The choices were safe (no SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, HEREDITARY, or FIRST REFORMED), completely expected (many of the Oscar categories saw similar selections), and relatively insane (we’ll get to those picks real quick). Here are my slightly angry thoughts on the nominated films; in order from least to most-likely to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
MOST-LIKELY, not what SHOULD win. And I’ve only seen six of them.
BLACK PANTHER – FINALLY!! Congrats, Nerd Culture, because a completely undeserving contender has become the first-ever superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture! No, it is NOT a terrible movie, by any measure, but it was the Academy’s way of saying “See? We’re still hip, and ain’t so white!” Michael B. Jordan saved this movie for me, but, if we are being honest, it wasn’t even the best SUPERHERO movie of the year (AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDEY-VERSE were the two truly fighting for that title). Considering the Academy’s overall desire to stay relevant (those ratings have, noticeably, been slipping), this was a smart, but short term-thinking political decision.
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – is truly lucky that BLACK PANTHER was the even more egregious nomination. Rami Malek (MR. ROBOT) deserved to be recognized for bringing Freddie Mercury back to life (while battling those horrendous prosthetic teeth), but this movie is ‘Golden Globes good’ as opposed to ‘Oscar gold’. And I don’t even take this awards show (or any) as being a serious determination of, or appreciation for, quality art. Rhapsody is a true crowd-pleaser, but it is riding the back of beloved music and one individual performance.
[Ed.’s Note: Movies that didn’t receive enough votes to be nominated include IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, FIRST MAN, LEAVE NO TRACE, and BLINDSPOTTING. Just saying. ]
BLACKkKLANSMAN – Spike Lee’s best work in a long time hits a lot of the correct notes for Oscar voters (it’s an outlandish, but true story about racism that, sadly, has modern-day relevance), but I am amazed by how highly regarded it is. Maybe it’s because of politics (both in Hollywood and D.C.), or maybe it’s an apology for both DO THE RIGHT THING and MALCOLM X… Whatever the case, the only reason why this feels like a legit nomination is because of the first two movies on this list.
A STAR IS BORN – As far as what I have seen, this is the best movie of the year (and my fourth favorite, overall). Bradley Cooper deserved two nominations, and Lady Gaga delivered a powerhouse performance in a film that is absolutely stunning. From now on, whenever I act forgetful and complain about how movies today aren’t as effective as what I grew up with, please feel free to mention this triumph before telling me to shut the fuck up.
VICE – I completely understand why this movie is so divisive (its mere existence alone basically drew a line in the sand for moviegoers), but I enjoyed a rather funny and entertaining film. From (finally) learning about Dick Cheney’s life, to several outstanding performances that stay far enough away from parody, I was beyond satisfied after watching it. And, yet, it didn’t fully live up to expectations. A STAR IS BORN is the superior movie, but VICE director Adam McKay DID get nominated, so…
GREEN BOOK – As of writing this, I have yet to watch this movie — and, to be honest even further, I really have no desire to do so. It is playing at a small theater right around the corner from me, and, currently, bad weather is threatening to ruin my weekend plans. So, we’ll see. Maybe racism will be resolved on Saturday.
ROMA – This gorgeous arthouse film was delivered straight to us through a Netflix membership; and there is no disputing that many more eyes fell upon it due to that streaming convenience. Bolstered by a powerful advance buzz, ROMA promised the best cinematography of the year — and it did not disappoint. You may have noticed, by now, how I have only referred to how it looks… and that’s because, personally, it is as beautiful as it is unaffecting. I was moved by the visuals, but bored by the actual story (kinda like checking out Kim Kardashian’s Instagram pics before reading her thoughts).
THE FAVOURITE – Unfortunately, this is the other movie currently still on my list of ‘need to see’, so, hopefully, I’ll right that wrong by the time we discuss the Academy Awards on the show. Due to the amount of nominations it has received (and Bradley Cooper’s Directing snub), THE FAVOURITE is the movie I expect to walk away with the Best Picture Oscar.