Sam Mendes (1917)
Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)
Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood)
Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit
My Overall Thoughts:
This is a very strong category and any of these directors would be worthy of winning this award. There has been a lot of changes over the past few months as to the front runner is, but over the last two weeks, things have been moving towards one of these fine directors being able to win his second award in this category, but who knows if that will happen on Oscar night, perhaps we’ll all get a big surprise…
5. Martin Scorsese
4. Todd Phillips
3. Bong Joon Ho
2. Quentin Tarantino
1. Sam Mendes
5. The Irishman – Another great gangster epic by Scorsese but unfortunately fails to really bring anything new to the table. The story is long yet never feels boring because it tries to be so comprehensive in all that it does. The cast is spectacular and De Niro, Pesci, Pacino all give us great performances (as usual). The biggest problem with this film is the fact that it tries to tell a story over too many decades and something feels missing along the way. The story itself is based on real events, but since parts of the film cannot be corroborated, we will have to take their word for it which also is a slight strike against it. Scorsese is able to give us an epic feel for this story while also introducing us to new characters who are intriguing to meet. This film have been part of the big debate over theatrical releases vs Netflix releases and both sides of the argument have great points, but this film has received lots of backlash due to it being a Netflix film and might make it go 0-10 on Oscar night which would be quite a blow both for those associated with the movie and for those advocating the Netflix style of film making.
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. Parasite – Great premise that somehow manages to stay so thrilling and suspenseful the whole way through due to the way that things play out. The story is built up really well and we get to see how different the upper and lower classes of society may seem to be, but that it all is largely due to perspective on things and not wholly on reality of the situations. The characters are developed really well and allow us to get a real understanding of who they are and where they want to be despite life placing them where they are. Definitely deserving of its 6 Oscar nominations and will most definitely go home with the award for Best International Feature. Any of the other awards are still up for grans even though it has widely been discussed in the Best Picture category also since it seems to have a high chance there too.
2. 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.
1. 1917 – Amazing film that is enhanced even more on an IMAX screen. The story pays so much attention to details and allows the viewer to get the feeling as if they are right there on this journey with these characters. The idea to have this film seem and look as if it is done in one shot and in real time has been blasted by some as just a gimmick, but even if that is true, they are still able to create something wondrous to experience. The characters are developed really well and I love the way that they meet minor characters along the way and we get to know what is needed about them but then the story moves along on its own path. This is the film to currently beat at the Oscars next week and it seems as if it is the front runner for both Best Director and Best Picture, (along with a few of the technical categories) but we will have to wait to see if that actually happens. The story is told from a very personal place which helps enhance the way one perceives everything going on. Love how the film adds so much to the table for the discussion about the importance of films being seen in the theater as opposed to on the small screen. If it wins big next week, those on that side of the debate will have even more ammunition to try and prove that they are right.
Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No! I think Parasite is a great movie and BHJ does a really nice job with it, but they should have given it to SM tho clearly managed to do even more amazing work with 1917.
Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!