2020 Oscar Nominees: What’s worth watching

What’s worth watching?

Lauren Walston, Staff Writer

Every year since 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science nominates the films they think are the very best made that year. 2019 was most certainly a strong year for cinema. I have watched all nine Best Picture nominees: 1917, Ford V Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Parasite. Wondering which films are worth your time? I have sorted out which, in my opinion, of the nominees are worth watching. Which movie will win the coveted prize? We’ll see this Sunday.

1917: Directed by Sam Mendes

I’ve never seen a movie quite like 1917 before. 1917 is a war film shot to appear like everything is happening in one continuous take, with only one visible cut in the entire film. The film takes place in 1917, during World War I. It follows British soldiers Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Blake (Dean Charles-Chapman) as they depart on a treacherous journey to deliver a message that could save 1,600 men, Blake’s brother included. 1917 is undoubtedly an outstanding technical achievement in cinema. Still, it is also a gripping story that shows the real horror of war. I was engaged from start to finish, wondering what would happen at each turn. The leads do a spectacular of pulling you into the story and getting you invested in what happens to their characters. Not to mention, it has one of the most breathtakingly beautiful shots I’ve ever seen in a film. I was seriously staring in awe of the film’s stunning cinematography. I highly, highly recommend watching this movie in a theatre. I can’t stress this enough. It’s an experience. Check it out while it’s still in theaters!
Worth Watching!
Rating: 5 stars

Ford v Ferrari: Directed by James Mangold

Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in Ford v Ferrari. A story based on the true story of friends Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles, who were hired by Ford Motor Company to beat sports car engineer Enzo Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans. Though Ford V Ferrari is an intriguing story and had moments that were fast-paced and action-packed, it lacked originality. It wasn’t very memorable or interesting to watch.
Not Worth Watching
Rating: 3.5 stars

The Irishman: Directed by Martin Scorsese 

The Irishman features an all-star cast of Hollywood veterans, including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. It is based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt. This real-life story follows mob hitman Frank Sheeran and his close friendship with union leader Jimmy Hoffa over a span of 50 years. Since it takes place over a long period, de-aging technology is used with the main actors. I found this unconvincing and very distracting. Though this film is slow-paced (clocking in at 3 hours and 30 minutes long), each scene had a purpose and meaning behind it. Although I don’t necessarily have a problem with this movie, I didn’t find it very interesting. I would only recommend it if you love Martin Scorsese.

Not Worth Watching

Rating: 4 stars

Jojo Rabbit: Directed by Taika Waititi

Jojo Rabbit is the tale of a young German boy (Roman Griffin Davis) who is in the army and happens to have Hitler as his imaginary best friend. His whole world changes when he discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their home. Though this sounds very unconventional, director Taika Waititi makes this unique comedy work. Jojo Rabbit has such passion and heart and handles this sensitive subject matter in a delicate and nuanced way. 

Worth Watching!

Rating: 4 stars

Joker: Directed by Todd Phillips

Joker is the origin story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a troubled man who goes on to become Gotham City’s most notorious villain. Though there is a lot of controversy surrounding Joker, I honestly feel like this movie did nothing new. It is very similar to the films “The King of Comedy” and “Taxi Driver” and tries so hard to make a point that it takes away from the story. It wants to convey that we as a society, neglect the underprivileged and end up creating criminals, but didn’t go about it the right way. Sure, Joker is not terrible, but I still cannot comprehend how it received the most nominations (11) this year. Though this film drips in pretentiousness, no one can deny Joaquin Phoenix’s stellar take on this iconic character.

I would recommend watching it to form your own opinion on this controversial film.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Little Women: Directed by Greta Gerwig

Little Women is my favorite movie of 2019. It’s a story that has been told numerous times in many different formats. Yet, somehow Greta Gerwig was able to give a fresh, different take on this classic tale without changing the core of it. Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is the coming-of-age story of the March sisters (Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Beth (Eliza Scalen), and Amy (Florence Pugh) during the 1860s in America. I truly loved this film in every aspect. It explores the themes of family, love, independence, and simply what it was like to be a woman in the 19th century. Each character, major or minor, feels important and has a sense of depth to them, and pure joy leaps off the screen. This film manages to be so heartfelt and warm, yet it also has moments that are heartbreaking at the same time. I recommend this movie. Check it out while it’s still in theaters!

Worth Watching!

Rating: 5 stars

Marriage Story: Directed by Noah Baumbach

Marriage Story follows Charlie Barber (Adam Driver), an off-broadway stage director and his actress wife Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) as they go through a problematic coast to coast divorce. The film is loosely based on director Noah Baumbach’s divorce. Though this film is not autobiographical, Baumbach draws from his own experiences to show the process of a divorce and the effect it has on a family. He focuses on how the tiniest of details can get blown out of proportion and highlights how important communication is. Adam Driver is fantastic in this film. His performance is very subtle, but definitely should not be overlooked. I overall found this to be a very touching, well-crafted film.

Worth Watching!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to Old Hollywood. It follows faded Western TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to achieve success in 1969 Los Angeles, the final year of Hollywood’s Golden Age. This film has been a hit or miss for many people. If you don’t mind a movie with more visuals than story, I don’t think you’ll mind this. But if you’re looking to watch a film with a concrete plot, this might not be the one for you. I personally really enjoyed this film, and the performances were great all-around. 

Worth Watching!

Rating: 4 stars 

Parasite: Directed by Bong Joon Ho

Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” -Bong Joon-Ho

Parasite is the tale of an impoverished family who hustles a wealthy couple but ends up in a situation they would never have imagined. There is simply no other film like Parasite. It’s one of the most original and unique films I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think I’ll see anything like it anytime soon. Many people don’t know what to expect from this movie. Because of the title or the fact that it is in another language. I’m here to say that I highly recommend watching this even if you are not into reading subtitles. It’s a spectacular film, and so interesting that you won’t mind the subtitles after five minutes of watching.

Worth Watching!

Rating: 5 stars