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The nine best picture Oscar nominees need to woo voters. Here’s how they should do it

Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker,” a movie he says is about “childhood trauma, gun violence, isolation and mental health.”
Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker,” a movie he says is about “childhood trauma, gun violence, isolation and mental health.”
(Niko Tavernise / Warner Bros.)

It’s a thrill to be nominated, sure. But everyone wants to go home with an Oscar. And with voting about to begin, awards consultants are busy fine-tuning their pitches to academy members, making final appeals to their exquisite taste, their sense of decency and, yes, throwing in a dash of shame for good measure.

How might those overtures look for each of the movies nominated for best picture? Let’s look at the nine campaigns.

‘1917'

We know you’re hearing the whispers about how the movie’s simulated single-take construction is just a gimmick, and that “1917" is nothing more than an elevated Xbox game. God forbid people enjoy themselves watching a movie. Beyond that, with our nation on the precipice of war, here’s a substantive (and exciting!) examination of the horrors and human cost of war and why we must learn from history and not repeat it. And also what to do and what not to do if a German aircraft crashes into a barn near where you’re standing.

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‘FORD V FERRARI’

[Vroooooooooooooom, vrooooooooooooom!] What’s that? I can’t hear you! [Vroooooooooooooom, vrooooooooooooom!] No, I’m not in the car. I’m watching “Ford v. Ferrari!” That sound puts you right in the movie, doesn’t it? You can feel the horsepower deep in your bones, right? [Vroooooooooooooom, vrooooooooooooom!] What? Why, yes, we did get nominations in both sound categories! Editing too! Feels like we should win a couple of those Oscars. I mean, that’d give us two more wins than some of these movies are going to get. What’s that? [Vroooooooooooooom, vrooooooooooooom!] Just listen to that sound! It’s like you’re right there at the racetrack ...

‘THE IRISHMAN’

OK. OK. No, this isn’t as “fun” as “Goodfellas.” That’s the point. The wages of sin is death. Alone. In a nursing home. And you can’t have the wine because of the high blood pressure, the diabetes and the liver problems. Also because you murdered your best friend. Ruminate on that. Preferably in a theater. Because it loses something streaming it on your laptop.

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‘JOJO RABBIT’

Have we mentioned that it’s an “anti-hate satire?” We have? Like a thousand times? Sorry. You’ve probably heard the comparisons to Chaplin and Mel Brooks too then. OK, consider this: In a climate where governments demonize the “other,” this movie shows the poisonous effects of unchecked intolerance. It’s a celebration of empathy. With really cute kids! Does that make this the most relevant movie among the nominees? Correctamundo!

‘JOKER’

Forget for a moment about the billion dollars that this movie has earned. Consider instead the words of star Joaquin Phoenix who, accepting another award on the road to his inevitable lead actor Oscar, noted that this is a movie that uses a comic book character to talk about “childhood trauma, gun violence, isolation and mental health.” Now, Phoenix’s incessant cackling in the movie might have drowned all that out. But it’s there, we swear, in this portrait of a forgotten man in a world that has failed him. Also: Billion dollars at the box office.

‘LITTLE WOMEN’

Guys. Guuuuuuuys. We know you hate it when we say this, but ... we need to talk. From the second it was announced that Greta Gerwig was going to write and direct a new “Little Women,” you have done nothing but whine and complain that we don’t need another “Little Women,” and that the movie isn’t meant for you and that, post #MeToo, you don’t know what women want or how to act around women when you’re, like, in an elevator with them. Guess what? You could learn a few things by, you know, WATCHING “LITTLE WOMEN.” Also: You might — hold onto your game controllers! — actually enjoy yourselves. It’s a really fun movie!

‘MARRIAGE STORY’

[Cue up Otis Redding] What you should love about “Marriage Story”: It’s a great movie. Heartbreaking. It’s a movie that devastates ... really devastates. It offers great performances. It’s unflinching. It knows when to push you. And when to leave you alone. Also: It’s just as good as “Kramer vs. Kramer,” which, might we remind you, won the Oscar for best picture. Final note: Please forgive the jabs at L.A. We love your city, even if it’s a festering cesspool of strip malls and shallow people.

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‘ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD’

“1917" director Sam Mendes won best picture for “American Beauty.” Martin Scorsese won best picture with “The Departed.” Both won Oscars for directing those movies. You know who doesn’t have an Oscar for director? One of our greatest living filmmakers, Quentin Tarantino. It is time to right that wrong, and this movie about Hollywood and the unsung people in the movie industry who give their hearts and souls to their jobs is just the movie to reward. And since Tarantino says he’s going to retire after his next film, the time is NOW.

‘PARASITE’

We know you’re voting for it for international feature. Thank you. But “Parasite” is the best picture of the year — in any language. And that’s literally the title of this award. What more do you need to know?


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