Joker’s Oscar Ballot

 

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Explanations

Best Picture: Blackkklansman

Spike Lee has been snubbed too many times, so the Academy probably feel like they owe him, with the added bonus that it gives them the most direct way to show off their dislike of a current public figure. Also, it was a really well-done movie.

Best Director: Spike Lee

He’s literally never been nominated for this award before. He’s never had a nomination for Best Picture before. Meanwhile, they actually were against screenings of Do The Right Thing, because they were worried it would lead black people to riot. This was in 1989. Again, they are gonna feel like they owe him.

Best Actress: Olivia Colman

Look, I want it to be Glenn Close. I’ll be pretty happy if it’s Glenn Close. But Olivia Colman’s performance in The Favourite contains so many wonderful levels that you could spend hours dissecting it. She could have made Anne an ancillary character in the rivalry between two women, but no, she made her a focus.

Best Supporting Actress: Regina King

I think this is going to happen because the people who like the two nominees from The Favourite are going to split the ballot. That said, Regina King freaking nailed this performance, and she totally deserves the award.

Actor in a Leading Role: Christian Bale

I didn’t even like this movie that much, but damn, that’s a performance for the ages. Bale probably can’t mutilate his body with impunity for much longer, so this is a good chance to get an award for his particular brand of weigh shifting.

Best Supporting Actor: Richard E. Grant

If you haven’t seen Can You Ever Forgive Me, you’ll know that Richard E. Grant’s performance is one of the more amazing parts of a film that, for the most part, is fairly predictable. Yes, he has great dialogue, but his character could so easily have been much worse that it’s amazing how well he carries it.

Best Costume Design: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

I know a lot of people probably think it’s going to be a period piece, but I think it was amazing how many costumes they put in this movie, and how varied and elaborate the costumes were. Liam Neeson’s coat alone took days to make.

Best Film Editing: The Favourite

Okay, all the people in Editing probably want it to be Blackkklansman because there was some pretty awesome tricks involving overlaying faces during shots, but if you’re a regular person, I think you vote for The Favourite. I’m a regular Joker, I pick that.

Best Sound Editing: A Quiet Place

Okay, this is one of the two Oscars where I’ll actually be pissed if I’m wrong. This movie was amazing and it was the completely perfect use of silence and sound that really makes it work.

Best Sound Mixing: A Star Is Born

This was, for me, one of the best parts of the film. If I can sit in a movie and go “wow, they really did a great job mixing this,” then that probably means at least a few other people did the same.

Best Documentary – Short Subject: Lifeboat

It’s a short film about refugees and it goes out of its way to humanize all of them, as well as the people who try to help them. It’s a great short film if you haven’t seen it.

Best Documentary – Feature Length: RBG

This category is bullsh*t as the best Documentary of last year was Won’t You Be My Neighbor and all other movies are lesser to that. But RBG was also a good movie.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Blackkklansman

This was an amazing true story that is amazingly well-adapted in this script. Some of the dialogue was among the best of last year.

Best Original Screenplay: Green Book

As I pointed out in my review, this is the only one that really generated controversy and I think that generally helps rather than hurts.

Original Score: Black Panther

 I think they’re going to give Black Panther something, and this was definitely one of the more stand-out parts of the film. It has an amazing score and it combines a lot of elements not seen in many films before it.

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

This is the second award that I will actually be p*ssed off about if I’m wrong. This was the best animated movie and just flat-out one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a work of art with amazing dialogue and a great message.

Best Foreign Language Film: Roma

Like with Toy Story 3, I think the fact that this one was nominated for Best Picture means that it has a massive advantage. Also, this could win Best Picture and I would not be at all surprised, because this movie is a beautiful thematic tale with a lot of amazing shots.

Original Song: Shallow (A Star is Born)

This scene was the best scene in the movie, and the music video of it is hauntingly beautiful. It’s a great song, Bradley Cooper blew me away, and IT’S LADY FREAKING GAGA. Just accept that it’s amazing and let it make you happy.

Best Animated Short Film: Late Afternoon

This is basically a short-film about dementia that is told through some of the best animation transitions I’ve seen in a while. I almost picked Bao because everyone saw it since it was attached to a feature, but this film hit me so hard I can’t not pick it.

Best Production Design: Black Panther

Again, this was one of the best parts of the film, and had so much more thought put into it that I would ever have expected. It combined African Cultural History with Sci-fi perfectly.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Vice

This movie ages almost every character over several decades and does it so well it rarely looks like makeup and prosthetics.

Best Live-Action Short Film: Skin

First of all, why are all of the films about killing kids? Seriously, I think all of the shorts were about child-murder. Second, this was a short film about racism that kind of screws up the message. That seems like Oscar Bait to me.

Best Cinematography: Roma

Alfonso Cuaron is a freaking genius when it comes to cinematography and the fact that the film is in Black-and-white only makes this more obvious.

Best Visual Effects: Ready Player One

I actually don’t know that these were the best visual effects, but they were definitely the MOST visual effects.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

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Oscar Review – Green Book: Race Relations Are (Still) Complicated

Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen take us through this true (or mostly true) story about an extremely unlikely friendship.

