|Chill, man! It's not that artistic!|
|Mroe like DORKseid LOL|
|Chill, man! It's not that artistic!|
|Mroe like DORKseid LOL|
Predicted Winner: Nomadland
This was an early favourite for best of the year, and might be the best of the year of this list from what I've seen, which is admittedly only three. Oof. This is a rough year - none of these are especially culturally or commercially successful, but then again, everything has been dispersed in the Age of Streaming, and that was before COVID-19 obliterated any remaining sense of shared culture. I liked Nomadland a lot more than I thought I would, it's timely without being redundant, well directed and acted, and has certainly stuck in my brain as THE movie of the year.
Predicted Winner: Zhao
So, if we were to pay attention to the Academy's track record at all, they would never hand this to an Asian Woman. But Zhao was great, there is buzz for her, and it's a great opportunity to correct a sincere gap in their on-going diversity issue. And if you ignore all that, it can be a great token win for closet racists to use to point to the false fact that the Academy isn't racist! I could see this going to Fincher, he's the kind of director who has had enough high profile projects to never win, but this actually isn't much the case. They've never awarded Tarantino this honor, who is in a similar position.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Predicted Winner: McDormand
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING
Predicted Winner: Seyfried
I don't think Seyfried does all that great of a job in Mank, but she got early buzz, and oof, as long as nothing from Hillbilly Elegy wins. Bakalova is certainly deserving, but I'm really hard pressed to believe that the Academy takes Borat that seriously. Comedic actors, especially ones in reality or mockumentary movies rarely win, despite this being an obviously much more difficult and impressive acting job. I don't think The Father is well known enough and I don't know a thing about Minari besides Steven Yeun, so there.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Predicted Winner: Boseman
This is probably just collective grief, I'm not sure what Boseman even does with this role, but losing him in 2020 still really hurts. Riz Ahmed could be a great upset, but this feels like the award that no one would be upset about. Boseman, despite being in a handful of great roles, doesn't really have a long Oscar history, but this feels right.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING
Predicted winner: Kaluuya
It's fun that Get Out (2017) alumni Kaluuya and Stanfield are both here (and both in that movie together). Also, they're both Supporting Actors? Like, Academy, this is what we're talking about when we call you racist. I'd love to see Lakeith win this one day, but Kaluuya is a little higher profile. Wouldn't it be fun if two Black Panther (2017) actors won! I was thinking Leslie Odom Jr had some buzz, but this is where we're at.
Predicted Winner: Nomadland
Borat feels weird here - is it even a screenplay? I mean, kudos for their COVID improvisation but awarding it here feels weird. What is it adapted from? Reality? One Night in Miami is just like, exactly the stage play, which is good but not really winning worthy. The only one left is Nomadland again, honestly who has ever heard of these other random films.
Predicted Winner: Promising Young Woman
So, does this go to Sorkin again? It's the only movie here that I watched and thought, "Man this screenplay is great," at which point I didn't even know Sorkin wrote it, to which I thought, "Oh, that makes sense." I don't want it to always go to him. And the Academy won't, either! Promising Young Woman is really the second best film nominated and won't win much else. So, here you go.
Predicted Winner: "Speak Now"
Wait wait wait....are Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams singing Eurovision at this ceremony? Or better yet.....over zoom?! I know it wasn't really Rachel McAdams in that movie. That's still great. "Speak Now" is legit, though - especially because they somehow made it seem like a genuine Sam Cooke song. Also, read about Sam Cooke, mostly how his widow married Bobby Womack, and then their daughter married Womack's brother. Anyway, I watched that movie and actually listened to the whole song during the credits. It's great, give it a statue.
Predicted Winner: Mank
Ugh, I hate to say it - this category should always go to a big lavish blockbuster like TENET where the production design is really creative, ground-breaking, complex, and integral to the story, but it almost always goes to some random period drama in recent years. Mank fits that bill, and there are enough fogies that reminisce about old Hollywood. It IS good. I guess.
Predicted Winner: Nomadland
It deserves this, there's not really a ton of other competition unless shit gets real random. It really does an amazing job with a distinct variety of locations, temperatures, seasons, and times of day that all looks coherent and awe-inspiring, contrasted with the difficulty of the kind of life the nomads have chosen (or not chosen). This will probably go to Mank or something stupid.
Predicted Winner: Emma
C'mon, this is such an Emma category. It's just so random and frustrating. Ma Rainey would be fun, would the Academy give this to the Black Period Piece? I mean, why trust them now? Also, there was a Pinocchio movie this year?!
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND
Predicted Winner: Sound of Metal
They finally combined the Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories, which doesn't seem fair to mixers and editors, especially because there hasn't actually been a ton of overlap recently. Will this actually go to the movie where sound is critical? This is far from a guarantee, but should be the no brainer, so here we go.
