3 Questions For The 2020 Oscars
By Noah Gittell
You could make your entire life about the Oscars, if you were so inclined. There are now dozens of blogs and podcasts offering year-round coverage of the Academy Awards. That’s why I made a rule for myself: No Oscar talk before November. Otherwise, you risk missing the forest for the trees, or turning the grand majesty of cinema into a simple horse race.
It is finally November, however, and while it’s too early to place bets, there’s no harm in squinting into the near future to try and answer the questions that will define this year’s ceremony.
Will this be the most star-studded Oscars ever? In the Best Supporting Actor category, we may get Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hanks competing against each other. Best Actor will include some grouping of Leonardo DiCaprio, Antonio Banderas, Robert DeNiro, Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Adam Sandler, and Eddie Murphy. Even Best Actress – unfortunately, a weaker category again this year – could include Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, and presumed front-runner Renee Zellweger. Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman could show up in Supporting Actress. Oh, and Jennifer Lopez, so memorable in “Hustlers,” may sneak in, too. In an industry that is increasingly relying on intellectual property instead of stars to sell tickets, the Academy Awards will serve as a strong reminder that beautiful people with strong personalities are still vital to the industry.
Will there be a host? After the controversy that caused Kevin Hart to drop out, last year’s host-less Oscars was a hit with critics and viewers. The Emmys decided to follow suit, with much worse results. If the Academy decides to make last year the exception rather than the new rule, who could they possibly get? At this point, you can’t imagine too many stars wanting the job, where they’ll be subjected to intense scrutiny both before and after the show. Many have suggested Dwayne Johnson as the least offensive choice, but would one of the biggest stars in the world take such a thankless gig?
Is this the year Netflix breaks through? Last year, Netflix went all in on “Roma,” Alfonso Cuaron’s moving drama about a domestic worker in Mexico City. In the end, voters were still uncomfortable giving their top honor to a streaming service, opting instead for “Green Book.” This year, however, Netflix figures to have three films up for Best Picture – “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story,” and “The Two Popes” – which might reduce the stigma associated with honoring a studio that, many have argued, is making the theatrical experience irrelevant. Netflix has wisely put their Oscar fare in theaters for a few weeks before they start streaming, to appease voters, but once they get legitimized by the film industry with their first big Oscar win, will they abandon theaters completely? That’s the question many voters have, and, while it won’t necessarily be answered on Oscar night, it could greatly impact the Academy’s biggest prize.