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Step right up: The 10 best picture Oscar nominees make their pitches for a win

Best picture nominees
Best picture nominees include, top left clockwise, “Belfast,” “CODA,” “West Side Story,” “King Richard,” “Power of the Dog,” (“West Side Story”), “Don’t Look Up,” “Dune,” “Drive My Car,” “Licorice Pizza” and “Nightmare Alley.”
(Illustration by Jim Cooke / Los Angeles Times; Focus Features; Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures; Searchlight Pictures; Apple TV; 20th Century Studios; The Match Factory; Warner Bros. Pictures; Netflix
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For the 10 movies nominated for best picture, being invited to the party was just the first step. Now the focus is on winning the Oscar. But how? Awards consultants are busy sharpening their pitches, recalibrating their campaigns and figuring out subtle ways (nix that “Dune” spice rack promo) to convince Oscar voters that their movie is the year’s best.

As we head into the final stretch before voting begins, let’s examine how we’re hearing the messages they’re sending.

‘BELFAST’

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[Sung to the tune of Van Morrison’s “Moondance”]

Well, it’s a marvelous year to vote ‘Belfast’
With its twinkly grandparents so wise
A fantabulous year to vote ‘Belfast’
‘Neath those nostalgic black-and-white skies

And all those people in the theaters are swooning
When Jamie and Caitriona dance on the floor
It’s a lot more pleasing than that western
Which is just such a colossal bore

You know this movie’s magic seems to whisper and hush
As you fondly remember that adorable tyke’s first crush

Can you please just vote for ‘Belfast,’ this year?
Can you please just vote for ‘Belfast,’ it’s so clear!

‘CODA’

Sure, those other nominated films might have made you think, but “CODA” made you feel. No matter how many times you watch our movie (and it’s so rewatchable!), when you get to that audition scene at the end with Emilia Jones singing and signing “Both Sides Now,” gazing up at her family sitting in the balcony, you lose it, right? Joni Mitchell (or at least the person running her official Twitter account) adores that scene, and it takes a lot to impress Joni. We bet she didn’t cry at the end of “The Power of the Dog.” Listen to your hearts, voters! Honor those tears.

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March 24, 2022

‘DON’T LOOK UP’

We don’t need to tell you this is an Important movie — though, we will, repeatedly — and that if you don’t appreciate the Importance and Urgency of this brilliant, razor-sharp climate change allegory (from Adam McKay, per Netflix’s “Present Company” podcast, “one of the most brilliant minds ... ever!), then A) you just don’t get it (and we truly feel sorry for you) and B) you don’t give a damn about the collapsing climate, the fate of our planet and (it goes without saying) cinema itself.

‘DRIVE MY CAR’

You’re probably planning on voting for us for international feature. Thank you! Now, we’d ask you to remember how great it felt just two years ago (we know, it feels longer) when the year’s best movie won Oscars for both international feature and best picture. It was as if subtitles weren’t a one-inch-tall barrier but a gateway. If it could happen with “Parasite,” it could happen again. It should happen again.

‘DUNE’

They said the book couldn’t be adapted. We did it. Or, to be more precise, we’re doing it. (“Dune: Part Two”: Coming to theaters in 2023!) They said it was too complex. We streamlined it. They said Timothée Chalamet couldn’t be believable as an action hero and ... OK ... we’ll give you that. But he brought plenty of authenticity to the anguished bits and a certain demographic totally buys him as a messiah figure, so cut him some slack. Now they’re saying we can’t win best picture because our director, Denis Villeneuve, wasn’t nominated? We got 10 nominations! We don’t need 11 to win. And if by some chance we do, a reminder: “Dune: Part Two”: Coming to theaters in 2023!

‘KING RICHARD’

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It looks like our lead actor Will Smith is going to win his first Oscar for his brilliant turn as tennis dad Richard Williams. Finally! I mean, he deserves some kind of reward just for making three movies with Tommy Lee Jones. But while you’re voting for Will, consider the movie itself, which is not about tennis but about family, specifically a family led by a Black man overcoming his childhood trauma to offer his daughters the love and protection that he never had. That’s powerful. And rare to see on screen.

‘LICORICE PIZZA’

Paul Thomas Anderson has never won an Oscar. This year with “Licorice Pizza,” he’s nominated three times — for best picture (as a producer), director and original screenplay. Sure, he probably can’t win all three. But just to be on the safe side, don’t hedge your bets when voting.

‘NIGHTMARE ALLEY’

We’ll be honest. After the meh reviews and the abysmal box office, we’re just happy to be here. Thrilled even. Have you seen the movie? Of course you have. You nominated it. But ... have you seen it in black-and-white? It’s another movie! Still visually stunning, but 10% more noir-y. What? Yes, that’s the only change. Yes, it’s still two and a half hours. No, we don’t agree that that’s a little long. It just affords you even more time to lose yourself in all of the film’s gorgeous beauty. So step right up and ... behold!

‘THE POWER OF THE DOG’

Twelve nominations. More than any other movie. We know you’re going to give Jane Campion the director Oscar. Everyone says so. Let’s keep it consistent then, like the last couple of years when “Nomadland” and “Parasite” swept both awards. Not like the year before when Alfonso Cuarón won for director — deservedly so, and we’re not just saying that because “Roma,” like “The Power of the Dog,” is a Netflix movie (and don’t discount that ... unless you’re biased against streamers, then forget we even mentioned it) — but then that “Green Book” movie won best picture. Three years on, how does that sit with you? (If you voted for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” don’t bother answering.)

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‘WEST SIDE STORY’

[Sung to the tune of “Somewhere”]

There’s a place for us
Somewhere a place for us
Beyond that Oscar for Ariana DeBose
Vote for us
Somewhere

Maybe costume design
That would be fine
But best picture too
Don’t forget
Even if we’re just an update of
‘Romeo and Juliet’
Hold our hand and we’re halfway there
Somehow
Someday, somewhere

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