Pretty Much Pop #30: Why Every Film Will Win the Oscar! (A Debate)

The 2020 Oscars are almost up on us! (OK, realistically, most of you will find this episode well after they’ve already passed, but seriously, that’s fine.) Your intrepid non-film-critic 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: 1917, Little Women, Joker
  • Erica: Jojo Rabbit, Parasite, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood*
  • Brian: 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 (just go look them up on Rotten Tomatoes yourself!). 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 Wes Alwan on the psychoanalytic dimensions of that film?

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

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