List

2020 Oscar Nominees

By Sharon Weinberg

Although The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes are exclusives on Netflix, here are some Academy Award nominees that you can check out from the library.

  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (DVD)

    2020

    This movie earned a Golden Globe nomination and has an Oscar nomination for Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, creator of the beloved TV show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The story follows Lloyd Vogel, a cynical reporter assigned to write a profile on Fred Rogers for a magazine article about heroes. Vogel (name changed for the movie) has a reputation for being hard on his subjects. He has lots of anger toward life in general and, in particular, his father. Vogel's interviews with Rogers have a profound effect on his outlook and help him to learn how to forgive. Director Marielle Heller presents the story with originality and assurance. It packs a larger emotional punch than you might expect.

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  • Bombshell (DVD)

    2020

    Inspired by true accounts, this drama focuses on the women who took down Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual misconduct. Of the three strong female leads, two are based on real people. Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman portrays Gretchen Carlson. Margot Robbie's role is a composite character, representing several women. Consider this the go-to movie about sexual harassment in the workplace. Theron and Robbie received Golden Globe nominations for their performances. It has three Oscar nominations, including Best Actress (Theron) and Best Supporting Actress (Robbie).

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  • For Sama

    2019

    Syrian journalist, filmmaker, and activist Waad Al-Kateab narrates her experiences as she lives through horrendous events in war-torn Aleppo during the five-year uprising. Sama is her daughter. The film is for her and the world. It has an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature. It is the most heartbreaking film I have seen this awards season, and it is perfect in its execution.

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  • Ford V Ferrari (DVD)

    2020

    This flick is thrilling whether you know about the cars, the drivers (and their egos), or how the 1966 24 hours of Le Mans turns out. It chronicles the rivalry between two automobile giants, as Henry Ford II decides to build a new racing car that can break Ferrari's winning streak. The acting is top-notch and the structure well done. Christian Bale received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor, and the movie has four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

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  • Harriet (DVD)

    2020

    For her movie about abolitionist Harriet Tubman, filmmaker Kasi Lemmons did months of research and preparation, digging into journals and family stories. Cynthia Erivo stars as Harriet; Erivo already has a Tony, Grammy and Emmy, and she received Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress and Best Song. Now she has Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Original Song. Erivo also did research to find the right singing voice for the role and did many of her own stunts. Yes, Harriet is somewhat the action hero! Lemmons says that this biopic is a freedom story. Certainly, it is long overdue. Lemmons brings to film a vivid and poignant tribute to Tubman's complicated life, personality, and work. In addition, Lemmons made this movie PG-13, which opens it up for a younger viewing audience.

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  • Honeyland

    2019

    From North Macedonia, this gorgeously filmed documentary is about a female beekeeper who lives in an abandoned village, following the family tradition of wild beekeeping. She takes half the honey to live on and sell in the city (a four-hour journey each way) and leaves half for the bees. Threats to the balance of nature and her livelihood emerge when a nomadic family moves next door and greed becomes a factor. This has Oscar nominations in two categories: Best International Feature Film and Best Documentary Feature.

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  • Jojo Rabbit (DVD)

    2020

    Taika Waititi directed and cowrote the screenplay about Johannes "Jojo" Betzler, a 10-year-old boy living in Nazi Germany during the last stages of WWII. Jojo, bullied by others in the Youth Camp, struggles to find his place and invents an imaginary friend, his version of Adolf Hitler. When he discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home, he feels more conflicted than ever. This sensitive subject matter is a risky undertaking for a comedy/drama and some will avoid watching it. From the first scene, Waititi (who plays Hitler) establishes the film as a satire. Indeed, this has a lot of laughs and lightness, until it does not and then the seriousness hits the mark. It won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and received Golden Globe nominations for Best Musical/Comedy and Best Actor for Roman Griffin Davis, as Jojo. The film has six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay.

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  • Joker

    2019

    For his cinematic origin story of a comic book supervillain, filmmaker Todd Phillips owes much to the Martin Scorsese films Taxi Driver and King of Comedy. This film managed to achieve high praise, but also got many negative reactions. I am not a big fan of Phillips' overall vision. Nonetheless, I think that Joaquin Phoenix gives 110% as the title character, disappearing into the role and forging connections to the ills of today's society. Nominated for four Golden Globes, including Best Director and Best Drama, it won for Best Score and Phoenix got the Globe for Best Actor. Receiving 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Adapted Screenplay, and Cinematography, it is the most nominated film of the 92nd Academy Awards.

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  • Judy

    2019

    Renee Zellweger takes a deep dive, becoming the legendary entertainer Judy Garland. Set in the last year of her life, financially strapped, unable to take care of her kids, and judged a high risk to employ, Garland accepts an advantageous offer to perform in London. Zellweger sings all the songs and lovingly delivers her own version of Garland. She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a drama and has an Oscar nomination as well.

