The race to the Oscars: 5 international films that deserve to win ‘Best Picture’

With Oscars 2020 being preponed to February 9, the nominations are just around the corner (out on January 13). Who do you think should win the Best Picture – Oscar?

Now that the Golden Globes are done and dusted, it’s that time of the year when the frontrunners for the biggest award show of the year, Oscars 2020, will be lined up.

The race to the glittering gold trophy is particularly intense this year, with international films like Jojo Rabbit, Netflix’s The Irishman, and Todd Phillips’ comic book adaptation Joker garnering rave reviews in the run up to the 92nd Academy Awards.

If the buzz from the early shows of this awards season is any indication, it’s, in fact, going to be a Tarantino vs Scorsese kind of year.

On one hand, you have Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and other poster boys from the golden era of Hollywood lending unmatched star power to director Martin Scorsese’s mob drama, The Irishman. And on the other hand, there are two of the most beloved men from the industry, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, shouldering an out-of-whack portrayal of Hollywood itself, in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

The film, a typical Quentin Tarantino mayhem classic, has even bagged a Golden Globe award – Best Picture in Musical or Comedy.

Besides these two Best Picture contenders, Marriage Story starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, Uncut Gems’ actor Adam Sandler, DC newcomer Joaquin Phoenix, Little Women’s Saoirse Ronan, and Awkwafina will also make a strong case for the Best Actor/Actress – Oscar, this February.

Here’s a look at our predictions – this is our list of the top 5 movies of 2019 which were so good that they deserve to win the Oscars:


Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in Joker

Method acting – check. Joaquin Phoenix – check. Golden Globes – check.

Joker, the DC adaptation starring Arthur Fleck and his maniacal laughter, made history after Phoenix won the first-ever Golden Globe award for a comic book movie. And now the high-grossing blockbuster could be en route to the Oscars.  

With a highly acclaimed performance by the leading actor, a crisp script, and director Todd Phillips’ flawless execution of the making of the crown prince of Gotham, Joker ticks all the boxes for an Oscar nomination. But here’s what makes the movie a top contender for the win: it’s dark, real, and an almost human treatment of comic book’s greatest villain. We all know how the Academy loves serious drama, and Joker might very well be the one to break the superhero curse at the Oscars.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

A poster of Quentin Tarantino's latest Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

It’s fresh, it’s controversial, and it’s Tarantino – what can possibly stop ‘Hollywood’ from adding this movie to the Best Picture nomination list? Nothing. But that’s where the struggle begins. While a nomination seems guaranteed for the long overdue film, the director’s ode to the golden 60s era of Hollywood replete with love and every other drug may not appeal to all, and it might be a close call when it comes to emerging as the best picture of the year.

If it does, this would indeed be a precious win for Tarantino, who is undoubtedly one of the best of filmmakers of this generation..


Sam Mendes is being pegged a top contender for Best Director - Oscar

The Golden Globes are usually the smaller and rather whirlwind precursor to the Oscars. Smaller because, as opposed to the thousands-plus members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, voting for the Best Picture, the Globes are decided by the roughly 100-member team of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. And it tends to be a whirlwind of sorts because the Globes are never predictable.

Interestingly, as a result of this ever-inconsistent Globes history, a rather unpredictable frontrunner has emerged for the Academy Awards: Sam Mendes’ World War I film, 1917. Even Hollywood veteran Steven Spielberg is all praises for 1917 and especially of Mendes.

“There are scripts I read, and then there are scripts that I can get lost reading. The experience pulls me so deeply into it, and that was how I felt when I read Sam and Krysty Wilson-Cairn’s script for 1917,” he was quoted as saying.

Marriage Story

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in a still from Netflix's Marriage Story

Hollywood’s one of the most underrated actors, Adam Driver takes the wheel in the Netflix original, Marriage Story, a movie that leaves us heartbroken and sad over the slow demise of a relationship. Adam’s brilliant rendition of Charlie, a Broadway director who finds himself navigating Los Angeles and a broken marriage, also stars Scarlett Johansson (who might we add, shines in her own right and deserves a Best Actress nomination).

But above all, it’s the slow-burning screenplay that makes writer-director Noah Baumbach’s film a well-deserved contender for the Academy’s list.

The Irishman 

Martin Scorsese assembles Hollywood's who's who in The Irishman

Much has been written and said already about Scorsese’s latest, which over a three hours thirty minutes long run time tells the tale of Frank Sheeran, a hitman who says he killed Jimmy Hoffa. And there’s every reason to do so.

The gangster drama touches upon a myriad of emotions – love, loss, regret, pain – while adding some classic Scorsese elements, like violent deaths and a meditative look into the fragility of life. What it lacks – in terms of a youthful energy and a lengthy run time – the movie makes up for with its slow-paced narrative and an understated but deeply impactful performance by its lead star, Robert De Niro.

Which movies are your favourites? Remember, it’s a short season and with the award show being preponed to February 9, the Oscar nominations are just around the corner (January 13). Tell us who should win the Best Picture – Oscar in the comments below.