At the heart of every movie is a story. Told well, a good movie makes you feel.

I don’t care what that feeling is (short of disgust from poor storytelling), when you watch a movie and you’re moved—that’s a human experience. That’s brilliance. And to tell a whole story in two hours? Give me a story a day. The movies are my drug of choice. 

Each year at this time I like to guess the Oscar winners. I’m pretty good at it, but so much has to do with Hollywood politics and other bullshit, that it’s not exactly rocket science.

This year we saw all the movies selected for Best Picture. Which is a really fun thing to do for people like me and my wife who love the mini-escape. And fresh, overpriced popcorn. 

There were a few movies that I thought should have been nominated, but weren’t. Namely my second-favorite movie of the year, Rocketman. Did you see Bohemian Rhapsody? Well this movie, and Taron Egerton’s performance, is better. I’ve never seen another musical like it. Being set against the soundtrack of my youth, combined with Elton’s struggle with alcoholism, this movie moved me. It’ll probably win best original song, which wasn’t even that good. But that’s the “Hollywood hat tip.” 

Another movie I loved, but that got no Oscar love was Last Black Man in San Francisco. I didn’t know what to expect from this movie, but couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was beautiful and terrible. Highly recommended. 

Finally, my daughter wanted to hit up a movie during a recent day off and we saw a matinee of Just Mercy. Whoa. This is a great movie. No way it shouldn’t be nominated. Yes, Foxx (and Jordan) was great, but I loved the direction. The score. Cinematography. Everything worked. And I cried twice. So yeah, it moved me. 

Now to the movies that the Academy nominated for Best Picture.

Ford v. Ferrari – Fast cars. Two superstar actors. A narcissistic rich guy as an antagonist. This movie is a fun ride. Sure, it has a sad ending, but when you leave the theater you don’t think about that. 

Joker – I loved this movie. I know, people are bashing it all over the place, but man was it mesmerizing. And Phoenix might actually be mad. He’s such a good actor. 

1917 – Talk about a ride. I barely remember what this movie is about. But wow, what incredible action. It’s a perfect Hollywood movie and will likely take home a ton of awards. Not undeservingly so. 

The Irishman – It feels like I see the same Scorsese movie every time I see a new one. Yes, I saw this in multiple installments. If I had to sit in a theater for this whole thing, I’d have hated it. It’s way too long. But not terrible. In little installments. 

Little Women – I liked it! 

Marriage Story – I hated it! 

Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood – I took my college daughter to see this over the summer. I had no idea what to expect, except great dialogue. But it’s a really, really good movie. Maybe not as good as Pulp Fiction, though, and because of that I don’t see it winning Best Picture. Unless Hollywood wants to pay him back for that. (Hey, Pulp Fiction lost to Forrest Gump.) 

Parasite – Wow. This movie is SO good. Just like Last Black Man in San Francisco, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Which you literally can’t, unless you speak Korean. This is a beautiful film. And the story is so rich that it pulls you into rooms you don’t see coming. Bong Jooh-ho is a master. 

Jojo Rabbit – This was my favorite movie of 2019, and the last one my wife and I saw at the theater. It’s been about a week and I can’t stop thinking about it. This is the only movie this year that made me laugh and cry multiple times. Mostly laugh. Taika Waitit as writer, director, and Hitler, is as much a genius as Roberto Benigni was in Life is Beautiful. So, so moving, and human, and beautiful. Though it might just be shut out at the Oscars. 


Actor: Joaquin Phoenix Joker. No one else is even in this category, but I will say that Leo gave his Oscar performance in the final scene of Hollywood. I laughed out loud in the theater. 

Supporting Actor: So Tom Hanks was literally Fred Rogers. Literally. Like, he was him. (Please see the movie.) But this is Brad Pitt’s prize. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. 

Actress: Honestly, didn’t see any of these movies except for Saoirse in Little Women. And she’s great, but I’m guessing Zellweger wins this because a) every other award show is giving it to her, and b) Hollywood likes movies about Hollywood and its stars. 

Supporting Actress: Not unlike Actress, I didn’t see all these movies. But I hated Laura Dern’s character in Marriage Story the way I hated Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney in Vice. Adams should have won. Dern will. Plus, she’s had Hollywood coursing through her veins since birth, and Hollywood likes people who have Hollywood in their veins. 

Animated: No idea. Don’t even want to guess.

Cinematography:  1917. No way it can be anything else. I suppose Joker. But if that happens, it’s a travesty. 

Adapted Screenplay: Has to be Jojo Rabbit here. If anything else wins I call bullshit. 

Original Screenplay: If this is a big night for 1917, then it will win this category. But if Oscar is about spreading the love this year, it comes down to Parasite and Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. Flip a coin. I’ll say Tarantino just because Hollywood loves him. (BTW I loved Knives Out.)

Director:  It’s too bad (and stupid) that there are only dudes here. But there are, so that’s who I have to select from. Essentially it is a three horse race between Mendes, Tarantino, and Joon-ho. I’ll say Joon-ho. Because … 

Best Picture: Parasite. But don’t be surprised if it’s 1917. Even though it should be Jojo Rabbit. 



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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.