The Oscars are coming! Get prepared with me as I go through the nominees for Best Picture in this year's ceremony, showing you everything you should know before watching them:
"For those who can stomach it, it'll stay with you, for longer than you might like. I know it will stay with me" - Benjamin Lee, The Guardian
Anthony Hopkins plays Anthony, an 81 years old father who has dementia. He lives alone in an apartment in London and refuses to have someone taking care of him. His daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman), and Anthony start living difficult times as the symptoms of dementia get more frequent.
But I must say this isn’t all "The Father" is about. When I read the synopsis, I didn’t picture anything close to what it actually is. This French-British production, directed by Florian Zeller, could be summarized in four words or "symbols": A chicken dinner, a painting, a piece of a conversation, and a watch. And these words are gonna get to you if you watch this film, which shows, in my humble opinion, a way of sympathizing with people who are going through dementia episodes without being obvious. It’s a dive into the mind of an old and alone man, and it couldn’t be more successful in representing what it feels like to be confused.
David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi, and Philippe Carcassonne, Producers
Judas and The Black Messiah
“Judas and the Black Messiah represents a disciplined, impassioned effort to bring clarity to a volatile moment” - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
William O'Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) is arrested as he is trying to steal a car using a fake FBI badge. But, instead of going to jail, the FBI offers a proposal: To infiltrate into the Black Panthers and give the police privileged information about the group and its leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya).
This “biographical” American movie, directed by Shaka King, shows the Black Panthers and their militancy, as they talk about carrying firearms but also having free medical clinics and breakfasts for kids in their community. Movies are not a reflection of history itself, but it sure brings, in a fun way, part of the truth, or at least, in this case, the truth from the eyes of a Judas. The performances of Lakeith and Daniel already make the film worth watching, but know that it is much, much more.
Shaka King, Charles D. King, and Ryan Coogler, Producers
“'Mank' Is A Lushly Rendered Cinematic Landscape” - Aisha Harris, NPR
David Fisher’s "Mank" follows the steps of Herman J Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), the screenwriter of "Citizen Kane" (1941). It dives into the film productions, film-making, and big corporations around the cinema industry, addressing a time, an aesthetic, and the cinematography of the epoch.
The production has beautiful photography. The colors and visual techniques used made the film a portrait of the late ’30s and ’40s. It’s non-linearly, with a big amount of flashbacks, and the sound and music that brings us back to the epoch. If you like the feeling of an old black and white movie, you should check on "Mank".
Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth, and Douglas Urbanski, Producers
“'Minari' is a gentle, lovely picture, one that acknowledges there really is no “immigrant experience,” beyond the purely human experience of finding yourself adjusting to a new environment.” - Stephanie Zacharek, Time
The movie begins with change. A Korean family is migrating to Arkansas to live on a trailer and run a farm. Monica, the mom (Yeri Han), doesn't seem very happy with the situation, especially because their son (Alan Kim) was born with a heart murmur. Meanwhile, Jacob, the father (Steven Yeun), seems hopeful they will grow a bright future there.
With the amazing performance of the entire cast, the movie directed by Lee Isaac Chung is somehow close to the storytelling technique mostly found in animes, called slice of life: It’s a piece of the life of these characters, with everyday experiences, but at the same time with deep meanings. "Minari" explores the roots of a family and the roots that keep them together.
Christina Oh, Producer
“It is a gentle, compassionate, questioning film about the American soul.” - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
A funny and free middle-aged woman called Fern (Frances McDormand) finds herself no longer with a job, a husband, or a home as soon as the movie starts. She only has a van and the will to live her life the way she wants. Between fiction and documentary, Chloé Zhao, the director, opens up space for nonprofessional actors, as some of them are real nomads.
For those who are unsettled, this is a movie about the trip and not the arrival. It’s about the view and not the picture. It’s the drawing of a group, of the comes and goes in life. It’s a portrait of what it feels like to hit the road and never go back.
Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, and Chloé Zhao, Producers
Promising Young Woman
“This exquisite yet troubling film is a psychological drama inside a revenge fantasy inside a rom-com”- Alexandra Pollard, Independent
Take her home and take your chances. Cassie (Carey Mulligan) has a mission: avenge her friend, Nina, who was raped years later when they were in med school. Now Cassie spends her night at clubs and parties pretending to be drunk and allowing men to take her to their homes. There, she reveals her sobriety when they try to take advantage - which happens every time.
The movie, directed by Emerald Fennell, is captivating. The story is divided into five parts, and the perspicacity with which this is done leaves the public amazed, with a feeling of anger but also satisfaction. By the way, Satisfaction, the song by Rolling Stones could be easily added at the end of the movie - even if it seems too obvious or cliche. Fennell’s work got close to perfection, but she certainly had the help of Carey Mulligan, who did an amazing job giving life to Cassie and her revenge desires.
Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell, and Josey McNamara, Producers
Sound of Metal
“At no point does he let you forget this is a film about the sensation of sound, from the ever-present subtitles to the constant switching between audio POVs: complete silence, natural sound, distorted interference.” - Will Gompertz, BBC
A musician that starts going deaf. Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed) is a drummer in metal and heavy rock band. Along with his girlfriend, Lou (Olivia Cooke), they drive around the US on a never-ending tour, hoping that one day they will record an album. But, when the music stops for him, it’s like everything Ruben knows doesn't exist anymore. Now it’s all silence and noise.
For sure, the peak of this movie, together with the acting, is the sound. No wonder it was also nominated for Best Sound at the Oscars. And I must say how curious it is the use of the word metal. Along with the movie poster, it has a meaning related to music, after all, Ruben plays metal. But, when we watch the movie, it can mean something else: (*SPOILER ALERT*) the sound of a hearing aid.
Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche, Producers
The Trial of the Chicago 7
“Aaron Sorkin’s electrifying dramatization of the trial of a group of 60s radicals illuminates issues that still trouble America” - Wendy Ide, The Guardian
"The Trial of the Chicago 7" brings back the protests at the Democratic National Convention, in 1968, and the seven protestants that were charged by the United States of America with crimes like conspiracy and inciting a riot.
One of the main focuses of this film, directed by Aaron Sorkin, is the speeches. It may look a little tiring and fake, once the speeches are everywhere, all the time, but those are the great moments of this movie because it expresses the time of counterculture in the '60s and makes us think "why not try this again?". Dressing all those actors like hippies and making them hold signs and do speeches could fall into a cliche we’ve already watched, but it somehow works and makes the public cheer and fear for everyone.
Marc Platt and Stuart Besser, Producers
The article above was edited by Giulia Gianolla
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