Oscars 2020: The Redemption Is Strong In Hollywood
And boy what a redemption it was. Well, you’ve probably seen the Oscar ceremony. Or at the very least known about the Oscar winners and losers of last night.
That’s right. My girl Scarlett lost twice last night at the Oscars and so did Honeyland in the Best international feature film. Yes, I’m sad about it, but for now let’s stay on a more positive note and focus on the winners.
Yes, Parasite was the winner of the night, but let’s shine a light on the acting categories. Although Joaquin Phoenix’s and Brad Pitt’s Oscar wins did not surprise anyone, Renée Zellweger and Laura Dern were not expected to lift those golden statues. At least i didn’t.
But let’s focus on how Brad, Joaquin and Renee’s road to the Oscar was little wacky and how their redemption story (or dare I say COMEBACK) was one for the books. In some of the aforementioned cases, the professional downfall was really the issue, and in some of the cases it was the personal troubles. And in some cases is was both. Yeah… let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Let’s start with Joaquin Phoenix. His win in the Best leading role category was not a surprise to anyone, but his road up to that point was. Joaquin is (let’s just say) not the easiest Hollywood star to support. He’s an incredible actor but his on screen (and let’s be real, his off screen persona too) is a little off-putting to say the least. He’s been in self-imposed exile for years and years after the release of the mockumentary film I’m Still Here (2010), and his promotional work didn’t win him any favors either. He was called a freak, a very difficult lunatic and he really has Paul Thomas Anderson to thanks for reviving his career. The Master came out 2 years after the, I’m still here fiasco and everything was forgotten. More collaborations with Anderson, James Grey, Spike Jonze, Lynne Ramsay and Gus van Sant followed and he was back on track.
The Joker was the crowning achievement of that rehabilitation effort and of course it paid off. He’s now considered a vegan/animal rights activist, an auteur that just happens to be smitten with his fiance. Oh and an troubled soul that happens to be an Oscar winner.
On the other hand, Brad Pitt had very similar road to Oscar glory. To be quite frank, he had more terrible movies in the past decade that he’d like to admit, and the only three beacons of light prior to his win for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood were Moneyball, 12 Years As A Slave and Ad Astra. The only decent movies in a span of an entire decade. The others were either critical or commercial flops, or just forgettable messes, but I think that that his public images was more in shambles than his career. His divorce from Angelina was brutal, and there were allegations that he’s a raging alcoholic who likes to beat his children. Not a great image don’t you think?
However, a stint into rehab, a good PR campaign and some clever speech-writing got him back on track. He was self-deprecating, self-punishing and humble throughout the whole ordeal (and awards campaign) but he managed to paint himself as an A-lister who’s fallen from grace but on its way to recovery. And he did it. The public perception of him changed and he’s once again Brad that we all love and admire.
And we’re down to the only lady in this group. Renée Zellweger. Last night she won her first Oscar in the Best leading actress category (her second overall), and she did it so effortlessly that we sort of forget that she was absent from the awards circuit for almost 2 decades. Let’s face it. Her career after Cold Mountain took a turn for the worse and flops followed. The subsequent Bridget Jones movies were not that stellar and don’t even get me started about her TV career in recent times.
And then…. Judy changed everything. She singed, she danced and she honored a Hollywood legend in her own right. Judy is one of the few remaining Oscar movies that I’m yet to watch, but I really thought that Scarlett was a no-brainer here. I guess I was wrong.
But in the end… What can these three successful comeback stories teach us? Well, for one Hollywood loves a good comeback. A good feel-good story about the redemption of a fallen star. Secondly, all you need is a good movie/director combo to lift up your spirits and win you some awards. And thirdly. Hollywood is a very forgiving place. You can be the biggest jerk in town but if you’re somewhat talented, if you have the best agents/publicist and lobbyist behind you, you can achieve greatness. Oh and great speech-writers are a must. Just ask Brad, Renee and Joaquin.