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Oscars 2020: The winners we want

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Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig on the set of Little Women

Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig on the set of Little Women

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Little Women – Greta Gerwig

Lately, it feels like the Gregorian calendar is based less on the Earth orbiting the sun and more on how often adaptations of Little Women are rolled out. And yet despite this, the most recent version is surely the tallest poppy in the field. The strongest contenders in this category know when to stick with the source material and when to veer off course, and Greta Gerwig certain shows this, but it’s the complete restructuring the entire narrative that’s the true masterstroke here, fixing some key plot points that we forgave in other versions. It's Greta Gerwig for the win.

Reece Goodwin, Curator TV & Special Events.

Ton Hanks and Matthew Rhys in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Ton Hanks and Matthew Rhys in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Actor in a supporting role

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Tom Hanks

On the surface A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a deceptively simple character study about an unlikely friendship between beloved children’s entertainer Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and world-weary investigative journalist, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys).

When Lloyd’s Editor assigns him a “puff-piece” on Rogers he’s intent on getting it done in lightning time. Despite his deep cynicism, Lloyd is pulled into Rogers orbit and in doing so, begins to process his own emotions; reconciling with his past and grappling with what it means to be new father himself. 

In a recent New Yorker profile, American director Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) said, “I thought I would only make movies about women,” but Fred Rogers’ story “represents a totally different kind of masculinity that we don’t get to see onscreen.”

In a film full of fine performances, it’s Tom Hank’s portrayal of Rogers that provides A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood with it’s enormous, beating heart. Nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Rhys was snubbed in Leading Actor category), Hanks offers a new kind of cinematic masculinity in Hollywood. Instead of solving issues with ‘action’ Rogers asks us to sit, reflect, forgive, to reach out.

Kristy Matheson, Director of Film

Amani Ballour in The Cave

Documentary (Feature)

The Cave – Feras Fayyad, Kirstine Barfod and Sigrid Dyekjær

Feras Fayyad’s latest film The Cave is the Syrian director’s second powerful and urgent documentary designed to bring to audiences the unsung heroes of Syria’s ongoing conflict.

While his previous award-winning film Last Men In Aleppo focused on the predominantly male first-responders, the White Helmets, his latest documentary follows the fearless Dr Amani Ballour as she leads a team of medics fighting to keep civilians alive in a hospital whose walls are literally and metaphorically crumbling around them. 

Almost completely observational, the film exposes not only the effects of the conflict on those who cannot leave but also the everyday fight for gender equality in a time where tensions are rising and the availability of resources are on the decline. 

The Cave has earnt Fayyad his second Oscar nomination, cementing him as one of the rising stars of the international documentary circuit. A denied visa banning him from travelling to the USA to attend the Academy Awards has been met with condemnation from the international documentary community, with a letter of support signed by over 100 organisations and individuals seeing the ban overturned. See The Cave’s Australian premiere at The Capitol, presented by Australian International Documentary Conference and ACMI. 

Alice Burgin, CEO and Director, AIDC

Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson and Taika Waititi on the set of Jojo Rabbit

Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson and Taika Waititi on the set of Jojo Rabbit

Best picture

Jojo Rabbit – Carthew Neal, Taika Waititi and Chelsea Winstanley, Producers

Production design

Jojo Rabbit – Ra Vincent

There are lots of justifiable reasons to be angry at the mostly exclusionary list of Academy Award nominees for the 2020 Oscars race. However, among all of that there are a few shining lights and none of them are brighter than the one-two punch of Taika Waititi and Chelsea Winstanley becoming the first ever Indigenous filmmakers to be nominated for best picture. The married couple – both of Māori descent – are nominated as the producers of Jojo Rabbit, which is competing in the main category. It’s a double whammy for Winstanley, who’s also the first Indigenous woman ever to receive a nod. Waititi is an outside favourite for Best Adapted Screenplay, with the guilt towards Greta Gerwig’s Little Women the big competition for shiny trophy, but that too is a first. To round out the trio is Ra Vincent, long-time Waititi collaborator and someone who broke his own record as the first Indigenous nomination for production design: he was nominated first in 2013 for his work on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, with his second nomination now for Jojo Rabbit. Following on from Keisha-Castle Hughes becoming the first Indigenous woman to be nominated in the lead actress category for Whale Rider back in 2003 when she was just thirteen (!!!!) this is a massive moment for not just Indigenous filmmakers, but Polynesian creatives specifically.

Maria Lewis, Writer/Editor

Florence Pugh and Jacqueline Durran on the set of Little Women

Florence Pugh and Jacqueline Durran on the set of Little Women

Costume design

Little Women – Jacqueline Durran

This year’s nominees for costume design are an experienced group with several Oscars between them and I would like to see Jacqueline Durran win for Little Women. Durran, a frequent collaborator of Joe Wright, including: Pride and Prejudice and The Darkest Hour and Mike Leigh, including: Happy-Go-Lucky and Mr Turner, has created many memorable cinematic wardrobes, winning a BAFTA for Vera Drake and both a BAFTA and Oscar for Anna Karenina. She is also responsible for a much talked about film costume - the green dress in Atonement, which is regularly included on lists of iconic film costumes. Durran is extremely skilled at giving insight into the characters through their clothes. Her gift for embedding costumes with the essence of the period in which the film is set while remaining accessible to a contemporary audience shines in Little Women.

Thara Krishna-Pillay, Curator

Hatidže Muratova in Honeyland

Hatidže Muratova in Honeyland

International Feature Film

Honeyland – North Macedonia

Premiering at Sundance over a year ago in the World Cinema Documentary Competition where it picked up three gongs, documentary Honeyland propelled itself into the awards conversation and international festival circuit with a tonne of momentum. What starts as a calm, observational portrait of solitary Hatidže, the last woman in a long line of Macedonian beekeepers, then takes a fascinating turn as company arrives in the form of a boisterous nomadic family. Filmed over three years, Honeyland is a staggering achievement in filmmaking, all the more impressive when you consider the skeleton crew who made it (two co-directors and two cinematographers). Honeyland is up against heavyweight Parasite in this category but my dream ballot sees Bong Joon-Ho making history by taking home Best Picture, freeing up International Feature for Honeyland. Also making history: Honeyland, as the only documentary ever nominated in this category! See what all the Oscar buzz (sorry) is about when Honeyland is released in Australian cinemas on March 5.

Treise Armstrong, Program Coordinator, Film