Sunday, 24 February 2019

Best Picture: 2019 Nominees Rundown

It’s Oscar night and just before the night kicks off I thought I'd provide a run time of the eight films in the running for the biggest award in the industry.

Note that just because a film is higher in the list doesn’t mean I think it’s a better film, I just preferred it. Anyway – here’s the list.

If Roma wins it will be the first foreign picture to win the Best Picture Oscar since the award show began back in the 1928 – over 90 years ago. It is perhaps something to celebrate especially considering a lot of foreign movies were better than the majority of the films nominated for the famous award. This time, however, a foreign film was nominated (first time 2012) and looks likely to take home the Oscar and deservedly so. 

Roma is a beautiful of look at class and racism in 1970s Mexico. A comment by a semi-famous Mexican Soap actor proves that this racism still exists with his comment on Yalitza Aparicio where he said “a fucking Indian who says, ‘Yes, ma’am, no, ma’am”. Sadly, considering the film is on Netflix, lots of people do agree with the latter half of the comment, but I suppose they must have fell asleep during the movie’s horrendous and heartbreaking miscarriage scene (also some performances have subtlety – something Gary Oldman hasn’t done for years).

Taking on director and cinematographer duties Alfonso Cuaron’s work behind the camera is superb. The black & white photography transports us to the hustle and bustle of Roma region of Mexico City. The long, tracking shots reveal so much about the film’s setting, taking us into the world inhabited by Cleo. The sound design allows us to experience the world in which the film is set. The chaos of Mexico City, the honking of horns and roar of plane engines above (hinting at an unreachable faraway world) makes the city feel alive and more than just a distant memory. 
A Star is Born
I really liked A Star is Born, it’s rags to riches tail is a classic tale and is often told cinema (this is the fourth time A Star is Born story has been told). Bradley Cooper’s mits are all over this and he does a fine job in his first film as a director, handling some of the most harder hitting themes with sensitivity. Though an edit during Gaga’s final song smells of vanity on a 90s Kevin Costner level. This turned out to be Cooper’s only major error.

As an acting performance Cooper is impressive too, he shares a good chemistry with Lady Gaga who does her fair share by giving a good performance of her own (Gaga has the chance to win two Oscars tonight – Best Actress and Best Original Song). It may be a tad melodramatic in places and it’s a little saggy in the middle, but A Star is Born is a terrific film.

Bohemian Rhapsody
This maybe a popular choice and an unpopular one in equal measure. The public have taken Bohemian Rhapsody to their hearts and made it a resounding success much to the critics’ annoyance. It’s easy to see why as the brilliant music and perfect Rami Malik performance makes the film such a crowd pleaser. I had a lot of fun with the film, Malik’s performance as Freddie was superb, and the concert scenes were shot with a fluidity and vibrancy that added to the already incredible Live Aid concert.

Yet in the build up to the Oscars most of the film talk about the film is negative. It’s perhaps because the film’s critics are more vocal than those who like the film (probably because the fans of the film have moved on). Criticisms of the film range from the depiction of Freddie’s sexuality (which I didn’t have a problem with) to the historical inaccuracies (yes, its inaccurate but not maliciously so). There’s also lots of controversy sounding the director and the multiple accusations of sexual assault against him. It likely this will harm the film from ever even coming close to winning and perhaps in the current climate it’s a justifiable.  
Lots of people say that if you make a film about slavery, racism or injustice you’’ll nab the Oscar. They say it’s for politics rather than quality. Maybe they’re right because why else would Driving Miss Daisy or Crash win? But this sort of mind set falls flat with recent examples. Moonlight is perfect, and 12 Years a Slave is harrowing – none of these are good examples of the Academy voting for films that don’t deserve the nominations.  Maybe the film is also nominated because it stands out by telling a story that isn’t often told, and there are also plenty of films with similar subject matter (think On the Basis of Sex) that don’t get nominated for Best Picture by being so bland. 

Blackkklanman is Spike Lee’s first nomination for Best Director and Best Picture. It’s somewhat of a long time coming for America’s most famous black director whose career of hits and misses perhaps hindered him ever getting that nomination. Blackkklanman has a lot going for it that makes it a film nobody really begrudges for getting the nod. It’s funny and there are two good performances from Adam Driver and John David Washington in the central roles. Most importantly, it is a timely picture, its final scenes that depict the Charlottesville marches in 2016 mirror the main story which is set in 1979. It appears little has changed.

Black Panther
In June 2018 the Academy, in an attempt to boost diversity, sent out 928-member invitations with over half of them sent to women. The new members were also younger and more diverse. Maybe this will explain why Black Panther was nominated. It’s a fine film that has made a bigger splash than its quality implies, but one cannot underestimate the importance representation has for people who feel like they don’t see themselves on screen in the year’s biggest movies.

Black Panther gave black people that representation they craved, and they have celebrated this film with a tremendous gusto. It has made a big impact on culture so much so that’s its quite hard not to have picked up on it. The film won’t win, and probably shouldn’t have been nominated, but it’s spark will live a lot longer than the other Oscar nominated films.

The Favourite
The Favourite is the among the favorites to win the Oscar and whilst it’s perhaps the second-best film on this list it simply didn’t work for me. I just didn’t find it funny. I wasn’t compelled by the story and instead mostly felt sympathy for Queen Anne who had been exploited by two women for their own personal gain.

It could win the Best Picture because the film is brilliantly made. The performances are among the most celebrated of the year, the set design is luxurious, and the cinematography is as good as Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. All in all, Best Picture isn’t a dead cert but it’s more likely to take home the acting awards for Best Actress (Olivia Coleman), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone or Rachel Weisz) and Best Set Design. 

If you try to tell a complicated story that goes over five different decades within a two-hour time frame you are going to have difficulties and Vice did. It’s shallow and unrevealing – the worst things a biopic could be. The only thing award that Vice deservers is an Oscar nomination for Christian Bale. The rest. Nah. Well maybe Make Up. It’s annoying as better biopics such as First Man and Stan and Ollie were completely ignored.

Green Book
Why nominate this ahead of If Beale Street Could Talk? Just why? Green Book is a mostly fun buddy movie and the performances of Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are excellent, however, the movie offers nothing of any note on the topic. If you want to watch a film with depth on the issues of racism in America watch Blackkklansman or If Beale Street Could Talk but I suppose if you watch Green Book over either of these two you don’t want any in-depth look at racism anyway.


  1. #8 VICE
    #2 ROMA

  2. We beg Warner Brothers NOT to make The Banana Splits movie a horror film.