Culture Picks: Oscar winners will stay predictable

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Culture Picks: Oscar winners will stay predictable

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The Academy Awards are fast approaching, but some of this year’s winners may have revealed themselves before the big night begins.


Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Al Pacino, “The Irishman”

Libby Foster, Contributing Writer

Although Pacino is nominated as a supporting actor this year, his role in the hit movie “The Irishman” is anything but small. Pacino plays Jimmy Hoffa, the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Jimmy Hoffa is an incredibly complex and challenging character; he is both charming and formidable throughout the many eras of his life that “The Irishman” encompasses. 

Pacino doesn’t miss a beat as he describes the implications of a life like Hoffa’s while in character. “You go from point A to point B, sometimes you spill a little beer,” Hoffa said in the film. Hoffa is eventually caught for his organized criminal activity, but it’s impossible to catch Pacino slipping from character during this time of crisis. He speaks volumes with his eye movements, which are expertly shot by the camera, to portray Hoffa’s internal state. During Hoffa’s trial, these looks become more scattered as the once-invincible organizer is convicted. 

Pacino is able to embody Hoffa so well because of extensive research. He pored over real-life footage of Hoffa before shooting “The Irishman.” Pacino’s portrayal of Hoffa marks the genius of a well-practiced actor. This sort of genius deserves a nod from The Academy. 


Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Florence Pugh, “Little Women”

Annabelle Blomeley, Staff Reporter

Amy March was always the worst of the March sisters in “Little Women.” She’s not as motherly and hard-working as Meg, not as independent and energetic as Jo and certainly not as kind and empathetic as Beth. In the 1994 version of the film, Amy was just the whiny younger sister whose defining characteristic was that she constantly made the lives of her family members more difficult. She burns Jo’s book in the fireplace, complains about not having enough lemons to show up her friends and steals Jo’s big trip to France. Not to mention, she marries Jo’s first love. Not a great look.

In Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation of “Little Women”, however, Amy March is played by Pugh, who takes the character to a whole new depth that absolutely changes the interactions between the entire March family. In a movie with so many characters fighting for center stage, Pugh’s portrayal of Amy stands on her own, which can be a difficult thing to do with such a star-studded cast. 

Pugh gives Amy a personality that audiences can relate to: a girl who struggles to navigate her way in a world dominated by men and is desperately trying to figure out who she wants to be. Pugh plays Amy with dignity, whether her character is giving a hilarious speech about her petite ankles or whether she is explaining to a male character why marriage for women is an economic proposal. Pugh is absolutely a standout in her role in “Little Women,” giving audiences a character who is not only independent and hard-working, but also heartbreakingly human at the same time. By the end of the movie, Amy is transformed from the worst of the sisters to one of the best, and it’s all thanks to Florence Pugh.


Best Actor in a Leading Role: Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

Kinsley Centers | @kcentersnews, Staff Reporter

It is no joke that “Joker” is a fan favorite this year. The film, directed by Todd Phillips, was released in October 2019 and became instantly popular in theaters. Phoenix, with  his portrayal of the Joker, is one of the nominees to win an Oscar in the category of Actor in a Leading Role. The way Phoenix immersed himself into the role allowed the audience to visually grasp the understanding of what the character felt: He saw himself as unimportant and unwanted. 

Through Phoenix’s performance, he was able to bring the emotion of the script to life visually. Throughout the entire film, the character went from being serious to bursting into laughter within a split second to show the medical disorder he suffers from. Phoenix’s ability to switch his emotion so quickly, verbally and non-verbally, was fascinating. It all seemed so natural for him to accomplish every aspect of the performance of the character. During the outrage and fit-throwing scenes, Phoenix expressed the helplessness and hurt the character was feeling after each betrayal. He truly channeled his inner Joker and did a job well done. I predict Phoenix will win his first Oscar on Sunday night for his Joker performance by a landslide.


