Ranking the 2019 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees

Mike Thomas and Jerome Cusson debated the 2017 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees in the form of a podcast. In 2018, we went with a written preview (which contained a frankly amazing HELLBOY gag)After devising a secret formula to rank this year’s nominees, we have come up with a definitive order for the Oscar films, ranked worst to best…

8. Green Book

This film is a racist piece of shit. The premise is that a racist white dude learns that he should not be racist after spending time with a black dude throughout a movie. This “White Redemption” premise is basically as old as United States cinema itself. The fact that it’s still getting rewarded in 2019 is a stain upon Hollywood and the media that set the table for its success after the Toronto Film Festival. – Mike

 

7. Bohemian Rhapsody

This has to be the worst best picture nominee in recent memory. Sorry, second worst. Says a lot about Green Book too. There’s literally so much wrong with this film that I do not quite know where to begin.

According to this film, Freddie Mercury essentially got AIDS after a series of longing looks at various men in his life and was diagnosed HIV just before one of the greatest live performances ever recorded in 1985. The real story is Mercury was diagnosed two years after this very famous performance, and he got the disease at a time when the United States government pretended it did not exist.

For a band that was so eclectic, specifically a lead performer was both dynamic and clearly led a full life, Bryan Singer (or the producers or the editors or whoever else after Singer was fired for unprofessional conduct) sanded down anything into a jukebox musical that a movie like Walk Hard would literally die from laughing so hard.

Queen is an incredible band with a wide variety of well crafted and unique songs. However, I can go iTunes to listen to the music. The producers had the temerity to show themselves not drinking or doing drugs so as to spend time with their lives. Somehow, that ended up being the most offensive aspect.

Rami Malek acts through his teeth and does a reasonable facsimile of Freddie Mercury. To understand he is likely to win best actor once again shows how to win the best acting Oscar. It’s about having teeth or jowls, not by crafting a character people can believe in. – Jerome

 

6. Vice

Adam McKay’s second attempt at making an awards-bait was far more of a mixed bag than The Big Short. There is no getting around that. With that in mind though, it’s rare that a “prestige flick” designed to get yer Ma and Da in the theater that has such decent politics. Yer parents are going to be sorely tempted in the Age of Trump to look fondly back on the war criminal days of George W. Bush et al. They need to watch this film if nobody else needs to, and the exposure that comes from being a Best Picture nominee at least accomplishes that. – Mike

 

5. A Star is Born

I remember watching this and dreading the narrative. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were going to sweep multiple categories and this film, which is perfectly and very watchable at times, despite there being 15-20 better films out there. With the talk of Green Book or Bohemian Rhapsody winning, I’m practically begging for everyone to just vote this instead.

Even if I don’t think this is a top ten film “Shallow” is one of the best scenes and songs of 2019. The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga is real. Sam Elliot (who should win best supporting actor going away) has a tender, wordless scene with Cooper toward the end that says a lot about their relationship and makes a statement about masculinity.

Cooper did a tremendous job acting and directing. There is some real flair as far as colors and sound design. For him to handle both jobs well is probably underrated given the demands of having to sing, play guitar, and keep an entire crew of people together. Gaga’s star quality is represented by her voice and in her platinum hits. I don’t know if she deserves best actress, but she performed like a movie star and showed vulnerability when it was needed. – Jerome

 

4. Roma

While this is completely different from A Star is Born, I feel very similarly. This is really well crafted and shot. The ending scene in particular is one of the most impressive camera moves I’ve seen in the cinema. The way Alfonso Curaon plays with space and world builds in every shot makes this one of the most charitable films of the year. There are legitimate criticisms of the lead character not having her own agency, but as a viewer, I felt she was well represented.

I ultimately cannot complain about this winning best picture because this is at least a sincere attempt to tell a story about an under represented population and profession. It’s a Spanish language film literally accessible to hundreds of millions of people on one of the most widely used streaming platforms in the world. I think this is a film that will only grow in popularity as people process and see it. – Jerome

 

3. Black Panther

I stayed fairly quiet about this film upon its release. It really was not my place to shout about the politics of it. While the film was wildly entertaining and well-made in so many respects, the politics of it were just so awful in so many foundational ways. Marvel films at the end of the day are forced to squeeze into a Good vs. Evil dichotomy. Within that world, Killmonger’s righteous quest to bring justice to the oppressed black people of the world is positioned as Evil. The film then makes it Good that Black Panther stops him, and he’s then only able to do it after teaming up with a white agent from the Central fuck Intelligence fuck Agency. For a film that was destined to be so wildly popular, it’s really depressing that people were fed this ass-backwards story. – Mike

 

2. The Favourite

In an age where so many films get bogged down in being “serious” and hanging their hats on supposed historical accuracy or shit like that, it’s refreshing to see a film embrace the silliness of humanity. The film captures the authenticity of heartbreak and relationships and love in a manner that a million costume dramas over the years could not come close to reaching.

Oh, and we should be building statues in honor of Rachel Weisz. – Mike

 

1. BlacKkKlansman

I had this written down as my favorite film of 2019 at one point. Some of the more heavy handed aspects of the film have not aged as well in my head. I also am not sure how to feel about yet another film that is comfortable with the police or law enforcement being the ultimate resolution to a problem. Oh, and that scene where a racist cop gets his comeuppance was laughable. What wasn’t laughable were the connections to the events of 2017 or the white women serving as the protectors of white supremacy.

John David Washington gives an unforgettable lead performance, and Spike Lee seems incredibly motivated for the first time in years (regardless of what Mike Thomas will have you believe about Chiraq). Adam Driver is used as a vehicle to understand who white supremacists are. These people could easily be stereotyped and treated as zombies, but Lee forces us to engage with them. It’s not pretty, but it should be a requirement for us to see what happens when the past is not dealt with and rectified.

Unlike Green Book, this is a much more intellectually honest meditation on race. It’s not perfect, but it’s a powerful statement on the way this country is. – Jerome

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