Reviews of Best Picture Nominees 2019

Black Panther    

Black Panther is a stunning film. It is one of the few superhero films that doesn’t rely solely on action. Characters are well developed and the screenplay as a whole is visually appealing. As the protagonist T’challa (Chadwick Boseman) learns how to be a leader the audience is forced to connect and sympathize with him. The burden of leadership is shown in how T’challa interacts with his friends and family members. Part of what makes this film so engaging is that there is no clear hero and villain; all of the characters are three dimensional and appeal to the viewer. This film is worth watching for Michael B. Jordan’s performance alone. The New York Times describes Jordan’s portrayal of Erik Kilmonger as “terrifically charismatic presence,” citing the way his acting brings the character to life. As Kilmonger causes destruction and chaos, viewers relate to his misdirected passion and wild spirit. Viewers see the complex inner workings of conflict resolution and how difficult it is for one to be a leader. Overall this film is a must see and a great contender for Best Picture.

BlackKKlansman

It is films such as BlackKKlansman that have lasting effects on their viewers. While watching these characters immerse themselves in the horrifying inner workings of the Klu Klux Klan during the 1970’s, viewers see the troubling effects of racism throughout the United States. While the performances of John David Washington, Adam Driver, and Laura Harrier are dazzling, it is Spike Lee’s vision as a director that really makes this movie worth watching. The Washington Post describes this film as “Lee’s best and most necessary movie in years,” as he is able to create a film that reflects issues in our society both in the past and the present while entertaining with humor and the inspirational from its main characters. The most shocking part of this movie is its ending, just when viewers think that the pain and hardship has been resolved they are shown real life footage from the 2017 protest in Charlottesville. This serves as a reminder that oppression wasn’t left in the past and that the Klan is still present in America. In conclusion, this film not only entertains but forces people to recognize injustice, BlackkKlansman has more than earned its spot in the nominees for Best Picture.

Roma

Even though Roma is only in black and white, scenes of everyday life in Mexico during the 1970’s are spectacular. This film highlights the importance of ordinary life and the effects of divisions within social classes. As the protagonist, Cleo, works as a maid for a wealthy family, she learns how self alienation has changed her outlook of the world and eventually develops into an independent adult who values her presence in the world. This film has autobiographical aspects as the director Alfonso Cuaron grew up in a wealthy family that was surrounded by servants. According to Rolling Stone “Director Alfonso Cuaron has done more than break through the walls of language, culture, and class” as he reflects on his own childhood in Mexico City to bring this film to life. Characters are forced to live through political turmoil in their country, illustrating how an unsteady political and social structure can have drastic effects on a country’s most typical citizens. This film’s groundbreaking and captivating nature creates massive amounts of competition within the Best Picture nominees.

A Star is Born

A Star is Born has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and has been praised by major publications such as The New York Times for its illustration of a “fantasy about men, women, love, and sacrifice.” While this film is entertaining and the performances from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are adequate, this story has been told before. This is the third remake of a movie that originally come out in 1956. Nothing about this depiction of love and relationships is new. Both characters struggle with choosing between a career and a relationship, which is one of the most over-told stories in the 21st century. This film is worth watching for entertainment value alone, but nothing about it is groundbreaking. It doesn’t deserve its spot on the list of Best Picture nominees because it does nothing to change the way the viewer sees the world and doesn’t provoke deeper thinking.

The Favourite

The Favourite is an incredibly entertaining film, and is a perfect example of an eloquent historical drama. The costume and set design is impeccable, and all of the characters are well developed and thought out in order to make the reign of Queen Anne come alive. Tackling an intricate time period such as 18th century France isn’t easy, but director Yorgos Lanthimos shows dedication to his craft through this incredible film together. Vulture describes Lanthimos’ interpretation as “wonderful, nasty, and fun,” as he has depicted a time in history with such explicitly that it entices and excites the viewer. As this film depicts what it is like to be a woman in politics and the foundations of class structures around the world, it is still is able to create a breathtaking film that is worthy of various academy awards.

Green Book

Green Book’s main objective is to focus on the development of an unlikely friendship between a black pianist and an Italian body guard. The film tells illustrates Dr. Don Shirley, a world class African American pianist, as he tours throughout the Jim Crow south, and ultimately receives help from his bodyguard Tony Lip. Segregation causes tension between these two as the learn about how alike they are. The Washington Post describes this Green Book as “a funny, swiftly-moving chamber piece bursting with heart, art and soul” as the main characters’ relationship is brought to light. This film does provide heartwarming entertainment but at some times glazes over aspects of the Jim Crow South in order to charm the viewer. Though Green Book was more focused on entertainment, it’s spot on within the Best Picture nominees shows how not all great movies are depressing.

Vice

Vice is yet another great historical drama that has been nominated for Best Picture. This film documents important aspects of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s life. While it is at sometimes sympathetic to the Vice President that all liberals love to hate, it does provide interesting snippets of Cheney’s personality and life. While during his time in politics he was often cold, calculating, and intent on finding ways to push the conservative agenda, he is shown in Vice as more three dimensional. The New York Times describes this illustration as “one that takes a lively and at times surprisingly sympathetic interest in its chosen demon” referencing the unknown aspects of Cheney that are depicted in the film. Christian Bale’s portrayal brings Cheney to life and ultimately humanizes him, while he continued to lead America in the wrong direction. While it is an unlikely choice for Best Picture Vice is a great example of a captivating biopic.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody is another fascinating biopic that has been nominated for best picture. The film examines the life of Freddie Mercury. It illustrates how Mercury led the band Queen to their undying fame and created a new wave of music that was both eclectic and unique. The movie has been specifically praised for lead actor Rami Malek’s portrayal of Mercury, which Variety calls “entrancing and entertaining.” Malek makes this movie and shines bright as his surrounding cast members’ performances are only decent. In the end this film is exciting and worth watching but could be better, as it doesn’t fully captivate Queen’s impact on society and culture in the 1970’s. Although it is deserving of a nomination for Best Picture, it isn’t up to par with its fellow nominees.

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