Why Every Nominated Film Will Win the 2020 Oscar: A Pretty Much Pop Podcast Debate (ep. 30)

The 2020 Academy Awards are nearly upon us! Realistically, most of you will find this episode well after the winners have already been announced, but seriously, that should not affect your enjoyment of this discussion. Your intrepid non-film-critic Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast hosts have each been randomly assigned three of the best picture nominees to argue for either for why it should with the Oscar, or if we really don't like it, why we think it will win anyway. The assignments were as follows:

  • Mark Linsenmayer: 1917, Little Women, Joker
  • Erica Spyres: Jojo Rabbit, Parasite, Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood*
  • Brian Hirt: Ford v Ferrari,  Marriage Story, The Irishman**

*Covered in our ep. 12.
**Covered in our
ep. 29.

As we hash out the relative merits of these films, we reflect on what it is to be an Oscar-winning type-of-film as opposed to one people might actually enjoy watching, patterns of what kinds of films win in which categories, and the effect of viewing conditions, prior knowledge, and preconceptions on our enjoyment.

In preparation, we all watched all nine films and looked at some of the positive and negative reviews about them. Here are a few more articles covering the Oscars more generally that we also used to make ourselves more susceptible to OSCAR FEVER.

The particular negative 1917 review Mark talks about was by Richard Brody. Here's an article about Joaquin Phoenix improvising his stunt work as Erica mentions. Speaking of Joker, have you heard the (sub)Text podcast presentation by Mark's Partially Examined Life co-host Wes Alwan on the psychoanalytic dimensions of that film?

This episode includes bonus discussion musing about past winners and 2020 acting categories that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

Scorsese’s The Irishman in the Context of his Oeuvre–Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #29 Featuring Colin Marshall

What distinguishes the highly lauded 2019 film The Irishman within director Martin Scorsese's body of work? Frequent Open Culture contributor Colin Marshall joins Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt to talk about what we do and don't connect with in Scorsese's work and how these films qualify as "art films" despite their watchability, not to mention the big budgets and stars.

We cover CGI age alteration, the connection to The Joker, his comments about the Marvel franchise vs. him being a franchise unto himself, his use of music, and making films as an old guy. We hit particularly on Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Bringing out the Dead, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York,  The Departed, Casino, Silence, and Cape Fear. (There are no significant spoilers about any of these other films, just The Irishman.)

Beyond just watching or re-watching a lot of films, here are some articles we used to prep:

Colin recommends the books Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Scorsese on Scorsese, and Gangster Priest: The Italian American Cinema of Martin Scorsese. Read Colin's Open Culture articles on Scorsese. Also, Colin reviews The Partially Examined Life in 2012.

Here's that clip from Singles about "the next Martin Scorseeze." Here's Peter Boyle in Taxi Driver giving "Wizard" advice. Watch Abed in Community consider whether Nicolas Cage is good or bad.

This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #27 Discusses the Impact and Aesthetics of Star Wars

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Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt grasp the low-hanging fruit in pop culture to talk about Star Wars: The unique place that these films have in the brains of people of a certain age, how we grappled with the prequels, and why we feel the need to fill in and argue about the details.

We primarily focus on the two most recent emanations of this beast, The Mandalorian and Rise of Skywalker. We talk alien and droid aesthetics (how much cuteness is too much?), storytelling for kids vs. adults reliving their childhood, pacing, plotting, casting, whether celebrity appearances ruin the Star Wars mood, creation by an auteur vs. a committee, and what we'd like to see next.

We had enough to say about this that we didn't need to draw on online articles, but here's a sampling of what we looked at anyway:

This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. In this case, it's all just more Star Wars talk, covering droid body dysmorphia and humanization, the cycle of embodiment via action figures and re-presentation on the screen, tragedy in Star Wars vs. Watchmen, making up for racism in Star Wars through sympathetic portrayals of Sand Person culture, watching particular scenes many times, clown biker troopers, and more. Don't miss it!

This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #26 Discusses Alan Moore’s Watchmen Comic and the HBO Show with Cornell Psychology Professor David Pizarro

Perhaps the most lauded graphic novel has been sequelized for HBO, and amazingly, it turned out pretty darn well (with a 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating!).

Your hosts Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt are joined by the Cornell's David Pizarro, host of the popular Very Bad Wizards podcast. We consider Alan Moore’s 1986 graphic novel, the 2009 Zack Snyder film, and of course mostly the recently completed (we hope) show by Damon Lindelof, the creator of Lost and The Leftovers.

How does Moore’s idiosyncratic writing style translate to the screen? Did the show make best use of its nine hours? Are there other stories in this alternate history that should still be told, perhaps to reflect on other recurrent social ills or crises of whatever moment might be depicted? Was Lindelof really the guy to tell this story about race, and does making the show about racism (which is bad!) undermine Moore’s rejection of (morally) black-and-white heroes and villains?

Some of the articles we used to warm up for this discussion included:

You might want to also check out HBO’s Watchmen page, which includes extra essays and the official podcast with Damon Lindelof commenting on the episodes.

Follow Dave @peezHear him on The Partially Examined Life, undoubtedly the apex of his professional career.

This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood Examined on Pretty Much Pop #12

Wes Alwan, who co-hosts The Partially Examined Life philosophy podcast with PMP host Mark Linsenmayer, joins the discussion along with PMP co-hosts Erica Spyres and Brian Hirt to discuss Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood in the context of Tarantino’s other films.

Wes thinks the film is brilliant, even though he’s not otherwise a Tarantino fan. How is this film different? We consider T’s strange sense of pacing, his comic violence, his historical revisionism, and casting choices. Is this a brilliant film or a fundamentally misguided idea badly in need of an editor?

Some articles we drew on:

Wes is working on a very long essay on this film that isn't yet complete, but he’s written plenty of other long essays about the media and has recorded several episodes of his own PEL spin-off show, (sub)Text: Get it all here.

This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

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