Picture: I still refuse to see Joker, and The Two Popes, my favorite, didn’t make the cut; so for me this is a decision between Ford v. Ferrari and Once Upon A Time…in Hollywood, the two on the list I can say I thoroughly enjoyed. The scope and ambition of the latter was far greater, and if I had to watch one a second time, that would be it.
Director: It follows: Quentin Tarantino. Also, I love what he does with music in his films.
Lead Actor: Far and away the toughest competition, even without seeing Joaquin Phoenix, the expected winner. It would be even tougher if Christian Bale had replaced Leonardo DiCaprio. Antonio Banderas and Adam Driver were superb, but Jonathan Pryce was a revelation in a subtly more difficult role.
Supporting Actor: Anthony Hopkins in a role that should qualify as co-lead, but the same could be said for Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks, with Al Pacino not far behind.
Lead Actress: I haven’t seen Bombshell yet, but I’d almost vote for Charlize Theron based on the un-nominated Long Shot. Harriet (Tubman) must have had charisma that Cynthia Erivo lacked to earn her place in history. Renee Zellweger was an uninspiring performer and rather unlikeable as Judy. I liked Scarlett Johansson better in Marriage Story than in JoJo Rabbit, but the nod goes to Saoirse Ronan, who absolutely carried Little Women on her back.
Supporting Actress: I’ll pass, in the hope that Kathy Bates or Margot Robbie might be better than the three I saw. Laura Dern was fine, but nothing out of her comfort zone. Every time Amy Pugh was on screen I couldn’t wait for her to leave.
For Screenplay I will vote for Knives Out (Original) and The Two Popes (Adapted), a consolation prize since they are the only two not nominated for Best Picture, but also because I found them the most clever. Pain and Glory is certainly a worthy choice for International Film, but Les Miserables blew me away.
I am not qualified to vote on any of the other categories, but I will make my usual observation that there’s no reason that Sound Editing, Costume Design and the other technical awards should be limited to Best Picture nominees. Maybe those are the only films a sufficient number of Academy members actually see?