Glitz, Glam and Surprises in Store for 2020 Awards Season

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

There were several surprises at Sunday’s Golden Globe awards, which kicked off the four-week long awards season race that ends with the Oscars on Feb. 9. The biggest film winners on Jan. 5 were “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (a buddy movie about a washed up actor and his stunt double) and “1917” (about a desperate race to prevent a mass slaughter during WWI) while highly touted films (including “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story”) were almost completely shut out. Comedian Awkwafina walked away with a best actress award and the little-seen animated feature “Missing Link” won out over box office blockbusters like “Frozen II” and “Toy Story 4.”

“This is one of the most exciting years in film in quite a while,” said Scott Tallal, executive director of the Malibu Film Society. “Thanks to the proliferation of streaming services, it really is a new Golden Age in Hollywood—they provide so many more opportunities for filmmakers to bring their visions to the big screen, and more films are now getting made. This year, the streaming services brought us films like ‘The Irishman,’ ‘Marriage Story,’ ‘Dolemite is my Name,’ ‘The Two Popes’ and ‘The Report.’” 

Films made by streaming services are required to have a theatrical run in order to qualify for Oscar consideration just like any other film, he noted.

“At the same time,” Tallal continued, “the traditional studios have also produced tremendous films this year, like ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ ‘Ford v Ferrari’ and ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,’ along with riskier fare such as ‘JoJo Rabbit,’ ‘Joker’ and ‘1917.’”  

As for the top winners of this year’s Golden Globes, he felt they were all right on target. 

“There were lots of great films and performances this year, but the winners were on a whole other level.  I think the two best films and drama category actors absolutely deserved their awards: Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger were both phenomenal,” he said. “Those most deserving of being recognized were recognized.” 

On Joaquin Phoenix winning best actor in a drama (“Joker”): “It was far and away the best performance of any actor this year; in a truly original story that explores what could drive someone in real life to become a supervillain.”

On Renee Zellweger winning best actress in a drama (“Judy”): “She inhabited the role so fully that you almost never saw Renee Zellweger—all you saw on screen was Judy Garland. She was so far above all the other nominees.”

On best comedy/musical film winner “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”: “It’s a terrific film. If the criteria for an award-winning film is whether or not people will remember it 10 years from now, I think this is one that definitely qualifies.”

On best drama film winner “1917”: “In my view, it’s by far the best film of the new millennium and a truly monumental achievement in filmmaking on so many levels.”

The Academy Award nominations will be announced Monday, Jan. 13, and the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony is Feb. 9—nearly three weeks earlier than usual. Some in the industry worry academy members won’t have as much time as usual to see all the films—especially awards contenders released in the latter part of December, like “Uncut Gems,” “Little Women,” “Bombshell,” “Clemency,” “Just Mercy,” “Richard Jewell” and “1917.” In addition, the abbreviated season gives filmmakers less time to lobby and campaign for their films to academy voters.

The fierce competition generated by the sheer number of good films out this year also means a number of critically acclaimed pictures could end up being overlooked that might have received awards and nominations in other years, including films like “Knives Out,” “Dark Waters,” “Harriet,” “Motherless Brooklyn” and many others.

The Gold Derby movie industry website places betting odds on next month’s Oscar winners. As of last Sunday, the odds favored best picture winner to be “The Irishman,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Parasite,” “Marriage Story” or “1917” (in order). The five top bets for best director were the directors of those same five films. Only eight of the 49 top candidates for best director were female, and none made the top five—a real point of contention during this awards season.

In the acting categories, the odds for a best actress win are highest for Renee Zellweger in “Judy,” Charlize Theron in “Bombshell,” Scarlet Johansson in “Marriage Story,” Saoirse Ronan in “Little Women” or Awkwafina in “The Farewell.”

Odds for best actor favor Joaquin Phoenix for “Joker,” Adam Driver for “Marriage Story,” Leonardo DiCaprio for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Antonio Banderas for “Pain and Glory” or Robert De Niro for “The Irishman.”

The Golden Globes are followed by the Critics’ Choice Awards Jan.12, the Producers Guild (PGA) Awards Jan.18, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards Jan. 19, the Director’s Guild (DGA) Awards Jan. 25, the Writers Guild (WGA) awards Feb. 1, the BAFTA (British Oscars) awards Feb. 2 and the Independent Spirit awards Feb. 8. Whew!

Note: Scott Tallal is Jimy Tallal’s husband.