Oscars

The 92nd Academy Awards took place Sunday, Feb. 9. Below is a list of which films and individuals won and which should have won for a few of the most prominent awards.

Best Picture

Winner: “Parasite”

Bong Joon-Ho’s Korean language thriller focusing on class differences and one family’s criminal greed is undoubtedly an excellent film. Filmed with vibrant colors and written to meticulously emphasize the differences between Korea’s upper and lower classes, the film is dogged in pursuit of its themes, somewhat to the detriment of individual character development. The film’s upper-class family, the Parks, were intended as a generic representation of all wealthy families, and the lower-class family, the Kims, served to represent everyone who would do anything to get a foothold in a society designed to keep people in their place. The film is a polished stone, sleek and carefully crafted, used to bash its themes into audiences’ heads. “Parasite” adhered rigidly to its metaphorical structure, delivering its messages in a calculated fashion, and then ended, offering little else in the process.

What should have won: “Jojo Rabbit” or “Little Women”

“Jojo Rabbit” is one of the best films of 2019. Director Taika Waititi managed to create a film that is fully functional both as an extremely emotional and heartfelt drama as well as a hilarious dark comedy. The movie did win for best adapted screenplay, but it deserved so much more.

Another alternative is Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” adaptation. A beautiful film, “Little Women” has a soul that Joon-Ho’s movie lacks. Its characters are fleshed out and played brilliantly, and its cinematographic atmosphere alone is enough to evoke emotions in its audience. “Little Women” is a masterpiece that surpasses “Parasite” in many ways, from the adept but not dogged conveyance of its themes to its detailed, warm and intricate portrayal of the minutiae of day-to-day life. “Little Women” may have won for costume design, but it deserved best picture.

“Parasite” is a great movie that succeeds in all of its goals. However, “Jojo Rabbit” and “Little Women” are both better films.

 

Cinematography

Winner: Roger Deakins “1917”

Sam Mendes’ latest film “1917” is an incredible achievement in filmmaking style. Edited to look like two continuous takes and taking place almost entirely in real-time, “1917” has created a new way to make war movies. The cinematography and set design replicated the World War I French landscape and lighting, creating the perfect atmosphere for its story to be told. One scene in a bombed-out town lit by moving flare light is exceptionally beautiful, almost award-worthy on its own merit. However, not even the haunting majesty of “1917” can stand up to the masterwork of cinematography that is “The Lighthouse.”

Should have won: Jarin Blaschke “The Lighthouse”

This entire film is an exercise in cinematography. Filmed in black and white, “The Lighthouse” takes place entirely on a small, isolated island in the middle of the ocean. The film is a psychological horror piece about isolation and madness, and both the sights and sounds of the film slowly ramp up from general normality to sinister creepiness as the story starts down its irreversible trajectory. It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never seen “The Lighthouse” just how magnificent and striking cinematographer Jarin Blaschke’s visuals are or how perfectly they fit into the film. The cinematography made the film from start to finish in a way that few cinematographers manage. “The Lighthouse” is a better film than “1917,” and it has far better cinematography. Blaschke deserves this award.

 

Actor in a Leading Role

Winner: Joaquin Phoenix “Joker”

Joaquin Phoenix has long been one of the greatest actors in Hollywood. He throws himself into every performance he delivers and is always spot-on in his portrayal of each character. His role as Arthur Fleck in “Joker” is no different. He brings life and complexity to the character in a way that feels unique to him. I would have preferred Phoenix had won this Oscar for one of his better roles in “Her” or “The Sisters Brothers,” but even a lesser performance like the one in “Joker” deserves this award.

Should have won: Joaquin Phoenix “Joker”

“Joker” was far from the best film nominated for this award, but Phoenix’s performance was the best on the list. Second place goes to Adam Driver in “Marriage Story.”

 

Actress in a Leading Role

Winner: Renée Zellweger “Judy”

Renée Zellweger performed admirably in “Judy,” but ultimately allowed herself to be caught somewhere between the historical accuracy of her performance as Judy Garland and the actual emotion she put into the role. The most praise seems to come from her soulful singing, which Zellweger performed herself.

Should have won: Saoirse Ronan “Little Women”

Saoirse Ronan is going to become the master actress of her generation. Already dazzling audiences and carrying complex films like “Lady Bird” by herself, Ronan has a spectacular career already and even more to look forward to. She didn’t win an Oscar this year, but she should have. Her role as Jo March in “Little Women” was magnificent and stunningly emotional in all the right ways. She is set to appear in two films this year, including Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” so audiences will have more Ronan very soon.

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