Looking back at the Oscars

A review of the Best Motion Picture nominees

Braedyn Wasden

With award season over I gave my own personal opinions on the films nominated for the best picture.

# 9 Little Women, PG-13, Rating B

I don’t have much to say about Little Women while it was good and contained an all-star cast of actors including the overwhelmingly amazing Meryl Streep I just do not personally like stories like this. In a retelling of the often-read novel by the same name originally published in 1968, the film doesn’t stray far from the core plot. Instead, it mostly focuses on keeping genuine to the story while compacting it to the two-hour runtime and from what I gathered without reading the book, it does this rather well, so I commend director Greta Gerwig for staying true to the source martial. Another aspect I like is the chemistry between the actors, the sister’s relationship feels dynamic and the love story between the characters Jo and Laurie is also well-acted. While personally not my favorite I do understand why little women were nominated.

#8 Ford vs Ferrari, PG-13 Rating, B+

Telling the story of the 1966 race at Le Mans Ford vs. Ferrari is like the other semi-accurate retellings of famous events, it is just ok. The story itself is quite good but may have been just as good as a documentary, the only worthwhile aspects of the movie are the race scenes, which probably are best race scenes put to film filled with a great deal of petrol-fueled tension, and the lead actors Christan Bale and Matt Damon have a great deal of respect for these two men they are depicting, and it shows. Ford vs. Ferrari is worth the watch because of simply how interesting this real-life story is and how inspiring it is for anyone with a passion they wish to work for.

#7 1917, PG-13, Rating A-

Sam Mendes 1917 is a continuation of his rather successful career and with this latest film, he further develops his style by experimenting with the single shot. This method is used in other films such as Birdman and is accomplished by using extremely rigorous editing techniques to hide cuts in a scene. It used and near perfected in 1917 and greatly improves the tension of the insane WW1 environments. I felt engaged with the action and events because of how connected the camera was with the scene. Cinematographer Roger Deakins is one of my favorites in the business and much of the frames in 1917 are charged with his passion for making artful shots. As a fan of cinematography, I really enjoyed this film but as a writer, I felt the characters were lacking in anything really interesting, so when they are in danger I didn’t care.  Still, the technical achievements of 1917 can’t be ignored, and film lovers should see it for themselves.

#6 The Irishman, R, Rating A-

At a runtime of three hours and 30 minutes, The Irishman is a journey to watch and needs a good amount of commitment to get through. Starring Robert DeNiro and directed by Martin Scorsese this is not another mob story by these titans. Instead, it is an epic tale that also is a mob story. While not my favorite from Scorsese it was still excellent and felt like a culmination of all of his other mob stories to finish off an important chapter in this filmmaker’s career.

#5 Joker, R rating A-

With an outstanding performance by Joaquin Phoenix that without a doubt deserved the Oscar win for best actor, Joker is a stellar movie. The cinematography and color composition on screen is a joy to watch and meshes well with Phoenix’s performance however this movie falls short for me in some aspects of the story while many have framed it as gritty and rule shattering to me it just wasn’t that. It is a great film to watch but it does not accomplish anything all that special. It instead retreads ground already taken by other films such as Taxi Driver and the King of Comedy both also Robert De Niro films. I would still recommend the watch for an enjoyable I’ll be it bleak experience. It just to me it did not seem as new and unique as it could have been.

#4 Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, R rating A-

When I first saw Once Upon A Time in Hollywood in the theaters I was confused about where exactly it was going it takes beats off of another Tarantino film Pulp Fiction where it tells seemingly discontented stories with no clear message but instead include an overall feel present in all the individual parts. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does this same thing but achieves it arguably less effectively. However, because it is Tarantino it is rather excellent despite some of the bland characters that take up a good deal of screen time without really going anywhere and the two central roles played by Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are excellent to watch on screen.

#3 Marriage story, R rating A+

Marriage story is an uncomfortable movie to watch. Its story and the outstanding performance by the two leads feels almost too real. Watching these two people go through a rough and heart-wrenching divorce is very melancholic. Director Noah Baumbach gives both sides of the story in the divorce case you understand why both of these people are acting the way they are, and it makes it ten times sadder. However, it’s not all moody and gloomy. Noah Baumbach films this movie in an overall entertaining and engaging way this alongside the whimsical dialogue that gave me a warm fuzzy feeling that helped balance out the more emotionally rocky moments of the film. This film is a perfect character piece actors Scarlet Johansson and Adam Driver give the best performances of their careers and anyone with a Netflix account would be amiss to not watch this film.

#2 Jojo Rabbit, PG-13, Rating A+

Taika Waititi off of the success of his last film Thor: Ragnarok comes out strong with an instant satirical classic tackling the absurdity of Nazi Germany. Staring Roman Griffin Davis plays Jojo Betzler a young German boy who is fiercely loyal to the Third Riche during WW2. This type of the main character would not seem to be ideal for a comedy but Waititi unique wit works expertly in the world he has crafted where at one moment you may be watching an imaginary version of Hitler eating a unicorn than in the next scene be on the verge of tears. These tonal shifts heighten each moment, you never know what to expect. Originally Marriage story was going to be my number two but after some consideration, I decided Jojo Rabbit just resonated more with me than Marriage story. Waititi’s critique of nationalism and fascism worked well with me. Its absurdity juxtaposed with the harsh reality of WW2 Germany puts you in the eyes of Jojo. The audience can understand Jojo and why he is so fiercely loyal despite it not quite making sense and it made me think about the things I may be blindly loyal too if these things deserved my loyalty. Jojo Rabbit is extortionary funny so come for the laughs and stay for the deeper meaning.

#1 Parasite, R rating A+

With six nominations and four wins along with being the first foreign film to win best picture Parasite had a great deal of hype around it when I first saw it, but even with these high expectations I was still completely and utterly blown away. This is a film of the highest of calibers and it is expertly crafted by director Bong Joon Ho. This Korean tale of class struggles is told completely in the native tongue of both the actors and the director. Hardly any English is spoken on screen but at times I forget this just because how drawn in I was to the story. I often do not agree with many decisions made by the academy but in the case of Parasite, they made the right decision. I can truly say everybody should see this movie and should also see it without any information about it beforehand for the maximum viewing experience. Parasite is my favorite Oscar nomination and perhaps my favorite movie of the year.