Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
Eddie Murphy – Dolemite is My Name
My Overall Thoughts:
This is a year with a very strong group of actors in the category but one of them led the way through the entire award season and was clearly the front runner.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio
4. Antonio Banderas
3. Jonathan Pryce
2. Adam Driver
1. Joaquin Phoenix
5. Pain and Glory – Intriguing idea that is muddled by the fact that the film tries too hard to be abstract and work on an existential level. The film has some nice ideas but they get lost in the shuffle and instead of telling this story in a straight fashion, it gets too convoluted by the non linear aspect of things. Banderas does a nice job with his role and I can understand how he has received acclaim for his role, but something still feels missing along the way both from the character and the story on a whole.
4. Joker – Very intriguing look at the psychological profile of a man with mental issues as he takes a downward spiraling journey into madness due to everything going on around him. The film does a great job looking at the social aspects of society which has crossed many lines along the way. They cleverly deal with the effects of reality TV even though this story takes place over 3 decades ago. There is no question as to how amazing Phoenix’s performance is and he easily eclipses every other acting performance of the year and perhaps even longer than that. Love the way that parts of this film are presented in an ambiguous way since we never find out what is reality and what is just in the mind of the character. Quite glad that they chose not to take this story into the direction of a superhero film because it works really well as is. Not a pleasant film to watch and it won’t be something to rewatch often, but still extremely well made.
3. The Two Popes – Great story that is accentuated by two amazing performances by Hopkins and Pryce. Despite the fact that anyone familiar with current events over the past decade are aware of the outcome of this story, but the beauty is watching how it plays out since they allow the viewer to see how the various pieces of the puzzle fit together. Both of these actors give very powerful performances here and they both are quite deserving of all of the accolades that they have received for their work here. The dialogue is superbly written and helps enhance the story so much because we get a very clear picture of who both of these men are and how even with their blatant differences, they both know how important it is that they find common ground with one another. The various subjects of their conversations constantly evolve over the course of the story yet they manage to touch upon so many interesting themes along the way.
2. Marriage Story – Unique film that takes a very touchy subject and doesn’t sugarcoat it at all. Both Johansson and Driver give career defining performances here and both deservingly were nominated for Oscars for their performances. Unfortunately, neither will be taking home Gold on Sunday night for these roles and the question actually remains as to whether this film will manage to walk away with any of the 6 Oscars it is nominated for. Its best bet is Dern for Best Supporting Actress who seems like a shoe in, but might be the category that will surprise everyone. The story moves along at a great pace and the attention to detail with the characters and the scenarios that they encounter help enhance this film so much. In addition to Dern, Liotta and Alda are also both great in supporting roles and show the true face of what people need to deal with during a divorce that slowly gets out of hand. Not an easy film to watch since it presents too many situations that are all too real, yet that is part of what makes this film so powerful.
1. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood – Another amazing Tarantino film that is superb on so many levels. The film creates the perfect atmosphere for this kind of story and the build up during the first half has great pay offs during the second half. The cast is amazing and they all fit in so well with the story and atmosphere of it all. Pitt is the obvious standout here and will hopefully take home Gold for this (supporting) role. The music and characters help set the place and time and Tarantino’s dialogue is once again so realistic and exquisite throughout. Some people fault this film for its re-imagining of history, but I loved the way they did it because it shows how even little changes in routine could possibly lead to a very different outcome. Not Tarantino’s best but still quite close.
Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Totally! JP is superb in this role and was clearly far ahead of the pack and gave the most deserving performance of the nominees.
Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!