lionheart, Nigeria’s first-ever entry in the Oscar race for the now-titled International Feature Film category. The reasoning was that only 11 minutes of the film were not in English, which is a contingent to qualifying in the first place. The trouble is, English is Nigeria’s official language. While dozens of other languages are spoken, Nigeria, like many African and Asian countries, was colonized by white Europeans and elements of their culture – including language – became a part of the fabric of those nations. Uproar ensued over the disqualification, most vocally by director Ava DuVernay, who took to Twitter to condemn the decision. What this disqualification did was expose how still-broken the system for the formerly titled Foreign Language Film category is. Setting aside the rule of only allowing one film per country to compete (unlike the Golden Globes or any other organization that has a similar category), it made the choice of changing the category’s name now seem irrelevant if they were going to remove the ‘stigma’ of what a foreign film was. Arguments arose that were the branch to accept English-language films that we’d see countries like Canada, England and Australia able to unfairly tip the scale in a category that was created to celebrate non-US films. It’s a fair counterpoint to opening up the category to English-language films but then that doesn’t do anything about the systemic issues of race, country and language and their intertwined history. There’s now a campaign now to have the Academy put the film back in contention. It won’t likely bear much fruit; the branch already gave a statement on their decision and aren’t backing down.

So how can this be fixed? Can it? By changing the name of the category this year (on the heels of Roma’s Alfonso Cuarón in his Oscar speech this year about what a ‘foreign’ film is), it seemed the branch was trying to find a better turn of phrase in the ever-changing and ever-expanding global market of films and their recognition by the Academy. But what ended up happening is further confusing the average moviegoer, and ever Oscar-watcher, about what an ‘International Feature Film’ really is. If it’s merely that it’s a non-English language film then maybe a better name choice would have been that – Best Film Not in the English Language, as some critics and industry groups, like the International Cinephile Society and BAFTA, call it. It might go a long way to help people better understand it.

So what do this week’s Oscar predictions look like? Well, a lot like last week. We’re about to embark on AFI FEST next Thursday, which will see the premieres of Melina Matsoukas’s Queen & Slim from Universal (which has already screened for critics, to great responses), Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell and George Nolfi’s The Banker. I think most are keeping the closest eye on Richard Jewell as Warner Bros is going to position it as an awards player (unlike The Mule last year) but I might be most curious about The Banker, which is Apple’s first foray into film, just a week after they kicked off Apple TV+, their first television efforts. Any of these could turn official November Oscar predictions on their head.

Here are my Frontrunner Friday Oscar predictions for November 8, 2019.


1. Marriage Story (Netflix – 11/6, theatrical / 12/6, streaming) – Venice/Telluride/TIFF/NYFF
2. Parasite (Neon – 10/11) – Cannes/Telluride/TIFF/NYFF
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia – 7/26) – Cannes
4. Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight – 10/18) – TIFF
5. The Irishman (Netflix – 11/1 theatrical / 11/27 streaming) – NYFF
6. 1917 (Universal – 12/25)
7. The Farewell (A24 – 7/12) – Sundance
8. The Two Popes (Netflix – 11/27, theatrical / 12/20 streaming) – Telluride/TIFF/AFI
9. Little Women (Sony/Columbia – 12/25)
10. Joker (Warner Bros – 10/4) – Venice/TIFF/NYFF


1. Bong Joon-ho – Parasite (Neon)
2. Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story (Netflix)
3. Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
4. Martin Scorsese – The Irishman (Netflix)
5. Sam Mendes – 1917 (Universal)


1. Adam Driver – Marriage Story (Netflix)
2. Joaquin Phoenix – Joker (Warner Bros)
3. Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes (Netflix)
4. Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
5. Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory (Sony Classics)


1. Renée Zellweger – Judy (Roadside Attractions)
2. Charlize Theron – Bombshell (Lionsgate)
3. Awkwafina – The Farewell (A24)
4. Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story (Netflix)
5. Cynthia Erivo – Harriet (Focus Features)


1. Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
2. Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/TriStar)
3. Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes (Netflix)
4. Al Pacino – The Irishman (Netflix)
5. Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse (A24)


1. Laura Dern – Marriage Story (Netflix)
2. Jennifer Lopez – Hustlers (STX Entertainment)
3. Zhao Shuzhen – The Farewell (A24)
4. Margot Robbie – Bombshell (Lionsgate)
5. Florence Pugh – Little Women (Sony/Columbia)


1. Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
2. The Two Popes (Netflix)
3. The Irishman (Netflix)
4. Little Women (Sony/Columbia)
5. Joker (Warner Bros)


1. Marriage Story (Netflix)
2. Parasite (Neon)
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
4. The Farewell (A24)
5. Bombshell (Lionsgate)


1. Ford v. Ferrari (Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker, Dirk Westervelt) – 20th Century Fox
2. The Irishman (Thelma Schoonmaker) – Netflix
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Fred Raskin) – Sony/Columbia
4. Marriage Story (Jennifer Lame) – Netflix
5. Jojo Rabbit (Tom Eagles) – Fox Searchlight


1. 1917 (Roger Deakins) – Universal
2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Robert Richardson) – Sony/Columbia
3. The Irishman (Rodrigo Prieto) – Netflix
4. A Hidden Life (Jörg Widmer) – Fox Searchlight
5. The Lighthouse (Jarin Blaschke) – A24


1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Barbara Ling) – Sony/Columbia
2. The Two Popes (Mark Tildesley) – Netflix
3. The Irishman (Bob Shaw) – Netflix
4. Cats (Eve Stewart) – Universal
5. Ad Astra (Kevin Thompson) – 20th Century Fox


1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Arianne Phillips) – Sony/Columbia
2. Little Women (Jacqueline Durran) – Sony/Columbia
3. The Irishman (Sandy Powell) – Netflix
4. Downton Abbey (Anna Robbins) – Focus Features
5. Dolemite Is My Name (Ruth E. Carter) – Netflix


1. 1917 (Thomas Newman) – Universal
2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (John Williams) – Disney
3. Little Women (Alexandre Desplat) – Sony/Columbia
4. Joker (Hildur Guðnadóttir) – Warner Bros
5. Marriage Story (Randy Newman) – Netflix


1. Frozen II – “Into the Unknown” (Disney)
2. Toy Story 4 – “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” (Disney/Pixar)
3. Rocketman – “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” (Paramount)
4. Cats – “Beautiful Ghosts” (Universal)
5. Harriet, “Stand Up” (Focus Features)


1. 1917 (Universal)
2. Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
3. Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox
4. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
5. Joker (Warner Bros)


1. 1917 (Universal)
2. Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
3. Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
4. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
5. Rocketman (Paramount)


1. Bombshell (Lionsgate)
2. Judy (Roadside Attractions)
3. Joker (Warner Bros)
4. Dolemite Is My Name (Netflix)
5. Downton Abbey (Focus Features)


1. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
2. The Lion King (Disney)
3. Avengers: Endgame (Disney)
4. Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
5. The Irishman (Netflix)


1. Toy Story 4 (Disney/Pixar)
2. Frozen II (Disney)
3. I Lost My Body (Netflix)
4. Weathering With You (GKIDS)
5. Missing Link (LAIKA/Annapurna/UAR)


1. American Factory (Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar) – Netflix
2. Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller) – Neon
3. One Child Nation (Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang) – Amazon
4. Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov)
5. The Cave (Feras Fayyad) – National Geographic


1. South Korea – Parasite (Bong Joon-ho) – Neon
2. Spain – Pain and Glory (Pedro Almodóvar) – Sony Classics
3. France – Les Misérables (Ladj Ly) – Amazon
4. Sweden – And Then We Danced (Levan Akin) – Music Box
5. North Macedonia – Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov)


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