Best Picture nominations you need to see before Hollywood’s biggest night

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Joaquin Phoenix performance in "Joker" earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Ariel Caspar and Thomas Cathey

By Ariel Caspar and Thomas Cathey

For the first Academy Awards ceremony of the decade, there are many films nominated that usually don’t fit the description of the typical “Oscar-winning” movie, as the Academy usually tends to favor indie, arthouse-style films. But with comic book-based films like “Joker” and action-thrillers like “1917”, the Academy may be looking to break the norm this year. Here are the Oscar nominations for Best Picture:

 

“Parasite” (Bong Joon-ho) – This Korean-language film is nominated in six categories at the Academy Awards, including best foreign language film. The plot centers around an impoverished family of four, who weasel their way into working for a wealthy South Korean family, and the mental and physical toll they deal with from entering the lives of this family. With exceptional cinematography, acting and storytelling, “Parasite” has generated Oscar buzz since its release.

 

 

“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” (Quentin Tarantino) – Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film is nominated in 10 categories, including Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Rick Dalton, a struggling actor who is attempting to revive his career in late 1960s Hollywood. Tarantino’s unconventional style of filmmaking combined with stellar comedic performances from DiCaprio and his co-star Brad Pitt make this movie a standout at the 92nd Oscars. 

 

 

“1917” (Sam Mendes) – “1917” is a war-thriller set in the backdrop of a war-ridden France during World War I, as two British soldiers who embark on a perilous mission behind enemy lines. What makes “1917” different from the other nominated movies is the way it’s filmed. The entire movie is made to look like it was completed in one take, which is typically difficult to pull off. Director Sam Mendes’ latest film is nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including best cinematography for Roger Deakins.

 

 

“Joker” (Todd Phillips) – It’s a rarity that comic book-based films get nominated for an Oscar, but “The Hangover” director Todd Phillips has managed to change that perception with “Joker”. Set in early 1980s Gotham, the film follows Arthur Fleck (played by Joaquin Phoenix) as he slowly continues his descent into madness and devolves into the early stages of the Joker we know from the movies and comics. 

 

 

“The Irishman” (Martin Scorsese) – “The Irishman,” adapted from the novel, “I Heard You Paint Houses,” is up for 10 Academy Awards, among these including Best Picture, Best Director, two nominations for Best Supporting Actor and surprisingly a nomination for Best Visual Effects. The film was nominated in this category for the incredible achievement of technologically de-aging the characters several years, since the film spans over 25 years, 1955 to 1982. The film centers around Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), who finds himself involved with high ranking Pennsylvania mobster, Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and his crime family. As Sheeran proves his loyalty as a hitman, he also finds himself going to work for Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), a well-known community leader involved in organized crime. The film gives some insight into Hoffa’s disappearance in 1975. With a run time of nearly three- and-a-half hours, watching this film requires focus and determination, but watching the film in its entirety is well worth it. “The Irishman” is promising with its all-star cast including legends such as Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel. This one may take the cake…

 

 

“Ford V Ferrari” (James Mangold) – “Ford v Ferrari,” only nominated in four Oscar categories including best picture and achievement in sound and editing categories, follows the true story of automobile designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and dauntless British race car driver, Ken Miles (Chrisitan Bale), as they attempt to build the first ever Ford race car, that can withstand the 24 hour Le Mans in France in 1966. Shelby and Miles fight Ford’s corporate interferences and their own personal struggles to defeat the long-time winning race cars of Enzo Ferrari. Ford v Ferrari is thrilling with unexpected twists and turns – pun intended.

 

 

“Jojo Rabbit” (Taika Waititi) – “Jojo Rabbit” is nominated in six categories, among these including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Costume Design. The film centers around a young German boy, Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), who finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic in the midst of World War II. Jojo is guided by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, and soon has to come to terms with the moral issues regarding his blind nationalism. This film stars 12-year-old Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Betzler), Taika Waititi (Hitler) and Scarlett Johansson (Rosie Betzler), nominated for best supporting actress. This is Johansson’s second nomination for this year’s Oscars. “Jojo Rabbit” plays with serious themes in a quirky, satirical and comedic style, which makes it a more approachable watch. 

 

 

“Little Women” (Greta Gerwig) – “Little Women,” adapted for the big screen for the seventh time, is nominated in six categories, including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. “Little Women” displays an all-star cast, with returning Oscar nominees Saoirse Ronan (Jo March), Laura Dern (Marmee March), Timothee Chalamet (Theodore Lawrence) and three time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (Aunt March). Familiar face Emma Watson (Meg March) also graces the screen, along with fresh up and comers Florence Pugh (Amy March) and Eliza Scanlen (Beth March). The film follows four sisters and their individual journeys into womanhood. An unexpected love triangle forms following Jo’s rejection of Laurie (Chalamet), Jo pursues writing in New York, Amy pursues painting in Paris, Meg pursues love at home while timid youngest sister Beth develops a devastating illness that brings the family together. Gerwig’s “Little Women” is a lovely triumph of feminine choice and power.

 

 

“Marriage Story” (Noah Baumbach) – “Marriage Story,” is nominated in six categories, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The film follows the inevitable divorce of a theatrical couple (Charlie and Nicole Barber) played by Oscar nominees Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Charlie Barber is a New York stage director married to young actress, Nicole, who originally hails from Los Angeles. Charlie and Nicole endure the challenging process of a coast to coast divorce and ultimately make the decision that is best for their young son. This film was directed in a very interesting dialectic style, since the actors recite their lines as if they are reading them off from the script, with line delivery on a spectrum ranging from monotone to incredibly over-dramatic, which reveals the role-playing nature of a marriage that was fake from the start. “Marriage Story” is a fascinating take on love lost in a marriage that may have never had real meaning.