Oscars: Breaking Down the Smear Campaigns and Last-Ditch Swings

10:00 AM 1/30/2020

by Scott Feinberg

With time ticking down, several contenders hosted VIP screenings and Q&As while some guild awards muddied the frontrunner status of several films.

Andrew Cooper/Sony Pictures; François Duhamel /Universal

  • Best Picture

    Andrew Cooper/Sony Pictures; François Duhamel /Universal

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Quentin Tarantino’s 1960s revisionist Hollywood tale starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt came up short for the main prizes at both the PGA and SAG Awards. It was also the target of a Jan. 13 Daily Beast piece titled "The Big Harvey Weinstein Problem With Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

    1917

    Parasite’s win of the best ensemble SAG Award has some doubting this World War I drama’s frontrunner status (although Sam Mendes’ pic wasn’t nominated), despite its PGA Award victory. A Jan.  20 Variety column, "Why 1917 Is the Last Film That Should Be Winning the Oscar," hasn’t helped, either.

  • Best Animated Feature

    Courtesy of Disney Pixar; Courtesy of Netflix

    Toy Story 4

    On the heels of its shocking loss to Laika’s Missing Link for best animated feature at the Golden Globes, Pixar’s fourth installment of its hallmark film franchise claimed the PGA Awards’ animation prize, beating out not only Missing Link, but also Abominable, Frozen  2 and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

    I Lost My Body 

    Director Jeremy Clapin, producer Marc Du Pontavice, and their film about a disembodied hand looking for its owner — one of two Netflix Oscar nominees in this category, the other being Klaus — are set for a Jan. 29 American Cinematheque screening and Q&A at the Aero Theatre.

  • Best Documentary Feature

    'The Cave'

    Busan International Film Festival

    ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, who has reported on Syria, hosted a Jan.  22 screening of Feras Fayyad’s portrait of a female doctor working in the war-torn country. Fayyad, not currently allowed into the U.S. due to visa issues, participated in the New York event via Skype.

  • Best Costume Design

    'The Irishman'

    Courtesy of Netflix

    Sandy Powell, a three-time Oscar winner (for Shakespeare in Love, The Aviator and The Young Victoria), and her co-nominee, Christopher Peterson, were among the recipients of the Santa  Barbara Film Fest’s Artisans Award on Jan. 19.

  • Best Production Design

    'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures

    Barbara Ling, who helped re-create 1969 Hollywood for Tarantino’s period piece, was honored at the Santa Barbara Film Fest on Jan. 19 with the Artisans Award, along with several other honorees.

  • Animated Short

    'Hair Love'

    Sony Pictures Animation

    Ex-NFL player Matthew A. Cherry was toasted on Twitter by one of the film’s EPs, Jordan Peele (Cherry works at Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions), and Ava DuVernay, and received the African-American Film Critics Association’s breakthrough filmmaker award Jan. 22.

  • Best Original Song

    Allen Fraser/Twentieth Century Fox; Glen Wilson/Focus Features; Courtesy of Disney Pixar

    "I'm Standing With You"
    Breakthrough

    Diane Warren’s tune from a tiny faith-based film got a double boost: It was announced that Chrissy Metz (who stars in the film) will perform it on the Oscars telecast, and she and Warren did a Beverly Hills Q&A on Jan. 25.

    "Stand Up"
    Harriet

    Cynthia Erivo, only the third person ever Oscar-nominated for acting and songwriting in one year, was one of the Santa Barbara Film Fest’s Virtuoso Award honorees Jan. 18; her tune also played over a montage of all the honorees at the start of the ceremony.

    "I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away"
    Toy Story 4 

    The good news is that a Randy Newman Toy Story 4 song was nominated for a Grammy. The bad news? It was "The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy," not this Oscar nominee.

  • Best Original Score

    'Joker'

    Warner Bros. Pictures

    Icelandic composer Hildur Gudnadóttir was a best score soundtrack for visual media Grammy nominee Jan. 26 for her work on Chernobyl (she previously won an Emmy for her work on the HBO series).

    This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.