Jihae Oh CMC ’24
The Oscars. A time for asking, “have you ever heard of that actress?” Or “how was that movie even nominated?” In other words, a magical time to be constantly confused by names you have never heard of and enamored with the one movie you actually watched. Whether you are totally out of the Oscars loop or are a devoted fan who has been predicting winners on various websites and platforms since the day nominations came out, take a look at our opinionated and *thoroughly* researched expectations vs. the probable reality of the results.
“CODA,” standing for Child of Deaf Adult, is a coming of age film about a girl torn between her love of music and her family. This movie took great leaps in the industry by having as many scenes in American Sign Language (with subtitles) as in English, and also consisting of three deaf leads. In fact, actor Troy Kotsur who plays the deaf father of the protagonist, Ruby, made history as the first deaf male Academy Award nominee. The movie encapsulates so much emotion, making it easy for the audience to empathize with each character. There is humor, soul, passion, and the relatability of the teenage mind. It is even more impactful that Ruby wants to go to college for singing – a love that is difficult for her deaf family to understand. It is important to note, however, that some people in the deaf community thought the deaf characters were pitied and reliant on a hearing counterpart to have a functional role in society. As a result, the movie could be seen as the opposite of empowering. Nevertheless, the film is a beautiful portrayal of family and adolescence, and deserves to win for both its strides in the deaf community and also its unforgettable audience effect.
Best Leading Actor
Expectation: Andrew Garfield
Let’s “stop the clock” to talk about how incredible Andrew Garfield was in “tick tick… BOOM.” I will flat out state that I am extremely biased in this decision since I have repeatedly watched “tick tick… BOOM” and listened to the soundtrack ever since I watched the film on the second day of winter break. Garfield’s ability to seamlessly transition from performing hilarious and whimsical numbers such as “30/90” and “Bo-Ho Days,” to manic ditties as seen with “Therapy” and finally emotional and heart-wrenching scenes, such as “Why,” encapsulates Johnathan Larson’s (the creator of tick tick… BOOM and another little show called “Rent”), tumultuous yet fantastical life and creativity. For someone who had never played piano or taken a singing lesson before, Garfield delivered a performance “that happens only once in your life.”
Reality: Will Smith
Best Supporting Actor
Expectation: Troy Kotsur
Troy Kotsur is a deaf actor who played the father of a teenage girl in the movie “CODA.” As mentioned in our “CODA” prediction, he is the first deaf male actor to be nominated for an Academy Award. His role in “CODA” is crucial to the success and emotion of the film. I mean, I was practically brought to tears by his performance in the two minute trailer, so one could only imagine the humanity of his character in a two hour film. In an interview with the New York Times, Kotsur spoke about having wanted to work with hearing people for years and the reservations in Hollywood about the ability of deaf people. He said, however, that this fear is beginning to fade. “That’s why it’s so important to not think of deaf actors from a perspective of limitations, because as a deaf person, I can drive, I can cook, I can have sex, I can do all of these things,” said Kotsur *in what interview*. “The only thing where there’s a barrier is a communication barrier, and that’s it.”
Reality: Troy Kotsur
Best Leading Actress
Expectation: Jessica Chastain
I had never heard of Chastain’s character before I saw the brief clip of “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” during the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards. Nonetheless, after watching the movie, Jessica Chastain captures her audience right off the bat with her strikingly similar Betty Boop appearance, nasally yet confident voice, and the power and authority in which she delivers every line. Tammy Faye Bakker was a devoted Christian and evangelist who preached the Word on national television with her later disgraced husband Jim Bakker (played by Andrew Garfield). Tammy Faye was considered a radical for her time due to her public support for the LGBTQ+ community. Chastain’s uplifting tone never wavers throughout the film, whether she is putting on a theatrical puppet show or trying to gain the approval and attention of her mother, husband, and other preachers who did not believe women deserved a seat at the table. Following the scene with Bakker’s several accusations of fraud and adultery, Chastain brilliantly allows minuscule facial contortions or inflections to portray Tammy Faye’s deep-rooted pain and isolation. Chastain also succeeds in delivering some incredible musical performances that showed the wide-eyed faith of the late Tammy Faye Bakker.
