Predicting the Oscar Winners 2018

Oscar winner 18

Best Picture

  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • Roma
  • A Star is Born
  • Vice 

I’m choosing to believe this exhausting awards season can be redeemed. I am choosing to believe that Roma can become the first ever non English-language movie to win Best Picture. Because that would be awesome, and because that would move the Academy -and the conversation about film- forward instead of backward. That being said, I have this sinking feeling that that musical biopic directed by a sex offender might end up getting the award because people seem to love it for a bizarre reason I cannot comprehend. I am also hearing rumblings that Black Panther is getting a lot of love from voters. If Roma were to lose, I’d much rather it be to the one comic book movie whose win would actually mean something.
Will Win: Roma

Director

  • Alfonso Caurón (Roma)
  • Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
  • Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Adam McKay (Vice)
  • Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)

This one seems like a done deal for Cuarón. That the people running the campaign for Spike Lee, a legend in his own right, couldn’t make him the front-runner when no black director has ever won before is a little baffling, giving how much love there is for BlacKkKlansman. 
Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
  • Glenn Close (The Wife)
  • Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
  • Lady Gaga (A Star is Born)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Glenn Close has been nominated seven times and has never won, looks like it’s her time. Traditionally, I would wonder if anyone has even seen The Wife, but with a legend like Close, I don’t think it matters. People will vote for her even if they haven’t seen the movie. Now, I wonder, if people actually watch the thing and discover the movie’s a big pile of nothing… who would they vote for then? Maybe Olivia Colman has a shot?
Will Win: Glenn Close

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Christian Bale (Vice)
  • Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)
  • Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
  • Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
  • Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

After five or so years of underwhelming choices, this has easily become my least favorite category. I wrote extensively about why. Let’s just say I don’t love any of these performances, and am shocked that Rami Malek’s toothy impression has been sweeping the circuit the way it has. 
Will Win: 
Rami Malek

Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams (Vice)
  • Marina de Tavira (Roma)
  • Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
  • Emma Stone (The Favourite)
  • Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

This race has been wild. Regina King won the Globe, Emily Blunt (who obviously didn’t even get nominated) took the SAG, and Rachel Weisz took the BAFTA. It feels like it could go any which way, with King and Weisz the most likely winners and Marina de Tavira as a wild card. Weisz already has an Oscar, so I’m giving Regina the edge. Besides, who doesn’t want to give Regina King an Oscar? She’s just awesome.  
Will Win: 
Regina King

Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
  • Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Sam Elliott (A Star is Born)
  • Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
  • Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Ok, this is the category in which I’ve decided to go wild this year. Mahershala Ali has won practically every major award show, and a win for him seems like the least controversial way to reward Green Book, but he already won an Oscar a mere two years ago. It is incredibly hard to win two Oscars, especially in such close succession. That stat, and the sheer number of comments I’ve seen from industry people loving on Richard E. Grant makes me feel like an upset could be in the works. All signs point to Mahershala, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Grant.
Will Win: Richard E. Grant

Original Screenplay

  • The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara)
  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
  • Green Book (Nick Vallelonga, Pater Farrelly)
  • Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Vice (Adam McKay)

This looks like a battle royale between Green Book and The Favourite. Given the controversy surrounding Green Book‘s Nick Vallenlonga’s islamophobic tweets that broke about a month ago, and just the general amount of (rightful) controversy that’s surrounded the movie since its release, I’m giving the edge to The Favourite –not to dismiss the fact that it is a far better screenplay.
Will Win: The Favourite

Adapted Screenplay

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
  • BlacKkKlansman (Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee)
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)
  • A Star is Born (Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters)

This looks like Spike Lee’s consolation prize when BlacKkKlansman doesn’t win either Director or Best Picture and I’m going to be very happy if that’s the case. Spike is a legend, he should have an Oscar on his mantle.
Will Win: BlacKkKlansman

Animated Film

  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Spider-Man: into the Spider-Verse

This looks pretty much like a done deal, and I’m quite happy about it. That yet another Spider-Man movie could bring something truly fresh and exciting to the world of animation is a very deserving accomplishment.
Will Win: Spider-Man: into the Spider-Verse

Foreign Film

  • Capernaum (Lebanon)
  • Cold War (Poland)
  • Never Look Away (Germany)
  • Roma (Mexico)
  • Shoplifters (Japan)

Roma might win Best Picture, so it surely will win this in a cakewalk, right? I mean, the last three times a movie has been nominated in both categories, it has always won. I don’t see a reason for that trend to stop now.
Will Win: Roma

Documentary Feature

  • Fathers and Sons
  • Free Solo
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  • Minding the Gap
  • RBG

Here is where I stump for Minding the Gap, one of my favorite movies of last year, about a group of skater kids trying to break free from the cycle of abuse in their family history. It’s a wonderful movie, that you can see right now on Hulu, but the kind of thing that rarely wins over flashier documentaries. Speaking of which, you don’t get much flashier than a dude climbing a mountain with no protection whatsoever. No, not Tom Cruise. It’s the real-life subject of Free Solo, your likely winner. Anything other than the superficial RBG documentary is fine by me.
Will Win: Free Solo

Cinematography

  • Cold War (Lukasz Zal)
  • The Favourite (Robbie Ryan)
  • Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel)
  • Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • A Star is Born (Matthew Libatique)

Two black and white foreign language movies duking out an Oscar win in 2019? Not that unlikely when you realize the Cinematography branch loves to throw a bone to almost any movie that uses black and white (who could forget the ground-breaking Oscar-nominated cinematography of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska?). Cold War won the Cinematographer’s Guild award, but Roma is an obvious titanic achievement. I think the Best Picture nominee gets the edge.
Will Win: Roma

Costume Design

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Mary Zophres)
  • Black Panther (Ruth E. Carter)
  • The Favourite (Sandy Powell)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell)
  • Mary Queen of Scots (Alexandra Byrne)

There is no one I’m rooting for more strongly than for Ruth Carter. The Black Panther costumes are absolutely incredible, and she is particularly deserving after such a long and excellent career. But then you have Sandy Powell, who is a powerhouse in this category -and one of the most influential living costume designers- doing great period work -which the Academy loves- in The Favourite. Sandy is a legend, but I’m pulling for Ruth. I just don’t want to jinx it.
Will Win: The Favourite

