So, we now live in a world where the director of Dumb and Dumber has an Oscar. Or rather, two Oscars. Last night, Peter Farrelly won more Oscars than Martin Scorsese has won in his entire career. All because of the little film that could…Green Book.
Winning Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture, Green Book is a good film with a simple, naive take on race relations that excels mostly because its two strong lead performances raise it to the next level. The Academy level. Mahershala Ali (who deservingly won his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar in three years) and Viggo Mortensen shine in their roles as Dr. Don Shirley and Tony Vallelonga, respectively. The trite situations they are put into do not stand up to the quality of their performances. But, still, the movie became a surprise Academy darling last night, walking away with the top prize and Best Original Screenplay (for all of those trite situations).
How? Well, it is the kind of movie the Academy USED to love. Easy to like, easy to understand, doesn’t push any boundaries. But, in past years, the Oscars has started pushing boundaries. Started to acknowledge such films as The Shape of Water, Moonlight, and Birdman….films that are a little darker, a little more daring, a little more risky in both style and content. Though I liked Green Book quite a bit, I do see it as a step back for the Academy.
It is also a film mired in controversy. Not only the kind of controversy I speak of above. But, controversy of its content and accuracy (it’s based on a true story and one of the screenwriters is the son of the character Viggo Mortensen plays). Still, the Academy saw fit to vote this film as the top picture of the year, over such films as The Favourite, BlacKKKlansman, and the true “favourite” Roma.
Aside from this, most of the evening went as planned, with the notable and this time deserved exception of Olivia Colman winning Best Actress over favorite Glenn Close. This was a tough category for me. I loved Glenn Close in The Wife, which is one of her best performances. It most definitely is HER film. She’s the title character and by far the best thing in the film. She also has been nominated seven times, now with seven losses. Most critics and predictors thought this was her year, myself included. But, I loved Olivia Colman in The Favourite, though Colman’s performance is very much reliant on her costars, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. Let’s just say I would have been very happy with Glenn Close winning. But was delighted with Olivia Colman’s surprise win.
The show itself was quick, painless and worked well without a host….if anything, it seemed to make the show smoother and much more streamlined. Which, in my humble opinion, was the best and most welcome surprise of the evening.