oscars week chapter 2: reviewing all 9 best picture nominees

The Oscars are now less than a week away, and voting has officially ended as of recently. So, in the second instalment of Not So Eloquent Emma’s Oscars Week, i’m going to be doing mini reviews on all 9 best picture nominees. I also did a list of 5 films you should try and watch before the big night so if you haven’t seen anything, check that out. Though I hope this post will encourage you to watch some of the nominated films you maybe wouldn’t think to. While it is also just to share my honest opinions on some of the best movies that came out this year.

this list is the order in which the films were posted on this article of the Oscar nominees and is not in order of personal preference

Ford v Ferrari (dir. James Mangold)

Ford v Ferrari is a film I would usually have absolutely no interest in. It’s about cars? And the guys that make them and drive them? Yeah, you lost me at cars. Although, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised. The scenes of Christian Bale’s character driving are both exhilarating and nerve wracking. There are moments when it felt a bit too much and a bit melodramatic, but for the most part I found it to be engaging – which is impressive. That being said, when I think of it against all the other movies that have been released this year Ford v Ferrari is just meh. It looks great, and it sounds great, but the story itself is just okay. It tells the story of the friendship between these two men (I wish the title was much more related to them instead of the companies to be honest). Although, against all the other movies nominated this year this is definitely the one i care about the least, and can’t help but wish that a different movie — like Lulu Wang’s The Farewell– was here instead.

The Irishman (dir. Martin Scorsese)

I talked about The Irishman in my last post, though I will try to go a bit more in depth about my actual thoughts on the film. First of all, while it may be long—It doesn’t feel like it is. And, I think the runtime is completely necessary for the story it tells. And the story that it tells at first feels like the typical epic Scorsese crime drama. Although, near the end it turns into a very sad and emotional story of a man and the many mistakes he took in his life, and the regret he has for overlooking his family so often. Scorsese has also talked about the difficulty he had just being able to make this film (which is crazy to think because he is martin-freaking-scorsese). And how it was, in a way, a passion project for him and Robert De Niro – and then when you put the two of them together alongside Al Pacino AND Joe Pesci (who literally came out of retirement for this) I can’t help but take that into account while watching. But yes, to a certain extent most of this films praise and nominations are due to the legacy that is this cast and crew. But in my opinion I think this is one of Scorsese’s most overall ambitious films, and I think he executed it very well.

JoJo Rabbit (dir. Taika Waititi)

If you told me that one of the 9 best picture nominees would have a kooky Hitler as a supporting character AND that it would be one of my favourite movies of the year – I don’t think I’d believe you. But alas, JoJo Rabbit exists. Inspired by the book Caging Skies, This story follows 10 year old JoJo, a kid in the Hitler Youth Program with Hitler as an imaginary friend – oh and it’s a comedy. Also, Hitler is played by the writer/director Taika Waititi – who is of Jewish and Māori descent – so perfect casting in my opinion. I think this is one of the most important films released this year, though I’ve seen many dismiss it based solely on its subject matter. Waititi is able to tell a story that is incredibly sweet, funny, and devastating. Told through the perspective of a child that just wants to fit in with those around him, it shows often children are indoctrinated and the dangers of it. As well as how hate is taught and passed down in a society. And I really encourage anyone who is a bit iffy on the story to at least watch it before forming an opinion.

Joker (dir. Todd Phillips)

Now while JoJo Rabbit has its own individual controversies, so does Joker. I have a lot of difficulty talking about this movie – and that’s mainly because of the very extreme responses it garners from people. I have very meh feelings about this film. I like parts of it, yet i also really don’t like parts. To me, the main thing is that it has been ridiculously overhyped. Putting a new spin on the origin story of the most well-known Batman villain – The Joker – this movie puts this character in front of a gritty 1980s feeling backdrop, making it a mix of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Arthur Fleck is a struggling comedian/clown for hire who is bullied and hated by those around him and the society he lives in. This film tries to deal with a lot of things, but I just don’t feel like they did it the best that they could. Like I said, I have trouble talking about this film because I have a lot of mixed feelings – one of the best reviews I’ve read is this one from a film review site I read a lot. But for the most part the best word I can think of for this movie is messy. The story is messy, the characters are messy, and the message is messy. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it is – especially with the subject matter that they are working with.

Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig)

Now while I said that I find Joker to be one of the hardest movies to talk about, Little Women is definitely one of the easiest for me. I’ll first start by saying I’ve seen it 3 times, so yes, I really like it. I’m sure you know what Little Women is – it’s the story of the March sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy) growing up during the American Civil war. The book by Louisa May Alcott is 150 years old, and there a literally 7 film adaptations (not to mention a couple stage and TV adaptations too). But I think Greta Gerwig was able to make this story completely fresh and made it feel modern without actually modernizing it. She folds the timeline in half, going back and forth between childhood and adulthood. And she also melds the world of fiction and reality, changing certain aspects of the story to make the main character of Jo feel as though she is Alcott herself, and that the book she is writing in the story is Little Women. This is a film I think anyone can admire, even if they are not a little woman living in the 1800s, and I don’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone (and force all my friends to watch it as well).

Marriage Story (dir. Noah Baumbach)

Much like Little Women, I really adore this film. It might be because I love Noah Baumbach and Noah Baumbach’s writing – and it might also be because I love Adam Driver and Adam Driver’s acting (which is superb in this). But I really do think it is because this is a beautiful movie. Telling the story of a bi-coastal divorce between an actress and off-Broadway director all while fighting for custody of their young son, this movie is clearly rooted in the personal experiences Baumbach had with his own divorce. And that to me makes it all the more real and personal – without feeling like a weird self-insert story. This movie is also somehow hilarious and also heart breaking, telling a love story through divorce. It’s actually a reverse love story if you think about it, and I can’t listen to “Being Alive” from the Broadway musical Company without crying and thinking about Adam Driver signing it.

1917 (dir. Sam Mendes)

To me, 1917, is technically speaking an amazing film. Filmed and edited to look as though it is in one shot (I’d actually say 2 very long shots, but whatever watch it and create your own opinion). The direction is something clearly well thought out and planned and arranged, and the cinematography is beautiful. Although the one thing I find lacking is the actual story. We aren’t able to really get to know or understand the characters, who they are, where they come from, or even how well they know one another (I honestly couldn’t really tell if they were good friends or not, but maybe that’s just me). To me that is one of the few flaws of the whole film. It can at times feel boring, but I will also admit I don’t usually find myself that enthused by war films. I am also quick to notice war films that starts to cross the line on becoming an action film – which I think glorifies to the war and the actual situations people had to try and live through. There a couple moments in this film where I felt it began to cross that line, and moments where I didn’t even feel like we were in the middle of a war. So, while I think this is a visually beautiful film, I find it to falls short with it’s overall story.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (dir. Quentin Tarantino)

This movie tells the story of dwindling actor Rick Dalton and his best friend/stunt man Cliff Booth. Although it also takes place during the 1960s and during the rise of the Manson family – and Rick Dalton is next-door neighbours to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. If you don’t know anything about the Manson family murders, or Sharon Tate for that matter, I would suggest doing a little bit of research before seeing this movie (don’t worry it won’t spoil you, and also for the most part Sharon Tate’s horridly unfortunate murder is common knowledge). Tarantino has the ability to create stories inside worlds and other stories that have already been told. Once Upon a Time… is no different, and like the title suggest it feels like a fairytale. While most of this movie is slow and monotonous, everything is worth it for the last 30 minutes. Both Leonardo DiCaprio (Dalton) and Brad Pitt (Booth) are amazing in this movie, as is Margot Robbie in her small but important role as Sharon Tate. And if you love old Hollywood you’ll love this movie. But also, just remember how bloody Tarantino movies can get… because one isn’t an exception.

Parasite (dir. Bong Joon Ho)

And last, but certainly not least – Parasite. Now the only problem I have with writing a review for this film is that I want whoever watches it to go in knowing NOTHING. If you watch this I want you to have no expectations, no idea what it is going to be about, and no idea what the themes and overall message of the story is. What I will say is that it is about a boy who gets a job tutoring a daughter of a very wealthy family, and both him and his entire family become roped into something much more. I will also say that I really loved this film, and I think it should win best picture… but like I said, I really don’t want to say too much.

whew! that was definitely more difficult than I thought it would be, but there we have it! 9 some-what-mini reviews of the 9 films nominated for Best Picture at this years Academy Awards (which air this Sunday!) I will hopefully be posting my Oscar predictions post very soon, as well as my top 10 films of 2019 within the next week — so keep your eyes peeled for those posts coming soon!

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