Film Editing

  • BlacKkKlansman (Barry Alexander Brown)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (John Ottman)
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book 
  • Vice (Hank Corwin)

This category has been a mess all season. With no clear front-runner in sight, it could really go to any of the nominees. This could be a win for BlacKkKlansman, which is definitely a beloved movie. Vice strikes me as the most “flashy” editing in the category, and a very possible winnerAt the end of the day, though, I have the feeling that Bohemian Rhapsody‘s troubled production history and commercial success could be seen as a feat of editing, as if John Ottman had stitched a severed corpse back together. The result was a horrendous Frankenstein monster, but I guess it’s the thought that counts.
Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

Makeup and Hair

  • Border
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Vice

Probably the easiest category to call this year. Being the only of the three nominees to be nominated for Best Picture gives Vice the immediate edge. And while we’re in the topic: why is this still the only category to not have five nominees? It’s not like makeup isn’t a part of every single movie ever made.
Will Win: Vice

Original Score

  • BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard)
  • Black Panther (Ludwig Göransson)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)
  • Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)

My logic here is that anyone who actually watched If Beale Street Could Talk will require less than three minutes to determine that it deserves to win this award. The question is how many people will have seen it. Black Panther could get this one. As could BlacKkKlansman, which would be great since it would mean a win for the great Terence Blanchard on his first nomination after decades of great work.
Will Win: If Beale Street Could Talk

Original Song

  • “All the Stars” (Black Panther)
  • “I’ll Fight” (RBG)
  • “The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Poppins Returns)
  • “Shallow” (A Star is Born)
  • “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)

“Shallow” is the obvious win, although A Star is Born has underperformed so consistently this season that I’ve heard some people suggest the Black Panther song might win instead. But that just seems a little too rude to actually happen.
Will Win: “Shallow”

Production Design

  • Black Panther (Hannah Beachler)
  • The Favourite (Fiona Crombie)
  • First Man (Nathan Crowley)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (John Myhre)
  • Roma (Eugenio Caballero)

I don’t know what the hell is going on in this category. The Favourite is period costumes which tend to to do well, Hannah Beachler could become the first African American to win in this category if Black Panther has enough support, and I’m thinking I’m just going to go with Roma on the hunch that Cinematography and Production Design often go together at the Oscars.
Will Win: Roma

Sound Mixing

  • Black Panther 
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • First Man
  • Roma 
  • A Star is Born

Traditionally, this category loves musicals. Yes, La La Land mysteriously didn’t win this category a couple years ago, and you have two musicals competing against each other. But the way in which Bohemian Rhapsody has been embraced while A Star is Born has pretty much bit the dust at every awards show presents a clear front-runner here. Besides, the reason people like Bohemian Rhapsody is because they like Queen’s music, so…
Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody

Sound Editing

  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody 
  • First Man
  • A Quiet Place
  • Roma 

This is another category that could go any which way. First Man is the most obvious “sound effects” achievement, in the way the rattling and cracking of the spaceships are used to create tension, but this award is voted for by the whole Academy not just sound people, and First Man isn’t particularly beloved. That’s why I’m leaning toward Black Panther, because it has to win something, doesn’t it?
Will Win: Black Panther

Visual Effects

  • Avengers: Infinity War 
  • Christopher Robin
  • First Man
  • Ready Player One 
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story 

Now this is the category that I expected to be Black Panther’s consolation prize, and it wasn’t even nominated. Had it win, it would’ve won this in a cakewalk, since movies nominated for Best Picture have a big advantage here. They benefit from having a little more prestige than your standard effects-heavy fair. That’s why I’m thinking the Avengers, despite having the most effects, will probably lose to First Man, on account that the latter was probably closer to a Best Picture nomination than the former. 
Will Win: 
First Man

Animated Short

  • Animal Behavior
  • Bao
  • Late Afternoon
  • One Small Step
  • Weekends

Ever since this category opened up the voting to the Academy as a whole and not just a selected group, Pixar and Disney shorts have done much better than they used to. Bao screened in front of Incredibles 2, and generated a lot of talk. Not everyone was into it, but it had people talking, and it will definitely be the short most people will have seen. Watch out for Late Afternoon, though, the most emotional of the shorts whose soft and clean aesthetic might stand out in this crop.
Will Win: Bao

Documentary Short

  • Black Sheep
  • End Game
  • Lifeboat
  • A Night in the Garden
  • Period. End of Sentence. 

A Night at the Garden is a very short chilling documentary made up of footage of a Nazi rally that took place at Madison Square Garden in 1939The topicality of Nazis in America might be enough to give it the win, but it being so short (only 7 minutes) might be a disadvantage ( (you can watch it right now on Vimeo). I think the most likely winner is, then, Period. End of Sentence, about an Indian village in which women empower themselves by making their own sanitary pads, which is the one I’ve heard most people talk about (perhaps because Netflix is behind it, and you can watch it there right now as well).
Will Win: Period. End of Sentence. 

Live Action Short

  • Detainment
  • Fauve
  • Marguerite
  • Mother
  • Skin

I was thinking this was going to be the year I finally watch the live action shorts, and then I learned they were all about dead children. I’m going with the one that seems to have the least amount of dead children.
Will Win: Marguerite 

Advertisements

Predicting the Oscar Nominations, 2018

roma oscar predix

There is little for me to say other than here are my predictions. In many ways this feels like an unpredictable year, so here’s hoping that results in good choices and not in a horrible mess.

Best Picture

  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • Roma
  • A Star is Born
  • Vice 

God help me with this ridiculous list of nominees. The fact that Black Panther seems like the most likely of these movies to be left out while Bohemian Rhapsody looks pretty much locked up should tell you everything about how unpredictable and disappointing this Awards Season has been. There can be anywhere from five to ten nominees, I’m predicting the eight above, although I sense If Beale Street Could Talk lingering as a possible ninth.

Director

  • Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)
  • Alfonso Caurón (Roma)
  • Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
  • Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Adam McKay (Vice)

Most awards-giving bodies have included Peter Farrelly, director of Green Book. The one thing keeping me from surrendering to that cruel reality is the fact that the Academy’s Directors Branch tends to be more high-brow than other groups. I am counting on them seeing through the unremarkable direction of that movie (or on thinking about Farrelly’s past exposures) and favor something a little more idiosyncratic. Last year, for example, they ignored Martin McDonagh’s messy work in Three Billboards in favor of Paul Thomas Anderson’s immaculate Phantom Thread. Of all the arthouse alternatives, I think the most likely is Lanthimos’s unusual period take for The Favourite. 

