We’re over a year into COVID, which led loads of people to watch more movies. I wish I could say I got to see more films too but for half the year I was experiencing vertigo, which prevented me from watching as many movies as I’d like.
The strongest Oscar-contenders this year, I believe, are in the best feature-length documentary category. I think documentaries deserve their own list, and I loved so many of them this year (including Crip Camp, My Octopus Teacher, and Time – all nominated- but so many that deserved a nom and didn’t get one).
For this brief post, I’ll tell you the three categories I’m looking forward to while watching the Oscars, and then list some movies I really enjoyed this year.
Cinematography: Joshua James Richards, Nomadland
I think Zhao’s The Rider is a far superior movie (see my letterboxd review), but I do think the cinematography in both Nomadland and The Rider is drop dead gorgeous. And both were thanks to Joshua James Richards.
Writing (Original Screenplay): Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7
You either love Sorkin or hate him – and I love him. I think it’s a weakness. I just love the dialogue and hope he wins for this movie. President Bartlet forever.
Directing: Another Round, Thomas Vinterberg
*I* *haven’t* *seen**Minari**yet* – so I know I’m not a competent judge. But I do love Vinterberg for his moody interiors and strained relationships. I’m a Dogme95 fan (The Celebration)– and he seems to work well with Mads (he’s excellent in Vinterberg’s The Hunt). I was charmed by the movie – drunk it in.
(Although I think it would be awesome for an Asian woman to win the best director…it’s just hard for me to give Zhao it for this one. I hope that now she’s getting the attention she deserves she doesn’t cave to corporate control. Amazon got off way too easy in Nomadland.)
Here are some great movies from this past year that got ZERO Oscar recognition:
Family Romance LLC
This technically might be 2019 (?) but wasn’t available to me until 2020. Directed by Werner Herzog, it reads like a documentary, although it is a fiction film. I won’t give too much away but it is about a Japanese man who runs a business “renting out” actors to perform important social roles (think rent a father for a wedding, or rent a girlfriend for a family dinner). It so easily could be morally flatfooted, but isn’t.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
I don’t quite understand how this got nominated for nothing. It’s on a bunch of critics ‘best of’ lists – and is on mine. The teenage actors were great – and the titular scene was heartbreaking and beautiful.
I’m No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)
Beautifully shot! Director of a fav tv show of mine, “Los Espookys.” This movie follows teenagers who are obsessed with the cumbia music and dancing scene. I found the movie mesmerizing.
Controversial likes from this past year: Cuties/Mignonnes, Bacurau, Deerskin, Tommaso
Favorite horror from 2020: Gretel & Hansel, She Dies Tomorrow
*I haven’t seen Possessor yet (but like both Cronenberg the elder and younger)