With The Golden Globes done and dusted, Hollywood’s awards season is now in full swing with today’s reveal of the nominations for The Academy Awards. And the joker in the pack this year is, well, Joker, which has romped in with a surprise eleven nominations. While Todd Phillips’ black-acid take on the comic book movie was expected to score more than a few nods, the field leading eleven-strong haul would probably have come as a surprise to everyone, including the filmmakers themselves.
While Joaquin Phoenix was a certainty in the Best Actor category (and will likely take out the top prize, with his fellow nominees – Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Driver, Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Pryce – sitting way back on the profile/admiration scale, while the not-even-nominated The Irishman star Robert De Niro would be justified in feeling slighted, though we doubt he’d give a shit), the domination of Joker is near complete with the film represented in all major categories: Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, and more. A divisive film and a box office titan, the Oscar heist pulled by Joker will spark debate and sure-to-be-hilarious internet flare-ups (no other comic book movies received major nominations), while Phoenix’s acceptance speech will hopefully not disappoint.
The Academy Awards continue to over-stack the deck in the Best Film category, with nine flicks in the category this year, with no real surprises: Joker, 1917, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, Little Women, Parasite, Jojo Rabbit and Ford V Ferrari. It’s a rich mix with solid representation for both major studios and butt-kicking-new-kid-on-the-block Netflix, with an interesting combination of directorial big names and outsider talents. It’s always affirming to see a foreign language film in the mix, and Parasite (which also leads a very strong Best Foreign Language Film race this year with Pain And Glory, Corpus Christi, Honeyland and Les Miserables all critically acclaimed) is a well-deserved inclusion. The Best Director category (Todd Phillips, Sam Mendes, Quentin Tarantino, Bong Joon-Ho, Martin Scorsese…cue outrage over lack of female nominees, though the Korean, Italian, Trinidadian and Jewish heritages of the starters should sate those looking for more inclusion, though it probably won’t) is a fair indication of which titles have any real chance of taking out the Best Film prize.
Though there are obvious favourites in every category, some could fairly be described as being wide open. Charlize Theron’s impassioned turn as Megyn Kelly in Bombshell has earned her a Best Actress nomination, though it’s Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland in the biopic Judy that’s expected to win, as she did at the recent Golden Globes (Hollywood loves a biopic as much as it loves films about Hollywood). Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) and Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story) are also right in the mix. Laura Dern, meanwhile, is a lay down misere in the Best Supporting Actress category for her brilliant scene stealing work in Marriage Story, with her major competition coming from “Australia’s own” Margot Robbie (Bombshell), the only local around this year to get mainstream news outlets panting in their usual patriotic fervour. Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit) and Florence Pugh (Little Women) are considerably further back in the running.
Veteran Brad Pitt is in good shape for a Best Supporting Actor win (Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood), with heavy hitters Joe Pesci and Al Pacino likely to cancel themselves out for their extraordinary work in The Irishman, and Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood) and Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes) pretty much former-Oscar-winning superstar also-rans this time out.
Will the Oscars ceremony go completely insane and gift Joker a Titanic-size trophy bag? While that would be a lot of fun (especially after the warm and fuzzy win of Green Book last year), we’re tipping a wide spread of winners, with Sam Mendes’ considerably safer one-shot war epic 1917 likely to pip Todd Phillips’ zeitgeist favourite in many categories, including Best Film. In twenty years, however, it’s pretty obvious which film people will still be talking about.
It is, however, a solid list of nominees, and you know it’s a pretty good year for movies when Quentin Tarantino (a frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay – as we said, Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood – though Noah Baumbach could pick up a “consolation” gong for his much nominated Marriage Story) is not riding the controversial dark horse in the Oscars race. Will 2020 be the year of Joker? Probably not, but this dark-hued diamond will certainly cast a creepy shadow over proceedings.
For a full list of nominees, click here.