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
  • Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns)
  • Glenn Close (The Wife)
  • Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
  • Lady Gaga (A Star is Born)

This is s tight category. Close, Colman, and Gaga are the locks. Yalitza Aparicio was campaigning really hard, appearing on the magazine covers and taking pictures with all the celebrities right as Roma was solidifying front-runner status, so I think she’s going to make it in. My big gamble here is suggesting that Emily Blunt can get in for a deflated Mary Poppins over Melissa McCarthy, who’s been nominated everywhere for Can You Ever Forgive Me? I’m just taking a chance.

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Christian Bale (Vice)
  • Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)
  • Ethan Hawke (First Reformed)
  • Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
  • Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

I am thinking the overwhelming amount of critics awards won by Ethan Hawke will be enough to help him squeak into this category, which would sadly leave John David Washington from BlacKkKlansman out of the picture.

Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams (Vice)
  • Claire Foy (First Man)
  • Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
  • Emma Stone (The Favourite)
  • Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Regina King has had a wild season. Perceived as the front-runner, she won practically all critics awards before not even being nominated at either the SAG Awards or the BAFTAs. She did manage to win that Golden Globe, which gives me hope that she’ll be able to make the finalists list (and possibly) go on to a win. We shall see.

Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
  • Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Sam Elliott (A Star is Born)
  • Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
  • Sam Rockwell (Vice)

The one notable omission from my predictions is Timothee Chalamet, who received Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA nominations for his work on Beautiful Boy. That being said, who the hell is talking about Beautiful Boy? Actors can get nominated for movies that are unlikely to show up in any other categories, but those people are usually big movie stars like Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep. Chalamet is a rising talent, but is he famous enough to pull this off?

Original Screenplay

  • Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham)
  • The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara)
  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
  • Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Vice (Adam McKay)

I’m taking a gamble here, probably foolishly, by keeping Green Book out of my predictions. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, perhaps it’s the sense that the writers branch is one of the more high-brow constituents in the Academy, and the kind of people who might take into account past anti-Muslim tweets from one of the movie’s screenwriters.

Adapted Screenplay

  • BlacKkKlansman (Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee)
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty)
  • The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, David Schneider)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)
  • A Star is Born (Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters)

The only bold thing about this prediction is The Death of Stalin, which lest you remember was co-written and directed by Armando Iannucci, creator of the very popular Veep, who got a surprise nomination in this category for In the Loop ten years ago. I think if he could make it then, he can make it now.

Animated Film

  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Spider-Man: into the Spider-Verse

I know it’s the front-runner at this point, but I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the incredible Spider-Man is left out. This category is notoriously resistant to pre-existing material. The Simpsons Movie and The LEGO Movie both didn’t get in. Still, Spider-Man has been winning so many awards that I think it will get in, and I’m crossing my fingers it’ll make it to finish line as a winner.

Foreign Film

  • Birds of Passage (Colombia)
  • Capernaum (Lebanon)
  • Cold War (Poland)
  • Roma (Mexico)
  • Shoplifters (Japan)

The Academy has released its shortlist of nine movies which are still in this race. Roma seems like the obvious front-runner here, since it’s a rare foreign-language Best Picture contender. Cold War and Shoplifters have been talked a lot about this season, so I think they’re save. The other two spots… it could be anyone’s game.

Documentary Feature

  • Free Solo
  • Minding the Gap
  • Shirkers
  • Three Identical Strangers 
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor? 

Again, the Academy released a shortlist, this is just a list of that I believe strikes a balance between documentaries that were critically acclaimed, and documentaries that were popular this year.

Cinematography

  • Cold War (Lukasz Zal)
  • The Favourite (Robbie Ryan)
  • First Man (Linus Sandgren)
  • Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • A Star is Born (Matthew Libatique)

This is the exact same line-up as the American Society of Cinematography Awards, and seems quite likely for the Oscars. If anything was going to surprise, I think it would be If Beale Street Could Talk with its unique and bold use of color, but that movie hasn’t gotten the warmest response from award-giving bodies.

Costume Design

  • Black Panther (Ruth E. Carter)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (Julian Day)
  • The Favourite (Sandy Powell)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell)
  • Mary Queen of Scots (Alexandra Byrne)

Flashy costumes tend to do well in this category. Sandy Powell has been nominated twice in the same year before, and with stellar work in The Favourite and Mary Poppins Returns, is likely to double-dip again.

Film Editing

  • BlacKkKlansman (Barry Alexander Brown)
  • First Man (Tom Cross)
  • Roma (Alfonso Cuarón & Adam Gough)
  • A Star is Born (Jay Cassidy)
  • Vice (Hank Corwin)

I don’t feel at all confident with this category. I get the sneaking suspicion that Bohemian Rhapsody could sneak into this group, I just don’t know at the expense of which movie it would make its dire entrance.

Makeup and Hair

  • Border
  • Suspiria
  • Vice

This category was also narrowed down to a shortlist of only seven nominees. I just have to say it’s frustrating we only get three nominees this category while we get five in everything else. Every single movie in the world uses makeup and hairstyling. There is absolutely no reason why only three movies should get nominated! That being said, I went with my gut here, since the Academny’s Makeup branch is notorious for throwing out crazy nominations (remember, Suicide Squad won this award a couple years ago).

Original Score

  • BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard)
  • Black Panther (Ludwig Göransson)
  • First Man (Justin Hurwitz)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)
  • Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)

The big gamble here is leaving Mary Poppins Returns out of the nominees. It’s not a prediction I feel incredibly confident about, but the movies listed above all have great scores and I’m thinking voters might leave Mary to compete in the Original Song category instead.

Original Song

  • “All the Stars” (Black Panther)
  • “I’ll Fight” (RBG)
  • “The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Poppins Returns)
  • “Shallow” (A Star is Born)
  • “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” (Mary Poppins Returns)

Mary Poppins Returns has lost quite a bit of steam in the last couple weeks, but it should still be able to get a couple of songs nominated the way Disney musicals tend to do. There tends to be a documentary song nominated every year, and the RBG one seems like the most likely candidate.

