Archive for February, 2020

Last year, shortly before the Oscars I wrote about how I thought Green Book was in with a real shout of winning the best picture Oscar Because of the way the best picture is voted for, it can be seen that the most popular film, doesn’t necessarily win, it is more that the least unpopular movie wins.  A quick recap on how voting works:  In other categories the voter picks their favourite and the person/people/movie with the most votes wins. In the Best Picture poll however, each voter ranks the films from favourite to least favourite.  All the votes are counted and if a film achieves over 50% of the vote it wins.  If however there is no clear winner, the film to achieve the lowest number of votes (or number one picks) is eliminated.  The vote is recounted; the second place pick of anyone who voted for the eliminated film is now elevated to the first choice.  This process is continually repeated until one film achieves over half the ballot and is declared winner.

Thus the least unpopular movie triumphs.  Green Book probably wasn’t the film to get the most number one picks, but it probably got a lot of 2nd, 3rd or even fourth place picks.  The complication this year is that it’s a really strong field, with no obvious Green Book.  The closest is probably either Ford v Ferrari, or Little Women.  Another curveball, Netflix.   It is often suggested that lots of voters don’t go to the movies so haven’t seen all they have voted for.  Sure, they get screeners of nominated films, but is there a higher chance that the will already have seen a movie on a screening platform like Marriage Story and The Irishman.  They we have the Hollywood effect, Hollywood has no vanity and doest vote for movies about itself does it?  Films about films and the industry tend to do well, and Once upon a Time in Hollywood is a real love letter to the town and the industry.  Joker and Jojo Rabbit may be just a little to divisive and Parasite has the massive battle of subtitles to overcome.

So who will win? who knows, and who really cares? The true merit of a film is how much the viewer enjoys it, not how many awards it wins, or how much money it makes!  With this in mind, here is my ranking the best picture nominations from favourite to least favourite:

  1. Once upon a Time in HollywoodOnce_Upon_a_Time_in_Hollywood_poster
  2. ParasiteParasite
  3. 19171917
  4. Jojo RabbitJojo Rabbit
  5. The IrishmanThe Irishman
  6. Marriage StoryMarriage Story
  7. Ford v FerrariFord v Ferrari
  8. Little WomenLittle Women
  9. Jokerjoker

Read Full Post »

The new year has started strongly with some excellent movies:

The Gentlemen – Guy Ritchie, returns to what Guy Ritchie does, British gangsters.  While not as fresh and original as his early work, it is a refreshing change from some of the rubbish he has made more recently.  It’s all too slick and contrived to be great, but is really good fun.  Worth watching for standout performances from Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant.The Gentlemen

Just Mercy  – The true story of Bryan Stevenson (a guest of Desert Island Discs a few years ago – still available on BBC website) a Harvard law graduate who sets up the Equal Justice Initiative, to help people who can’t afford suitable legal representation.  The story is powerful and moving concentrating on a wrongly convicted death row inmate.  Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx are both excellent, Brie Larson isn’t given much to do. Just Mercy

Seberg – Focussing on a small period of Jean Seberg’s life when she is targeted by the FBI’s surveillance program COINTELPRO following her brief relationship with Hakim Abdullah Jamal (a cousin of Malcolm X and proponent of the Black Power movement).  The period detail looks amazing Kristen Stewart is superb but the film is a little lacking in direction and drive.Seberg

1917 – Set on the Western Front in northern France at the height of WW1, two young British soldiers are tasked with delivering a vital message.  Made up of long takes (up to nine minutes at a time) and near seamlessly edited together to look like a single take.   It’s not the first single take movie, and far from the longest take, but it is certainly the most ambitious given what is depicted.  Although fictional, it is inspired by a true story told to writer/director Sam Mendes by his grandfather.  An outstanding and breathtaking movie that is so much more than the (effective) gimmick of its shooting.  Dean-Charles Chapman and particularly George MacKay are both excellent. 1917

Long Day’s Journey into Night – A man returns to his hometown for his father’s funeral.  He reminisces about an old friend killed years before, and sets out to find a lost love.  The whole film has a dreamlike quality as it skips around in time and space until the final hour depicts an actual dream, shot as one unbroken long take shot.  A lot is left unexplained leaving the viewer to decipher the story from the flashbacks and the dream.  Stunning throughout, the film is at its best in the final hour.Long Day's Journey into Night

Bad Boys For Life – 25 years after the first film Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back for the long mooted third installment.  The film essentially has one joke; the family man wants to retire, and his partner has nothing to live for other than his job.  Sound familiar, Lethal Weapon did it better 30 years ago.  Having said that it is fun and the action is well choreographed.  Bad Boys For Life

Bombshell – The true story of the downfall of Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News for sexual harassment.  Centring on three women; Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie, the performances are ultimately stronger than the movie itself.  The production has been praised for the make-up by Kazu Hiro (who won an Oscar for Darkest Hour, and is nominated for this), I found it distracting.  On investigation Theron, and Kidman look incredibly like the characters they are portraying, but prior to watching the movie, I and many audiences outside America didn’t know who these people are.  The performances would have been enough on their own without the prosthetics.  I felt more engaged with Margot Robbie playing a composite of multiple people, and Kate McKinnon playing a fictional character. Bombshell

Parasite – I will not give the obligatory synopsis, or even genre for director Bong Joon Ho’s movie.  I went in knowing nothing.  I had seen snippets of the trailer, and nothing more.  I think the film is best enjoyed this way.  While there are no outstanding performances, the whole cast is sensational.  The direction is sublime, and the story subtly brilliant, with movements of humour, pathos, and overflowing with subtext. Parasite

Queen & Slim – A line from the movie (and trailer) “Well, if it isn’t the black Bonnie and Clyde”, seems to have attached itself to the marketing of the film.  The setup and subsequent road-trip actually has more in common with Thelma & Louise, than the criminal exploits of Bonnie and Clyde.  The story snowballs from an incident that has been explored in many other movies, this is possibly the subtlest and most powerful I have seen.  The brilliance of the film is that it gives a hint of the power of legend, media and public perception, but it never tells that story instead sticking with the main protagonists Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith.  A first feature for director Melina Matsoukas, I will be interested in seeing what she does next. Queen & Slim

1917, Long Day’s Journey into Night, and Queen & Slim, would all have been worthy winners, but they all fall short of the amazing movie of the month winner: Parasite.Parasite Poster

Read Full Post »