(COURTESY / THE OSCARS)
As the 2020 Oscars season comes to a close, Eye of the Tiger’s A&E staff put together their own nominee list.
1. JoJo Rabbit
Jojo Rabbit might be one of the saddest movies I have ever seen. Then again, it is also among the funniest movies I have ever seen. It masterfully balances a tone that can be classified as a “Dramedy.” Taika Waititi is at his best in this movie. Whether it be acting or directing, he does not miss a beat. You can sit there at the credits and search for a flaw but it is hard to find any. This movie has a rewatchability to it. This will definitely be one of those movies that I watch periodically.
Although the movie is focused on this “dramedy” theme, the cinematography adds to the emotion featured in the movie. Whether it be foreshadowing with close shots, or creating comedy through a wide shot, the movie simply would not be complete without the camera work.
The best part of this movie is Scarlett Johanson. Not only is she at her best, but her character is written so perfectly. Her relationship with her son is so unique and it plays out perfectly.
One of the comedic aspects of the movie is the music. They made the decision to recreate well-known English songs into German that made you laugh and cry in the sad scenes.
There are so many twists in this movie that are gut-wrenching. This bittersweet story about a boy and his imaginary friend Hitler definitely deserves to get an Oscar this year.
2. Little Women
What I loved the most about “Little Women” was the play with lighting and color. The movie started out as muted warms. As Beth progressed in her sickness, the past had more warm colors, while the present was more cool colors. It grew to the point that the colors were so strikingly different, you could feel the depth to the emotion and the utter longing and desire for the past to be brought back once more. One small detail that I loved was that while the other sisters were experiencing more darker, cooler tones of color, Amy didn’t have any of that until she heard the news of Beth. Her shots featured white light instead.
I also really enjoyed the rewriting of the story. While Louisa May Alcott’s book progresses in chronological order, Greta Gerwig rewrote it beautifully, in the sense that things from the past combined with the present to tell the story. It was formatted in a way that doesn’t seem possible until written and accomplished well. One thing to be noted was how good the actors were in the film, due to them fully embodying who they were playing: Saoirse Ronan was ambitious and stubbornly determined like Jo, Florence Pugh was cunning and manipulative, yet still lovable like Amy, Timothée Chalamet was funny, caring, and the greatest friend, much like Laurie. The characters came to life because the actors brought them to life.
Not to mention, Chalamet made Laurie desperate, but yet still cool. He wasn’t gross and annoying like he is often painted out to be in other versions. It fully encompassed the idea that he was a good friend and it made sense why Jo would be content to settle with him.
The movie also made you realize different points and themes that weren’t so obvious in the book. It made me not only love the movie, but love the book even more for it. The movie, however, wasn’t just a copy of the book or it’s previous remakes- it added depth, and love, and somehow even more emotion for the viewer than the already deep and emotional book.
3. Uncut Gems
Uncut Gems is unlike any sort of Adam Sandler movie ever made. As one of the only R-rated movies Sandler has ever made, it was phenomenal, telling the story of a man – Howard Ratner – who could never get it right. The thriller is anything but predictable, and shows a new side of Sandler never seen before. Yes, we’ve seen Sandler struggle with family issues, but never at the high stakes that Uncut Gems depicts. The violence, arising threats, and never ending problems keep everyone watching the movie wanting more and on the edge of their seats.
The story, at first, seems to be all over the place, with Ratner having so many problems to deal with that it is difficult to keep track of who’s who. But after a while, Sandler does an exceptional job as director to clear up everything while also using the confusion as a sign of Ratner’s destructive behavior.
Idina Menzel, who plays Ratner’s wife, is a surprisingly good choice of actresses. Like Sandler, I’ve never really seen her act in a serious role, yet she does an outstanding job. As the wife of a man who has serious gambling and financial problems, you wouldn’t expect Menzel to play the harsh wife who doesn’t put up with her cheating husband. Instead she takes it head on and does so flawlessly.
Even though Midway didn’t do too well at the box office, it was a great portrayal of the legendary Battle of Midway. The Battle of Midway was the naval battle that turned the tide of the Pacific Theater in WWII. The film, directed by Roland Emmerich, stars prominent actors such as Ed Skrein, Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, and Nick Jonas.
There is one key part of this film that makes it stand out amongst other war films, and that is the enemy’s perspective. Throughout the movie you get to understand the intentions of the Japanese and why they wanted to attack Pearl Harbor, take the island of Midway, and finally conquer the Pacific. You learn how much they value honor, and their intentions that somehow make you empathetic towards them. The climax of the film has great fighting, with CGI that is slightly lacking, but overall isn’t too noticeable.
Overall, Midway is a very solid film that will have you on the edge of your seat. While the CGI and digitized combat is somewhat questionable, the addition of the Japanese perspective is one of the fantastic parts of this film that makes it stand out from the many other World War II movies made in the past.
The Irishman was a big win for Netflix. It was genius of them to let Martin Scorsese have free creative range with the movie. This is one of the few outlets that would allow for a three and a half hour movie and they knew that those kinds of directors crave opportunities like that. While this movie is great, it is not quite as good as I was hoping it would be. While it is its own story about Jimmy Hoffa and his life as a politician, it rings very similar to Goodfellas. The entire time I was watching the movie I had the urge to just turn it off and watch Goodfellas. There are some incredible scenes that are very extensive and they would not have been able to do with a shorter run time, but it does drag and I had to take a couple breaks. Having said all this, the movie is still fantastic and classic Scorsese. Joe Pesci is one of my favorite actors and his dynamic with DeNiro is great. I would not be mad at all if this took the win for best picture.
The Joker is a definite choice for an Oscar. The movie was fantastic- everything from the lighting and scenery, to acting. This movie is unique because it tells a type of origin story for famed villain, the Joker. It did something that to me was quite different. Instead of focusing on a more action hero based approach, they instead developed more on Arthur Fleck and how his depression built up with psychosis that led him down his dark path to become Joker.
Starting with the set, there is a strong basis for Gotham and the world Arthur lives in. To create the city of Gotham, they filmed around New York and New Jersey for the backdrop. The use of bright, funky colors helps the audience to transition into the late 70s early 80s, because it is set in 1981.
Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Arthur Fleck was phenomenal. He used such emotion and pain to convey the character. He also used his eyes to show the pain his character was feeling emotionally.
Joker displays a parallel into what society is today. Politicians only thinking about the wealthy upper class, increased crime, and sub-par health care for lower income individuals. It really allows you to connect emotionally and empathize with Arthur when he gets kicked around by society for most of the film- and that’s something a lot of people can relate to.
Seeing the way he’s treated, also always the ability to see his mental health decline, as well as how he copes with it by dancing and daydreaming. It’s kind of cool because for a moment in the film it’s just him, in that moment, with the whole city silent.
Joker should definitely win because it’s not just a film- it’s an emotional, well crafted piece of art, that takes you on a dark origin story to discover how a favorite villain came to be.