Unless I’m forgetting something, this review should see the end of my Oscar film reviews. I managed to watch all of the full-length feature films nominated in the majority of the categories. I didn’t have time to get through all of the international nominees because of time and cause I suck at watching international films. I need to work on that. However, I did manage to knock a couple off the list. Thanks to the runaway success that was Parasite I saw that early on. Then Antonio Banderas’ nomination for Best Actor meant that I caught up with Pain and Glory. It felt as though Banderas was rarely mentioned in the run-up to the Oscars because the conversation was dominated by Joaquin Phoenix and, to a lesser extent, Adam Driver. Unfortunately, it never really seemed as though Banderas was an option regardless of how much he may have deserved it. Much in the same way that Tom Hanks never really registered in his category for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Still, that wasn’t going to stop me watching it. I had to make up my own mind about who deserved to win.
As far as I’m aware, Mr Rogers was never a thing in the UK. I’ve heard of him but only thanks to references in American TV and movies. This lack of awareness would normally have caused me to miss a film like A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It is based solely on the proposition that Fred Rogers is one of the greatest things to ever happen to children. I’m sure he probably is but films like this tend to rely on a certain nostalgic sentimentality that I just don’t have. It wouldn’t hit on all of the levels that the filmmakers intended. But, thanks to Tom Hanks being Tom Hanks, it was an Oscar-nominated film that I had to try and watch before the ceremony.
We’re finally here. It’s Oscars Night. I’ve also managed to watch all but 2 of all the films nominated this year (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and The Lion King). I didn’t think I’d manage it but we got there. This means I finally feel ready to put down my predictions for how the show’s going to go. However, there are no real definites I guess. I mean, has anyone got over the shock that was Green Book winning Best Picture last year. The Academy is unstable and, as we can see from the nominations, aren’t always concerned about who or what is really the best. The Oscars are even more political and insane than Eurovision. But this isn’t the time for another rant. This is a time to predict the result of a stupid system that will be streamed to the world from a glitzy and expensive award show that really doesn’t need to exist. But at least everyone attending gets to dress up again this year.
This week has been a bloody long one. I’ve posted more blog posts in one week than I think I ever have. Which is great on the one hand but does mean that I haven’t had much spare time for reading. I barely have enough time to write this rundown because I wrote so many posts this week. I should take a break for a while. But I won’t. Not only do I have a self-imposed schedule to keep but, you know, it’s my job.
Sometimes, the best thing about a film is just watching great performers do what they do best. I imagine that is part of the reason why Netflix’s The Two Popes got such a positive reaction at the Telluride Film Festival. Two of Britain’s finest actors come together to retell a piece of recent religious history. Anthony Hopkins and Jonatha Pryce play Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis respectively in a film that explores their uneasy relationship. It’s essentially a film showing two old white dudes having a back and forth about religion. On paper, it shouldn’t work but it turns out to be unexpectedly engaging. And, I’ll be honest, this wasn’t a film that I was necessarily going to watch despite the positive reaction it got. I love both actors but the story just seemed a bit much. Considering what we know about the Catholic Church, it all just seemed a bit too twee.
Seriously, Netflix has been doing great things with animation recently. So, it’s no wonder that they’ve gained two Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature Film this year. And, though the smart money will be on Toy Story 4 because of all the reasons, there’s every chance that the streaming service could walk away with a prize in that category. After all, Klaus was the surprise winner at this year’s BAFTAs. It was the unexpected hit of their Christmas output. Mixing beautiful animation, a talented voice cast, and a charming story, Klaus brought new life to the oft-told origin story of Jolly Old Saint Nick. But it’s not their only output this Christmas time that really resonated with audiences. The French animation about a severed hand really did prove to be quite a success. Even though that statement just feels wrong.
Hopefully, you’ve noticed that this week I’ve gone a bit Oscars crazy on the blog. Every year I watch all of the Best Picture nominations before the ceremony and this year, as I was already well ahead, I decided to get through as many as possible. This meant that I was faced with a load of films that I wanted to review. With my schedule as it is, I’d still have been reviewing my Oscar watches two months from now. So, I decided to just go with it and get them done this week. It’s not been easy but I’m getting there. This weekend is going to be interesting but I’ve come this far. As of today, I’ve only got a couple (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Pain and Glory and Richard Jewell) left to watch. I’m not going through foreign films, short films, or documentaries otherwise I’d probably die. And I know there are two films nominated for technical awards only that I haven’t seen (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and The Lion King) but I’ll have to live with that. Despite that, I’m going to talk about my winners for the main categories. That is the people I’d like to win not who I think will win. We can talk about that before the awards on Sunday when I’ve seen everything I’m going to see.
I had to Google John Lithgow after watching Jay Roach’s film depicting the story about the women who exposed Fox News’ CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Why did I Google him? Because it’s been a long time that I haven’t seen him in a fat suit. What with him playing Winston Churchill in The Crown and then playing Ailes, John Lithgow must have spent a lot of time in a make-up trailer. Bombshell has been nominated for Best Hair and Make-Up. It’s not an award that I usually pay much attention to because who am I to say what is good or not? But Bombshell is in another world. Not only did I legitimately think that John Lithgow had piled on loads of weight but Charlize Theron does not look like Charlize Theron. If she didn’t have such a distinctive and sultry voice, I’d never have known it was her. Who are these make-up magicians? Given them a fucking Oscar and be done with it.
The Oscars took place over a month ago and I’m still banging on about them. I know I know. Broken record much? But it’s one if the biggest and most controversial events in the movie lovers calendar. For the most part, this year wasn’t the most exciting. Once again, many amazing and worthy films/directors/actors were ignored and many worthy films/directors/actors got looked over for more Oscar-y films/directors/actors. I write this in the midst of Steven Spielberg’s outrageous idea to get Netflix films banned from being nominated in the future. I’d love to go into that whole argument now and rant about Spielberg’s general irrelevance these days but, as it’s my birthday, I feel like I should take the high road. So, instead let’s talk about one of the biggest surprises that came out of last Saturday that was also one of the most underwhelming. Rami Malek gave a great performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody and I think that he definitely deserved the win. However, I don’t think many were convinced he would. The Best Actor category was incredibly boring this year as there was no real stand-out. The most remarkable performance for me? Willem Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh. It’s a shame he lost out to it but it’s an even bigger shame that his loss isn’t as a big of a deal as it should be.
In just a few hours the 91st Academy Awards ceremony will be in full swing and the best and brightest stars in Hollywood will come together to pat themselves on their already much too celebrated backs. I can’t say I’m a big believer in the sheer amount of film awards that there are but I guess it’s all good for the industry. And it’s fun to see people get all dressed up and excited. 2019 has already been made an absolute delight because of how much of a good time Richard E. Grant is having just being nominated. Imagine what it’s going to be like if he wins? As I have done for the past few years, I managed to successfully watch all of the Best Picture nominations before the ceremony as well as a few other nominated films. I still have a few big ones to see though. A fact that might make my next task kind of difficult. I missed it last year but I’m here again to attempt to understand the Academy voters. It’s a weird year for Oscar nominations so, really, it’s kind of anyone’s game. But let’s give this a go anyway.