Best Actress in a Leading Role: Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”

Annabelle Blomeley, Staff Reporter

Jo March is the heart and soul of “Little Women,” whether it be in the book or the numerous movies. Jo is the one who stands out and captivates audiences. While this may seem like the role would be hard shoes to fill, Ronan does it with such ease and grace that it’s hard to picture anyone else in the role (and Winona Ryder played Jo fantastically in 1994). In Greta Gerwig’s 2019 remake of the movie, Ronan brings a new life to Jo – one that is full of humor and playfulness but isn’t afraid to show the heartbreaking reality of life as a woman in the 18th century. 

Ronan’s portrayal of Jo makes every happy moment happier, every humorous moment funnier and every sad moment even more tragic. Every character that Jo interacts with is heightened by the chemistry and energy that Ronan gives every scene, whether she’s dancing around a porch with Laurie or crying to her mother about being lonely. Ronan gives Jo her absolute all, painting the character as an exceptionally independent woman who still doubts herself and her abilities in a uniquely human way. Ronan somehow made an almost perfect character even better.


Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, “1917”

Leah Goggins | @leahisonline, Assistant Culture Editor

Predictions are more about hypotheses than hopes, which is why Deakins’ work on “1917” will surely win the Oscar in 2020. In short, he will win because I don’t really want him to. 

Deakins and director Sam Mendes shot the film so that it would appear to have been done in a single take. The cuts, which are meant to be hidden, are obvious to anyone looking for them. The camera often dives behind a doorway or darts away from the lead actors, giving the film’s editors a chance to cobble two shots together in the darkness of a pitch-black room or the distracting chaos of an explosion. 

The Academy loves a one-shot picture. It gave Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman” awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography in 2015. It also loves Deakins, who has been nominated in the category several times, including a year when he was nominated against himself. This would only be Deakins’ second win. 

Despite the colorful, compelling vistas of “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” and the orthochromatic, aged look of “The Lighthouse,” the Oscar will no doubt go to one of The Academy’s favorite old pals.


Best Director: Bong Joon-Ho

Libby Foster, Contributing Writer 

Joon-Ho, a South Korean director, has been making beautiful films since the release of his 2003 “Memories of Murder.” This year, though, the director received international acclaim with the release of “Parasite.” 

“Parasite” is a complex showcase of the potential of Asian cinema. Its expert union of cast, production and cinematography seamlessly tells the story of an impoverished Korean family seeking upward mobility. They wish for this social advancement by latching onto domestic service positions in a rich family’s household. Joon-Ho’s film is a commentary into everlasting social divisions present in societies across the globe. He builds this message by presenting dichotomies throughout the film. He contrasts the rich and poor families’ homes and life outlooks to reveal the positive and negative implications of wealth. 

With “Parasite,” Joon-Ho established himself as one of the world’s most talented and influential directors. Considering his recent success and his impressive body of work, he is more than deserving of Best Director. 


Best Picture: “1917,” Unless…

Kinsley Centers | @kcentersnews, Staff Reporter

The Oscar for Best Picture will surely be a close run. I have seen a variety of predictions of what film will win this category on social media, but the majority of those responses seem to predict the award will fall into the hands of nominees “1917” or “Parasite.” “1917” already won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, so it could easily take home the Oscar for this category. “Parasite,” a stunning comedy, crime and drama film, has a high chance of winning as well with the popular attention it is getting. From what I have seen, it looks like it is a half-and-half response from viewers that have made their Oscar predictions. 

According to a prediction voting poll on IMBD.com, “Parasite” is in the voters’ favorite to win, with second being “1917” and third being “Joker.” This voting system only counts votes if users are registered and logged into their IMBD account, so I am considering it to get a visual of who viewers would like to see win. Despite the prediction poll, with the consideration of the hefty amount of recognition and awards that “1917” has already received, I predict they will add to their trophy case and take home the Oscar for Best Picture on Sunday. 

This is one of the most competitive categories due to the popular mix of responses to the two out of nine nominated films, so it will be a close call. If “1917” does not win, there is a possibility of an upset with “Parasite” winning the award, which will allow it to be the first foreign language film to win this category at the Oscars.


The 92nd Academy Awards will broadcast from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles tonight at 7 p.m. CST. Viewers can turn to ABC (local channel 33) to watch from home.