Predicted Winner: Soul
Yeah. It should probably be Soul. The fun jazzy soundtrack fits the theme, narrative, and characters, and it's engaging enough without being overbearing. I've seen Da 5 Bloods and Mank from this list, and neither really stands out. This is again the no brainer choice, but that's not always clear cut.
Predicted Winner: TENET
I hate the visual effects category so much. Never once going to a Star Wars, Marvel, or Transformers film (Spider-Man 2  doesn't count). Anyway, this all means it's not going to Mulan. Any of these could actually pull an upset, but considering Inception and Interstellar both won, TENET has some clear precedent. It's also truly deserving and crafted with unique practical effects.
Predicted Winner: Chicago 7
Sound of Metal or Nomadland could get this, but in our fractured cultural landscape right now I don't think any film is dominating. The editing of Chicago 7 drives the story forward and reveals more as it goes. Some of that may be the screenplay, but it feels engaging and crisp. I dunno, this could go to anyone. This is more a way for more films to win something, which I think will happen.
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Predicted Winner: Hillbilly Elegy
This is purely on the fact that some truly, truly terrible films have won this award in recent years. Most of those films are more about how that film's whole deal was the make-up. Obviously, this means it should go to Borat. But yeah, making Glenn Close and Amy Adams look like weird gross Ohio people will probably take the cake and everyone will be like WHAAAA?! Everyone but me! Go Buckeyes!
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
Predicted Winner: Another Round
This is that weird situation that Parasite (2019) had, where, okay, isn't the only film nominated in another category (Best Director) clearly going to already be the best Foreign Film? This is also the most notable foreign film of the year, with a weird and compelling premise that has tended to elevate it above whatever other random collection of international movies here. Also, note the category change, so no Minari or Lord of the Rings I guess.
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
Predicted Winner: "Two Distant Strangers"
Time loops and cops killing black people are in right now and "Two Distant Strangers" has both! Might we be fatigued of both? I mean, I know we are, but that doesn't stop anyone.
Predicted Winner: Soul
Pixar has doubled its chances to win this year. Seriously, Pixar vs. Pixar - what the hell? Soul is more recent in memory, and probably the better film. It certainly has the edge. Shaun the Sheep isn't an unfamiliar franchise, but if you were a betting person, Pixar is the animated film to go with. Obviously, the true great film here is Wolfwalkers, but that would be a sincere longshot that goes against the populous grain that his category has long settled into.
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Predicted Winner: "Opera"
I'll give "Genius Loci" credit for being a living Picasso film, but it's too weird. "Burrow" is too lame, "If Anything Happens" too traumatic, "Opera" to vague to Google, and "Yes-People" way too pointy noses. "Opera" actually seems okay, let's go with that one.
Predicted Winner: Collective
Good evening, folks! Are you watching the Super Bowl right now? I've gotten so angry at Tom Brady that I'm instead diving into a topic that has been on mind for literally days. Despite my long history with Star Wars, I have had a significant gap in my knowledge in that I have never gotten into The Clone Wars animated series. Oh, I watched all of Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars back in the day, but I never quite dipped into Dave Filoni's work.
In what I'm sure is perfectly targeted corporate synergy, my mind was changed after watching The Mandalorian on Disney+. There are a handful of characters and events that directly reference The Clone Wars, and obviously with the series conveniently located on the same streaming platform, I decided to check it out. I have always heard good things about the show, but had been turned off for years mostly for two big reasons:
First, the Clone Wars movie from 2008 was terrible. All of it felt like the death knell for Star Wars - instead of an epic, only nine-times in a lifetime event, it just seemed like a glorified made for TV movie. It just wasn't a very high quality experience. I may have just been aging out of it, as well. By this point I was 22 years old, and this movie was clearly made for children. I don't know, I was watching a lot of Ben 10, Generator Rex, and Total Drama Island in this era. Shit, also a lot of Flapjack and Adventure Time. Okay, I have no excuse because I was watching a lot of children's shows. Or maybe that is enough of an indictment - I watched all this crap around the turn of the decade and The Clone Wars STILL felt like a children's show to me.
Second, the very idea seemed flawed. Not only did it seem superfluous since the movies released years prior showed us both the beginning and end of the Clone Wars, seemingly robbing the show of its narrative potential, but the entire in-universe point of the war seemed to give the show cringey connotations. This was a show designed to market Clonetrooper toys and cheer on their exploits - how was that possible when we knew that in the end they would be programmed to execute Order 66 and slaughter all the Jedi? It always felt very naive to center a show about these armies, when the entire point was that these were Clones vs. Droids in the biggest fake-out war of all time. Again, it seemed to rob the story of any weight.
