Lisa Reviews An Oscar Winner: Green Book (dir by Peter Farrelly)


Set in 1962, the 2018 film Green Book tells the story of two men.

Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is a world-acclaimed pianist who lives a regal life.  How regal is Dr. Shirley’s life?  He’s got a throne in his living room!  Being both black and gay, Shirley knows that he’s destined to always be on the outside of American society but he refuses to allow anyone to take away his dignity or devalue his intelligence.  Shirley is scheduled to do a concert tour in the Midwest and the Deep South and his record company knows that he’s going to need protection during his trip.  For that matter, he’s also going to need a driver.

Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is actually named Frank Vallelgona but everyone calls him Tony Lip because he can talk his way out of almost any situation.  He’s a casually prejudiced Italian who lives in the Bronx.  He’s a professional bouncer and he can drive a car too!  He’s in desperate need of money and he doesn’t want to have to go to work for the Mafia.  When Shirley’s record company contacts him about spending two months as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard, it could be the solution to all of his financial problems.

Soon, Tony is driving Shirley through the South.  Tony smokes in the car and Shirley snaps at him.  Shirley doesn’t appreciate fried chicken so Tony convinces him to try it.  Tony punches a cop and ends up in jail so Shirley calls his friend Bobby Kennedy.  Eventually, Tony and Shirley even become friends and together….

THEY SOLVE CRIMES!

No, not really.  Instead, Tony encourages Shirley to loosen up and enjoy life a little bit more.  Meanwhile, Shirley teaches Tony how to write a decent letter to his wife.  Tony introduces Shirley to rock and roll.  Shirley introduces Tony to high society.  At the end of the film, we’re told that, in real life, Shirley and Tony remained friends until the end of their days.

It’s a crowd-pleasing ending.  It’s also one that’s been described as being inaccurate.  While it is true that Tony Lip (who later had a career as a character actor in gangster films) did drive Don Shirley around the South during his 1962 concert tour, Shirley’s family maintained that Shirley never considered him to be a friend but instead just viewed him as being an employee.  At the time of the film’s initial release, it was also pointed out that, while the script was co-written by Tony Lip’s son, no one bothered to reach out to Don Shirley’s family during the production.

When Green Book was nominated for best picture, a lot of observers assumed that the controversy over its accuracy would keep the film from winning the top prize.  The fact that Peter Farrelly was not nominated for best director was also seen as an indicator that Green Book was not a serious contender.  Of course, to the shock (and, it must be said, anger) of many, Green Book did win the Oscar for Best Picture, defeating Roma, BlackKklansman, Black Panther, A Star is Born, The Favourite, Vice, and Bohemian Rhapsody.  During the days immediately after the Oscars, there was a definite feeling of embarrassment in the air.  No one, it seemed, could quite accept that — out of all the films released in 2018 — the Academy had declared Green Book to the best.

Why was Green Book such an unpopular winner?  Setting aside the controversy over the film’s historical accuracy (or lack thereof), Green Book is just a painfully conventional movie.  At a time when many directors were testing the limits of narrative and taking cinema in new and different directions, Green Book was a film that was almost defiantly old-fashioned and predictable.  At a time when filmmakers were being praised for their willingness to keep audiences off-balance, Peter Farrelly crafted about as blatant a crowd pleaser as had ever been released.  Not since Alan Arkin shouted, “Argo fuck yourself!,” had a film been so obvious about its desire to be loved.  Even the film’s best scenes have a generic quality to them.  You never find yourself thinking, “Only a cinematic visionary like Peter Farrelly could have made a film like Green Book!”

Beyond that, Green Book is another film that deals with the issue of race in America in the safest and most anodyne way possible.  Tony Lip starts out as prejudiced.  Then he spends two months driving around a black man and suddenly, he’s not prejudiced anymore.  This the type of approach that may drive intersectional film critics crazy on twitter but audiences tend to like it because it leaves them feeling good about the state of the world.  “Yes,” the film says, “things aren’t perfect but all we have to do is spend two months in a car together and everything will be okay.”

The first time I watched Green Book, I thought it was blandly pleasant, predictable and a bit forgettable.  I also thought it was well-acted.  Last night, I rewatched the film for this review and …. well, my feelings pretty much remain the same.  Sometimes, a conventional film will benefit from the intimacy of the small screen but that’s not the case with Green Book.  If anything, watching this film in my living room (as opposed to in a theater with a gigantic screen) made me realize that, when I first saw Green Book, I was perhaps a bit too kind in my evaluation of the film’s lead performances.  Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are good, charismatic actors and that natural charisma serves them well in Green Book.  But neither one of them really gives that interesting of a performance.  Despite their roles being based on real people, they’re both playing cliches and, as a result, you never really go emotionally involved with either one of them.

I can understand why Green Book won best picture.  It’s competently made, conventionally liberal, and full of good intentions.  Given that the Academy uses rank-choiced voting, it’s probable that Green Book won not because it was everyone’s favorite movie but because it was everyone’s 2nd or 3rd choice.  Hopefully, this year, the Academy will pick something a little bit more interesting for its top prize.

