There was a long stretch of my teens where I toyed with filmmaking, dreamt up scripts in Calc class and storyboarded in my free time, the quantity of which seemed to plummet exponentially until I was in college and could not fathom the concept of escaping for three hours to a dark, nearby theater. In my mid-twenties I possess an excess of free time and still cannot escape this mental trap that seeing a movie in theaters would be a waste of time and money, though I fondly remember eight years ago when I talked Oscar noms with the zeal of someone who cared about cinema—who was not simply watching so they could participate in the ~film discourse~.
This year I heard about the Oscar nominations through Twitter and realized that I had seen a miserly one film. So this is the context of these synopses: this is how I understand these films via my skimming through social media in 2019, plus I actually saw one of them (can you guess which one? ;).
1. Ford v Ferrari
Matt Damon is a staunch and stocky American piece who loves to go vroom vroom. Looks like Christian Bale got slim buff for this one. In a Watchmen-esque “remix” of the world from Cars 2, Ford and Ferrari each drive their racecars around the track very fast. One of them wins the car race, but the other one? Is the real winner in the race of life. Matt Damon and Christian Bale get very close to kissing in one scene, but do not touch lips. The audience can have a little queerbaiting, as a treat.
2. The Irishman
Martin Scorsese’s stunning sixth installment of his self-tape series, where he masturbates violently into a kerchief while a befreckled man in a gold chain repeats in a Southie accent, like a lullaby: “White gang violence…white, gang, violence….”
3. Jojo Rabbit
This one is about the Nazis, only funny. (Don’t worry haha, it’s directed by everyone’s fave Taika Waititi who is also a man of color so it’s like…a smart fun politically correct take on the Nazis.) Sam Rockwell leads a charming Hitler Youth camp where all the little German boys live in tents and get badges for hunting squirrels and heiling Adolf. Eventually, the boys begin to question authority and some fantastical shit happens in this quirky satire about coercing children to participate in genocide. Scarlett Johansson is very pretty.
4. The Joker
Joaquin Pheonix plays an incel who loves to dance. Outcast from society for being a troubled white man, Joaquin Pheonix leans in to his brand and paint his face as a fucking clown. In a scene of magical realism, the Joker tra-la-las down a set of public stairs in the Bronx and does not even get punched in the throat. Joaquin Pheonix gets interviewed on a late night show and monologues about being an outcast. Everyone can relate—especially when he continues on a killing spree throughout the night.
5. Little Women
Oh the women they are so small.
6. Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are super good actors. First they fall in love and you’re like—”wow ScarJo and DamDrive are so in love,” and then they get married and it’s like, “I’m sorry did I pay fourteen dollars plus tax to cry right now?” and then they get a divorce and it’s like, “wow I guess I did.” Scarlett Johansson is very pretty. So is Adam Driver…maybe?
Obligatory war movie nom.
8. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Leonardo DiCaprio plays a big Hollywood boy and Brad Pitt plays his “best friend.” Leo’s career has some big ups, but you know what? It has some big downs too. Margot Robbie gets targeted by the Manson clan, who is populated by a lot of celebrities aching to get their 15 seconds in a Tarantino. Everyone is stoned and braless because it’s the ’70s. It’s pretty long but there’s a bunch of blood in it so it doesn’t get that boring.
A young woman pretends to tutor for an uber-rich family. First it’s funny, then it’s scary, then it’s like, kind of both at the same time? You don’t know how you feel when you watch it but afterwards you’re like, “Damn, ok, class. Capitalism.” This is actually the first film in history to be nominated for Best Picture that was written in a foreign language (Subtitle).
is still figuring it out.