Column: Movie reviewer discusses Oscar nominations

As devoted readers of The Index will recall, I don’t particularly care for the Academy Awards

In fact, almost one year ago, I wrote, “Any credibility the Oscars had is gone,” when “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” was snubbed for the Best Documentary category.

Even so, I closely follow the ceremony every year. I like to believe that I will be among the awardees someday, if I get out of Kirksville.

In 2019, there were a bunch of wonderful films to choose from. During my 22 years of existence, no other year has so invigorated my love of cinema. “Parasite,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” “Queen & Slim,” “Ad Astra,” “Uncut Gems” and “The Lighthouse” are among my personal favorites.

And, shockingly, I’m happy to report that while this year’s nominations feature some egregious snubs — especially Greta Gerwig for Best Director (“Little Women”), Adam Sandler for Best Actor (“Uncut Gems”), Willem Dafoe for Best Supporting Actor (“The Lighthouse”), Jodie Turner-Smith for Best Actress (“Queen & Slim”) and practically every film from entertainment company A24 — Academy voters seem to have appreciated risk-taking films much more than usual.

I’m particularly pleased by the nomination of South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” in several major categories, most notably Best International Feature Film and Best Picture. 

While I didn’t formally review “Parasite” for The Index, it remains my absolute favorite film of 2019. Now you know, you’re welcome. Don’t blame me, blame Downtown Cinema 8.

Taika Waititi’s divisive World War II satire “Jojo Rabbit” also garnered six nominations. While I adore “Jojo Rabbit,” all those nominations were quite unexpected.

Other surprises include Todd Phillips’ controversial “Joker,” which seems to be the year’s favorite among Academy voters.

Are 11 nominations really justified for that potent yet highly exaggerated film, however? In the opinion of this critical soul: no, most assuredly not, especially for the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

While Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Arthur Fleck is sublime and deserving of winning the Best Actor category, the script felt heavy-handed. Like a pie to the face, winning the screenplay award would surely be a hilarious joke.

Alas, Academy voters also played to expectations. Awards season pets like “The Irishman,” “1917,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” raked in the nominations.

Despite this, none of the films nominated for Best Picture feel woefully out of place like last year’s “Green Book.”

Above all else, though, recognize that the Academy Award winners on Feb. 9 aren’t the be-all and end-all of high quality films. Just know that your friendly neighborhood movie reviewer votes “Parasite” for Best Picture, and you should too.