Production Design

  • Black Panther (Hannah Beachler)
  • The Favourite (Fiona Crombie)
  • First Man (Nathan Crowley)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (John Myhre)
  • Roma (Eugenio Caballero)

Roma might seem like the most unusual of the nominees here, until you realize that the movie’s production required the building of sets that replicated Mexico City in the early seventies and spanned multiple blocks.

Sound Mixing

  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • First Man
  • A Quiet Place
  • Roma 
  • A Star is Born

This seems like a pretty safe list to me. A couple weeks ago I started to think two musicals would make this line-up, but was thinking they would be A Star is Born and Mary Poppins Returns. Since then, Bohemian Rhapsody started its reign of terror, and it now seems like an inevitability -especially since what people seem to like most about this movie is its musical sequences.

Sound Editing

  • Black Panther
  • First Man
  • A Quiet Place
  • Ready Player One 
  • Roma 

Usually this category overlaps four out of five with Sound Mixing. Musicals don’t tend to do as well here as they do in the Sound Mixing, so I’m thinking the Academy will replace Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born with effects-heavy blockbusters, which are the bread and butter of this category.

Visual Effects

  • Avengers: Infinity War 
  • Black Panther
  • First Man
  • Ready Player One 
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story 

This is the last category in which the Academy narrowed things down to a shortlist of ten candidates. The five I predicted just seem like the most “respectable” mix of movies with the most visual effects in them.

Coco Awards 2018

I was invited, for the second year in a row, to join my friend Rachel over at her podcast and talk about my favorite movies, performances and other individual achievements of 2018. You can listen to the conversation we had above, or you can find it on Youtube or your preferred podcast app.

As for the way we usually do things in Coco Hits New Yorkwell it’s been a busy year, so we’re shaking things up. Here’s the full “2018 Wrap-up” coverage: You can take a look at my Top Ten of the Year. Below are the official finalists for the “Coco Awards”, which are basically a way for me to say what I would vote for if I had an Oscar ballot. Usually, I would write capsules about each of the winners but again, busy year. So if you want to hear me talk more about my favorite performances, movies etc, listen to the podcast! 

Best Director

Best Actress

Best Actor

Best Supporting Actress

Best Supporting Actor

Best Original Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Cinematography

Best Original Score

2018 Golden Globe Predictions

globepredix

There is nothing Golden Globe voters love more than big Hollywood stars, so here’s what I’m expecting: a huge night for A Star is Born. Now let’s get into details.

Best Picture – Drama
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star is Born

There are two things the Golden Globes love more than anything: movie stars and musicals. A Star is Born, then, could very well be the most Globe-friendly movie ever made. Directed and starring one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, featuring the acting debut of a huge popstar and featuring all those songs… It’s a no brainer. Doesn’t matter that this musical is competing in the “drama” category, A Star is Born is going to have a really good night this Sunday.
Will Win: A Star is Born
Should Win: BlacKkKlansman 

Actor in a Leading Role – Drama
Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate 
Lucas Hedges – Boy Erased 
Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody 
John David Washington – BlacKkKlansman 

At this point, Bradley Cooper should be considered one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. I was surprised to learn he has never won a Golden Globe. That’s about to change big time this year. With A Star is Born bound to sweep the awards, Cooper is bound to sweep with it.
Will Win: Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Should Win: John David Washington – BlacKkKlansman 

Actress in a Leading Role – Drama
Glenn Close – The Wife
Nicole Kidman – Destroyer  
Lady Gaga – A Star is Born  
Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?  
Rosamund Pike – A Private War  

This might be the most controversial category when all is said and done. Can you believe Glenn Close has never won an Oscar? The narrative building around The Wife is that this might be the Academy’s last chance to reward Close, a totally believable theory if you ask me. However, as this campaign to get Close an Oscar mounts, you have to consider the Globes are notorious for preferring big stars over seasoned thespians. They have already given Lady Gaga an acting Globe (for the television show American Horror Story: Hotel). Gaga will win another Globe -deservedly so because she’s the clear MVP of A Star is Born-, and people will panic that Glenn will end up losing the Oscar yet again.
Will Win: Lady Gaga – A Star is Born
Should Win: Lady Gaga – A Star is Born

Best Picture – Comedy or Musical
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
Green Book
Mary Poppins Returns
Vice

This category is much more competitive than its “drama” counterpart. I could see almost any of these nominees winning (the one I would have the hardest time picturing at the podium if Crazy Rich Asians). Vice has the most nominations, so a win makes sense. But it’s not like the other nominees didn’t get their share of love at the nomination stage. Globe love could go with Mary Poppins, and the prestige pick would be The Favourite, but ultimately I’m going to predict Green Book, because it reminds me of last year’s big Globes winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. But expect a surprise in this tight race!
Will Win: Green Book
Should Win: The Favourite   

Actor in a Leading Role – Comedy or Musical
Christian Bale – Vice
Lin-Manuel Miranda – Mary Poppins Returns  
Viggo Mortensen – Green Book  
Robert Redford – The Old Man & the Gun  
John C. Reilly – Stan & Ollie  

This one boils down to Bale vs. Mortensen, since their two movies are the most buzzy of the bunch. I don’t see how Mortensen’s performance as a cartoonish Italian from the Bronx is awards material, but he’s winning some stuff. Bale, however, is playing Dick Cheney under pounds of makeup, which sounds like the kind of capital-A acting that results in trophies.
Will Win: Christian Bale – Vice
Should Win: Robert Redford – The Old Man & the Gun 

Actress in a Leading Role – Drama
Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns
Olivia Colman – The Favourite  
Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
Charlize Theron – Tully  
Constance Wu – Crazy Rich Asians  

Olivia Colman is the critical favorite here, but my hunch is leaning toward Emily Blunt. Not just because she’s a bigger star (though that’s certainly a factor), but because her achievement as Mary Poppins is much quantifiable than any of the other nominees. We all have the wonderful Julie Andrews performance as a reference, the fact that Blunt manages to evoke that performance without outright copying it is a feat so apparent it will win her the Globe and might even take her to the Oscar.
Will Win: Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns
Should Win: Olivia Colman – The Favourite 

Animated Feature
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 

It’s a weird year for the animated category, isn’t it? The movies that you’d expect to be front-runners (because their backed by Disney and Pixar) are both hindered by being sequels (and in one case, not very good). Clearly the best animated movie of the year is Spider-Man, but that one is hindered by being both a sort-of sequel and based on pre-existing material. This category prefers originality, and the Globes prefer big-name directors, which makes me think Wes Anderson’s name might be enough to give him the win.
Will Win: Isle of Dogs
Should Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 

