Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched the Oscars all the way through. I’ll check in on it periodically throughout the night, but I no longer have the patience to sit there for 3+ hours, especially when I haven’t been a fan of many of the movies that have been nominated in recent years. Last year’s Best Picture winner, Parasite, was a surprising choice and a deserving one at that. Before last year, though, I’d probably have to go back to Argo in 2012 to find a Best Picture winner that I actually enjoyed and that didn’t feel like a slog to get through or that I was watching it for homework rather than enjoyment.
I always remember a friend of mine way back in 2000 once said, “I enjoyed Deuce Bigelow more than any of those Oscar movies,” and while I wouldn’t go that far, I’ve grown to understand his point more and more in recent years.
So, since the Oscars are being given out tomorrow, rather than go through the nominees and pick who I think will/should win, I’ll just do a quick run through of some of the films that racked up nominations and give a few brief thoughts.
Sound of Metal – full disclosure: I used to be a drummer, so I’m generally biased to any movie that has a drummer as the main character (I still say Whiplash was the best movie of 2014; prove me wrong–oh, no, you can’t!), so it should come as no surprise when I list this as my favorite movie of this whole bunch. Riz Ahmed is excellent as is Paul Raci as his counselor. The sound design was incredible as well. I wish I could’ve heard it through theater sound, but it still had its intended effect on my home TV speakers.
Mank – it’s one of those movies that has a lot going for it but never quite gels into something great. Fincher is on his game as always, and Gary Oldman is quite good as the co-screenwriter of Citizen Kane. Amanda Seyfried gives a performance that proves she has more range than some of her previous roles would suggest. The story itself is interesting, but I felt like it never fully grabbed me. It could’ve been more engrossing.
Judas and the Black Messiah – Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield are excellent in this. Unfortunately, the movie around them is rather pedestrian and unexciting. I kept thinking of Donnie Brasco while watching it and thinking that Brasco had a bit more heart than this movie does. Good, but could’ve been so much better.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Once again, good but not great. It has a crackerjack cast and solid script and direction from Aaron Sorkin, but I never felt fully engrossed by it. Sacha Baron Cohen definitely earned his Oscar nomination (more on him later) but the whole cast did very well in this. Despite the breakneck editing, this still felt overlong and could’ve been more judicially edited.
One Night In Miami… – Another one for the “Good, not great” category. Strong performances by the leads and an interesting story, but I felt my attention wandering during some of the more dialogue-heavy scenes. Good first directing effort by Regina King. I’m definitely interested to see what she directs next.
Nomadland – Okay, I’ll be as fair as I can here. It has some beautiful cinematography and a few nice moments. But overall, it is boring. BORING. Almost nothing happens in this movie. And, Frances McDormand, I love her, I always will, but she was not very good in this movie. Her performance is very one-note, just a lot of moping around. For my money, this is the weakest of the bunch and, go figure, is heavily favored to take the top awards.
Borat Subsequent Movie Film – Let’s end on an up note. I actively avoided the first Borat for many years. I saw two episode of Da Ali G Show and thought they were horrendous. Not funny in the slightest. And, to me, Sacha Baron Cohen was the weakest link in just about everything he did, save for Talladega Nights, where I actually enjoyed his performance. Right before Subsequent Movie Film came out, I decided to finally give Borat a shot and, lo and behold, I thought it was really funny. A bit mean-spirited at times, but still enjoyable, and it won me over to Cohen finally. Subsequent Movie Film is along the same lines, but it has Maria Bakalova stealing the film from Cohen. She’s a gem. I do hope she wins for Best Supporting Actress, because she gave one of the funniest and most heartfelt performances in any movie this year.
Now that I have both of my Pfizer vaccine shots in me, I’m hoping it won’t be much longer until it becomes safe to go to the movie theaters again. It probably is now, but I’m not ready yet. Maybe by the end of this year, I hope. Don’t get me wrong, the ease of streaming makes movie watching very convenient, but I miss the thrill of sitting in a darkened movie theater and having a big action movie or uproarious comedy playing in front of me.
I’m sure I’ll get back there. Just need to be patient a little longer.