The Alternative Oscars – Selecting 2020’s Best Non-Nominees

Directing

Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse)
Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir)
Greta Gerwig (Little Women)
Bennie Safdie; Josh Safdie (Uncut Gems)
Celine Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire)

You’ll notice one huge difference between our selection of directors and that of the Academy’s… we’ve included women.

In truth, their nominations were undeniable. Joanna Hogg, Greta Gerwig and Celine Sciamma offered some of the very best directorial work of the century thus far in their respective releases, each crafting films that were of the highest order while still very much being in line with their own work and each feeling remarkably personal.

The men of the group, The Lightouse’s Robert Eggers and the Safdie Brothers of Uncut Gems offered visions so unique that they would ordinarily be undeniable, their critics favourites each being tremendous examples of auteurs at work in the modern age of homogenised American cinema.


Cinematography

Darius Khondji (Uncut Gems)
Yorick Le Saux (High Life)
Claire Mathon (Potrait of a Lady on Fire)
Jörg Widmer (A Hidden Life)
Jasper Wolf (Monos)

High LifeA Hidden Life and Monos are spectacular visual feasts filled with the type of frame-by-frame still images you’d hang on a wall and the kind of moving image framing, exploration and combinations that make your jaw drop. They’re beautiful concoctions, each with the idea of story in mind, their approaches as almost all-seeing higher entity perspectives being elevated by their sheer beauty.

In Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the beautifully photographed shots are representative of the very paintings so central to the narrative, and in Uncut Gems the camera seems to always be very much inside the action or so far away, yet so zoomed in, that you feel almost perverted in witnessing it.

While the Official Oscars’ list is a strong one, there are bodies of work in our list that offer far more in comparison, leaving us to wonder; how weren’t at least some of these films nominated?

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Original Screenplay

Ronald Bronstein; Bennie Safdie; Josh Safdie (Uncut Gems)
Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir)
Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy)
Paul Laverty (Sorry We Missed You)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)

The Official Oscars went for the flashy screenplays of the likes of Knives Out and Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood in 2020, whereas we’ve opted for largely more personal stories – personal in their feel and personal to their writers.

Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir is a screen poem spoken in retrospect to her own life and career, the effect being one that is devastating, while The Farewell offers similarly as deep self-exploration, Lulu Wang’s script being one filled with both warmth and pain without the usual discrepencies that come with combining the two. Shia LaBeouf’s Honey Boy is remarkably similar to both, the autobiographical story of his own youth being one that feels like a self-penned exorcism.

In Sorry We Missed You and Uncut Gems, our nominees become less personal to the creators but equally as personal in how they feel, and similarly as remarkable for bursting open what is considered normal (in terms of subject matters, dialogue, narrative beats) in contemporary cinema.

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