93rd Academy Awards | The great paradox

On the eve of the 93e Oscar night, Marc Cassivi and Marc-André Lussier discuss a gala that seeks to maintain its seal of prestige despite the difficult conditions in which the cinema has been plunged over the past year. However, the Academy showcases very beautiful films, more accessible than ever.

Marc Cassivi: The paradox of Oscar night this year is that it seems to attract less interest from moviegoers, while movies have never been more accessible. You can see practically all the finalist films at home, on digital platforms, which is not usually the case. It probably testifies to the fact that there is nothing like the room to engage the spectator, but it surprises me all the same. There is no blockbuster at the Titanic to round up the crowds, it’s true. The major studios have postponed expected releases. But there are still some good films in the running. Why this apparent disaffection, in your opinion?

Marc-André Lussier: I believe that this disaffection is not recent. It has gradually taken hold over the past few years, but the pandemic has crystallized the process. It is nevertheless ironic to note that at a time when some announce the disappearance of the cinema in theaters – there are even some who wish it! -, a film still needs a theatrical exploitation to be inscribed in the memory of the people. It has also been said a lot that the Academy is turning too much towards cutting-edge and confidential films rather than towards more popular works, a reproach that can be disputed by asserting its mission to reward excellence rather than success at the box office. . I nevertheless find that the Academy has sometimes shot itself in the foot. A few years ago she had the opportunity, with Dunkirk, to celebrate a great Hollywood production that really combined the two poles – quality and popularity – and she preferred to look to The Shape of Water, probably the weakest of Guillermo del Toro’s films. But you are right to point out this other irony: we can indeed see all the films nominated for the Oscars this year on the platforms, including the five finalists in the category of the best international film!

M. C .: When we review the list of Oscar winners for best film of the last decade, we cannot say that the Academy has always made wise choices: The King’s Speech, Argo, Green Book This year’s candidates do not seem to me to be weaker than those of previous years. It doesn’t surprise me that Mank accumulates the greatest number of selections. It is a classic film, stamped with the famous “Oscar Quality” seal. The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Judas and the Black Messiah, which have a kinship in their thematic, are made of the same water. Promising Young Woman is more original, even if I saw most of the punches coming in. Minari is very cute, like her young actor. Sound of Metal and The Father are especially remarkable for their performances as actors. There is no bad movie in the lot. And then there is Nomadland that towers over them all with one head, in my opinion. Is he safe to win or not?


Frances McDormand in a scene from Nomadland

M.-AL: He should win, because Nomadland is hands down the best looking movie of 2020, IMHO. But I’m not sure he’ll win the Oscar for Best Picture. Although it is virtually certain that Chloe Zhao will win the Oscar for best achievement [elle sera la deuxième réalisatrice à recevoir cet honneur, 11 ans après Kathryn Bigelow pour The Hurt Locker], I have a feeling that the race may be more open than it looks in the best film category. That said, Nomadland already has several assets in his pocket, including the Producers Guild Award, as well as a Golden Globe and the BAFTA Award for Best Picture. It would make sense for him to win. I believe, however, that his most serious rival is The Trial of the Chicago 7, although Aaron Sorkin is not up for Best Director. I also find it quite remarkable that absolutely no one talks about Mank, which however collected 10 selections, while the main competitors – Nomadland, The Father, Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah, Sound of Metal and The Trial of the Chicago 7 – all four are less! Mank is one of those films that we admire but find … flat!

M. C .: I wonder if the most serious rival of Nomadland is not exactly Mank, because its subject is cinema and it approaches the classic among the classics, Citizen Kane. The Academy may have renewed its electorate – we can see it in this new diversity of finalists – films that talk about cinema and the history of cinema obviously appeal to people in Hollywood. that Mank or “a Netflix movie” no longer seems to be an obstacle. The platform barriers are gone for good. I have high hopes that Nomadland wins anyway. It’s such a rich and subtle film. Frances McDormand deserves a third Oscar for best actress. It is magnificent in its simplicity and realism.


