In Circuit Monthly articles, AwardsCircuit will summarize the month that was, focusing on its implications on the current or forthcoming Oscar race. Search for “Circuit Monthly” tag or “Awards” categories for other related articles.
“We have your movie star. Gather $100,000 and await instructions. Who are we? The Future.”
-Eddie Mannix, “Hail, Caesar!”
February 2019 was a banner month in many ways for film lovers. TCM continued its annual 31 Days of Oscars. #FilmTwitter convinced the Oscars to #PresentAll24. It also forced AMPAS to welcome back past acting winners to present this year’s acting prizes. For the first time in history, the major guilds divvied out their prizes between different films. “Black Panther” took SAG Ensemble. “Roma” won DGA. “Green Book” snagged PGA. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “Eighth Grade” was crowned at WGA. “Cold War” netted ASC. The ACE Eddie went to both “The Favourite” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” A new age, to be sure.
And then, of course, we landed on Oscar night. In what was one of the most unpredictable Oscars in history, the night proved one thing: the Academy is divided. With all-time wins being given out alongside truly gobsmacking ones, it was impossible to predict which Academy would rear its head for which award. Would the Academy of “Black Panther”‘s costume design win show up for Sound Editing? Or would the Academy who voted for “Green Book” in original screenplay come to play?
Then Julia Roberts read off “Green Book”‘s name, and echoes of “Crash” crashed around the Dolby. The other shoe had to drop eventually. We could only sustain a run of “12 Years a Slave,” “Birdman,” “Spotlight,” “Moonlight,” and “The Shape of Water” for so long. And while there has been much waxing poetic on “how ‘Roma’ lost” and “how ‘Green Book’ won,” this Academy is proving unpredictable. Do we need a better, purer distillation of the current AMPAS than giving “Greek Book” and “BlacKkKlansman” writing awards on the same night?
So what happens next? Clayton seems to think we’re in for some whiplash, with “Harriet” taking the crown next year. In 2006, the Academy followed “Crash” with Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed”; could they do the same with another film from everyone favorite 5’4″ New Yorker?
Netflix will return to the game, surely spending another $25M on its campaign for “The Irishman,” which should be a similar pill to swallow compared to a black and white foreign film. That is unless Steven Spielberg has anything to do with it. But many reckon “Roma” lost Best Picture, not because of the film itself, but because they fear Netflix and the unstoppable forward motion of the industry. And how will Cannes respond, if at all, to Netflix’s “Roma” success; it had egg on its face after rebuffing the streaming giant at the 2018 fest only for it to scoop up Cuaron’s opus. Will the Croisette bear witness to Scorsese’s newest? Or will fall festivals get to enjoy a fresh-faced Robert De Niro?
While a Netflix win would have absolutely changed the industry on its head overnight, Netflix isn’t going away any time soon. But hey, as Spike Lee put it, the “ref made a bad call.”
To me, this season is best summed up by the opening Coen Brothers quote, and the below one, from another Coen Brothers film:
“You can’t stop what’s coming. It ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.”
-Ellis, “No Country for Old Men”