It ain't over 'til it's over. Yogi Berra said it. Lenny Kravitz sang it. And for the nine movies nominated alongside "Oppenheimer," the overwhelming best picture front-runner, it's a mantra.
Hey ... at this time in the awards season two years ago, no one thought "CODA" was going to win the Oscar. Minds can change. Hearts can be won. It's not too late to bust out a few new moves.
With that in mind, as we head into the final stretch before voting begins, let’s look at the messages the nominated movies might be sending to persuade academy members to look their way.
You like us. You really, really like us! We've won audience awards at film festivals in Toronto, Middleburg, Mill Valley and Savannah. And when you watch the film, you see why. It's a satire, but not too scathing and, in terms of screen time, not too much, because the movie is really more of a family drama. You'll come away with a smile on your face, not feeling bad about yourself. Doesn't that sound nice?
'ANATOMY OF A FALL'
Napoleon shouldn't have invaded Russia. We know this, thanks to Ridley Scott. We also know that France made another bad decision when it chose not to submit "Anatomy of a Fall" for the international feature Oscar. But it's not too late to offer a correction, friends, and we feel like we're already halfway there. Along with the best picture nomination, you gave us nods for the biggies — director, screenplay, lead acting and film editing. Only "Oppenheimer" and "Poor Things" also managed that. And neither one of those had a border collie that won the Palm Dog prize at Cannes. The Palme D'Or and the Palm Dog? Vive la France!
Doesn't seem to matter what I do
I'm always number two
Sound familiar? Ken's story is Greta Gerwig's story. She is now the only filmmaker to have her first three solo features — “Lady Bird,” “Little Women” and “Barbie” — nominated for best picture. Yet she secured only one nomination for directing from that group. How does that work? We'll tell you how it works. Hollywood is still a boys club, and even if you make a wildly inventive movie about a toy that clears more than $1.4 billion at the box office, you're still relegated to the sidelines. All because a bunch of men in the academy found the movie too preachy and a bit threatening. Justice for Greta! If "Argo" could win best picture after Ben Affleck was snubbed, why not "Barbie"? Anywhere else but the Oscars, it'd be a 10.
You know all those (old) people who lament that they don't make movies like they used to? This is the movie that Hollywood used to make, right down to the studio logos, title design and Panavision lenses. You can practically feel the ghost of Hal Ashby roaming the halls of that boarding school, abandoned for winter break. This is a very human story, perhaps the most human story of all, the story of a man who craves more in life, namely an In-N-Out burger after an awards show where you haven't been properly fed. What? That was Paul Giamatti's story after the Golden Globes. True, true. But isn't it the story of us all?
'KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON'
Don't let this be "The Irishman." Don't let this be "The Irishman." Don't let this be "The Irishman."
Seven Oscar nominations (thank you!). So you can't make it all about the nose, can you? You can? Well, at least that will get us one Oscar, unlike, you know, (whispers) "The Irishman."
One of the best films of the century! Now, admittedly, the century is not even a quarter of the way done, but still ... we've taken the early lead! And we took an early lead this year, earning nearly $1 billion in box office before kids went back to school. Everyone has seen this movie. Everyone admires this movie. We've been the odds-on favorite to win for ages. But don't penalize us for that. Don't get bored. Don't get distracted. A billion in box office + critical acclaim + epic scale + serious subject = Oscar. You don't need to be a theoretical physicist to understand that equation.
Years from now, you don't want to be filled with regret, stewing over roads not taken, dreams not pursued and, yes, Oscars not awarded. We understand that best picture might be a stretch, what with just the two nominations. But you've met Celine Song, right, the movie's charming and talented writer-director? She's going places. Why not get in on the ground floor and reward her for a beautiful, nuanced debut feature, a movie that people are still talking about and swooning over more than a year after its Sundance premiere?
We realize that our movie can be a bit much for those with more delicate sensibilities. Well, to paraphrase the great David Byrne, we've seen sex and we think it's alright. So stop with the body shaming! Get over your hangups, and appreciate the madcap energy and fearless imagination that went into this film, which you rewarded with 11 nominations, one more than our filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos' last movie, "The Favourite." Granted, that movie took only one Oscar, Olivia Colman for lead actress. And, granted, we'd be more than happy if history repeated itself for Emma Stone's daring lead turn. But you can do better this time! Sugar tart lick us all day!
'THE ZONE OF INTEREST'
Five Oscar nominations for a movie that many of you still can't bring yourself to watch? That's a good start. Now, if you haven't yet seen it, give it a go, preferably in a theater. It's the best movie about the Holocaust — and the banality of evil — ever made.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.