SUMMARY

Classical Pianist “Doc” Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is set to go on an 8-week concert tour of the Mid-Western and the Southern United States. He hires Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) to be his driver and bodyguard. Don’s management gives Tony a copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book so that he will be able to find motels, restaurants, and gas stations that will allow Don inside.

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Tony Lip always dressed like a mobster.

As the tour starts, the two do not get along very well. Tony dislikes anything refined, or acting like a subordinate to Don, while Don thinks Tony is an uncouth lout. However, as they go on, Don’s talent starts to impress Tony and Tony becomes increasingly disturbed by how everyone treats Don in the South, from managers and venue owners to random white people. Don helps Tony write letters to his wife (Linda Cardellini), with Don’s sophisticated language and talent for creative composition punching up Tony’s less than amazing style. Tony tries to get Don to connect with his family, but Don feels isolated by his lifestyle, both because he’s a classical pianist and also because he’s a homosexual. When Don is caught in a YMCA pool with another (white) man, Tony bribes the officers to release Don. When the two are arrested for Don being black in a town that bars black people after curfew, Don calls his lawyer, revealed to be Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who has them released. These experiences further humiliate Don, but Tony uses them to point out that, by being rich and connected, Tony feels like he’s “blacker” than Don. Don points out how false that statement is, by saying being rich and connected has made him feel disconnected to his black community, being black keeps him disconnected from the white community, and being gay means that pretty much everyone in 1963 hates him. He’s essentially alone in the world.

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So talented, he could get into clubs that he literally couldn’t get into.

On one of the last stops of the tour, Don refuses to play at the club because the owner refuses to allow Don to be served inside the very venue that he’s been booked to play. Instead, Don plays at a black club and wows the audience. Heading back North, Tony invites Don to join his family for Christmas Eve Dinner, which Don eventually accepts. Tony’s wife thanks Don for the letters, revealing that she figured out Tony wasn’t writing them alone.

END SUMMARY

One of the most interesting things about this movie was the response by Don Shirley’s family and the counter-response by Mahershala Ali and the film’s main author Nick Vallelonga. Shirley’s family insisted that Vallelonga and Shirley were never friends and that the point of their relationship was that Shirley had to employ subordinates of a different race in order to deal with racism. Mahershala Ali apologized profusely for not consulting with the family to add nuance. However, Nick Vallelonga, Tony Lip’s real-life son, revealed that the movie was based on a series of interviews he conducted with Shirley and his father, and that Shirley had specifically asked Vallelonga not to consult other people. So, ultimately, the accuracy of this movie now seems somewhat in dispute.

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 Probably wasn’t this informal, though.

The best part of this film are the two leads, although, I’m not going to lie, I think Mahershala Ali did most of the heavy lifting. I do admit that I might not think as highly of Viggo’s performance because I conflate Tony Lip with all of the characters that Tony Lip portrayed throughout the years (mostly mobsters), but I also just don’t think he made Tony nearly as complex as Ali made Shirley. I acknowledge that might be partially because Shirley was just a more interesting character within the film, although I think Tony actually had the more complete character arc. This isn’t to say that I thought Viggo Mortensen’s performance was bad, in fact it was very good, I just thought Ali delivered a little more.

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… I might be biased based on the “real life” comparison photos I’ve seen.

My biggest problem with this movie is probably that it falls into some of the same traps that most films run into when dealing with race. First, it just has to copy some of the traditional scenes, like a white man being shocked at how a black man is treated, or a black man having to remind a white man that he has an advantage that’s completely unearned. It’s just not new, and it takes a lot to make it interesting. Second, when you’re making a movie and you have a conflict, at the end of the film you like to feel like that conflict is resolved. What do you do, then, when your conflict isn’t really between your two leads, but between your lead and a societal injustice? If you’re The Hunger Games or The Matrix or even Fight Club, you can end your film on a note that hey, these problems are actually going to be solved. But when your injustice is racism, something that is still pervasive to this day, how can you even try to pretend that it’s solved? Well, you have your main characters learn to get past their natural biases and bond and that’s just as good, right? Not really, but it lets us feel like something has been accomplished, so we can walk out feeling like everything’s not hopeless. I’m not saying you should end every movie with a nihilistic point of view saying that nothing ever gets better, but I also think that most films about racism make you feel “oh hey, this is over now” at the end, and we don’t need to do that, either. The movie does make us feel better about the fact that we’ve come a long way, and it should, but it shouldn’t allow us to forget that we still have a ways to go.

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Granted, the fact that it’s not a benchmark for a black actor to be nominated anymore IS a sign of advancement.

I do think that the film does a good job of adding in the elements that were unique to Don Shirley’s story, particularly his disconnect with traditional black culture in the 60s arising from his wealth and connections and his disconnect with almost everyone arising from being a gay man in the 1960s. It’s interesting to be reminded that even a perceived advantage, and wealth is generally always an advantages, can actually serve to limit the number of people you can relate to. The film even reminds us that while Don Shirley worked to combine classical and jazz music, those two styles still remain fairly distinct, even within most of his performances.

Overall, it’s a solid film, even one that is probably worthy of the nomination it’s received (and definitely worthy of the two acting nominations), but I still feel like it just wasted a little bit of its potential by retreading what other films have already done in the past. Definitely worth seeing, though.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.