For the past several years, my husband and I have made the effort to see all the movies nominated for Best Picture for the Oscars. In the menu are the years I’ve offered my thoughts. Below are this year’s current nominations that we’ve seen so far. Check back for updates before the Oscars.
The Irishman – 4/5 – This character-driven movie about the life and death of Jimmy Hoffa, told through the lens of his friend and associate Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran is short on plot. And for some that I’ve talked to, the heavy hitting names of Director Martin Scorsese and stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro weren’t enough to lift it into the ranks of Best Picture worthy. I personally liked it but I also don’t mind stories that are more character studies rather than really strong narratives. That said, it isn’t my pick for Best Picture.
Marriage Story – 5/5 – This could easily be my pick for Best Picture. I thought both Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are worthy of their nominations of lead Actor and lead Actress. For me, this has the layers and nuances in the story line as well as the incredibly well developed characters necessary for Best Picture. The scene that has been “memed” on all the socials may be one of the most authentic acting scenes I’ve watched in a long time.
1917 – 3/5 – I feel like war movies get a little patriotic halo boost among critics, and this one is no exception. The movie is fine, but it is a pretty flat story line – meaning, there aren’t the subplots that you’d typically expect from a Best Picture. The “one shot” cinematography was quirky to me; I thought it created more problems than it solved – but apart from that, it was beautiful and worthy of the nod in that area.
Little Women – 3.5/5 – Disclaimer: I am not one who loved the book – it was only meh. So I wasn’t planning to rush out and see the movie. When I heard from someone whose taste I trust in both movies and books say the movie was better, I was more optimistic. Still, I thought the movie started out slow. (I wonder if those who haven’t read Little Women were a bit lost?) Somewhere around the mid-way point, I thought the movie picked up and by the end, I could genuinely say that I enjoyed it. I’m a fan of Saoirse Ronan, so that didn’t hurt.
Jojo Rabbit – 5/5 – Unless I’m missing something, Jojo Rabbit could be the Best Picture spoiler. I will tell you that I was VERY uncomfortable for the first 30 minutes or so wondering how in the world did a dark comedy about WWII make it into the running for Best Picture. Not too much after that I got hooked and by the end walked out thinking that this could be my favorite of all nine. Roman Griffin Davis is incredible – especially for his first major role. His young talent reminded me of Anna Paquin in The Piano – for which she won the Oscar – and I’m sorry that he didn’t get nominated for his role.
Once upon a Time in Hollywood – 1/5 – We only got half way through before we agreed to turn it off. This may be one of those times that not knowing anything about a movie going into it does not play in its favor. From what we did see, this is Hollywood nepotism at its finest. If we make it through all the others & have a spare 1 1/2 hours, we may come back to it, otherwise – my rating stands.
Joker – 4.5/5 – Sorry Adam Driver but Joaquin Phoenix deserves Best Actor for this part. Joker is part realism, part allegory about the state of mental health in our country. Sadly, it is more realism than allegory. The music and cinematography, in conjunction with the symbolism of Phoenix’ dancing to illustrate the decline of his mental state is as eerie as it is elegant. While it isn’t my pick for Best Picture, I won’t be surprised if it wins.
Ford v Ferrari – 2.5/5 – This is a movie about cars. Cars aren’t my thing. There was a story, but that part is actually less about Ford v Ferrari than it is about the inner battles within Ford, so it could have as easily been called Ford v Ford.
Parasite – 3.5/5 – I didn’t love this one the way I think some may have thought I would. I really liked it at the beginning, but the farcical elements within the dramatic ending were a bit over the top for me. I loved the social commentary on class, but once the “basement” element was revealed (trying to refrain from spoilers), I wondered how there would be appropriate resolution. I don’t know anything about Korean literature, so maybe the absurdity is consistent with what’s common there. My most unpopular opinion yet: If this movie had been made in English, it wouldn’t be getting the same fanfare. It is benefitting from being a pretty decent – but not great – foreign film. And for that reason, it could very well win.
Two Popes – 4/5 – This is another movie that I really liked but the buzz I’ve heard was less than stellar; and again, I think that’s because it is primarily a character story. I don’t know how much of it is true, but I thought it was a really interesting study of a unique relationship between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis – and I like the nod that Anthony Hopkins and Jonathon Pryce each received for their roles.
Richard Jewell – 4/5 – Maybe because this is a local story, but I was impressed with this one. I thought Paul Walter Hauser and Sam Rockwell did an amazing job on this. Based on what we know from a “friend of a friend”, they did a good job with accurately portraying Jewell without patronizing him. And Sam Rockwell – between this & his character in Jojo Rabbit and his role in the 2018 Oscar nominated Three Billboards – is one of my new favorite actors.