Oscars 2020 – Saoirse Ronan among the nominees

Saoirse Ronan courtesy Wikimedia Commons

By David Prendeville

The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday February 10th. In terms of Irish interest, Saoirse Ronan has received her fourth Oscar nomination, at the age of only twenty-five.

Ronan got the nod in the Best Actress category for her lead role in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. She is up against Cynthia Ervio for Harriet, Scarlett Johannson for Marriage Story, Charlize Theron for Bombshell and Renee Zellwegger (the favourite with many analysts) for her role as Judy Garland in Judy. 

Speaking about Ronan’s nomination, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD said: “I am delighted to see Saoirse Ronan nominated for such a prestigious award – the Academy Awards are among the premier annual film industry awards and to be nominated, particularly in this category, is an honour. Saoirse Ronan’s nomination is a tribute to the strength of the Irish Film Industry and it’s fantastic to see Irish talent capturing the attention of the film industry at an international level.”

The list of nominees generally held few surprises, though eyebrows were raised somewhat at the fact that Todd Phillips’s bafflingly overrated Joker landed the most nominations with eleven.

Joaquin Phoenix certainly seems like the clear favourite for the Best Actor category. Adam Driver seems to be his most likely competitor for Marriage Story.

The other nominees in that category are: Antonio Banderas for Pedro Almódovar’s Pain and Glory, Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes.

One of the big surprises this awards season has been the complete shut-out of Robert De Niro’s excellent performance as gangster Frank Sheeran in The Irishman by all the major awarding bodies.

This year is unusual in that there is no clear front-runner for Best Picture. The Irishman certainly stands a chance in this category. One would suspect Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 1917 and Joker (due to the sheer number of nominations it got), would be it’s biggest competitors.

All three are also nominated in the Best Director category for Quentin Tarantino, Sam Mendes and Phillips, respectively. Hollywood certainly looks like a good shout as the academy have always been fans of Tarantino (now approaching the end of his career), but have never awarded any of his films Best Picture or him Best Director. In an oddly open year, this feels like the moment when they might. 1917, meanwhile, has the feel of the more traditional type of prestige historical film that they would go for. Mendes is a former winner, and the one-shot gimmick the film is being sold on seems like the sort of thing that would attract the academy’s attention.  

Beyond those frontrunners, Bong-Joon Ho’s hugely admired Parasite, to be released here on February 7th, is being hotly tipped by some to be the first foreign language film ever to win Best Picture. As it stands, it is the first-ever South Korean film to be nominated in the category. As overdue a development as a film not in the English language winning the big prize may be, I would still have my doubts about the conservative academy delivering on that front.

Bong-Joon Ho is also in contention for Best Director. Recent years have seen occasions where the film that wins Best Picture has not landed a Best Director nod, something which will give hope to Little Women and Marriage Story.

The academy have once again faced criticism for their lack of diversity. Gerwig’s omission from the Best Director nominations for the former being particularly surprising. The final two, and rank outsider, Best Picture nominees are Ford vs Ferrari and Jojo Rabbit. 

In the Best Supporting Actress race, the great Laura Dern appears to be favourite for Marriage Story. She faces Kathy Bates for Richard Jewell, Scarlett Johnasson for Jojo Rabbit, Florence Pugh for Little Women and Margot Robbie for Bombshell.

Brad Pitt is the runaway favourite for Best Supporting Actor for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It’s a fine performance, however, it’s a shame that Joe Pesci’s towering turn in The Irishman is likely to lose out.

The other Best Supporting Actor contenders are Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, Anthony Hopkins for The Two Popes and Al Pacino for The Irishman.