Foreign Film
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Girl (Belgium)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)

One of the big stories of nomination morning was the fact that, because of Golden Globe rules, Roma was not permitted to be nominated in “Motion Picture – Drama”, and was thus relegated to the lower profile foreign film category despite being the most critically acclaimed movie of the year. Whether or not the Globes end up changing their rules I can’t predict, but I know it’s more than likely Roma takes this award.
Will Win: Roma
Should Win: Roma 

Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Timothee Chalamet – Beautiful Boy  
Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman  
Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?   
Sam Rockwell – Vice  

Two years ago, Moonlight won the “Best Drama” award at the Globes before going on to its shocking Oscar win. You know who didn’t win at the Globes, though? Mahershala Ali, whose critically acclaimed performance lost to, believe it or not, Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Nocturnal Animals. That’s right, that’s a movie that existed. All I’m saying is that the Globes might feel bad for not awarding Ali when they should, so they’ll make it up by giving it to him this year.
Will Win: Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Should Win: Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me? 

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams – Vice
Claire Foy – First Reformed   
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk   
Emma Stone – The Favourite    
Rachel Weisz – The Favourite 

If you spend your time in the same corners of Twitter that I do, you know that no matter how the Gaga vs. Close battle shakes out, the category everyone’s focusing on is Supporting Actress. Regina King is the critical (and internet) favorite in this category, but a recent snub from the Screen Actors Guild Award makes it seem like her chances of taking the Oscar would disappear if she didn’t win the Globe. However, she’s going to have an uphill battle against Amy Adams because she is a bigger star and, as I’ve already said many times, the Globes love big stars. Amy Adams is likely to win another Globe in the Television categories (for her performance in Sharp Objects). The hope here is voters will think one award is enough for Amy, and give this one to Regina.
Will Win: Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
Should Win: Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk 

Director 
Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Peter Farrelly – Green Book
Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay – Vice 

Alfonso Cuarón is one of the most celebrated directors currently working, who just made the most impressive and critically acclaimed movie of his career. Spike Lee is literally a legendary director who’s never been awarded by the Globes on this level before. And yet, Bradley Cooper is a movie star, and you better believe the Globes won’t be able to resits giving him a Directing award.
Will Win: Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón – Roma 

Screenplay
The Favourite 
Green Book
If Beale Street Could Talk
Roma
Vice

This is probably the hardest one to call, any of the five nominees seems like a possible winner. I’ve gone back and forth but have finally landed on Vice, because it’s the most obviously “written” of the five. I’m counting on the movie’s most obnoxious qualities to come off as great writing to the voters.
Will Win: Vice
Should Win: Roma 

Original Score
Black Panther
First Man
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns
A Quiet Place

This is another tough one. Because they’re the only contenders with “Best Picture” nominations, I assume this is between Black Panther and Mary Poppins Returns. This might be the place to honor Panther, since it’s unlikely to win anywhere else, but Poppins will be helped by the fact that it is a freaking musical.
Will Win: Mary Poppins Returns
Should Win: Black Panther 

Original Song
“All the Stars” (from Black Panther)
“Girl in the Movies” (from Dumplin)
“Requiem for a Private War” (from Private War)
“Revelation” (from Boy Erased)
“Shallow” (from A Star is Born)

The most obvious win of the night will also be one of the most deserved. Even I, a Star is Born agnostic, has to recognize the narrative power and cultural importance of “Shallow.” We’re off the deep end, and Gaga is winning that Oscar. 
Will Win: 
“Shallow”
Should Win: “Shallow”

The Best Movies of 2018

support the girls top 10

I’m pretty sure none of you will read this introduction, so I’ll make it brief. I don’t like it when people say “this was a weak year for movies.” For similar reasons, I don’t like when people say “movies are bad now” or “television is better than the movies.” The truth is more movies are being made today than ever before. So, sure, if you limit your movie-watching to the big releases in the theater, then it’s no surprise you think movies suck. But you should know great movies are out there. If you live in a big city with repertory theaters, museums, arthouse cinemas, then you can take advantage of that. If you have a library card, you may be able to access a number of online streaming services (such as Kanopy) for free, not to mention you can use your library card to borrow DVDs the old-fashioned way. And if you have no other option (because of geographic location or lack of economic means), well, I’m not going to tell you to go on the internet and download movies illegally, but it is an option. I write all of this hoping you’ll look at the list below as a list of recommendations of where to start when trying to discover the great movies of 2018. I feel like it’s a pretty diverse list with a little bit of everything, so I hope you’ll end up loving at least one of the movies below.

Was that a brief introduction? I guess not. I’ll make it briefer: There are great movies out there waiting for you. Who cares what you have to do to get your hands on them, as long as you watch them.

StG11. Support the Girls
(dir. Andrew Bujalski / 90 min. / USA)

I hadn’t written a full-length review in a good while, but I was so enamored by Andrew Bujalski’s
Support the Girls that I had no other choice. Like the old grizzled cowboy who comes out of retirement for one last job, I had a mission: to let the world know how great this movie was. Even if it would only reach the small (but hugely appreciated) readership of this blog, even if it would mean that only one of two people would decide to check it out, I had to do it. One more person being exposed to this beautiful movie would be enough. I was glad to hear that a number of people took my recommendation and saw the movie. I was a little disappointment, however, when some of these people’s main takeaway was something along the lines of “I enjoyed it, but I don’t think this is the movie you think it is.”

I will forever stump for Support the Girls. I firmly believe it is one of the Great American Movies of my lifetime, but I must also recognize that it’s easy to overhype a movie like this. Because it is a thoroughly independent production, because it is seemingly so slight, because it’s about a day in the life of regular people, because it’s funny, because it’s about women. Culture has conditioned us to identify greatness in very specific ways -greatness has male energy, is dramatic, obvious and underlined- so that anyone who goes into Support the Girls expecting a great movie will be disappointed. That’s the curse of a movie so in-tune with the honest life of its characters. In life, it’s hard to appreciate something (or someone) unless you stop for a moment and truly consider them. I know that people who seek out this movie will enjoy it, and if you want to know what I saw in it that makes me love it so much, just take a moment to consider it.

Support the Girls is available to stream on Hulu. 

