Deerprints Takes On the Oscars

Awards show season rolls around every year and acts as a great distraction to the lull of January and February. The Oscars nominations lineup for this season is particularly exciting, and the Deerprints staff took to screening and reviewing each movie to determine whether or not it was Oscar-worthy.

Marriage Story

Marriage Story, directed by Noah Baumbach, is a real look at the world of marriage and divorce. It gets into the gritty details of why a marriage can fail and how a relationship between two lovers can deteriorate quickly. It shows the perspectives of both the husband, Charlie (Adam Driver), and the wife, Nicole (Scarlett Johansson). Due to this, I was constantly conflicted on my feelings of the character; at one moment, I’d be sympathetic for Nicole and hate Charlie’s guts; the next, the exact opposite. Adam Driver’s portrayal of Charlie is worthy of Best Actor. He plays the character with so much raw emotion, and brings out the character’s true strengths and flaws in a very real way. Scarlett Johnasson delivers a fantastic performance of Nicole as well, showing her quest to find her true identity separate from her husband amidst the divorce. The two are locked in a custody battle for their son, Henry, throughout the film, adding to the messiness and awkwardness of their divorce. This movie was my favorite that I saw this year, and I’d highly recommend that anyone with a Netflix account watch it.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, directed by the enigmatic Quentin Tarantino, is both a nostalgic look into the 1960’s and a retelling of the infamous Manson family murders. The film’s main characters are aging western star Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his stunt double Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt. DiCaprio’s performance is strong, but Pitt blew me away with the ruggedness and mystique he brought to the character. Dalton is acting in a new Western film, and has to cope with the idea that he isn’t the star that he used to be. He’s very vulnerable throughout a large portion of the movie. Another portion of the movie focuses on the famous actress Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie. Tate is portrayed as extremely fun loving and optimistic. The film has a beautiful aesthetic and set design; I truly felt like I was in the 1960’s while watching the film. If I were to have a criticism of the film, some scenes felt like they dragged on a bit too long. The movie did feature a strong twist ending that I had not seen coming. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie, and it certainly deserves its spot as a Best Picture nomination.

Jojo Rabbit 

Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit is a film set in Nazi Germany during World War II that features a young boy who becomes torn between morals and a perceived obligation when discovering that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in the attic. Although the themes and messages of Jojo Rabbit were compelling, the execution left something to be desired. For instance, I understand the fact that the movie was trying to display Nazi Germany from a child’s perspective, so the events would be portrayed as a bit sillier than the grim history we have learned about in school. However, I did not expect Jojo Rabbit to be mainly a comedy that glossed over the tragedies of war and persecution. It seemed a bit too Hollywood and lighthearted for a realistic World War II movie, especially since the comedienne Rebel Wilson played a supporting character and a goofy, playful version of Adolf Hitler was Jojo’s imaginary friend. However, I did find some of the concepts in Jojo Rabbit fascinating. The themes of manipulation and loss of innocence were explored deeply throughout the film, and forces the audience to consider how the tension between morals and circumstances can form one’s identity. In conclusion, I thought the idea to make a film set in such a dark, hateful time a comedy was a poor one, although the movie did make me think about some compelling concepts.

Ford v Ferrari

James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari, is, simply put, a good movie. The title is a bit of a misnomer: while the movie does hinge on a rivalry between the two automotive giants, the focus of the story is instead on individuals outside of both companies. The film follows automobile designer Carroll Shelby and racer Ken Miles, who plan to design and drive a Ford car capable of defeating Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans race. The story is both simple and captivating, incredibly funny and nail-biting; and, of course, it’s got some pretty thrilling racing scenes. One of the movie’s definite strengths is the friendship between Shelby and Miles, portrayed by Matt Damon and Christian Bale. Both actors brought easy authenticity to the characters through their solid performances and on-beat banter.

