Published on: April 23, 2021
For the first time in a long time, I've seen all of the Best Picture nominees for this year's Academy Awards, and the vast majority of the films in the other major categories - all without having been to a movie theater in, like, forever. Streaming has been very, very good for me.
I actually think that it largely has been a very good year for movies - the Best Picture category is incredibly strong. So here are my choices - not who I think will win, but who I would vote for if I had a vote. With, of course, brief explanations.
Best Picture: The Father
Mrs. Content Guy disagrees with me on this one; she would choose Nomadland, which I loved … and yet, because of the quality of all the other nominees, it wouldn't even make the top four. I loved Judas and the Black Messiah and Promising Young Woman more, because they made me think about issues and movements in fundamentally different ways than I had before. And I just loved The Trial of the Chicago 7 because, well, I love everything Aaron Sorkin does. But The Father made me understand dementia in a way I never did before, by making me experience it as an audience member.
Best Director: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
Just a terrific thriller that walked a tightrope of styles and emotions and never fell off. (And Florian Zeller, director of The Father, wasn't nominated in this category.)
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Anthony Hopkins, The Father
An extraordinary performance. Sorry, Chadwick Boseman - who was great in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, but Hopkins was transcendent.
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
I'm torn here between Davis and Carey Mulligan from Promising Young Woman - both were fearless. So I flipped a coin. (Note: I have not yet seen Andra Day in The United States v. Billie Holiday, nor Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman. So this is an uninformed pick.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Beats the hell out of me. I saw all the films in this category and loved all the performances. But Kaluuya may be the performances that stayed with me the longest.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Another coin flip. I saw all the movies in this category except Hillbilly Elegy - which held no appeal to me, though Glenn Close probably win because the role just looks like Oscar bait and she's never won an Oscar. But I thought Bakalova was great, and she won the coin toss.
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Father
Brilliant. Everything I said above still goes.
Best Original Screenplay: Promising Young Woman or Judas and the Black Messiah
I just can't make up my mind on this one, and I still have a soft spot for Aaron Sorkin's work on The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Best Original Song: “Speak Now," from One Night in Miami, with music and lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth
Terrific song, and besides, I have to root for Odom, with whom I once shared a stage at a Produce Marketing Association convention. I’m guessing he won't thank me, though...
A reminder. This is a list of how I would vote. My guess/prediction is that Nomadland will probably be a big winner.
Just to elaborate on a point I made above - I was really blown away by Promising Young Woman when I watched it last weekend. It blends so many different genres, but at heart it is a Hitchcockian thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I really recommend it.
My wine of the week is the 2016 Griffin, from Griffin Creek, a Willamette Valley Vineyard label that comes from the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon. This is an absolutely delicious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot that is full-bodied and balanced … perfect with a nicely grilled steak.
That's it for this week. I hope you have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.
Stay safe. Be healthy.