But, Mandalorian, so I watched a few episodes. I specifically checked out the episodes centered around Mandalore. These spread out over both early and later seasons, and culminated in the final couple stories that tied in directly to the events of Revenge of the Sith (2005). There is a marked difference between the first few season and their later efforts.
The early episodes are nigh unwatchable for all the reasons I feared. Characters blatantly lay out their emotions, lack coherent motivation, and it feels generally designed to pander to a more child-like audience. It falls very heavily on the side of cheering on the Clonetroopers, which while that is technically cheering the Republic and perseverance of democracy, we also know that Sidious is behind everything. They present no qualms with this juxtaposition and play it straight. Clonetroopers are heroes, saving the day!
As the series progresses, though, the possible satire becomes more evident. The way I have always interpreted Star Wars is that Anakin is basically right in Revenge of the Sith. The Jedi have become corrupt and too involved in Galactic politics. They are so far removed from the order of peaceful monks established in the Original Trilogy. This is all over the films. Instead of a peaceful hermit, Yoda is a huge power player, spinning lightsabres and pushing agendas. Instead of being one with nature, the Force is commodified, quantified, and analyzed through midichlorians. This seems purposeful - the institution had to be destroyed in order to be rebuilt. The Prequels seem to demonstrate this intelligently but always muddled their message by framing the corrupted Jedi as the ostensible heroes in the story. Their actions are glorified in a pretty straight way, not in say, a Starship Troopers (1997) way. It makes me think that George Lucas genuinely had something interesting to say about how powerful institutions lose their way and become corrupted but he also really wanted to sell a lot of toys and not stray all thaaaat far from a successful blockbuster hero formula.
It makes a lot of sense - why were the Jedis generals? This doesn't vibe at all with the peaceful hermits in the original trilogy. The Clone Wars finally actually hones in on this, mainly through Ahsoka. She's really a brilliant character that they can use to point out the Jedi's hypocrisy - she's not a main character from the movies that would require some heavy explaining, or more importantly, would actively be criticising the Galactic institution they are working for. Anakin is an admittedly weird example, but his fall does have a tremendous amount to do with the realization that the Jedi are not serving their original purpose. Sure, the reaction probably shouldn't be to kill all the younglings, but he's still right.
The Clone Wars begins to hone in on this, especially in the last few episodes. The cracks in the war start to show, though the unlikely sources of Darth Maul, Ahsoka, and a Clonetrooper Commander named Rex whose Order 66 brain chip Ahsoka disables. The thing is, though, it's not necessarily blatant. There is still room to take everything that happens straight. It really depends on your perception. There is a lot of hokey elements, though. The opening 1940s serial narration you could interpret as genuine or as over-the-top propaganda. Again, the ascension of Palpatine is obvious, it's the whole point. So that shadow looms over the entire series - which makes treating everything at face value feel very awkward.
There is also the simple fact that the CIS' reason for seceding from the Galactic Republic are never really explained well. Did they just...not want their corporations to be taxed? They really are Trade Federations, Intergalactic Banking Clans, and of course the Techno Union. It's really like they all just didn't want to be regulated so they went to war with the government. That sounds like such a farce, but the added layer is that no one really questions the reasons for war. Even the Jedi are like, "Whelp, time to fight droids I guess. Choppy choppy!" There is a lot of "Fighting to preserve Democracy!" which sounds insane coming from a series and films that premiered during the Bush years.
We also don't talk enough about how this war featured mass-produced droids fighting mass-produced clones. It just all feels like bullshit produced by higher powers who didn't want to get their hands dirty. This is built into the premise, of course, but where it gets weird is when they demonstrate these clones fighting with real valor and droids with real personalities. Is it truly postmodern? Or does it exist in a space where genuine emotion can exist despite its superfluous and hollow origins?
So, to level with everyone, this show is a money-making machine designed for children without much room for nuance. It's not a dirty, underground satire designed to upset the natural order. At the same time, though, it totally is. We don't give Lucas and Filoni enough credit for pulling this off - or maybe they deserve derision for sincerely bunging and muddying a clear message of parody. All the glory of war, patriotism, and celebration of heroics rings so false in this world, but you need a top-down view to understand that.
In the end, I'm torn of whether or not this was all on purpose. There is other supporting nonsense. Obi-Wan is a total dick and borderline fascist. Anakin is cocky, arrogant, and above it all. The show does a nice job of highlighting a lot of other weird side characters and shows their story, but it all feels very off.
So, I'm pretty torn on this - what do you think? Is The Clone Wars the most brilliant satire of both its own universe and war in general or is it just nonsense?