For all of its strengths, however, Ford v Ferrari isn’t really anything more than a fine movie. It was enjoyable to watch and delivered a good variety of scenes and emotions, from some truly exciting racing sequences to a bittersweet and tragic end. But while the movie definitely qualifies as good entertainment, I don’t think that it’s on the same level as some of this year’s other nominees. This isn’t because a movie needs to be pretentiously introspective or “deep” to be considered Oscar-worthy, but because there is a lack of dimensionality that I think makes it rank slightly below the other films. While Ford v Ferrari is fun to watch, it’s not particularly exciting or moving. It’s rather what you would expect. That doesn’t make it bad, per se, but it does make me sure that Ford v Ferrari will not be winning this year’s award for best picture.


1917, masterminded by Director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins, is one of the most beautifully crafted films of this year, which isn’t easy to accomplish for a movie set during a time of great violence and bloodshed. The premise of the movie is relatively straightforward: two British soldiers–Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman)–fighting in World War I are given orders to cross through no-man’s land and into enemy territory to deliver a message that could save 1,600 lives. They have under a day to get the message to the other soldiers, and the film reflects that urgency and desperation through the acting, soundtrack, and the cinematography, which is the subject of most of the excitement surrounding the movie.

1917 is filmed to make it seem as if the camera is rolling continuously. While this style is a little disorienting at the start of the film, in the bustle of the trenches, it quickly becomes integral to the film’s atmosphere; the quality and focus of each shot brings the story to life through dizzying detail. It’s for this reason that what really stands out in 1917 are the moments of peace scattered throughout the otherwise constant action. Those scenes are what carry the emotional weight of the film. One thing I will say is that the easy heroism of the movie seems a little disconnected from the true cost and suffering of the war. Still, Mendes doesn’t skip over the more gruesome aspects of the fighting, which lends the film a bit more authenticity. Overall, 1917 was a wonderful movie thanks to not only its technical genius but also an emphasis on detail and emotion.

The Joker

Todd Phillip’s The Joker is a daring, dark, gritty take on DC’s most infamous supervillain. This adaptation of the Joker is so unsettlingly realistic that many fans have speculated if perhaps Joaquin Phoenix’s character is not the Joker at all, or at least not the same one who fights Batman. I, too, wondered this after seeing the movie–he does not seem to fit in with the rest of the cast who have appeared in DC’s reboot superhero movies from recent years, like those in Justice League, for example. Even in a film like that where there is tons of violence and death, its darkness pales in comparison to that of The Joker. This film follows Arthur Fleck, who evidently suffers from several mental illnesses, and his spiral towards insanity–which, I think, is the most realistic way to portray a character like the Joker. What’s interesting is that the beginning of the movie pushes the audience to sympathize with Fleck and his struggles as a poor man supporting himself in a New York-esque Gotham City. He gets by through working as a party clown, but is abused daily by various groups of people–it seems that the whole city has cast him aside for no reason. But, just when an audience member finds themselves starting to pity Fleck, he spirals. It becomes harder and harder to feel badly for him as he becomes increasingly morally corrupt. I have to acknowledge some of the controversy that The Joker has brought about–most of its criticism is concerned with the way it poorly portrays mental illness as well as the glorification of an anti-government and anti-rich movement. In response, Phillips was open to the discussion, and believes it’s a good thing that his movie was able to start a discourse about violence in movies. I tried to take this movie for what it was–and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was thrilling, stimulating, and fascinating to watch.

The Irishman

The Irishman, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, tells the true story of Frank Sheeran, a truck driver who gets involved with the Bufalinos, a crime family, who later climbs through the ranks to become union boss and mafia leader, as well as right hand man to gangster Jimmy Hoffa.