 

Here Are Your 2018 Oscar Winners!


Here are the winner of the 91st Academy Awards!

(I went 13 for 24, which is the worst I’ve done in a while. Oh well.  It was a strange year.)

Best Picture — Green Book

Best Director — Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Actor — Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Actress — Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Best Supporting Actress — Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Adapted Screenplay — BlackKklansman

Best Original Screenplay — Green Book

Best Animated Feature Film — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Foreign Language Film — Roma

Best Documentary Feature — Free Solo

Best Documentary (Short Subject) — Period,  End of Sentence.

Best Live Action Short Film — Skin

Best Animated Short Film — Bao

Best Original Score — Black Panther

Best Original Song — “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Best Sound Editing — Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Sound Mixing — Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Production Design — Black Panther

Best Cinematography — Roma

Best Makeup and Hairstyling — Vice

Best Costume Design — Black Panther

Best Editing — Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Visual Effects — First Man

Lisa’s Final 2018 Oscar Predictions


Oscar and Audrey Hepburn

Since the Oscars will be handed out tomorrow, now is the time for me to post my final Oscar predictions of 2018.  As we all know, this has been a strange Oscar season.  For the first time in decades, the ceremony will have no host and I’m all about that.  (Seriously, the host is always the worst part.)

Since I have a feeling that 2019 is going to be a weird year in general, I’m going to guess that we’re going to have a few upsets tomorrow night.  For instance, I think BlackKklansman is going to shock everyone by winning best picture.  Why?  The multiple nominations for Vice would seem to indicate that the Academy is in a political mood.  However, Vice is a terrible film and the Academy has rightfully been criticized for nominating it.  However, BlackKklansman is just as political as Vice but it’s actually a decent film.  So, if your goal is to award a movie that criticizes the state of American politics, BlackKklansman is the one to go for.

Here are my final predictions:

Best Picture — BlackKklansman

Best Director — Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Actor — Christian Bale, Vice

Best Actress — Glenn Close, The Wife

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershali Ali, Green Book

Best Supporting Actress — Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Original Screenplay — The Favourite

Best Adapted Screenplay — BlackKklansman

Best Animated Feature Film — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Foreign Language Film — Roma

Best Documentary Feature — RBG

Best Documentary (Short Subject) — End Game

Best Live Action Short Film — Detainment

Best Animated Short Film — Animal Behavior

Best Original Score — Black Panther

Best Original Song — “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Best Sound Editing — Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Sound Mixing — Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Production Design — The Favourite

Best Cinematography — Roma

Best Makeup and Hairstyling — Vice

Best Costume Design — Black Panther

Best Editing — BlackKklansman

Best Visual Effects: Avengers: Infinity War

 

Here Are The Winners of the 24th Annual Critics Choice Awards!


TSL writer Patrick Smith has referred to The Critics Choice Awards as being his “fifth favorite awards show” and that seems like the perfect description of where they fall in awards season.  People do pay attention to them and, in the past, they’ve been a pretty good precursor as far as the Oscars are concerned.  At the same time, there always seem to be confusion as just who exactly votes for the Critics Choice Awards.

Well, the answer to that question is that the Critics’ Choice Awards are voted on by the Broadcast Film Critics Association and, tonight, they announced their picks on the CW.

It was interesting night — two ties and Christian Bale was named Best Actor twice, which of course meant we had to suffer through his “I’m just an ordinary working bloke!” routine two times too many.  By far, my favorite winner was Amy Adams for Sharp Objects.

(On another note: Taye Diggs was an interesting choice to host.  I thought he did okay but, with his talent, he really should be receiving the awards instead of talking about them.  Someone write a great role for Taye Diggs ASAP!)

Here are tonight’s winners!  (Check out the nominees here!)

Movie

Best Song — Shallow from A Star is Born

Best Young Actor or Actress — Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Best Supporting Actress — Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie — A Quiet Place

Best Acting Ensemble — The Favourite

Best Action Film — Mission Impossible: Fallout

Best Animated Film — Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse

Best Foreign Language Film — Roma

Best Original Screenplay — Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Best Adapted Screenplay — Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Actress In A Comedy — Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Best Actor In A Comedy — Christian Bale, Vice

Best Comedy — Crazy Rich Asians

Best Cinematography — Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Production Design — Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart, Black Panther

Best Editing — Tom Cross, First Man

Best Costume Design — Ruth Carter, Black Panther

Best Hair and Makeup — Vice

Best Visual Effects — Black Panther

Best Original Score — Justin Hurwitz, First Man

Best Director — Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Actress (tie) — Glenn Close, The Wife and Lady Gaga, A Star is Born

Best Actor — Christian Bale, Vice

Best Motion Picture — Roma

Television

Best Supporting Actor (Drama) — Noah Emmerich, The Americans

Best Supporting Actress (Drama) — Thandie Newton, Westworld

Best Supporting Actor (Comedy) — Henry Winkler, Barry

Best Supporting Actress (Comedy) — Alexis Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Best Supporting Actor (Limited Series or Made-For-TV Movie): Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal

Best Supporting Actress (Limited Series or Made-For-TV Movie): Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects

Best Movie Made For Television — Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert

Best Animated Series — BoJack Horseman

Best Actor (Limited Series or Movie Made-For-TV): Darren Criss, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

Best Actress (Limited Series or Movie Made-For-TV): (Tie) Amy Adams, Sharp Objects and Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora

Best Actor (Comedy Series) — Bill Hader, Barry

Best Actress (Comedy Series) — Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Best Actor (Drama Series) — Matthew Rhys, The Americans

Best Actress (Drama Series) — Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

Best Limited Series — American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

Best TV Drama Series — The Americans

Best TV Comedy Series — The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

 

Here Are The 64th Annual Golden Globe Winners!


Here are the winners of the 64th annual Golden Globes!

(Check out the nominees here.  Needless to say, the film winners have all received a huge boost to their Oscar chances.)

Best Actor (TV Series, Musical or Comedy) — Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method

Best Animated Feature Film — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Actor (TV Series, Drama) — Richard Madden, Bodyguard

Best TV Series (Drama) — The Americans

Best Supporting Actor (TV Series or Miniseries) — Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal

Best Actress (Limited Series or Made-For-TV Movie) — Patricia Arquette, Escape from Dannemora

Best Original Motion Picture Score — Justin Hurwitz, First Man

Best Original Song (Motion Picture) — “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Best Supporting Actress (Motion Picture) — Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Actress (Drama Series) — Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

Best Supporting Actor (Motion Pictures) — Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Best Screenplay (Motion Picture) — Peter Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie, and Nick Vallelonga, Green Book

Best Supporting Actress (TV Series or Miniseries) — Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects

Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) — Christian Bale, Vice

Best Foreign Language Film — Roma

Best Actor (Limited Series or Made-for-TV movie) — Darren Criss, American Crime Story

Best Director (Motion Picture) — Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Actress (Comedy Series) — Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Best TV Series (Musical or Comedy) — The Kominsky Method

Best TV Limited Series or Movie — American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

Best Actress (Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical) — Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) — Green Book

Best Actress (Motion Picture Drama) — Glenn Close, The Wife

Best Actor (Motion Picture, Drama) — Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Motion Picture (Drama) — Bohemian Rhapsody

 

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for December


Well, it’s that time of the month!

It’s time for me to post my Oscar predictions.  With precursor season in full swing, the Oscar picture has become a lot clearer.

If you want to see how my thinking has evolved over the year, be sure to check out my predictions of January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November!

Also, keep in mind — these are not necessarily my picks for the best of the year.  I’ll be posting those during the second week of January.  Instead, these predictions are based on the precursor awards and just my own guesses based on the Academy’s past picks.

Best Picture

BlackKklansman

Black Panther

The Favourite

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Roma

A Star is Born

Vice

Best Director

Ryan Coogler for Black Panther

Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite

Adam McKay for Vice

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Vice

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Ethan Hawke in First Reformed

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen in Green Book

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio in Roma

Glenn Close in The Wife

Olivia Colman in The Favourite

Lady Gaga in A Star is Born

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams in Vice

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Thomasin McKenzie in Leave No Trace

Emma Stone in The Favourite

Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

 

Here Are The 2018 Houston Film Critics Society Nominations!


Finally, the only state that matters is starting to make it’s voice heard in this year’s Oscar race!

On Sunday, the Houston Film Critics Society announced their nominations for the best of 2018.  Houston really, really liked both The Favourite and If Beale Street Could Talk.  The winners will be announced on January 3rd.

Here are the nominees!

Best Picture
A Star is Born
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Eighth Grade
If Beale Street Could Talk
The Favourite
First Reformed
Green Book
Hereditary
Roma
Vice

Best Director
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Adam McKay, Vice

Best Actor
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Best Actress
Glenn Close, The Wife
Toni Collette, Hereditary
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Vice
Claire Foy, First Man
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Best Screenplay
Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara, The Favourite
Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Adam McKay, Vice

Best Cinematography
Rachel Morrison, Black Panther
Linus Sandgren, First Man
Robbie Ryan, The Favourite
James Laxton, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

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

Best Original Score
Ludwig Göransson, Black Panther
Justin Hurwitz, First Man
Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs
Thom Yorke, Suspiria

Best Original Song
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“Ashes,” Deadpool 2
“Hearts Beat Loud,” Hearts Beat Loud
“Revelation,” Boy Erased
“Shallow,” A Star is Born

Best Foreign Language Film
Burning
Border
Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters

Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo
Minding the Gap
RBG
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Texas Independent Film Award
1985
An American in Texas
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek
Support the Girls
Tejano

Visual Effects
Black Panther
First Man
Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Best Poster
BlacKkKlansman (two)
Mandy
Suspiria (two)

Best Worst Film of the Year
The 15:17 to Paris
The Happytime Murders
Life Itself
Peppermint
Venom