The 2020 Oscars’ Nominations: Best Picture


Lydia Zhou, Staff Writer


The Oscars were on February 9, 2020. The Best Picture nominations category had brilliant films that opened the doors for women and people of color in the directing industry. There were also some snubs and great films that should be mentioned too. Let’s revisit all the Best Picture nominees.  

Little Women:

Directed and written by Greta Gerwig, she already had a steady reputation as a director in the film industry. Her most memorable work was Ladybird, as she is notorious for making sure women get their share both on the screen and behind the screen. The talent on screen is beyond tremendous with stars like Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern and, Timothee Chalamet. Their characters light up the screen and each has incredible chemistry. Little Women is based on the very famous and classic book by Louisa May Alcott. The film has been adapted 6 times into film, each one that took place in a different decade with small tweaks in the storylines. I think the big difference with this film is that this story revolves around the power women have through women, not men. Gerwig put this into place by filming the perspectives around the sisters. The other adaptations tried to focus on women, but the execution was not there. Gerwig also uses her own experiences, stories, and past to shape the feminist aspect of this film. This film came close to getting the award, but the chances of it winning are low because the academy won’t be confident enough to give it to a female-directed film. If you are looking for a film that reinforces your idea of sisterhood and family, this is the film for you. 

Marriage Story:

Directed by Noah Baumbach, he is already critically acclaimed in the screenplay world. Winning Best Screenplay in his film The Squid and the Whale, he already established that he is a skilled writer. He decided to explore the directing field and was obviously a natural as seen in Marriage Story. The film stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, who play wife and husband going through a divorce. Their court case is at first the main focus, but slowly the audience sees how the past mistakes each person made and how the divorce now causes problems. A unique editing style Baumbach used was in the beginning. There was a voiceover of each person, talking about what they love about each other. I think this is implemented to prepare the audience to believe they were once in love since the rest of the movie is about them falling out of love. They have a child, and one wants to live in California while the other wants to live in New York. It is tear-jerking and devastating to see these families get separated. Their fights always escalate quickly and almost seems like it would end in hatred. But somehow the mood shifts at the end, with the two crying in each other’s arms. This film had a good chance of winning but might lose because it’s more traditional than it’s strong competitors. This film isn’t one of those million-dollar box office hits that have fancy action clips. If you are looking for the beauty of raw human relationships and the underlying feeling of love, this is the perfect film for you. 


Directed by Bong Joon Ho, this film was the winner! It caused such controversy and was a game-changer for what’s to come in the film industry. Winning both best picture and best foreign film, it shocked many. I don’t think the world expected it to win an award that was infamous for giving their acknowledgment to white-washed or male-dominated films. Yes, each year we produce groundbreaking foreign films, mainly to justify their slim amount of diversity, but they never get recognized for Best Picture. They get nominated but never win. For example in 2019, Green Book, an extremely white film, won Best Picture. But also nominated was Roma, a Spanish Foreign Film. They were both neck to neck, but eventually, Green Book won. The Oscars did learn from last year, as Parasite was immediately recognized as one of the best films this year by everyone. Parasite is a South Korean film, mixed with thriller, drama, and comedy. This film is almost perfect, with the way Bong uses cinematography, lighting, and dialogue to transform each scene to the next level. But, I think the most memorable part is how the plot is related to the real modern economic classes, the differences, and similarities between the wealthy and the poor and how far one is willing to take to get it. Each moment had me on the edge of my seat, I genuinely didn’t know what was going to happen next. The beginning started off as a comedy, but slowly descended into horror. The characters are unexpectedly relatable and their actions leave you thinking for days. 


Directed by Sam Mendes, this film won the Golden Globe for Best Picture. Therefore, many critics thought of this as a close second to Parasite. This World War I film focuses on two British soldiers, Lance Corporal Schofield and Lance Corporal Blake. In the middle of the war, they are hopeless and ready to give up but are suddenly faced with an impossible challenge of crossing into the enemy’s region. They deliver a message that has the power to save all their fellow soldiers, including Blake’s family member. This film has gained immense recognition for filming all the scenes in one shot. Obviously, that would be very tiresome so it is not all one shot. But instead, the director used continuous shots that look blended together. I think this is the reason it feels so personal and almost interactive in a way. I feel like most war films are filled with crazy special effects that seem so unrealistic to the point I am not even interested anymore. But 1917 makes me feel like I am on that battlefield surrounded by soldiers. Also, the film explores each character’s backgrounds and relations which I appreciate. 

The Irishman:

Directed by Martin Scorsese, this film was destined for success before it even came out. Scorsese has been in the industry for a long time with many successes. One unique aspect of this film was that Scorsese agreed for Netflix to sponsor it. Netflix has a rocky reputation, specifically with their produced films, because they are known to be jokes. There are many successful shows and movies from Netflix, but there are also many hilariously bad films. It surprised audiences that such a prestigious director, Scorsese would ask Netflix to help them produce the film. But, there are advantages, such as being able to stream it over and over online. Starring old Hollywood stars like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. This film is about an aging hitman who tells the story of his past, part of the mob. Most audiences fell in love with this film because it has such a simple, but classic feel to it. It is universal, audiences could watch it 10 years from now and still relate it to events happening in the world right now. 


Directed by Todd Phillips and starring the talented Joaquin Phoenix, this film is argued to be nominated only because of Pheonix’s performance. It is taking place in the DC universe, as those and Marvel movies are often the audience’s favorites rather than critics’ favorites. People argued that Pheonix held the film together, without him it would be nothing. 90% of the film was Pheonix, which makes it difficult to tell if the film is good because of the storyline and cinematography or just the actor. There was also a comparison to the Dark Knight series, in which Heath Ledger played Joker. His performance was intensely praised for his use of method acting. Pheonix did step up to the challenge and I think he did an amazing job. Seeing his spiral to madness was gut-wrenching and there were many times I just stared at the screen in awe. If you are looking for a psychologically challenging film that also connects to the superhero universe, Joker is a must. 

Jojo Rabbit:

Directed by Taika Waititi, this film is based on the YA book of the same name. It takes place during World War II, staring a little boy who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. The tone of this film is more comedic, with the characters cracking playful jokes to stray away from the dark side of this period. The director stares as Adolf Hitler, and also young actor Roman Griffin Davis. Hitler’s demeanor is poked fun of a lot, which I think makes us forget he was such an awful and villainous person. The director tries to alter reality by offering a happy ending for the boy and girl, which in real life things were much more brutal. If you are looking for a light-hearted film based on no actual historical evidence, this is a movie to watch. 

Ford v Ferrari:

Directed by James Mangold, this film is based on a true story. I feel like that genre of films could either be a hit or miss, but this was executed incredibly. Starring Hollywood’s finest, (literally) Matt Damon and Christian Bale, they are a driver and car designer duo. It tells the story about them battling the many challenges of creating a worldwide famous car company. They eventually ran the Ford Motor Company and dominated the race cars of Enzo Ferrari. Both men are wildly different but have the same goal which causes them to work together. This film is both entertaining and filled with twists and turns. The best part is it is based on a true story, which allows audiences during that generation to see those events on screen. I didn’t know much about the racing industry until I watched this film and I learned how competitive and rigorous it is. The director tried to keep it as close to real-life as possible, with real car stunts and I could tell. I think that enhanced the story more. I also like the happy ending and mini conflicts each character had to go through to grow throughout the movie.