Going for the Gold

Delaney Moore

It's the time of year where tons of celebrities are going for the gold, and no I don’t mean the Olympics. That’s right it's Oscar season in America, and all your favorite actors and actresses are anxiously anticipating whether they will be inducted into the prized club of esteemed winners. Will they join the ranks of Meryl Streep, Marlon Brando, Walt Disney and Audrey Hepburn? Or will they fall short, and leave empty handed? Only the Academy can decide that. 

 

The Academy Awards, casually known as simply the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical achievement in the film industry. According to dw.com, “The first Academy Awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929. Some 270 guests, including prominent film stars, directors and influential producers, gathered in a hotel on Hollywood Boulevard for the ceremony and accompanying banquet dinner. The prize ceremony lasted around 15 minutes. Then, the attendees turned their attention to dinner and small talk.” In the beginning it was quite the quaint celebration, but today it has become a global media phenomenon that millions of people tune in to watch each year.  

 

Glitz? Glamour? Praise? What does winning an Oscar truly mean? Dw.com states, “An Oscar is a crowning career achievement for every director, actor or actress, composer, or anyone else involved in film creation. The coveted trophy is just 34 centimeters (13 inches) tall. It is coated in a thin layer of 24-karat gold, while its weight of 8.5 pounds (3.8 kilograms) comes from its interior of solid bronze."Oscar" became an official nickname for the golden statuette in 1939. Up until that point, it had simply been known as an Academy Award of Merit, which remains its official name today.” As time went on the influential awards ceremony has undergone many changes to keep up with society, such as including younger individuals, more women, and more people of color in the list of nominees. 

 

This year, the 92nd Oscars took place on February 9th at the Dolby Theater, and before the ceremony everyone debated and placed their bets as to who they thought would take home the gold. Prior to the live broadcast, SSSAS upper school students locked in their own predictions in “The Voice Academy Awards” so if SSSAS students were the academy, here are our winners….

 

Students’ top spots:

Leading Actor: Joaquin Phoenix (66.7% majority)

Supporting Actor: Tom Hanks (37.8% majority)

Leading Actress: Saorise Ronan (38.9% majority)

Supporting Actress: Florence Pugh (52.9% majority)

Achievement in Directing: Joker: Todd Phillips (35.9% majority)

Best Picture: Little Women (25% majority)

 

So how did these predictions stack up to the opinions of some of SSSAS’s own film loving faculty? When it came to who should win leading actor, Dr. Sidle agreed with students, saying, “Not only does he (Joaquin Phoenix) transform himself physically, but Phoenix also delivers a performance that's the epitome of complete immersion into a role.” 

Mr. Gluzman also agreed with the majority saying, “I think Joaquin Phoenix in his role for Joker should win on as best actor because his character transformation was amazing.”

Professora Slattery’s opinion on the best leading actor; however, differed from the majority. She was rooting for, “Antonio Banderas! His performance in Dolor y gloria was so nuanced, sincere, authentic.- it is a beautiful and deeply moving performance.” 

For best supporting actor, Dr. Sidle, Mr. Gluzman, and Professora Slattery all three had different opinions from the student majority. Dr. Sidle thought that the winner should be, “Joe Pesci for The Irishman: I have not seen Hanks's film, so his performance could be the best, but Pesci's calm menace as a ruthless, practical mobster is unnervingly brilliant.” Whereas both Mr. Gluzman and Professora Slattery think that Brad Pitt should take the cake; Mr. Gluzman saying, “Brad Pitt all the way! He never got an Oscar, and he deserves it hugely in this film!” and Professora Slattery having said, “My vote goes to Brad Pitt. I didn't love "Once Upon a Time" - although I am a huge Tarantino fan - but Pitt's performance was the best part of the movie.” 

When it comes to leading actress Dr. Sidle’s opinion strayed from the majority, he thought the winner should be, “Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story: Her character/role demands a strength and subtlety in order for this somewhat simple but profound story of independence to work, and Johansson nails it.” 

While Dr. Sidle was rooting for Scarlett Johansson, Professora Slattery wholeheartedly agreed with the majority on this one, she said, “Hands down for me - the best performance of the year was by Saoirse Ronan. I think she is the best actress of her generation. Her performance in Little Women both grounded AND propelled the entire film. The range of emotions, her energy, her interplay with the other actors. Unbelievably moving - her performance gave me piel de gallina throughout the film.” 

While Dr. Sidle, Mr. Gluzman, and Professora Slattery may not have agreed with the majority for best supporting actress, they all agreed with one another. All three thought that Laura Dern for Marriage Story should take the cake. Although Professora Slattery did go on to say that she thinks, “Scarlett Johansson should be runner up for Jojo Rabbit.” 