Yalitza22. “Portrait of Latin America” Double-Feature:

Zama
(dir. Lucrecia Martel / 115 min. / Argentina)

Roma
(dir. Alfonso Cuarón / 135 min. / Mexico)

You couldn’t come up with a more perfect double feature if your intention is to address the foundational essence of Latin American identity using the most exciting cinematic techniques imaginable. Each of these movies focuses on the opposite end of the continent’s social hierarchy.
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning megahit Gravity, has been much more talked about than Lucrecia Martel’s almost abstract adaptation of Antonio Di Benedetto’s Zama, but if we’re talking about artistic achievements, they stand side to side as unquestionable masterpieces.

The movies couldn’t be more different in their main characters and cinematic approach, but get at something similarly truthful. Cuarón draws from memories of his childhood maid to paint a portrait of Cleo (mesmerizingly played by newcomer Yalitza Aparicio), lovingly placing a seemingly disenfranchised woman at the center of an epic narrative. Roma, despite focusing on the small dramas of daily life, feels gigantic. Cuarón (who served as his own cinematographer) quite literally places his main character in the foreground of enormous landscapes, be they the Mexican countryside of an expanding metropolis. His scenes are like paintings that require multiple panels.

Meanwhile, Martel uses fragmentary editing and inventive sound design to turn a would-be historical epic into an absurd comedy centered on a stuck-up upper class that is as ridiculous as it is destructive. Don Diego de Zama is a colonial functionary who foolishly awaits a promotion for the Spanish Crown, wishing desperately to get closer to Europe, not recognizing how he is fundamentally Latin American. This sort of white upper class, which see more in common with foreigners of their race than their own countrymen still exists and dominates Latin American power. As do people like Cleo, who through generations have tried to resist exploitation, which has transformed from slavery into something much more pliable.

Zama is available to stream on Amazon Prime, and Roma is available on Netflix (and still playing in a few movie theaters). 

BlacKkKlansman3. BlacKkKlansman
(dir. Spike Lee / 135 min. / USA)

The reaction to the release of Spike Lee’s
BlacKkKlansman, a dramatization of black police officer Ron Stallworth’s infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan, revolved as much around the movie as it did around Boots Riley’s comments about it. Riley, whose surreal anti-capitalist screed Sorry to Bother You also opened this summer, had serious issues with Lee’s movie. He objected to the very idea of making a movie in which the police are the heroes in a story about racism (a totally fair complaint in my opinion), as well as to Lee’s re-shaping of Stallworth’s account in order to transpose it into a neat cinematic narrative. It’s this last point in which I find myself disagreeing with Riley most vehemently, for even if he’s right to point out that the historical goal of police infiltration of the KKK had more to do with suppressing black activists than with protecting them, he doesn’t see (or isn’t interested in seeing) the ways in which BlacKkKlansman is essentially all about the conflicted relationship between history and Hollywood’s recreation thereof.

The movie opens with one of the most iconic shots in Gone with the Wind, still (and probably forever) the most commercially successful movie in Hollywood’s history, which encapsulates the romantic narrative about the losing South that emerged in the years after the Civil War and is so fully embraced by that movie. With the opening shot, Lee announces that his movie is as much a narrative in itself as it is an interrogation of the way narratives are repeated and mythologized in film. In one of the movie’s most incredible sequences, Lee cuts between a KKK screening of D.W. Griffith’s incredibly racist (and incredibly successful) The Birth of a Nation and a monologue about historical violence and black power, thus taking cross-cutting -the technique most responsible for The Birth of a Nation’s reputation as a cinematic milestone- and using it to strip Griffith’s hateful movie of its power.

But it’s in its much-discussed final moments that the full extent of BlacKkKlansman’s power becomes clear. The story of Ron Stallworth, as told by Lee, is a very effective police procedural, but the closing shots of the movie suggest a rift between cinematic fantasy and documentary reality that colors history, its representation, and our own understanding of both those concepts. I wouldn’t say BlacKkKlansman is a flawless movie (there is a scene near the end that I find fundamentally objectionable), but it reaches heights that I would have deemed unreachable. I am thankful. Not only to Spike Lee and the makers of this movie, but to the dissenting voices (such as Boots Riley’s) who gave me so much to think about.

burning44. Burning
(dir. Lee Chang-dong / 148 min. / South Korea)

Haruki Murakami’s
Barn Burning is a short story about what is not on the page; about what the narrator (and the reader) imagines might have happened. In adapting this story to the big screen, Lee Chang-dong keeps the uncertainty while adding a whole new layer of his own making. In Murakami’s story, the protagonist befriends a younger woman and wonders about her sudden disappearance. For his adaptation, Lee turns the protagonist from distant observer to active participant in the riddle that surrounds the young woman, who is no longer just an acquaintance, but the object of this young man’s obsession. This set-up gives place to a love triangle, in which genre conventions and psychological details complicate the audience’s willingness to sympathize with any of the players. Changes like this are what make Burning a masterpiece of adaptation. This is a movie in which every detail morphs your understanding of what is happening in the film. What exactly is going only becomes apparent after the credits roll. Once you’ve pieced together the puzzle, you can go back to any other moment in the movie and discover that everything you needed to know was there from the beginning. Then the doubts start to creep in: Did what I think happened actually happen? And if it did, why did it take me this long to realize it?

firstreformed55. First Reformed
(dir. Paul Schrader / 113 min. / USA)

It feels almost like a prank that a movie about a middle-aged white priest’s crisis of faith should be one of the most relevant movies of the year and yet, few movies elicited a more visceral response from me than First Reformed. The dilemma for Reverend Toller (Ethan Hawke, never better) is how to counsel a young man who insists his wife should have an abortion because there is no point in bringing a new life into a world that is bound to be destroyed by the horrors of climate change. This is a dilemma not just because Toller can’t think of what to say to this young man, but because the more he listens to him, and the more he examines the world around him, Toller starts to think… maybe this guys has a point? Hard to believe that Paul Schrader, the man who goes on a Facebook rant about not being able to cast Kevin Spacey in his next movie could make a movie that so perfectly captures the spirit of our time, but here we are. Schrader is probably most well-known for writing Taxi Driver, and while I’ve always questioned the significance of that movie’s bloody climax, I feel like Schrader’s updated version of a very similar climax helps First Reformed capture the feeling of absolute hopelessness, emptiness, and fury that has been living inside of me -and a lot of people around me- for the last couple of years. Watching First Reformed is both a deeply unsettling and surprisingly profound experience. You shouldn’t pass it up.