While the camera work and casting are on point, I don’t really see the point of having the movie run three and a half hours long. While I realize that having the movie tell Frank Sheeran’s life story in its entirety makes more sense plot-wise, the movie starts to get dull very quickly. I found myself starting to doze off only to be awakened by the sound of another car being blown up or more gunshots. While the actual storyline and most of the scenes are quite action-packed and should’ve had me on the edge of my seat, the length of the movie begins to dull them, making them disappointingly underwhelming and hard to follow.
However, don’t be mistaken by my criticism–I do have to give this movie a lot of credit. They took a chilling and typically gory story and turned it into a beautifully well-written and well-shot movie. The scenes flow together perfectly and the camera work is beautifully done. The ending also takes a surprising emotional turn as we watch Frank grow old and see him reflect on his life as the death of his friends (and enemies) and the estrangement of his family leave him alone in the world. It completely contrasted the rest of the thrilling, electric story, but I was surprisingly blown away by how naturally it fit into the whole picture.

To sum it up, The Irishman, although pretty lengthy and not for the faint-hearted, is an unexpectedly moving story full of action, suspense, and plot twists. It was thrilling and stimulating to watch.


Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite is maybe the most thought-provoking film out of this year’s nominations. The storyline, set in South Korea, follows two families of four: the Kims–a poor and rather downtrodden family living in a subterranean apartment–and the Parks, a significantly wealthier family that end up employing the Kims. It begins with the Kims’ eldest son, Ki-woo, getting a job (so he no longer needs to fold pizza boxes for a humiliating wage alongside the rest of his family) as an English tutor for Da-hye, the Park’s teenage daughter. From there, the first half of the movie unfolds rather humorously; Ki-woo and the rest of his family con their way into jobs at the beautiful Park estate in increasingly complex and creative ways. And yet there’s a hint of something darker lurking under the surface. Whether it’s the sheer disparity between the homes and lifestyles of the Kims and Parks, the quietly haunting music, or the expertly crafted foreshadowing and use of symbols, Ho creates an atmosphere that has every member of the audience on the edge of their seat–even in the relatively tame beginning, where they might not be able to pinpoint exactly why.

The shifting tone of the film is maybe its most impressive feature. When the Kim family first plans and practices their “con” to get employed, I can’t help but root for them–it reminds me a bit of a heist movie. But despite this seemingly benign and lighthearted start, each scene grows progressively more complex and tangled as the story continues. Halfway through the film, the darker side of the plot begins to unfold, and I became a little more hesitant in my enthusiasm; the end left me equal parts distrubed, amazed, and reflective. The way that Ho portrays the psychological impacts of extreme class separation and the fine line between simply wanting a better life and destructive greed makes Parasite a stand-out film. And as a foreign-language film nominated for Best Picture overall, Parasite has a lot to offer at this year’s Oscars.

Little Women

Greta Gerwig, best known for her Oscar-winning film Ladybird, has directed yet another coming-of-age film that boldy captures both the attractive and the not-so attractive parts of adolescence and girlhood. Little Women hit the big screen just this winter, starring Gerwig’s veteran actors Timothée Chalamet and Saorise Ronan. Countless movie and TV adaptations of Little Women have made it to the big screen ever since the classic novel was written by Louisa May Alcott more than 150 years ago. However, Gerwig successfully took on the task of giving life to this heavily used idea by turning it into an original film with an inspiring and genuine message about feminism–always work hard for your own good. This movie follows the lives of the young March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, and their experiences while growing up during and after the Civil War with an absent father. Alcott’s novel was bold for its time because of its strong feminist narrative, most importantly including Jo’s defiance of marriage. While Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are often referred to as “the March sisters,” they each have their own flair that is key to building their identities. What sets Little Women apart from the other movies is Gerwig’s method of taking bits of each sister’s story and weaving them together to form a beautiful piece. Though nonlinear storytelling has its risks, Gerwig successfully keeps the audience hungry for what’s next. Though she directs this movie with her creative vision, she stays true to the book and never veers off from Alcott’s main purpose to send a feminist message to viewers. Even though I’ve seen renditions and read Little Women countless times, this movie did not fail to disappoint.