The Academy Awards—colloquially known as the Oscars—has been the pinnacle of award ceremonies for technical and artistic achievement in film. Since its inception in 1929, thousands of gold statuettes have been awarded to directors, actors, screenwriters, producers, cinematographers, and other key roles within the film industry in the oldest Hollywood ritual in all of film history.
As the 92nd annual Academy Awards draws near, much has changed about the ceremony. For one thing, this year will mark the second consecutive year in which there will be no host—a change-up that, before 2019, had not been seen since 1989. Despite this break in tradition and a declining overall viewership (2018 was the least-watched Oscars ceremony in history), the Academy Awards remain as the longest-running and most coveted awards event in the world today.
In anticipation of the upcoming 2020 ceremony, here is a summary of all the nominees for Best Picture, the apex of Oscar awards.
This epic World War I drama from director Sam Mendes tells the story of two British soldiers tasked with delivering a crucial message to their allies to prevent their inevitable defeat in an upcoming attack. It immediately generated Oscar buzz for its cinematography; the entire movie is filmed in such a way that it appears as two consecutive shots.
1917 received no less than 10 nominations at this year’s Oscars, with particular praise given to the actors’ performances, its musical score, and realistic depiction of the horrifying trench warfare that the first world war has become so well-known for. Having snagged the Golden Globe award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, it presents itself as a serious contender for the equivalent Best Picture award at the Oscars.
Ford v. Ferrari
A must-see for any racing fan, Ford v. Ferrari stars Matt Damon as an automotive designer and visionary and Christian Bale as a professional race car driver. Together, they lead a team of engineers in building the Ford GT40 as the first major contender to Ferrari in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France.
Ford v. Ferrari garnered worldwide acclaim for its performances, as well as its racing sequences. In addition to its Best Picture nomination, it also has been nominated for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
This three-and-a-half-hour mob epic from acclaimed director Martin Scorsese stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. It centers on De Niro’s character Frank Sheeran, who narrates the retelling of his younger days as a member of the Bufalino crime family, including his friendship with and involvement in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.
Scorsese is often regarded as one of the best filmmakers of all time, so its no wonder his latest installment has been nominated for 10 awards at this year’s Oscars.
Jojo Rabbit follows the story of Johannes Betzler, a Hitler youth in Nazi Germany who is forced to confront his beliefs when he discovers that his mother is harboring a Jewish girl in their attic. Writer and director Taika Waititi also stars as Johannes’ imaginary friend who just happens to be Hitler.
Despite criticism from some for its comedic take on Nazis, Jojo Rabbit ultimately reveals itself as an anti-hate satire with a positive message, receiving six Oscar nominations this year.
Arguably the most polarizing of this year’s Best Picture nominees, Joker tells the story of Arthur Fleck, a mentally-ill clown-for-hire in 1980’s Gotham City who falls into a downward spiral of increasingly violent madness.
Hailed as a plausible and convincing origin story for one of the most infamous comic book villains in history, Joker stands out as one of the darkest “superhero” movies in history. Joaquin Phoenix’s depiction of the titular character won him the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama, making him a serious contender for Best Actor at this year’s Academy Awards.
This retelling of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel is directed by Greta Girwig, who has established herself as one of Hollywood’s most talented female directors. The film follows the coming-of-age of four young sisters in 1860’s New England.
With particular praise for its performances, Little Women received six Oscar nominations, including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh, respectively.
Marriage Story stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a divorcing couple who are forced to reconcile their split with their eight-year-old son.
The film received universal acclaim for its two lead performances and for its realistic depiction of familial separation. It holds six total nominations for the 2020 Academy Awards.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s 9th full-length feature film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as an actor and his stunt double in 1960’s Hollywood. It seamlessly (and with some controversy) blends real-life Hollywood events with Tarantino’s fictional depiction of the era, and holds 10 Oscar nominations for this year.
The only foreign-language film to be nominated for Best Picture this year, Parasite tells the story of a poor family’s involvement with a rich family which leads to disastrous results. Acclaimed South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho was praised for his direction, which earned the film a Best Director nomination in addition to Best Picture, as well as four other nominations. Be sure to watch this year’s 92nd Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, February 9th on ABC.