First Reformed is available to stream on Amazon Prime, but if you live in the U.S. and have a library card, chances are you can stream it for free using Kanopy.com

paddington66. “Slapstick Heroes” Double-Feature:

Paddington 2
(dir. Paul King / 103 min. / UK)

Mission: Impossible – Fallout
(dir. Christopher McQuarrie / 147 min. / USA)

In terms of big studio productions, 2018 turned to the year of the slapstick revival. The two most memorable (and enjoyable) examples of good ol’ popcorn filmmaking I saw this year shared an immense debt to the comedians of the silent years. The Paddington sequel is just as adorable as its predecessor, but it surpasses it when it comes to comedic set-pieces that see the immigrant bear get into all sorts of trouble. A scene in which Paddington attempts to become a barber could as well doble as a Chaplin routine, and the grand finale -set on a speeding train- can draw a line right back to Buster Keaton’s The General. Above all, however, Paddington 2 has been praised for its immense heart and lovely attitude toward kindness, generosity, and decency. I agree with all of those who have praised the movie’s heart, but also wanted to point out the incredible filmmaking that makes it stand above most movies geared at children.

This brings us to our other slapstick comedian, the incredible Tom Cruise, who in the last decade has reinvented himself into some sort of death-defying immortal. The Mission: Impossible movies have become his playground, and even if this one is bogged down but unnecessary amounts of plot, it more than makes up for it with sublime action sequences. Spectics could say the amount of publicity generated by stories of Cruise hurting himself on set point toward an audience whose thirst for blood is becoming too real, but what makes Cruise and his enterprise so memorable is that he -like Evel Knievel, Jackie Chan, and the silent greats before him- thoroughly understands how to put on a show. In a time when computers make anything possible, Cruise’s all too real stunts seem like a miracle. Daring jumps that will wow an audience, just when we thought there were no more wows left.  

Film/ Western7. Western
(dir. Valeska Grisebach / 121 min. / Germany)

Valeska Grisebach’s exploration of the most American of genres resulted in a thoroughly European movie. She interrogates contemporary Europe, most specifically Germany’s role as the spearhead (and glue) of the continent’s delicate union, and comes up with a wonderful story all about communication (something that was surely lacking in the American frontier). The subject of the film is a group of German construction workers who travel to build a power plant in remote Bulgaria. These Germans don’t speak the language, but they insist their presence will finally bring modernity to this forgotten land. They are the “civilizing” force, only instead of taming the Old West, they are dealing with the New East that has emerged from behind the fallen Iron Curtain. Among the German ranks is a loner (played by a brilliant Meinhard Neumann), a rugged cowboy-type who sees this journey as something more spiritual than a simple job.
Western is a total deconstruction, disassembling everything we know about the genre and putting it together in a thoroughly original and unexpected package. 

Western is available to stream on Amazon Prime.  

8. Minding the Gap
(dir. Bing Liu / 93 min. / USA)

Bing Liu grew up in a small rust belt town. It was through skateboarding that he and his friends found escape from the oppressive, often violent life they experienced in their homes. Liu, who’s been making skateboarding videos since he was a kid, chronicles the lives of two friends who, like him, found escape in skateboarding. Only these friends are not documentarians. They are still trying to make it work, to build a life, to keep a job in this dying town. Not unlike First Reformed, which captures the overwhelming rage of living in a dying world that cannot be saved, Minding the Gap captures the profound tragedy of the young people who have to live with the repercussions of decades of amoral wrong-doing. This is not only one of the most moving and humane movies I saw all years, it’s also a remarkable document. It captures a moment in American history with the power and specificity of non-fiction masterpieces such as Paris is Burning and Hoop Dreams. 

Minding the Gap is available to stream on Hulu. 

spiderman99. Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse
(dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman / 117 min. / USA)

I can’t remember the last time a movie made me this excited for the future of animation. Computer generated animation finally breaks out of the Pixar mold by denying photorealism in favor of a mixed-media aesthetic that pulls from Spider-Man’s comic book origins, hand-drawn animation, and contemporary graphic design resulting in one of the most original-looking movies of the year. That would be enough to make me fall head over heels for Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse, and yet, the movie tops itself off by being a truly great superhero movie. The key to its success relies on the movie being both an exploration of society’s relationship to the character of Spider-Man (and superheroes in general) and a sweet story about a kid having to step up to the plate simply because that’s the way life goes sometimes. It takes the idea that anyone could be the hero behind the mask literally, and brings back meaning to the axiom that “with great power comes great responsibility.” This movie honors the primal melodrama of the superhero genre, something those interlocking cinematic universes have simply forgotten how to do.

lazzaro1010. Happy as Lazzaro (Lazzaro Felice)
(dir. Alice Rohrwacher / 125 min. / Italy)

What does it mean to be exploited, and what does it mean to exploit someone? Those are some of the questions raised by Alice Rohrwacher’s  mercurial
Lazzaro Felice, in which the holy idiot trope is taken to new metaphysical dimensions. Lazzaro is the lowest of the low ranking workers at a remote Italian farm. Everyone -from the owner to the foreman to the worker’s children- bosses him around. As a servant he is loyal to a fault; a man who sees no cruelty behind people’s demands, only love. What happens is that the world around Lazzaro changes, characters shift paths and fortunes, slaves are freed and oppressors brought to justice… but nothing really gets better. One imperfect world is replaced by another. Only Lazzaro remains the same. Rohrwacher takes influence from many Italian auteurs who came before her. The social preoccupations of neorealism, the decadent aristocracy of Visconti, and the conflicted religiosity of Pasolini are all present, but mixed in a completely unique concoction that makes Lazzaro unlike any other movie I have ever seen.

Happy as Lazzaro is available to stream on Netflix.

Talking ‘Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse’ with Rachel Wagner

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse –great movie- and then the even bigger pleasure of being invited by my dear friend Rachel Wagner to talk about the movie on her podcast. 

In case you don’t know, Rachel is all over the internet writing, podcasting, and making videos for her YouTube channel. You can find most of her stuff on her blog, 54 Disney Reviews. On the podcast, we talk about Spider-Man as a character, what makes a good superhero movie, and why Spider-Verse is the most groundbreaking animated movie in recent memory. 

