The Oscar race’s Super Tuesday, which featured the releases of nominations for BAFTA, the DGA and the PGA, have done more for the winnowing process than the Iowa caucuses will do for Democratic presidential contenders next month. As in Iowa, the results are not the end of the story, but they certainly swing the momentum.
Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” a frontrunner among analysts since its release, is fading fast, failing to get directing nominations for Baumbach with both BAFTA and, more significantly, the Directors Guild. Left barely breathing is Greta Gerwig’s rendition of “Little Women,” shut out at the Globes and now missing on the BAFTA and DGA director ballots. Does this couple have to break up to get any individual love?
And left for dead are the chances of an Oscar nomination for Robert De Niro, both the lead and the forgotten man from “The Irishman.” I’ll pause to say I don’t get this. Joe Pesci is being hailed by everyone for his restrained performance in Martin Scorsese’s mob epic, but the typically explosive De Niro, operating on the same level of passivity, is ignored. Humph.
On the rapid ascension with this week’s news is Sam Mendes’ “1917” and Taika Waititi’s Nazi satire “Jojo Rabbit.” Mendes’ WWI nail-biter has been among the favorites for a while, but few expected him to best rivals Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino for best director for the Golden Globe, and he and his film are in prime position to take it all.
“Jojo Rabbit,” meanwhile, has become the dark horse of the race. Met with lukewarm reviews, it has held steady in the second tier of Oscar hopefuls but the DGA nomination for Waititi, an action director moving into more cerebral territory, has made a significant leap into the top tier.
While “The Irishman” continues to show up on all the important ballots, the impression is that its once-predicted Oscar sweep is out of the question. It was shut out at the Golden Globes, which deprived Scorsese and his crew the acceptance speeches that linger in the minds of academy members, and it is no longer heresy to suggest that his movie falls short of his past mob masterpieces.
“Joker” is another film whose moon is in ascension. Once thought of as no more than a showcase for Joaquin Phoenix’s brilliant study in madness, it scored a leading 11 BAFTA nominations, perhaps because the Brits have been driven bug-nuts by Brexit, but it also landed on the best picture ballot of the Producers Guild. Its director, Todd Phillips, is missing from the DGA ballot but he got a free vegetarian meal at the Globes and his movie is in the thick of the race.
All that said, Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in America” has emerged as the clear front-runner. Yes, he lost the Globe to British director Mendes, but the foreign press voters are, you know, foreign while most academy members live, work and retire in the greater metropolitan area of Hollywood. Remember, all politics are local.
Be sure to make your Oscar nominee predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on January 13. And join in the fun debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.