Reality: Jessica Chastain
Best Supporting Actress
Expectation: Ariana DeBose
Ms. Ariana DeBose does it again. A stellar performance that not only showcases her range and ability as a dancer and vocalist, but also as a fierce yet vulnerable actress. DeBose, who played Anita in Spielberg’s newest rendition of “West Side Story,” had some pretty big shoes to fill when taking on this role. Following Rita Moreno is no easy feat. Not only did DeBose do Moreno justice through her ability to deliver witty one liners, putting Bernardo and the Sharks in place, and the unfiltered pain and grief she portrays in both her facial expressions and tone following the climatic rumble, she has also made history for the queer Afro-Latina community. Recently winning a SAG award in the same category, she became the first Latina actress to win a SAG award, as well as the first openly queer women of color to be recognized for her talent. DeBose’s passion and love for her art is clearly evident throughout the film, y me encantó su interpretación de Anita mas que ella se amó a la isla de Manhattan.
Reality: Ariana DeBose
Best Original Song
Expectation: “Dos Oruguitas” – Lin Manuel Miranda (Encanto)
Like I was really not going to talk about Bruno. Although I have nothing but admiration, respect and many tear filled tissues in honor of “Dos Orugitas” and its beautiful message about the pain and power of family, growth, and love, I think many people were shocked about the absence of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from the nomination list. Therefore, I would like to take a moment to thank Miranda for the two songs on my “Try not to run into a person, tree or the sidewalk while I ride my bike” playlist, since I always end up singing “Dos Orugitas” and “We Don’t Talk about Bruno” every time I clumsily soar down the hill from Scripps to Roberts.
Reality: “No Time to Die” – Billie Eilish/Phineas (No Time to Die)
Best Animated Feature Film
I am sorry to report that many tears were lost this day. I am pretty sure that I was somewhat dehydrated after watching this movie. First, I need to flat out say that “Encanto” was truly fantastical and magical. The hit film included the right amount of comedic and catchy lyrics, stunning animation, and a storyline that finally focused on giving depth and emotional honesty to its characters and arc. Unlike other Disney or Pixar films, “Encanto” did not have a formal villain. Although audiences were led to believe that Bruno, with his supposed “seven foot frame with rats along his back” would be the stereotypical prodigal son back for revenge by destroying the magic within La Casa Madrigal, we could not have been more wrong. The root problem of the film was not some devious Disney villain with a ridiculous name and classic evil smile, but the generational pressures and unrealistic expectations that Mirabel’s abuela held the family up too. Abuela’s desire to provide for her family and give them a better life than her own, caused her and her grandchildren (Mirabel, Luisa, and Isabella) to forget that the true magic of the family did not lie in their powers but in themselves and their love for one another, a message and storyline that many families can relate to. Not only does Encanto deliver a plot and characters that address the importance of representation, community, and familial struggles, it also gives us some epic lyrics as found in the song “Surface Pressure.” “Was Hercules ever like ‘yo I don’t want to fight Cerberus”, does it get any more legendary than that?
The exploration of counterculture fashion in ’70s London is amazing. The costumes that Cruella wears are all so original and groundbreaking that it is inspiring to watch. As I was watching the movie, I found myself wanting to dress differently, to break the norms of fashion, and think beyond the conforming mindset in order to utilize clothing as a form of self-expression and creativity. Costume designer Jenny Beavan does just that. She plays with materials, such as trash, that would not typically be worn by the average person in modern times – let alone in the ’70s – and creates something truly beautiful. I believe there is something to be said about turning literal trash into elegance and finesse.
Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
Expectation: King Richard
“King Richard” focuses on the upbringing of the famous Williams sisters. Writer Zach Berlin depicts the story as a family drama, rather than focusing on only Serena and Venus. He interviewed the entire family including the siblings in order to capture a well-rounded and accurate story. According to Outtake Magazine, Berlin wanted it to “feel like a family on the screen.” Berlin also claims that the Williams family did not try to “sand the edges” of their story, but were actually very additive and willing to produce a truly soulful movie. I believe this definitely helped the writing produce deep characters that could depict the emotion and turbulence of the story. Although it may seem questionable for a white man to be writing the story of a Black family, Berlin took the time to really understand his responsibility in writing an intrinsically African American film. He said, “I knew also that my job and responsibility at a certain point was going to be to just listen to all the collaborators, and to really understand what was going to be important for them and what they wanted to get across.”
The Oscars will take place on Sunday, March 27th at 5:00p.m. PST.
Image Source: Apple TV