Leon on Oscars predictions, omissions and surprises


The names of actors and titles of films that are read out annually on Hollywood’s Oscar night will surely always be questioned.

Although the panel that decides on these names consists of thousands of different actors, directors and technicians in the movie industry, there are clear favorites who often rise above all thanks to power play, money, political pressure or even popularity.

Despite controversy and questions surrounding the relevance of this type of awards event, the Oscars remain the film industry’s biggest night for 96 years.

The writer and movie critic Leon van Nierop explained to RNews who exactly the Oscar judging panel is and how they decide to whom the prestigious golden Oscars are awarded.

He goes on to share his predictions, disappointments and favorites about this year’s nominees.

Who votes for Oscars?

As of December 2020, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) had approximately 9,427 eligible Oscar voters.

Anyone with film credits can apply to be an AMPAS member, but each candidate must be approved by each branch’s executive committee and then presented to the board.

The Academy can also invite people to be judges. Actors such as Austin Butler, who was nominated last year for his role in Elvisfor example, was recently invited to be part of this year’s judging panel.

Each judge belongs to one of AMPAS’ 17 branches and each branch nominates individuals or movies for its own category, for example nominating actors for the four acting categories.

However, all the branches vote for the best film, which, according to Leon, explains why it is often difficult to predict who will take home these prizes.

Yet every year there are two or three movies that dominate the nominations.

“There are about 200 to 300 films released per year, but we often see that one film gets 11 to 13 nominations. I don’t let myself be told that there aren’t other films that don’t also deserve a chance to be nominated,” says Leon.

Politics creeps in everywhere

Like many other industries, according to Leon, politics often plays a role in the entertainment industry and especially when it comes to prizes.

He explains that the so-called “Oscar campaigns” are driven especially close to the award season – that one cannot open the internet or social media without coming across the words “Barbie” or “Oppenheimer”.

“It’s about clicks, who you know and how much money you have to market yourself and your film. The actors must be seen and heard everywhere so that critics and judges take notice of them.”

In some cases, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars are spent on getting Oscar frontrunners at every film festival, media event and chat show.

The once award-winning American film producer Harvey Weinstein, now infamous for his sex crimes, developed a reputation at the time by running a mix of big events and so-called “whisper campaigns” to get Oscar nominations.

To date, his films have garnered almost 300 nominations and sometimes leave fans and experts scratching their heads over the authenticity of the Oscar process.

“Think of Gwyneth Paltrow when she won her Oscar for Weinstein’s film at the time Shakespeare in Love. He especially had so many contacts and power in those years to make it (her victory) happen,” says Leon.

“She was good, make no mistake, but there were much better actresses than her that year. She even thanked him in her speech, then we all raised our eyebrows and thought ‘yes you should’, because you couldn’t open the Bible in 1999 without her name being in it’,” he jokes.

Diversity is also often a sore point and the old hashtag #OscarsSoWhite is still bandied around every year, with claims that the AMPAS selection panel still consists of “too many old, white men”. However, since 2015, the AMPAS has made efforts to make its voting body more diverse and involve more women, as well as people from underrepresented racial groups, in the process.

The puppets go dancing, but no unexpected bombs explode

The blockbusters Barbie and Oppenheimer ‘s dominance in this year’s nomination list was not a shock according to Leon.

The stories of the father of the atomic bomb and the world’s most famous doll even led to the so-called #BarbieHeimer trend and filled movie theater seats worldwide.

Barbie according to the movie guru, also blew a fresh, pink breeze in the dark corridors of the Oscars.

“Death is easy, but comedy is hard. Romantic movies or comedies are almost never nominated for Oscars, so in that respect one is happy that a film like Barbie get the necessary recognition for once.”

In particular, Ryan Gosling, who gave life to Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken, deserves his best supporting actor nomination, he thinks.

“Making a doll manly and funny, and also making him sing and dance well, needs to be done. The way he poked fun at himself through his character’s journey to manhood was remarkable and certainly not easy. I liked it.”

According to Leon, director Greta Gerwig has also earned a place on the best directors list, where America Ferrera’s game comes into play Barbie cannot necessarily be compared to that of other female supporting players.

“Although her Barbie-monologue was extremely striking, films like Airwith incredible acting and more striking monologues, left behind.”

Air is about the struggle to convince basketball player Michael Jordan to be sponsored by the Nike company.

Leon predicts that Oppenheimerlike many other movies dealing with true stories, will walk away with the laurels in some of the night’s biggest categories.

“It’s just that if you change your appearance completely or drastically to portray a real person, your chances of winning a statuette are greater.”

That’s why he thinks it would be remarkable to hear how Emma Stone or Sandra Hüller, who were respectively nominated for their leading roles in Poor Things and The Anatomy of a Fall,’s names will be read out at the Oscars this year.

Stone and Hüller are the only two of the five actresses nominated for best lead role whose characters are not modeled on real people. Stone plays the role of a woman whose brain has been replaced with that of her unborn baby, while Hüller plays the role of a woman who is suspected of murdering her husband, with her visually impaired son as the only witness.

“I would have given Sandra Hüller the figurine. She plays the role of a woman who has to prove her innocence absolutely perfectly – you don’t know until the end whether she has done it.”

These movies, actors have earned more recognition

The omission of Society of the Snowwhich deals with a Uruguayan rugby team driven to cannibalism due to a tragic plane crash, is described by Leon as “worrying”.

“The Spanish film’s superb technical production and tremendous realism deserved much more recognition. Never in my life have I seen a film that captures survival so seriously and with so much realism.”

Although he describes it as a “step-nomination”, according to him, this film deserves its nomination for best make-up.

“I would top that too Barbie chosen for best costumes because Barbie ‘s outfits are terribly beautiful and beautiful, but they had millions of dollars to create them. Society of the Snow is much more realistic and the clothes and appearance of the characters, who were stranded in icy mountains for 71 days in the movie, should have gradually looked older.”

Also Society of the Snow Leon’s sound, or rather its lack thereof, charmed.

“The director made sure that there was total and absolute silence. To be able to hear silence is almost impossible and an art to capture. The characters’ desperation for the sounds of search parties terrorized me so much afterwards.”

Leon describes the gameplay of the film Past Livesa romantic drama film about two friends who, over the course of 24 years, ponder the nature of their relationship, stars Greta Lee and Teo Yoo as “magnificent”.

Still did Past Lives only a nomination for best film.

Nes Lily Gladstone, who played the role of Native American woman Molly Burkhart in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar favorite Killers of the Flower Moon interpret, According to Leon, Lee has mastered the art of “underplaying” and earned a nomination for best actress.

“That quiet, restrained, tragic sadness of a woman who is in love and cannot say it, touched me intensely and is often underestimated. Lily Gladstone played that same style perfectly Killers of the Flower Moon.”

The reviewer adds that movies like All of Us Stangers, Ferrari, Saltburn and May December also earned more of the Oscars spotlight.

His answer to why no South African movies have been able to make the Oscars shortlists in the past few years is simple: “politics.”