There are five films this year that are nominated in the Best Director category. They are the strongest films of 2019 and one of them is likely to win Best Picture. Each of them says something deeply profound about the human experience. Two of these films are universal: Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite and Sam Mendes’ 1917. Three of them feel very specific to both America and American film: Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Todd Phillips’ Joker. The film community played the woman card in a big way when the Globes nominations were announced, when it turned out that all of the films nominated were made by men. The only way to rectify that, at least in the Best Director category, was to make-pretend that these five films aren’t the monumental achievements that they are. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see the point of film awards (or the dog and pony show that surrounds it) if they are here to give everybody a certificate rather than honor the year’s best.
The best films this year happen to be facing off at the Golden Globes, with a few notable omissions, like James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari and (many believe) Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. Both of these films seem headed for the big show but won’t face off with anyone this Sunday. However, I would watch for Gerwig in the Adapted Screenplay category at the Scripters, WGA, and Oscars. She didn’t win for Lady Bird and her mojo is rising.
All of the heat is in Best Director. That’s true of the Best Picture race and of the Golden Globes. We probably can’t get an idea of the frontrunner from Best Picture at the Globes, since they’re divided into Musical/Comedy and Drama. We also can’t really get an idea of a consensus vote on a preferential ballot — that will have to wait for the Producers Guild. But the Best Director race can get a frontrunner here. Maybe. In the past ten years, half of the Best Director winners at the Globes have gone on to win the DGA and the Oscar, and the Globes and Oscars have matched on Best Director since 2015 — four straight years. It CAN be true but it isn’t always true, depending on how things go.
The Globes will either put everything behind one movie, as they did with La La Land, or divide up their wins to satisfy a much more competitive race. I’m betting that they divide things up more than they unite behind one.
In speaking with a friend last night about the Oscars, we both concluded that this probably isn’t a year where the awards will split in such a way that either The Irishman or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will win Best Picture without winning Best Director. That’s because their directors would be the main reason these films won. And indeed, they are two of the best American directors at a time when American directors hardly ever win in the category. Films I think could win in a split if, say, Parasite wins in Best Director: maybe The Two Popes? I mean, you never know, right? Otherwise, I think it’s Tarantino/Once or Scorsese/Irishman — a paired win for each. That’s how I see it going in terms of the Oscars. As to the Globes, it’s really hard to say.
1917 is a film that could win Best Picture without winning Best Director, but it also seems like a film that could be a paired win, since so much of it is the singular work of the director. But really, it’s a collaboration of the director, actor, and cinematographer. We don’t know whether it will win or not, but history tells us that films with Pic, Director, and Screenplay tend to win over films that don’t have all three.
Here are the things to watch for on Sunday:
In the Best Screenplay category, who wins? It is almost as competitive there as it is in Best Director, except that Joker and 1917 don’t have Screenplay nominations and Marriage Story and The Two Popes don’t have Best Director nominations. Since 2000, only twice has a film won Screenplay without a Director nomination: Spike Jonze for Her and Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs. History tells us it will either be Tarantino, Scorsese, or Bong Joon Ho for Screenplay, but if they want to award Marriage Story SOMETHING and it isn’t winning anywhere else it could win here.
Best Actress — Musical/Comedy: I would watch out for Ana de Armas. General consensus has Awkwafina winning there and she very well might, but Knives Out has some heat around it right now and that could work in favor of de Armas.
Best Actor — Drama: If anyone but Joaquin Phoenix wins (I doubt anyone will, but…) then that could mean this one category is competitive. If it goes to anyone else, it could be Adam Driver for Marriage Story or Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes.
Best Actor — Musical/Comedy: Word has it that there could be a surprise in the category. Common wisdom has it as Eddie Murphy for Dolemite Is My Name up against Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but watch out for Taron Egerton in this category, who could surprise. Remember, he did get a surprise SAG nom and is following in the trajectory of Rami Malek (this isn’t my revelation, though I wish I could take credit for it if it turns out to be true — a little birdie told me).
The general consensus predictions would be something like this:
Best Picture — Drama: The Irishman
(I think 1917 could surprise in this category, as could Two Popes)
Best Actor — Drama: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
(if anyone can surprise it’s Jonathan Pryce in Two Popes, maybe Adam Driver in Marriage Story)
Best Actress — Drama: Renee Zellweger, Judy
Best Picture — Musical/Comedy: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Best Actor — Musical/Comedy: Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name
(Leonardo DiCaprio in Once could win here, as well as Taron Egerton)
Best Actress — Musical/Comedy: Awkwafina
(I think Ana de Armas in Knives Out could surprise and win here)
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
(I think Joe Pesci could surprise and win here)
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
(I think it’s Laura Dern’s to lose)
Best Director: Bong Joon Ho, Parasite
(I think if Irishman wins Pic, Scorsese will win Director, but I think Tarantino could win, Sam Mendes might win if 1917 takes Drama)
Best Screenplay: Marriage Story
(I think Tarantino could win here, as well as Two Popes or Parasite)
Foreign Language Film: Parasite
Animated Feature: Toy Story 4
Original Score: 1917
(Marriage Story could win here as well)
Also, be sure to enter our Globes contest if you haven’t done so already!