Kevin Muller‘s Oscar Picks
The Lion King
Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker
My Pick: 1917
What Will Win: 1917
While the people will be pulling for Avengers: Endgame, I feel that the sheer mastery of direction, and visual trickery, of Sam Mendes World War 1 film, will take it all. It’s a masterpiece of filmmaking that pushed the extremes of the singular shot technique.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
My Pick: Little Women
What Will Win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
The Academy always loves rewarding this one to any type of period piece, which all five can fall into, but in my opinion, Little Women will take it with its beautiful wardrobe that matched its equally beautiful production value, but on Oscar night, Hollywood will reward itself by giving the statue to the film that succeeds in recreating the wardrobe of the 1960’s.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
My Pick: Judy
What Will Win: Judy
Even though Charlize Theron looks so much like Megyn Kelly, strongly due to her chameleon like nature as an actress, the rest of the cast, specifically John Lithgow, who portrays Roger Ailes, look off. 1917’s achievements aren’t as impressive here as they are in the other categories. Joker, despite the makeup on the title character, didn’t have anything that really stood out. My pick is Judy, since Hollywood loves films about famous stars and the performer’s transformation into a legend.
Best Production Design
Once Upon a time…in Hollywood
My Pick: 1917
Will win: Parasite
Four out of five of these nominees had the task of recreating different eras than the current one. Parasite is an extremely visual film that uses metaphor and symbolism to help strengthen the film’s message. On top of that, the film built a set in a giant water tank, for the scenes that take place in the impoverished, and flood heavy zones, to make the symbolic weather event come to life.
Best Foreign Film
Pain and Glory
My Pick and Who Will Win: Parasite
Since being awarded at the Best Film prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, this film hasn’t slowed down one bit. It is loved by critics and audiences alike, and was just the first foreign film to win the “Best Ensemble Award” at the Screen Actors Guild ceremony. This one is the surefire winner for Oscar night.
Best Animated Film
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Toy Story 4
My Pick and Will Win: Klaus
Sorry, Pixar, but your original group of lovable toys won’t be walking away with the big prize. Netflix’s Klaus came out of nowhere with its beautiful, vivid, and uniquely animation done by human hands, and not computers. The only film I can see being the dark horse and taking it, not the surprise of some of its loyal fans, is the third entry in the How to Train Your Dragon series.
Best Original Score
Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker
My Pick: Little Women
Will Win: The Joker
My choice for Little Women is purely a personal preference, but Joker will take this one for sure. The music brought out the themes, strengthened the direction, and helped the audience feel every part of Phoenix’s performance. It is an unforgettable score that will be remembered for years to come.
Ford V Ferrari
My Pick and Will Win: Parasite
I don’t understand how 1917 isn’t here, since editing that massive film, with all its hidden edits, was a difficult part of an already challenging process. Anyway, I think the South Korean film will take this one as part of an upset that could happen with “Best Picture.” See, it used to be that whatever film won editing, would go on to grab the big one. That pattern, along with Director/Picture, has kind of tweedled down over the past few years. For that reason, expect Parasite to take it.
Once Upon a time…In Hollywood
My Pick and who will win: 1917
Outside of the editing, the camera work in 1917 is both beautiful and impressive to watch. The way the camera smoothly sails across both immense battlefields and claustrophobic trenches is a sight to behold. The only film that could take it down is Once Upon a Time….in Hollywood with its incredible recreation of the look films from the Golden Age of cinema.
Rian Johnson for “Knives Out”
Noah Baumbach for “Marriage Story”
Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns for “1917”
Quentin Tarantino for “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”
Bong Joon-Ho for “Parasite”
My Pick and who will win: Bong Joon-Ho for Parasite
Before the film was made, the script for Tarantino’s tribute to old Hollywood, was said to be the best script floating around Tinsel town. The movie came out and those rumors were true. The amount of lines he wrote for DiCaprio and Pitt to play around with were abundant. He created a rich history of a forgotten era, while etching out a story about the friendship between former film star and his stunt double room mate/best friend. That said, I think Tarantino is going to come up short this year. A self-proclaimed film buff, especially with ones outside the states, I feel he will be thrilled with losing it to the renowned Joon-Ho. The script for Parasite successfully mastered the genres of comedy, drama, satire, and a thriller, both in its writing and direction. The only one I could see doing a steal is Baumbach for Marriage Story.