The Oscars is known for having a “snubbing” problem, essentially not nominating some amazing performances to the dismay of the public. This year there have been a lot of people who think that there were some problems with who was nominated and who wasn’t. When asked about snubs, Mr. Gluzman said, “I rooted for JLo and Hustlers, but this film got snubbed,” he then elaborated saying, “I loved how she played the character, but some say her role was too close to her persona.” Dr. Sidle said, “I'm sure there are some legitimate complaints for films and filmmakers not recognized [see 2018's First Man and 2013's Under the Skin, for direction and film], but I'm fine with the nominees. The Academy regularly blows it, but I must confess that this year I was shocked to see how much they liked Joker. Sometimes they surprise you!”

Best Director is one of the more controversial categories this year at the Oscars because many believe that female directors were snubbed by the academy, due to the fact that their films had nominations in other major categories. Professora Slattery agreed with the notion that female directors should have gotten more recognition. In her answer about who should win best director she said, “Well - I can't even believe that Greta Gerwig was snubbed in this category. Little Women is tremendous. But, if she can't win (#timesup, by the way!), I have chosen Bong Joon-Ho for Parasite on my ballot.” 

Dr. Sidle agreed with the majority of students on who should win best director saying, “Todd Phillips for Joker: Few films grab me from the first frame and keep me locked in for the entire ride, and Phillips's Joker did just that. He had help from his cinematographer and Phoenix, of course, but I loved all of his directorial decisions. Pretty close to a perfect film.” Mr. Gluzman had a differing opinion saying, “I think that Sam Mendes (1917) should win in this category. It is a revelation when it comes to filmmaking, especially when the film made it look like one scene, and one long shot. Directing that camera work is incredible!” 

Finally, here are our film buffs’ opinions on which film should win best picture. Dr. Sidle did not agree with the student majority. He said that the winner should either be, “Joker or Marriage Story: Apologies for not picking between these two, but I'm torn, and they're so different. Both, however, hit all the right buttons: superb direction, incredible acting, just the right cinematography (texture) for the subject, and poetic, smart, layered writing. AND both make powerful statements about our times -- they're relevant as all heck!” 

Professora Slattery had a different opinion from Doctor Sidle. She said that the best motion picture of the year is, “Parasite! It was the best movie of the year. It stuck with me - in fact, many colleagues who saw it (thank you, Ms. McElroy and Ms. Nadler!) were dying to talk about it at school, to keep processing the relationships in that film as well as the very dark turn (a la "Get Out") the film took toward the end. I can still picture the contrasting tableaux of the two families (the working class Kim's and the uber-wealthy Parks) at home. It is social satire, art and gothic film all at once.” 

Dr. Gluzman agreed with Professora Slattery's selection saying, “I think again 1917 may win, but my favourite is Parasite, and that potential could be a revelation. It would be the first time a South Korean film will win and rarely a foreign language movie will win as Best Picture. It should win because it’s a smart, terrifying take on social class and a  mix of desperation and manipulation that transcends language barriers.”

 

So who ACTUALLY won? 

Performance by an actor in a leading role: Joaquin Phoenix for JOKER

Performance by an actor in a supporting role: Brad Pitt for ONCE UPON A TIME IN...HOLLYWOOD

Performance by an actress in a leading role: Renée Zellweger for JUDY

Performance by an actress in a supporting role: Laura Dern in Marriage Story

Achievement in Directing: Bong Joon Ho for Parasite

Best Picture: Parasite

 

The Oscars is a time of celebration in Hollywood, and has been for decades now. So, who were the winners the year you were born?

 

2000

Leading Actor: Kevin Spacey for American Beauty

Supporting Actor: Micheal Caine for The Cider House Rules

Leading Actress: Hilary Swank for Boys Don’t Cry

Supporting Actress: Angelina Jolie for Girl, Interrupted

Directing: Sam Mendes for American Beauty

Best Picture: American Beauty

 

2001

Leading Actor: Russell Crowe for Gladiator

Supporting Actor: Benicio Del Toro for Traffic

Leading Actress: Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich

Supporting Actress: Marcia Gay Harden for Pollock

Directing: Steven Soderbergh for Traffic

Best Picture: Gladiator

 

2002

Leading Actor: Denzel Washington for Training Day

Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent for Iris

Leading Actress: Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball

Supporting Actress: Jennifer Connelly for A Beautiful Mind

Directing: Ron Howard for A Beautiful Mind

Best Picture: A Beautiful Mind

 

2003

Leading Actor: Adrien Brody for The Pianist

Supporting Actor: Chris Cooper for Adaption 

Leading Actress: Nicole Kidman for The Hours

Supporting Actress: Catherine Zeta-Jones for Chicago

Directing: Roman Polanski for the Pianist

Best Picture: Chicago

 

2004

Leading Actor: Sean Penn for Mystic River

Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins for Mystic River

Leading Actress: Charlize Theron for Monster

Supporting Actress: Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain

Directing: Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Best Picture: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

 

2005 

Leading Actor: Jamie Foxx for Ray

Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby

Leading Actress: Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby

Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett for The Aviator 

Directing: Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby

Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby