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.

 

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

The Vancouver Film Critics Circle Announce Their Nominations For The Best of 2018!


On Friday, the Vancouver Film Critics Circle announced their nominations for the best of 2018!

Best Picture
The Favourite
First Reformed
Roma

Best Actor, Male
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Christian Bale, Vice

Best Actor, Female
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Regina Hall, Support the Girls

Best Supporting Actor, Male
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Peter Bogdanovich, The Other Side of the Wind
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Steven Yeun, Burning

Best Supporting Actor, Female
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Claire Foy, First Man

Best Director
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma

Best Screenplay
Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite
Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Best Foreign Language Film
Burning
Roma
Shoplifters

Best Documentary
Free Solo
Minding the Gap
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Ethan Hawke and Regina King Are Snubbed By The SAG


On Wednesday morning, the SAG announced their nominations for the best of 2018.

The SAG nominations are usually a fairly good precursor of what will actually be nominated when the Oscar nominations are announced.  (For instance, last year, no one was paying much attention to Christopher Plummer until he picked up a SAG nom.)  This year, the nominations are a little bit strange in that neither Regina King nor Ethan Hawke received nominations, despite dominating the critics awards.  While King’s campaign can probably recover from being snubbed, Hawke may be in trouble.  He’s now been snubbed by both the Golden Globes and the SAG.

A lot of people are shocked that Bohemian Rhapsody picked up a nomination for Best Ensemble.  I’m not.  Bohemian Rhapsody is the type of crowd pleaser that often defies the critics and sneaks into the Oscars.

For me, the big news is that Black Panther is still showing a lot of strength.  That nomination for Best Ensemble was not necessarily expected and it goes to show that Black Panther may have the backing necessary to become the first comic book film to be nominated for best picture.

Anyway, here are the weird SAG film nominations:

Outstanding Performance By a Cast in a Motion Picture
“A Star Is Born”
Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“Crazy Rich Asians”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born”
Christian Bale, “Vice”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
John David Washington, “BlacKkKlansman”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
Emily Blunt, “Mary Poppins Returns”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Timothee Chalamet, “Beautiful Boy”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Emily Blunt, “A Quiet Place”
Margot Robbie, “Mary Queen of Scots”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
“Ant-Man and the Wasp”
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
Black Panther”
“Mission: Impossible – Fallout”

Here Are The 2018 Women Film Critics Circle Nominations!


BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN
Mary Shelley
Roma
The Favourite
Widows

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Leave No Trace
The Kindergarten Teacher
You Were Never Really Here

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]

Sara Colangelo: The Kindergarten Teacher
Debra Granik: Leave No Trace
Tamara Jenkins: Private Life
Audrey Wells: The Hate U Give

BEST ACTRESS
Toni Collette, Hereditary
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Viola Davis, Widows
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Kindergarten Teacher

BEST ACTOR
Ben Foster, Leave No Trace
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Hugo Weaving, Black 47

BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS
Helena Bonham Carter, 55 Steps
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Kathryn Hahn, Private Life
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

BEST YOUNG ACTRESS
Elle Fanning, Mary Shelley
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace
Amandla Stenberg, The Hate U Give

BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
Capernaum
Happy As Lazzaro
Roma
Zama

BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
RBG
Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland
Seeing Allred
Shirkers

WOMEN’S WORK/BEST ENSEMBLE
55 Steps
Ocean’s Eight
The Favourite
Widows

SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

COURAGE IN FILMMAKING
Haifaa Al-Mansour, Mary Shelley
Sara Colangelo, The Kindergarten Teacher
Sandra Luckow, That Way Madness Lies
Jennifer Fox, The Tale

COURAGE IN ACTING [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]Helena Bonham Carter: 55 Steps
Viola Davis: Widows
Nicole Kidman: Destroyer
Melissa McCarthy: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women
Call Her Ganda
I Am Not A Witch
On Her Shoulders
Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland

JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America
If Beale Street Could Talk
Life And Nothing More
The Hate U Give
Widows

KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity
93 Queen
On The Basis Of Sex
Roma
Woman Walks Ahead

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD: [Performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Andrea Riseborough, Nancy
The Women Of Widows

BEST SCREEN COUPLE
A Star Is Born
Crazy Rich Asians
Disobedience
If Beale Street Could Talk

BEST FEMALE ACTION HEROES
Adrift
55 Steps
Black Panther
RBG

MOMMIE DEAREST WORST SCREEN MOM OF THE YEAR AWARD
Krista Allen, Party Mom
Toni Collette, Hereditary
Nicole Kidman, Destroyer
Jacki Weaver, Widows

BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES
Black Panther
Like Me
On The Basis Of Sex
Widows

BEST ANIMATED FEMALES
Incredibles 2
Liyana
Mary And The Witch’s Flower
Mirai No Mirai

BEST FAMILY FILM
Eighth Grade
Incredibles 2
Science Fair
The Hate U Give

WFCC HALL OF SHAME
Bryan Singer

The San Diego Film Critics Name Leave No Trace The Best of 2018!


On Monday, the San Diego Film Critics picked their best of 2018!  Check out their nominees here and the winners below!

Best Picture
LEAVE NO TRACE
Runner-up: GREEN BOOK

Best Director
Debra Granik, LEAVE NO TRACE
Runner-up: Peter Farrelly, GREEN BOOK

Best Actor, Male
Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED
Runner-up: Viggo Mortensen, GREEN BOOK

Best Actor, Female
Glenn Close, THE WIFE
Runner-up: Melissa McCarthy, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Best Supporting Actor, Male (tie)
Richard E. Grant, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
Timothée Chalamet, BEAUTIFUL BOY

Best Supporting Actor, Female
Nicole Kidman, BOY ERASED
Runner-up: Nina Arianda, STAN & OLLIE

Body of Work: John C. Reilly, THE SISTERS BROTHERS, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, STAN & OLLIE

Best Comedic Performance
Hugh Grant, PADDINGTON 2
Runner-up: Jesse Plemons, GAME NIGHT

Best Original Screenplay
Bo Burnham, EIGHTH GRADE
Runner-up: Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly, GREEN BOOK

Best Adapted Screenplay
Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows, Fabien Nury, THE DEATH OF STALIN
Runner-up: Joel Edgerton, BOY ERASED

Best Documentary
THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS
Runner-up: FREE SOLO

Best Animated Film
ISLE OF DOGS
Runner-up: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

Best Foreign-Language Film
SHOPLIFTERS
Runner-up: CAPERNAUM

Best Costume Design (tie)
Sandy Powell, THE FAVOURITE
Lindy Hemming, PADDINGTON 2

Best Editing
Jamie Gross, David Egan, GAME NIGHT
Runner-up: Christopher Tellefsen, A QUIET PLACE

Best Cinematography (tie)
Bruno Delbonnel, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
Joshua James Richards, THE RIDER

Best Production Design
Fiona Crombie, THE FAVOURITE
Runner-up: John Paul Kelly, STAN & OLLIE

Best Visual Effects
READY PLAYER ONE
Runner-up: CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

Best Use Of Music In A Film
BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE
Runner-up: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

Best Ensemble
GAME NIGHT
Runner-up: THE FAVOURITE

Best Breakout Artist
Thomasin McKenzie, LEAVE NO TRACE
Runner-up: Charlie Plummer, LEAN ON PETE