Last year, we went to the Cinemark for an entire week. We watched several great movies (Phantom Thread, Get Out), several good movies (Lady Bird, Dunkirk), and several movies I have forgotten. In 2019, the Best Picture nominees (outside of Roma, which the movie theaters decided to not re-show in a stand against Netflix) revolved around several similar themes:
- People who rise in power flame out very quickly due to hubris and jealousy.
- Race is either a Sisyphean endeavor that needs to become the focus of every aspect of your life or can be solved by a car ride and crossing the Ohio River.
- Fame sucks.
Overall, I find it fascinating that these 7 movies were the selections by the Academy. We currently live in a very strange moment in history. Everyone wants fame and fortune. People must react to every moment of social, political, and cultural life. And racists run our government.
We have a mix of stories of absolute power run amok when placed in the wrong hands, simple actions reducing hate, grand conspiracies that continue hate, and unlikely stars who achieve immense success to be struck down. Sounds like 2018 to me.
My Oscars 2019 Best Picture Rankings
Reminder: I did not yet see Roma. I also try to not read too much about the movies before going, but due to what I read and listen to, I do go into the Oscars 2019 movies with some preconceived biases. For example, I heard nothing great about Green Book or Vice. I heard positive reviews from people on Bohemian Rhapsody, but critics seemed to dislike it and Bryan Singer is a monster. Black Panther was the movie everyone told me I would love.
1. The Favourite
Similar to Phantom Thread, I walked into this movie knowing that I do not care much for period pieces. However, I went in with less trepidation due to the strange qualities of the previews. This funny and depressing look at Queen Anne’s court worked better than all of the other movies on this list. All of the performances created suspense, dread, humor, and anger. You couldn’t pigeonhole anyone and you wanted to know what happened next.
The overall story about an absolute monarch who had deceiving people all around them who used power, sexuality, and politics to get what they want creates a morality tale that makes sense today with someone who wishes he could act as an absolute monarch who lets his court lead him into nonsense.
I enjoyed this movie in the same way I enjoy a lot of quirky dark comedic dramas. I have no idea if I will ever watch it again but I highly recommend if you want to see fantastic acting, strange sets, and a lot of rabbits.
I have become relatively leery of Spike Lee’s work as his last few movies seemed to hyperbolic without a good grounding. When I saw the movie posters for this movie, I worried it basically took a scene from Blazing Saddles and turned it into a full length feature film. Since I try not to read too much before going into anything, I did learn it was based on a true story and really was not about a black man actually joining the KKK.
I also highly recommend watching this movie. Although parts of it beats you over the head with, “nothing has changed in thirty years” and a lot of Trump slogans placed in the dialogue, the story has incredible power. The overall theme I took away from the movie was can you do good and make change from within an organization and power structure. Additionally, I could not stop thinking about bedfellows.
A Strange Interlude
I have had to have many conversations with people about Trump supporters. Overall, I live among them and I know I have to just bite my tongue. However, I believe soundly that you measure a person by the people who surround them. When you see the things he will say about David Duke, who plays a role in BlacKkKlansman, or any African-American, you know what is in his heart and I cannot condone anyone believing that his statements are good or right. Additionally, if you see the people who support him march up and down the streets of Charlottesville with no rebuke from him, you should know that your support means as much as a neo-Nazi. You are on the same side as the bigot and hatemonger.
3. Black Panther
Yes, I own thousands of comic books, but I generally do not see superhero movies anymore. I find them tedious. They try too hard and in the end, they could be thirty to forty minutes shorter. Although I felt Black Panther worked well as a movie and introduced some of the more fascinating characters into the movie mythos, I did get a bit bored.
Nonetheless, it had the best climax of any of the Marvel movies. The villains truly sat on the line of good versus evil. And it did not feel like it’s whole purpose was to set up another movie. I am guessing most people have seen this movie, but it is on Netflix, so give it a shot.
4. A Star is Born
If you don’t have feelings during this movie, something is wrong with you. One scene literally had at least four people in our audience groan, “Oh no…no…no…”
Both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga excelled. The songs stuck in my head, the pain wove deep into the movie with each bar of each song. However, I also sat there sad for our world. And their performance was the best of Oscars 2019.
A Strange Interlude
Social media and pop culture play huge roles in this movie. People sit around a screen watching YouTube. Performances become designed to get hits. And it all felt like something we have been forced to do. So many people dream of fame and becoming rich for doing something they love to do. We hope for likes, page visits, and clicks on whatever content we create. This movie scared me. Oscars 2019 definitely focused a lot on fame.
A Star is Born (Continued)
Although I have seen this movie with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, they added enough differences and told a slightly different story to make it worthwhile. I wish it had a bit more time to watch Ally become successful but that quick rise to the top does seem more realistic today than at any other time in pop culture history. This movie will play on TV for years to come, just like its precursors.
5. Bohemian Rhapsody
I love Queen. I hated this movie – outside of its performances. The plotting made no sense. The characters had no arcs and Freddy seemed like a shadow. A good movie exists in this story. But Singer cannot have credits; an editor needed another go-through; and dialogue that did not come from a magnetic word set on a refrigerator.
6. Green Book
If you want a feel good movie that completely disregards reality and has a Islamophobic writer, a sexist director, and a white guy teaching a black guy how to be black, see this movie.
As much as I disliked Green Book for its terrible racial politics and simplistic views on civil rights, it had least did not make light of the situations. I have no idea what Adam McKay was trying to do with this movie. If you watch Adam Ruins Everything, imagine a 2 hour movie of that show based on Dick Cheney where you get strange interludes with a narrator, cut shots of his heart, news stories that twirl around, and no
If you want to see my favorite movie from Oscars 2019, watch Minding the Gap on Hulu.