Oscars are not won – they are engineered in a lab by a team of rabid publicists. Here’s the pitch every movie is making to the Academy on why they deserve the top prize.

The Irishman

Why it wins Best Picture:

The Irishman‘s best picture case rests on the credibility of Martin Scorsese. The acclaimed director’s latest film features a star studded cast (who the Academy loves) and a new application of CGI technology. Scorsese has never won Best Picture before and the Academy loves to provide lifetime achievement awards when they feel one of their own is due.

Why it won’t win:

Netflix. The best picture winner coming from Netflix would be a significant shift in the motion picture business, something many Academy members would like to avoid at all costs. Plus, the movie is 30 minutes too long.

Joker

Why it wins Best Picture:

Joaquin Phoenix. The best player makes his team the best team. In this case Phoenix’s performance was the real MVP of the Oscar season and his association with Joker takes it across the finish line.

Why it won’t win:

Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t seem like the guy who is apt to shake hands and kiss babies. A lot of Oscar winning comes down to campaigning and between Phoenix’s reluctance to woo the masses and the film’s controversy surrounding it’s ‘dangerous’ message, Joker likely won’t be taking home the night’s top prize.

Ford v Ferrari

Why it wins Best Picture:

Matt Damon and Christian Bale going toe to toe for two and a half hours is the most electric one-two-punch this Oscar season. Brilliant editing and sound mixing create a riveting third act that somehow never loses it’s momentum during a twenty four hour road race.

Why it won’t win:

Too often Ford V Ferrari drifts over from the Best Picture lane into the cinematic blockbuster lane it originally intended to be in. The story leans heavily on plot, comes across as an ad for the Ford Motor Company, and has cookie cutter cinematography. For Ford V Ferrari the real achievement is the Best Picture nomination.

Little Women

Why it wins Best Picture:

Little Women is the most self aware movie of the year. The entire film is a meta-commentary on itself and feminism and somehow is just as relevant in 2020 as it is in the films setting in the 1800s. Add that to beautiful performances from the stars of the next generation of Hollywood stars, Saoirse Ronan & Timothée Chalamet, and you’ve got a heartwarming piece of cinema.

Why it won’t win:

Unfortunately the Academy is full of old white men who are not the ideal audience for this movie or its message. Plus it’s hard for ensemble casts to get the Best Picture nod as the split in screen times detracts from any one actor/actress creating a memorable experience for voters to hold onto.

Jojo Rabbit

Why it wins Best Picture:

Jojo Rabbit is the most complete movie of the Oscar season. From writing to directing to acting, Jojo Rabbit doesn’t have any glaring holes in its Best Picture ballot. The film effortlessly delivers the full suite of emotions from laughter to gutting sadness in a truly beautiful piece of art.

Why it won’t win:

Comedies don’t win Best Picture. While Jojo Rabbit is so much more than a comedy, the film is packaged as a satirical Nazi comedy with it’s own imaginary Hitler. All of that will be hard to overcome for Jojo Rabbit to earn the respect of the Academy.

Parasite

Why it wins Best Picture:

The South Korean family drama is a modern take on a dark fairy tale but where it really excels is its tremendous sense of space. The majority of the film takes place in one of two locations but it continues to find inventive ways to ratchet up the drama and build tension throughout. An interesting cast of characters with a beautifully interwoven story of family, fame, and fortune keeps the audience guessing twist after twist.

Why it won’t win:

Much like the Academy’s aversion to Netflix, it seems highly unlikely that the Academy full of American individuals would give the top prize away to a South Korean vehicle.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Why it wins Best Picture:

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a tribute to the golden age of Hollywood and a love letter to Los Angeles, two things that the Academy also loves. The movie appeals to the voting Academy’s sense of nostalgia for “The good ole days,” and having Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t hurt either.

Why it won’t win:

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will unfairly be compared to the rest of Quentin Tarantino’s filmography of which his latest work doesn’t fall in the top hall. It lacks a coherent narrative and at times seem more like a Tarantino passion project instead of a Best Picture contender.

Marriage Story

Why it wins Best Picture:

Marriage Story takes creative chances that may resonate with Academy. A satisfying story arc puts the films stars front and center. Scarlett Johansson in particular is given a three plus minute roller coaster monologue playing off of Laura Dern. Marriage Story‘s Best Picture bid is their stars acting like stars with long and interactive dialogue sequences.

Why it won’t win:

Marriage Story is also a Netflix vehicle, so it will have to overcome that to win. Additionally, several of the movie’s big punches were big misses, deflating any momentum the movie was carrying.

1917

Why it wins Best Picture:

The unparalleled cinematic achievement of the film. The degree of difficulty in creating 1917 the way director Sam Mendes did is second to none and to a voting body who loves and understands movies and how movies are made will recognize that. Additionally 1917‘s late release date has caused it to have the most momentum throughout award season.

Momentum isn’t everything – it’s the only thing.

Why it won’t win:

While the technical achievements are superb, the characters in 1917 are pawns on a chess board as opposed to heroes of their own story. The plotting and story structure do not lend themselves to great acting performances, if any at all.

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