Below is the SoundCloud link to our conversation, which can also be downloaded through iTunes or whatever other app you use to download podcasts. Just search for “Rachel’s Reviews.” There is also a YouTube version of our conversation, which can be found here. Enjoy!

Notes on ‘Green Book’

Green Book

1. The People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival has, in the last couple years, become the “Privilege Myopia” Award. Four out of the last five years, it has gone to movies that in this day and age one would call “problematic.” Movies that try to tackle “important issues” in a digestible way, and thus end up adopting a simplistic, pre-packaged, sometimes offensive position on the issues. Last year, it was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, where British director Martin McDonagh tried to explain America’s violent heart and failed miserably. In 2014, The Imitation Game took the story of queer scientist Alan Turing and ignored the man’s sexual history, turning a fascinating man into a tragic version of Sheldon Cooper. La La Land had no interest in social issues, which is perhaps why it got criticized for positioning a white dude as the savior of jazz. This year, the winner was Green Book, which follows perfectly in that tradition.

2. Green Book is a movie co-written and directed by Peter Farrelly (half of the Farrelly Brothers who famously made There’s Something About Mary) in which an Italian American guy from The Bronx (Viggo Mortensen) works as driver and bodyguard for a famous concert pianist (Mahershala Ali) on tour through the Deep South. In 1962. Based on the premise alone, one would immediately call this a “reverse” version of Driving Miss DaisyWhat you wouldn’t expect, however, is for the movie’s political discourse to not be much more nuanced than that of a movie that came out almost thirty years ago. It’s depressing that the fact that Green Book has gotten a lot of awards attention (most recently five Golden Globe nominations) isn’t really all that surprising.

3. Film critic Richard Lawson has described Viggo Mortensen’s performance as “very gabbagool” performance, which is a totally fair assessment. Playing Tony Lipp, Mortensen is sticking out his belly, moving his hands, and putting on an accent, but I saw something else in the performance: I think Mortensen is not just playing a generic Italian-American cartoon but doing a James Gandolfini impression. His facial gestures, shrugs, the cadence in his words… they are weirdly similar of Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano. My guess is Mortensen watched a lot of The Sopranos in preparation for this role, but while he replicated Gandolfini’s moves, what made the late actor so great was that he made it seem effortless.

4. Mahershala Ali plays Dr. Don Shirley, a musician so fancy he lives on top of Carnegie Hall. You know Dr. Shirley is supposed to be fancy because he speaks like no other person has ever talked before. There is a reason for the character to speak this way, since he is choosing to present himself as as elevated as possible in order to escape racism, but his dialogue is so incredibly laborious and formal that you couldn’t expect a single person -no matter how dumb- to not think this guy is completely ridiculous, and I’m not sure that’s the movie’s intent. Shirley’s dialogue reminded me most of when high schoolers try to write a character who speaks very eloquently, and end up using archaic words and awkward phrasing that reveal much more about the writer’s lack of experience than the character.

5. There is a false equivalency at the root of this type of movie, which presents an exchange in which white and black characters learn from each other in equal manner. You could argue that it’s a better situation than that other trope in which the white protagonist is the only one who learns from the black characters around them, but is it really, when you think about it? In order to make Dr. Shirley learn from Tony, the Doctor is presented as so self-exiled from black culture that he doesn’t know who Little Richard is, and has never eaten fried chicken until Tony dangles a piece in front of his face. It is of note that Dr. Shirley’s family claims these details are inaccurate.

6. As I mentioned before, the movie has gotten five Golden Globe nominations including one for Best Comedy. The positioning of a movie about racism in the Jim Crow south as a comedy speaks to the filmmaker’s intent of making a light and digestible story, which leaves me wondering about the purpose of this whole enterprise. Who will benefit from laughing about an odd couple trying to maneuver around racism? Doesn’t Green Book‘s feel-good message ring hollow in the year of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansmanwhich uses comedy to intentionally deflate myths of harmonious collaboration and unanimous progress in race relations?

7. Speaking of comedy, there is a scene in which Viggo Mortensen eats a whole pizza that is clearly the funniest (and best) part of this movie.

8. About my theatre experience: Tony Lipp starts out as a racist character (otherwise there’d be no arc to this movie), so he says and does a  bunch of racist things in the first twenty or so minutes. A lot of these racist hijinks were met with audience laughter, which made me wonder… what were they laughing about? Are they laughing because they know that Tony will have a change of heart by the end of the movie? Pointedly, I wouldn’t describe the moments that were met with laughter as jokes. It seemed to me that something about the movie’s set-up made the audience feel it was ok to laugh at racism (again, not unlike my experience in certain moments of BlacKkKlansman, except in that case, I believe discomfort was the point).

9. About the cathartic element of the movie: Tony comes to appreciate Dr. Shirley, thus becoming less racist. One of the things that make Tony change his mind is the fact that Dr. Shirley is so damn good at playing the piano. I don’t need to tell you there is a long history of white people appreciating black musical talent. There is also a history of making racist exceptions for certain people within a minority group. “He’s not like other black people”, is something that you would realistically expect to come out of a person who has gone through Tony’s journey. Now, an exploration of that kind of racism would have been much more interesting and relevant to our current moment, but Hollywood does not allow for complicated character arcs when it comes to racism, so Green Book ends where that conversation begins.

10. The most frustrating moment in the movie is a scene near the end in which the travelers are stopped by a police officer. The scene is meant to echo an earlier police stop, while featuring a different (unexpected but not really) result. The scene is completely myopic about the racial injustice that still exists in America, and this is in a movie that takes a moment for Dr. Shirley to pointedly ask Tony if he would be welcomed by his white friends and neighbors in the Bronx. The movie’s answer is to ask Dr. Shirley to relax, to remember that we’re all decent humans up here in the North. As usual with this type of movie, the institutional elements of racism and its more insidious and covert expressions are forgotten in favor of uplift.

11. On the Film Experience podcast, Murtada Elfadi pointed out that, despite being called Green Book, the movie had little to do with the historical green books, which were designed to help black travelers navigate segregation by suggesting safe restaurants and hotels. It’s a shame the title is now taken, since there is probably a good movie to be made about this subject and Green Book’s main interest is certainly not in the relationship between black people and the book of its title.