Viola Davis in a scene from My Rainey’s Black Bottom

M.-AL: You are right, it is in the DNA of the Academy to reward works that echo the history of cinema, but I would be very surprised if an effect in the The Artist happen again. Mank hardly got any trinkets from professional associations. As for Frances McDormand, yes, she would definitely deserve a third golden statuette. That said, she’s up for grabs in the hottest category of the entire ceremony. Andra Day secured the Golden Globe thanks to her stunning performance in The United States vs. Billie Holiday and Viola Davis won at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, where Andra Day was not named, for her role in My Rainey’s Black Bottom. Carey Mulligan is notable in Promising Young Woman and Vanessa Kirby is equally so in Pieces of a Woman. Really, I would have a hard time making a choice in this category, as all five actresses are worthy of this honor. I wouldn’t be really surprised, however, if Academy members turned to Andra Day. In the same way that they loved the performances of Marion Cotillard [La vie en rose] and Renée Zellweger [Judy], to the point of awarding them the Oscar when the movies they starred in were pretty ordinary, I’m pretty sure the singer’s performance as Billie Holiday is one the Academy likes to celebrate.

M. C .: That’s right and she plays a very convincing Billie Holiday, especially when she sings. But Lee Daniels’ film unnecessarily stretches and goes all over the place, with its dreamlike sequences coming out of nowhere. If Renée Zellweger could be Oscar winner for Judy, which was terrible, anything is possible! It is true that this is a particularly high category. That for best actor is just as important, even if it seems obvious that the Oscar will go to Chadwick Boseman for My Rainey’s Black Bottom, which is another average movie. The play of the actors, very theatrical, is underlined in large strokes. It’s tricky, because Boseman tragically passed away last year, but if we took the context out of the way, I would rather have given the Oscar to Anthony Hopkins, who is great in The Father, or Riz Ahmed, who wears everything Sound of Metal on his shoulders. The way they each act in disarray is remarkable. I don’t understand why Daniel Kaluuya is not in this category, by the way. He will undoubtedly have a better chance of winning the Oscar for best supporting actor.


Riz Ahmed in a scene from Sound of Metal

MY. L: It is in any case undeniable that the efforts made by the Academy for better representation seem to be starting to bear fruit. In addition to celebrating this year the talents of several Afro-descendant artisans, several firsts mark this race. Two women nominated for the best achievement category, one of whom is of Chinese origin; two actors of Korean origin, Steve Yeun and Youn Yuh-jung, have been selected [pour Minari] ; an all-African-American production team nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture [pour Judas and the Black Messiah] ; a muslim filmmaker [Kaouther Ben Hania] is a finalist in the category of best international film, at the same time leading his country, Tunisia, to the ball for the very first time too [pour The Man Who Sold His Skin]. The future will tell if the Academy will continue this momentum, but the Oscar for best film given to Parasite last year has undoubtedly created a breach. My predictions: Movie: Nomadland. Director: Chloé Zhao. Actress: Andra Day. Actor: Chadwick Boseman. Supporting actress: Youn Yuh-jung. Supporting actor: Daniel Kaluuya. International film: Another Round. Yours ?


Youn Yuh-jung in a scene from Minari

M. C .: I will not be very original … My predictions are similar to yours. Formally, I’ll say Oscar for Best Actress to Frances McDormand and Best Supporting Actress to Olivia Colman. But these are perhaps more favorites!

Where to see the films in the running?

Mank: on Netflix
Nomadland: on Disney + (Star) and in theaters
The Father (The father): on Illico, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, Boutique Cineplex. Also indoors.
Judas and the Black Messiah: on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV / iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Cineplex Store
Minari: on Illico, Apple TV / iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, Boutique Cineplex
Promising Young Woman (A young woman full of promises): on Illico, Boutique Cineplex, Apple TV / iTunes, Google Play, YouTube
Sound of Metal (The sound of silence): on the Beaubien, Park and Museum cinemas platform, on the Public Cinema platform, on the Clap platform, on Illico, Apple TV / iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Boutique Cineplex
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Chicago Seven): on Netflix
My Rainey’s Black Bottom (Ma Rainey’s blues): on Netflix
The United States vs Billie Holiday: on the Cineplex Store, Google Play, YouTube
Pieces of a Woman (Reborn): on Netflix
One Night in Miami (One night in Miami): on Amazon Prime Video
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Borat, new filmed mission): on Amazon Prime Video
Hillbillly Elegy (An American ode): on Netflix
The White Tiger (The white tiger): on Netflix


Another Round (Breathalyzer): on Illico, Apple TV / iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Boutique Cineplex. Also indoors.
Better Days: on Apple TV / iTunes, Google Play, YouTube
Collective (The Collective Affair): on the Public Cinema platform, Netflix, Apple TV / iTunes
Quo vadis, Aida? : on Apple TV / iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, Boutique Cineplex
The Man Who Sold His Skin: on Apple TV / iTunes

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93rd Academy Awards | The great paradox

Hank Gilbert