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Ron’s Rankings, Oscar Nominations 2019

February 4, 2020


Oscar statues photo courtesy of the Academy Awards

With THE 92ND ACADEMY AWARDS 2020 edition coming up this Sunday February 9 at the 
Dolby Theatre at honoring movies released in 2019, everyone is talking about their favorite films– including my friend and film aficionado Ron Wells.
“Soooo many great actors in so many films this year,” says Ron in his introduction to his rankings. “I love films and going to theaters and seeing artists do what they do best. Always a joy for me. This year for me was really about documentaries. I would watch all of those listed a second or third time. The movies were good too, but I don’t know that anything blew me away. Still, a nice mix of films over the past year.”

Here are Ron’s Rankings (and a few rants!) for 2019 with a few trailers followed by key nominations and a few thoughts from me and a few of my friends:

  1. Ford vs Ferrari
    I think Ford vs. Ferrari is at the top because it takes me back to my youth when guys I knew could talk about no one but Carroll Shelby. I did not know about Ken Miles. Damon and Bale were absolutely terrific as a maverick (Miles) and semi-maverick (Shelby) going up against the corporate system to produce their car for Les Mans. Of course, as in any bio-pic, a lot of liberties were taken with the facts, but still, an extremely wonderful 2 1/2 hours in the theater.
  2. 1917
    Nominated for best picture; trailer:


  3. Honeyland (Documentary)
    Nominated for best international feature AND documentary film:


    Honeyland has stayed with me more than anything I saw this year. This woman lives in almost primitive conditions in Macedonia today, and yet is seen somehow surviving with her ailing mother, some intruding neighbors, and her bees…..just amazing. 3 years in the making. I loved this film more than words can tell.


  4. Amazing Grace (Documentary)
    Aretha Franklin singing gospel hymns in an African American church. Seek it out. There is nothing as soul stirring, nor anything of greater beauty. Listen and have your spirit moved.
  5. Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Semi-documentary)
  6. Apollo 11 (Documentary)
  7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  8. Bombshell
  9. Little Women
    Nominated for Best Picture

    Gwendolyn’s Note: A friend took me to see this for my birthday; I loved the books and loved how the film integrated and weaved the books along with the author’s story together. 

  10. For Sama (Documentary)
    Nominated for Best Documentary:


  11. Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Documentary)
  12. Knives Out
  13. Parasite (Foreign; Subtitled)
    NOMINATED FOR BEST PICTURE and International Feature Film:
    The first two thirds is brilliant. The most creative and subtle metaphor for class distinctions I have ever seen. Then comes the third act and the end of subtlety. Joon-ho went too far for me. I realize that his intent was to disturb people to their core. I get that. But I’m too old for it. I can see this on the 11:00 PM news. Having said that, it SHOULD win best International Film! That doesn’t mean I have to see it again.
    And I may or may not.
  14. Joker
    Joaquin Phoenix is devestating in this film. To play this character, he dug into a place within him that few would be willing to go. A well deserved Oscar will be his. Having said that, this is a deeply dark film which delves into mental illness, abuse, drugs and societal breakdown. Another difficult film to watch.
  15. Dark Waters
    Not the best made film (they tried to cover too many things), but perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT film of the year. See it! Learn about Dupont and it’s “Better Living Through Chemistry” lies and deceit. Learn about “forever” chemicals. You will never look at Teflon the same way again. Highly recommended because of one man’s battle to get information to you about how corporate malfeasance is killing you.
  16. A Hidden Life
    I LOVE Terrence Malick’s films, but they are NOT for everyone. This one moves very slowly. It’s way too LONG at 3 hours. What does a man living in Austria do when the Nazis force him to join their army and pledge loyalty to Hitler. The film deals with deep philosophical and religious issues, and how these issues effect towns and families. Malick always cares about discussing these important, complex ideas in a beautifully poetic, while disturbing way. Only a few directors/writers would dare to continue to do what Malick does. I will always watch his films.
  17. The Irishman