Steven Zaillian for “The Irishmen”
Taika Waitti for “JoJo Rabbit”
Todd Phillips and Scott Silver for “The Joker”
Greta Gerwig for “Little Women”
Anthony McCarten for “The Two Popes”
My Pick: Steve Zaillian for The Irishman
Who Will Win: Taika Waititi for JoJo Rabbit
The ultimate task of adapting the epic story of Frank “The Irishman” Sheenan, with its ties to American history, the mob, along with the beautiful dialogue, is more than enough for me to get behind that screenplay, but I think Waititi will finally get his due. Not that his script is bad, it actually is fantastic in the way he tells such an innocent and impactful story, during one of the worst times in humanity. The one nominee I can see in the upset is Gerwig, who breathed new life into a classic tale that has seen many adaptations.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Tom Hanks in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
Anthony Hopkins in “The Two Popes”
Al Pacino in “The Irishman”
Joe Pesci in “The Irishman”
Brad Pitt in “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”
My Pick: Joe Pesci in The Irishman
Who Will Win: Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time….In Hollywood
For someone who came out of retirement, Pesci didn’t mis step as the head crime boss, Russell Buffalino. As with his legendary performance in the classic Goodfellas, he was extremely dangerous, but this time, it was all in a quiet and subtle way. This year though, it is going to Brad Pitt. While Leo was fun to watch, Pitt’s Cliff Booth, is the epitome of cool. Pitt gave Booth the same swagger seen in legendary actors Robert Redford, Paul Newman, and Burt Reynolds. The climax of the film, with him front and center, is the year’s most entertaining and satisfying ones in cinema this year.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Kathy Bates in “Richard Jewell”
Laura Dern in “Marriage Story”
Scarlett Johansson in “JoJo Rabbit”
Florence Pugh in “Little Women”
Margot Robbie in “Bombshell”
My Pick: Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell
Who Will Win: Laura Dern in Marriage Story
Every so often, there is one category, where one nominee sweeps every award show, and it is inevitable that they will be standing on the stage come Oscar night. This year, it is Laura Dern’s performance in Marriage Story. It isn’t that she is bad, but it is just a performance that services the film, and it is good, but I don’t think it is better than either Johansson, or Bates. In Richard Jewell, when Richard’s mother pleads with the media, to leave her son alone, it is such a devastating scene to witness, thanks to her incredible performance. When all is said and done, Dern will be up there on February 9th.
Cynthia Erico in “Harriet”
Scarlett Johansson in “Marriage Story”
Saoirse Ronan in “Little Women”
Charlize Theron in “Bombshell”
Renee Zellweger in “Judy
My Pick: Saoirse Roan in Little Women
Will Win: Renee Zellweger in Judy
Ronan’s Josephine March, is the heart and soul of that film. She does more than enough to prove that she is capable of carrying a film by providing the necessary emotions to make the character’s journey feel like our own. Zellweger was damn good as Judy. The broken nature of the legendary actress is all on display. When she belts out “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” the song hits you incredibly hard, thanks to the Zellweger’s performance throughout the film. I won’t mind it when Renee gets trophy number 2.
Antonio Banderas in “Pain and Glory”
Leonardo DiCaprio in “Once Upon a Time….In Hollywood”
Adam Driver in “Marriage Story”
Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker”
Jonathon Pryce in “The Two Popes”
My Pick and Who Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix in Joker
Twelve years ago, I remember people saying how creeped out they were watching Heath Ledger’s lip licking interpretation of prince of crime. Of course, the performance is legendary. Here, Phoenix is on another level. There were times during this film when I felt uncomfortable watching Phoenix’s Arthur slowly lose his sanity. While Nicholson, Ledger, or Hamill, were dangerous, darkly comedic, and sinister, Phoenix’s had all those qualities, but was also incredibly disturbing and creepy. What makes Phoenix’s Joker so memorable is the way he gets you to sympathize with him, despite being someone who you would avoid at all costs. By the end of the movie, Gotham is so morally corrupt that Arthur’s discovery of self-identity, by becoming one of the most legendary comic book villains ever, truly feels like a monumental moment.
Martin Scorsese for “The Irishman”
Todd Phillips for “The Joker”
Sam Mendes for “1917”
Quentin Tarantino for “Once Upon a Time….on Hollywood”
Bong Joon-ho for “Parasite”
My Pick: Sam Mendes in 1917
Who Will Win: Bong Joon-ho for Parasite
20 years ago, Sam Mendes directed one of my favorite films of all time American Beauty. It was the last time I literally cheered when a film won, but I think Mendes is going to get it snatched away by Joon-ho. I know I am all about this film, which even isn’t my favorite film of 2019, but the film is making history as the foreign film coming in with high odds to sweep the Oscars this year. Joon-ho has also been in the game for over ten years, directing Snowpiercer, a boldly creative action film, and among other films that he always adds a bit more too. Parasite works on all the necessary levels, while bringing this director’s own style to the table. It is the film not to underestimate this year.
“Ford v Ferrari”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
My Pick: The Irishman
What will win: 1917
While my heart is with The Irishman, you can’t deny the power of Mendes’ World War I picture. It isn’t a one trick pony either. Outside of the perfected single shot technique, it is a heartfelt tribute to the director’s grandfather, who gave him much of the story to work off on. It is a thrilling ride that never lets go. Outside of the battles, the recreation of the wasteland, that is war, is nothing short of spectacular. Loved by both critics and audiences alike, I fully expect this one to take the big one on Sunday.