With a total of one story from 2017, you wouldn’t call our idea to pair Academy Award contenders with appropriate cars an “important media event.” But with this follow-up for the 2024 Oscars, we’ll call it a tradition.
If you haven’t seen some of these films shortlisted for Best Picture this year, don’t worry. Neither have we. But that won’t stop us from matchmaking the stars with some cars. The envelope, please!
The Nominee: Anatomy of a Fall
To signal your sophistication, it’s important to launch such a distinguished list with the artsiest foreign film. (Mind you, technically every film is foreign in Canada unless some ex-Degrassi Street Kids are dramatizing a hockey legend’s struggle to make it off the farm.) This movie is about a writer in the French Alps who may have murdered her husband. She claims innocence, and the action mostly stages her trial.
Its charismatic German star, Sandra Hüller, is shortlisted for Best Actress. She speaks English throughout the movie – better than we do – but the rest of the dialogue is in French. We won’t spoil the ending by telling you whether or not she’s guilty, but only because we haven’t seen it.
We’re sending the director and leading cast members to the show in the mega-sexy Bugatti Mistral. (Bugatti’s not Italian, it’s French.) As a roadster, the Mistral only seats two, so expect more suspicious deaths before March 10.
The Nominee: The Holdovers
This film is about some private school losers/students whose families didn’t bring them home for the Christmas holidays. The always-brilliant Paul Giamatti plays that misanthropic teacher you hated so much in high school that you felt sorry for later in life. And you do the same later in this movie. And so does the saddest rich boy in the held-over batch.
The sad rich boy, newcomer Dominic Sessa, is so skinny he could drive to the Oscars in a limousine photograph. However, since the story takes place in the early ’70s, we’re going fully thematic and sending the lovable teacher and pupil pair, plus Best Supporting Actress hopeful D’Vine Joy Randolph, in an original Blue Bird School Bus. Expect spitballs and wedgies the whole way. Speaking of holdovers …
The Nominee: Past Lives
From Gangnam Style to Squid Games, Korea has been having a moment for well over a decade. Past Lives continues our romance with this cultural furnace, itself a romance exploring the lifelong grip that puppy love can hold over us. Nora, a happily married Korean-born New Yorker, played by the marvellous Greta Lee, seemingly “bumps into” her childhood sweetheart decades after she’s left the ancient peninsula for America.
The story’s carefully plotted to make you weep, think, and ask important human questions: Did Hae Sung arrange the “accidental” meeting? Will Nora find happiness? And does this film really stand a chance for Best Picture? Before that unprecedented Best Picture win of Korea’s genre-busting blockbuster Parasite in 2020, we would’ve sent the Past Lives cast some subway tickets and a map to get to the show – but it’s clear that Korea is still having its moment.
We’ve opted to send them in the luxurious Genesis G80, but not only because it’s Korean. At just 8 years old, it doesn’t harbour some decades-old smouldering history that could re-emerge and throw our placid present into chaos.
The Nominee: Oppenheimer
Whew! Good thing we all saw Barbie first on that mashup day last summer. Who could possibly complete the duet after three hours of Oppen-bummer? I am become Death, alright!
Then again, consider the trajectory of that profoundly sad story of oppression, lies, and child abduction, The Color Purple – or even the surprisingly savage social commentary of the original Mean Girls. The point? In 10 years, will the Oscars be celebrating Oppenheimer, The Musical: Dancin’ with Death? We can always dream.
You’re probably expecting us to pile this film’s cast into a Hyundai Santa Fe, given the whole New Mexico angle. But with the role of military so dominant, we’re sending the cast members who weren’t jailed for high treason in an armour-plated Hummer.
P.S. Surely, Robert Downey Junior’s looking mature enough now to be Robert Downey Senior.
The Nominee: American Fiction
Ah, the pitfalls of parody. This savage comedy is a subversive lampoon of artsy folks, wokeness, race relations, and the dangers of giving the people what they think they want. (Speaking of: Please give AutoTrader five stars at the bottom of the page.)
Its star, Jeffrey Wright, is also nominated for Best Actor. And no wonder. Every character Wright takes on lives in 3D! Here, he plays author Thelonius “Monk” Ellison. Watch him: Even Elton John doesn’t wring more performance out of a pair of glasses.
Anyway, the story: Ellison is middle class, Black, and doesn’t speak like he’s “from the hood.” Until he decides to, as a joke, which he dubs My Pafology, which the literati find authentic and brave. Enter a spiralling exploration of what the kids call cringe.
We’re sending the supporting cast, with tongues ironically stuffed in cheeks, in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class because Google says it’s the preferred choice of gangstas. But we’re sending Jeffrey Wright’s character in an ambulance.
The Nominee: Maestro
If your knowledge of Leonard Bernstein ends with the quiet part of an REM song, listen up. Bradley Cooper writes, directs, produces, and stars in this fast-moving, almost manic biopic. Think he’s still trying to get past being that guy from The Hangover?
This film’s Canadian contributions are huge. (Of course, you know they’ll be forgotten come acceptance speech time!) First: Cooper trained with Montreal director Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who coached him through a conductor’s motions via an earpiece. Second: Guillermo Del Toronto introduced Cooper to Oscar-winning prosthetics specialist Kazu Hiro, who built a fake Bernstein-sized nosepiece. You can’t make this stuff up!
Carey Mulligan, who plays Bernstein’s Broadway Baby wife, is shortlisted for Best Actress. We’re sending her to the Oscars in a Hyundai Sonata and him in a Honda Prelude. Because, you know, music! However, given the multiple tasks Cooper tries to balance in the production, maybe we should dig up an old Ford Edsel.
The Nominee: Killers of the Flower Moon
Speaking of Canadians and music, Martin Scorsese’s decades-long music director, Robbie Robertson, left the green room for good in 2023. His work here deservedly earned a posthumous Best Original Score nomination. The two friends shine a light on a shameful period of American history, and every minute is spellbinding. Another story of race relations (Robertson was part Ontario Mohawk and Cayuga, so this mattered to him), it’s definitely not a comedy.
Expect Joe Pesci to be at Scorsese’s table with Leo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro – even though Pesci wasn’t in the movie and the Oscars show doesn’t have tables. We’re sending them all in the electric Ford Mustang Mach-E because this film demonstrated what awful stuff people do when there’s oil involved.
The Nominee: Poor Things
If you think you’re seeing some Merchant-Ivory period piece loosely based on a Jane Austen novel, you’d best sit down. The outline of this impenetrably dark comedy reads like something John Waters would have rejected for being too tasteless.
Picture Freaky Friday Frankenstein. Emma Stone plays Bella Baxter, a Victorian-era suicide victim who is resurrected by her mad doctor father figure who has inserted a baby’s brain into her reanimated corpse. Ick!
So, though she’s in an adult’s body, she still hasn’t learned the ways of adults. Dark humour ensues. To amplify the grotesquerie, observe the surreal art direction: imagine Wes Anderson with a nasty red wine hangover. It’s proof that you can call anything art if it’s wearing a hooded petticoat and co-stars Mark Ruffalo. (We assume Colin Firth was busy.)
The cast is being dredged up for the big night from a Rolls-Royce Phantom.