I’ll be straight up with it: this year’s Best Picture nominees are not great. In fact, this is arguably the worst Best Picture line-up of the decade and one of the very worst of the century (the only year I could think that is worse than this one is 2009, the year Slumdog Millionaire took the world by storm and the final year for only five Best Picture nominees). But, these are the nominees that we were given, so we have to deal with it. Of the eight nominees this year, I like five of them. The other three I do not like at all. If any of the five I like win, I’ll be cool with it. If any of the other three win, I’ll probably lose my mind and quit movies (that’s a lie…or is it?). Anyway, here are my ranking of the 2019 Best Picture nominees.
1 – A STAR IS BORN (Bradley Cooper)
- A Star is Born was damn near my number one movie of 2018. I loved every inch of this movie. From the outstanding performances from Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, and Sam Elliot, to the pitch-perfect direction by Cooper, to the songs, the cinematography, everything about this movie I loved. This is a classic story that has been told a number of times, but this is the best version of that story. Cooper doesn’t just focus on the rise and fall of two musicians, he’s made a movie about loving someone for who they are as a human, not for what they portray to everyone. It’s a beautiful story and a brilliant movie.
2 – BLACKKKLANSMAN (Spike Lee)
- BlackKklansman might be the most important movie of 2018. It is a shocking look at race relations in America in the 1970’s and Lee turns that mirror around to show us how nothing has changed and that it may have gotten even worse. This is the best Spike Lee joint since 2002’s 25th Hour and his most powerful film since his masterpiece Do the Right Thing. Lee is firing on all cylinders with this film, giving us a strong script, visual flourishes, terrific performances, and a relevant message. Every American needs to see BlackKklansman. It is one of the defining films of the decade.
3 – BLACK PANTHER (Ryan Coogler)
- Black Panther has changed the game forever as it became the first comic book film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Though I feel The Dark Knight should have received that honor, Black Panther is a worth film of this honor. This is not only a great Marvel movie, but it’s a great movie in right. Ryan Coogler crafted a world unlike anything we had ever seen and allowed the viewer to sink their teeth into and chew it all up. This is the start of a shift in the cinematic landscape.
4 – ROMA (Alfonso Cuarón)
- Roma is a masterful achievement for writer/director Alfonso Cuarón. Following his Oscar-winning sci-epic Gravity, Cuarón made a film opposite in scale; a small, intimate look at a maid living with an upper middle-class family in 70’s Roma. This is a stunning movie to look at, with Cuarón utilizing black and white photography beautifully, and also features some spectacular sound mixing and editing that elevate the experience. I didn’t connect with this film on an emotional level like most people did, but there is no denying Cuarón’s achievement is nothing short of brilliant.
5 – THE FAVOURITE (Yorgos Lanthimos)
- The Favourite is a bizarre, fun, gorgeous period piece led by a trio of performances from powerful women. Yorgos Lanthimos has been a director I have admired for years, with films like Dogtooth and The Lobster making huge impressions on me. I like his style, the way he directs actors, and the unique vision of his movies. The Favourite feels like Lanthimos-light. It’s not as weird as The Lobster and not as dark and twisted as The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which is the only thing that I feel was keeping it from being truly great. Again, like the movie a lot, but it falls just short of great for me.
6 – VICE (Adam McKay)
- Here’s where it starts to get messy. Vice was a movie I was really excited for. Adam McKay was coming fresh off an Oscar win for The Big Short, he had a stellar cast, and he was making a movie about one of the more polarizing figures in recent history. The result did not match the potential. Vice is a hot-mess of a movie. A film that feels like a college student writing his midterm paper one hour before it is due after freebasing fifteen Red Bulls; it’s just a bunch of stuff thrown on the screen. It’s sloppy, erratic, and annoying, and has no emotional weight to it at all. Christian Bale is okay as Dick Cheney, though it is really an impersonation. Amy Adams is fine with what she is given, and Sam Rockwell is probably my favorite part of the movie as George W. Bush. There are some pieces of this film I like, but not nearly enough to call this a good movie.
7 – GREEN BOOK (Peter Farrelly)
- Green Book is a film tailor-made for the old white people in the Academy. This is a true story about an almost racist white man driving around a black man in the South where he eventually learns to not be almost racist and becomes best friends with the black man. Old white people love this movie because it makes them feel good and there is no drama to it. However, if you look deeper, and by deeper I mean pay attention to the movie, you’ll realize Viggo Mortensen’s Tony Lip (who might as well be Chef Boyardee) has no depth and the movie should have focused on Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali, the only good thing about the movie). This movie is bland, flat, annoying, and offensive.
8 – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Bryan Singer)
- HOW DID THIS MOVIE GET NOMINATED FOR BEST PICTURE?!?! Like, I’m not an official Oscar aficionado, but I’ve studied it rather in-depth over the years and Bohemian Rhapsody has to be one of the worst movies ever nominated for Best Picture. The fact that this movie is nominated for five Oscars and not five Razzies is ridiculous. This by-the-numbers puff piece of cinema about Freddy Mercury and Queen is a travesty to Mercury, Queen, and cinema. You are better off reading Queen’s Wikipedia entry and then watch the Live Aid performance on YouTube and you’ll be better off than seeing this movie. The fact that this movie actually has a chance to win Best Picture gets my blood boiling. Bohemian Rhapsody is not a good movie in any sense and does not deserve any awards ever.
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