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  • Knives Out (DVD)

    2020

    If you enjoy mysteries, do not miss this whodunit about a private detective investigating the death of the wealthy family patriarch in a household where everyone has a secret and motive for foul play. Think of it as Clue meets Agatha Christie. The ensemble cast is delightful and each actor gets a chance to shine. Daniel Craig plays master crime solver Benoit Blanc, and I hope there is a sequel with another case for him to unravel. This received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Musical/Comedy. In addition, Craig and his costar Ana de Armas got Golden Globe nominations. It has an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

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  • The Lighthouse

    2020

    Watch as two lighthouse keepers marooned on a remote island slowly go insane. Ah, it is the dream job for many actors. More than up to the task, Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson deliver compelling, disturbing performances. Filmmaker Robert Eggers excels at mixing folklore, mythology, and psychological horror, inviting the viewer to wonder, think, and think again. If you find yourself perplexed by the end, you are not alone. Filmed in black-and-white, the specialized cameras and lenses used give it an antique, square, silent-film look. It has an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.

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  • Little Women (DVD)

    2020

    Nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Greta Gerwig brings to film a reimagined version of the timeless classic of four women coming of age during the Civil War era. She assembled a stellar cast, and each actor gives a knockout performance. Saoirse Ronan received a Golden Globe nomination and has an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Also recognized by Oscar voters is Florence Pugh in the Best Supporting Actress category. Gerwig uses a nonlinear chronology to tell the story--the movie flips back and forth by seven years, and she blended a bit of Louisa May Alcott into the ending. The choices I thought are strokes of creative genius that paid off in big, positive ways. Although this is a period piece, the themes are just as relevant in modern times--independence, identity, ownership, community, sisterhood, conformity, and following one's dreams, to name some.

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  • 1917 (DVD)

    2020

    Via superb editing and amazing cinematography, this epic WWI drama looks like one long take, immersing the viewer into the middle of the war and immediacy of the narrative. Two British soldiers must cross through no-man's-land and enemy territory to deliver a message ordering a colonel to stand down before he leads 1,600 men into a deadly trap, including the brother of a soldier tasked with delivering the message. The filmmaker Sam Mendes based the script in part on a story told by his great-grandfather. It won the Golden Globe for Best Drama and Best Director. It has 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and Cinematography.

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  • Once upon a Time in Hollywood

    2019

    I know this latest from Quentin Tarantino has divided critics; however, it won Golden Globes for Best Musical/Comedy, Best Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt), and Best Screenplay. As with other Tarantino movies, he has a way of rewriting history. I liked how this is a love letter to the golden age of Hollywood, his meticulous world building, and the fairy tale aspect. It has 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, and Cinematography.

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  • Pain and Glory: Dolor y Gloria

    2020

    Written and directed by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, this has an Oscar nomination for Best International Feature Film. Bittersweet and semiautobiographical, it is arguably his best in years. Almodovar won Oscars for All about My Mother (1999, Best Foreign Language Film) and Talk to Her (2002, Best Original Screenplay). Antonio Banderas stars as Salvador Mallo, a well-known film director dealing with various health issues as well as a creative dry spell. Learning of plans to screen a restored version of an early film, he reconnects with the lead actor, with whom he has not spoken in 30 years, and starts to reflect upon his childhood. Penelope Cruz costars as Mallo's mother in flashback scenes, and her last scene adds a completely altered perspective. Banderas won for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival, and he has an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

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  • Parasite (DVD)

    2020

    From South Korea, this movie, written and directed by Bong Joon-ho, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. This black comedy centers on the Kim family, financially destitute yet rich in street smarts, that manages to slowly infiltrate the gullible, wealthy Park family. If you are a fan of Bong's 2013 film Snowpiercer, you definitely want to catch this movie. Class struggle, rage, and warfare are here, and do not be surprised that things get bloody outrageous. It has six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and International Feature Film.

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  • Richard Jewell (DVD)

    2020

    Directed by Clint Eastwood, this biographical drama tells the story of security guard Richard Jewell, the man targeted by the FBI and news media as responsible for the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics. While Eastwood wanted to call attention to the ordeal faced by Jewell to prove his innocence, the director's choices concerning the portrayal of the reporter who broke the story invoked much controversy. That said, Kathy Bates received a Golden Globe nomination and has an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, playing Richard Jewell's mother. The reliable Bates nails every scene. Her speech to the press defending her son is an absolute standout.

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  • Rocketman

    2019

    A musical fantasy about Elton John, directed by Dexter Fletcher, who took over directing Bohemian Rhapsody after the original director left. It stars Taron Egerton as Elton John, and Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin, John's lyricist. All the actors perform the songs. The musical numbers are not in chronological order, rather they are used to inform or depict what is happening in John's life at a particular time. With energetic song and dance performances, not to mention fantastic costumes, this is a crowd-pleaser. The script may or may not stick to all the facts throughout; but it is how Elton John wanted to tell his story. Egerton won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy; John and Taupin took home the Globe for Best Original Song. Now the legendary songwriting duo has an Oscar nomination for Best Song.

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