    The Irishman is really well made film. When all is said and done, we got another gangster movie, now about a theory of Jimmy Hoffa’s death in which things don’t turn out well for most of the participants. Really well acted, exceptionally well made, but how many gangster movies do we need.
    G’s Note: We watched this; yes it’s long and yes it’s violent but it’s a well made film and I’m glad I invested the time. 
  18. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
    Once Upon a Time …in Hollywood is also a really well made film. Brad Pitt was astounding. The re-creation of LA in the 60’s was brilliant. I know; I was there. But it was about a failing actor and his stuntman/go-for friend meeting the Manson Family. Really? Ok. Ultimately, there was no there, there.
    G’s Note: Fun until it’s not fun. My spouse loved the LA 70s references and music. Way too violent at the end for me.
  19. American Factory (Documentary)
  20. Downton Abbey
  21. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  22. The Two Popes
  23. Jojo Rabbit
    G’s Note: My son and I really want to go see this, but haven’t had a chance to yet. They are studying WW2 in school so this ties in, but I want us to see 1917 first. Nominated for Best Picture; Trailer:
  24. Echo in the Canyon (Documentary)
    G’s Note: We saw this; it was SO MUCH more interesting than I thought it would be. If you’re into music, it’s a must see. 
  25. Blinded by the Light
    G’s Note: My son and spouse loved this but I haven’t had a chance to see it yet. 
  26. Western Stars (Documentary)
    G’s Note: My spouse and I enjoyed this, but he is hard core Bruce Springsteen fan and if you’re not, you will likely find it beautifully made but not that engaging as a film.
  27. Pain and Glory (Foreign, subtitled)
  28. The Farewell (Foreign: some subtitled)

    Fascinating movie. Should an elderly woman be told that her medical test results were foretelling her demise, or should her family and friends tell her nothing and carry the weight of those diagnoses? Having experienced too many deaths over the last few years, I would tend to disagree with the filmmaker. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Just, I have not found that to be the case.
  29. Rocketman
  30. Ad Astra
    G’s Note: I love these kinds of movies and I wanted to see it at the theater but didn’t so looking forward to seeing it at home.
  31. Hustlers
  32. Booksmart
  33. Marriage Story
    Nominated for best picture:

    Ron’s Note: Booksmart, the Souvenir, and Marriage Story were LOVED by the critics. I really disliked all 3 of them, but especially Marriage Story. In that one, the actors were fine, but the characters were SO self-absorbed. I disliked every character in the film. Did you know divorce was hard? Did you know divorce lawyers were bad? Did you know that a director and his actor wife felt things so much more deeply than other people? And let’s throw in some songs/musical numbers just to lighten the load. Then add an ending that shows how…….nevermind. You get the picture. Rant over. I didn’t like it.
    Gwendolyn’s Note: As an artist, writer, wife, and mother,  I thought it was brilliant in how it shows the challenges the wife had in balancing the roles of actor, mother, creative artist. It is very difficult in a marriage to have two creatives; in all marriages, there are challenges to make sure that everyone’s needs get met.

  34. The Souvenir 

Gwendolyn’s NOTE: I traveled to Amsterdam, then on to Tanzania in July and back in August, then to France and back in October and I watched A LOT of films that aren’t on Ron’s list, many international ones, and some older films too.

Ron has not yet seen the following films but they are all high on my to watch list: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; which we haven’t seen in part because my son wanted to rewatch the earlier films first…




And what did members of the Academy think? In many ways they agreed with Ron:

NOMINEES (see trailers for many above)

FORD V FERRARI: Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and James Mangold, Producers

THE IRISHMAN: Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Producers

JOJO RABBIT: Carthew Neal, Taika Waititi and Chelsea Winstanley, Producers

JOKER: Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Producers

LITTLE WOMEN: Amy Pascal, Producer

MARRIAGE STORY: Noah Baumbach and David Heyman, Producers

1917: Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne-Ann Tenggren and Callum McDougall, Producers

ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD: David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh and Quentin Tarantino, Producers

PARASITE: Kwak Sin Ae and Bong Joon Ho, Producers



HONEYLAND: North Macedonia
trailer above



PARASITE: South Korea
trailer above


AMERICAN FACTORY: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert and Jeff Reichert

THE CAVE: Feras Fayyad, Kirstine Barfod and Sigrid Dyekjær

THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY: Petra Costa, Joanna Natasegara, Shane Boris and Tiago Pavan

FOR SAMA: Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts
trailer above

HONEYLAND: Ljubo Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska and Atanas Georgiev
trailer above

So what movies moved you in 2019? What do you think will win? What SHOULD win?

Leave your thought in the comments or let me know on twitter!

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