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Maciej at the Movies: Recapping One of the Craziest Years in Film History (Part I)

| April 22nd, 2021

Maciej Kasperowicz is a special cinematic correspondent for DaBearsBlog. He’s also a good friend, a dedicated Bears fan/Josie Woods loyalist and the voice I trust most when it comes to all things movies. 


Hello again. Welcome to the Marc Colombo of DaBearsBlog posts: super long, shows up like once a year, don’t know why you’d really have any expectations of it by this point.

It was a weird year for movies, have you heard? But much like every regular year, about a million movies came out, and you could watch rather many of them at home. Two weeks after my second vaccine a few weeks ago I went to two different movie theaters, and then went to three more the following week, so I’m incredibly thrilled theaters are back. But I didn’t find it remotely hard to watch movies at home, and it’s one of the things that kept my brain even sorta centered in 2020. I watched 450 or so movies at home, new and old, in the year or so between theater trips.

What the fuck else did I have to do?

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The Oscars decided at some point last year to hope against hope that movie theaters would be open early this year and extended their eligibility period, though the open theaters never really came in significant numbers. That’s why movies like Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah, and The Father, which came out in 2021 for anybody that’s not a movie critic are represented here. All in all, it’s a pretty regular-seeming Oscar lineup, missing only a few embarrassing below the line nominations for a shitty Star Wars movie (Birds of Prey got robbed in costumes though).

Instead of shoehorning further Bears metaphors, this year I went with a little preview of the big categories to make your viewing of the Oscars (directed by Steven Soderbergh) slightly more informed.

But first…

A Note About Oscar Pools

I’m very far from an experienced gambler, and this is not a gambling advice article so the owner of this here site can probably correct me, but I think an Oscar pool works pretty similarly to a March Madness pool. If you’re in a small pool with like a dozen friends or co-workers (and they’re not Oscar obsessives), it’s probably smartest to just pick pretty close to chalk and trust that they’ll make picks for sillier reasons (like their perception of quality). There will be surprises for sure, but your average friend probably isn’t going to do that much better than the experts. Does that suck the fun out if it? Maybe. But winning is fun.

If you’re looking to win a pool with like 1000 ballots, you’re probably going to have to go bigger. One route could be picking longer shots in all categories that have less consensus, like the shorts, Best Actress, Adapted Screenplay, and Editing.

Another could be betting on individual films over-performing. No one thought Ford vs. Ferrari was a Best Picture threat last year, but it beat 1917 for Sound Editing and all the heavy hitters for Editing. Maybe everyone likes The Father enough this year that it takes Best Editing and Adapted Screenplay? Maybe everyone’s wrong about the apathy towards Mank and it takes not only Production Design (where it’s favored), but also other below the line awards like Costumes, Makeup, and Cinematography. Don’t get too cute, take your free squares (Boseman for Best Actor, Chloe Zhao for Director, Soul for Animated, Sound of Metal for Sound, Another Round for International), but find a way to differentiate if the field is huge.

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Best Supporting Actor

If you pay a lot of attention to folks that write about the Oscars, you’ll often hear the phrase “category fraud” used to refer to actors in obvious leading roles pushed in the supporting categories where they’re more likely to win. This year we get both Judas (Lakeith Stanfield) and the Black Messiah (Daniel Kaluuya) from the film Judas and the Black Messiah as supporting actors, which is really funny. I think Kaluuya is the better of the two and a really great performance in general. Between this, Get Out, and Widows, Kaluuya’s firmly established himself as one of the best actors in the world, and I’ll be happy to see him get his Oscar here, despite it being a lead role.



The most obvious-seeming potential spoiler for Kaluuya (esp. after the vote-splitting possible after Stanfield’s surprise nomination) is Sacha Baron-Cohen in the Trial of the Chicago 7. The nicest thing I can say is that I don’t think he’s as terrible in that movie as Eddie Redmayne and Jeremy Strong. Or maybe it’s that I find it hard to separate his acting from how much I hate the screenplay. Regardless, this is SNL-level shit at best.

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