2019 Best Picture Nominee Round-Up
Once again, I’ve been lucky enough to see all of this year’s Best Picture Oscar nominees. I saw all of them in the theater except “Roma,” which is a Netflix film. As I’ve done before, here are short overviews of all eight nominees in alphabetical order. I do not make any predictions about winners and opinions are my own and do not represent Media Geeks. As usual, none of my favorite films of the year were nominated for Best Picture, although I am on board with one of these nominees!
I guess it’s time to share that I thought “Black Panther” was just mediocre. It used technology as a crutch that reduced the importance of T’Challa’s fighting skill. The villain’s motivations started out interesting but turned generic and evaporated all the sympathy the movie had built up. And the final showdown was another hero vs. evil doppelganger that Marvel does too often–Iron Man/Iron Monger, Hulk/Abomination, Ant-Man/Yellow Jacket. Changing the color scheme does not make for a satisfying adversary. The colors and visual/musical aspects were great though. 6/10
Darkly humorous, with an interesting plot based on a true story I had never heard before. The message was very relevant to today, as you’d expect from Spike Lee. And John David Washington gives an amazing performance. I didn’t quite understand the reasons why the story ended the way it did, although I’m sure I could read more about the real case if I wanted. 7/10
It might be impossible to make a bad movie with a constant soundtrack of Queen music. It’s really more about Freddie Mercury than the band as a whole, and it gives a pretty safe, surface-level view. It never goes very deep into the meanings of the songs or the band members other than Mercury, but it’s still a fun enough time at the movies. 6/10
From the director of “The Lobster,” this shares a similar trajectory in that it starts out strong and funny until it slowly devolves into a grim, feel-bad conclusion. I really liked the palace intrigue portion, especially with Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, but as it lengthened and lost most of its humor, I wished it had stuck the landing better. 7/10
Mostly a pleasant film, showing (again) that yes, racism was bad, and yes, standing up to racism is good, and sometimes scoundrels can come around to being better people. It was all a bit Hallmark-y even as it hits all the right notes for this kind of odd-couple drama. The controversies that have emerged after its release have not done it any favors, and on a nerdy note, it was tough to see Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) so out of shape. 7/10
My annual reminder that I have no idea what the Academy looks for. This movie got 10 nominations and yet I found it extremely boring. I started it at night with my Dad, and he gave up and went to bed after about 90 minutes. I asked if he wanted me to finish it with him tomorrow, but he didn’t care to finish at all. Yes, it feels and looks realistic, and the actors are very natural, which I suppose means they did a good job..but you end up with a very realistic movie about nothing very interesting, with one truly bizarro scene that I will probably never understand. 3/10
A Star Is Born:
Music has never been one of my passions, which is bad news for a story about musicians. The early conversations between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were the best part of the movie. Once it got into the story of her increasing popularity, the fame, and the difficulties with alcohol, it felt like nearly every other music rise-and-fall (and rise again) story. I just didn’t see what made this story interesting, other than the good acting and the un-Hollywood ending. 4/10
Extremely entertaining and simultaneously extremely depressing. Like “The Big Short,” it moves quickly and emphasizes certain things for effect, but it’s largely true. And knowing that a lot of it is true makes it even more unbelievable. Your political slant may affect your enjoyment of it, but the craftsmanship of it is top-notch and it ends with what felt like a sincere effort to portray Dick Cheney’s thought process without playing it for laughs or shock. 8/10
My average score for the nominees is a 6, which is generally an enjoyable movie but nothing special. This average is down for the third year in a row. If it wasn’t for Roma, the year might have been slightly better than last year. I am disappointed, though, that I only considered one of the nominees to be Very Good. It gives me little reason to care about the Oscars, especially since “Vice” is unlikely to win the major awards. So here are some quick notes on my favorites from 2018, that I wish were in the running:
“Avengers: Infinity War” was an incredible achievement, tying nearly 10 years of films together into a coherent, fun, and impactful story. Plus it’s proof that even though I didn’t care for “Black Panther,” I don’t have an anti-Marvel bias. A pair of documentaries were my only other films rated 4.5 this year. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” about Fred Rogers was emotional and informative and I got a little choked up. “They Shall Not Grow Old,” which used real footage from WWI, looked stunning and was very powerful. “A Simple Favor” was the best surprise of the year, the funniest murder mystery I’ve ever seen. Lastly, “Isle of Dogs” and “Annihilation” should have been seen by more people, although “Isle of Dogs” is up for 2 Oscars, so I’ll be rooting for it.
There were some big hits among this year’s nominees, so people might be more inclined to pay attention to the Oscars. Which ones did you see? What were your favorites, or what did you think got robbed?