I love movies. It is such a treat to be able to go to a theater and be transported to a different world for two hours. My personal preference is for movies that tell a good human story of transition or redemption or courage. I am not fan of fantasy or comic book movies unless they contain a meaningful story about people.
This years crop of pictures nominated for best picture was not as strong as some years. But here is my take on the seven of the nine that I saw. I have given each one a grade. That is obviously a very subjective assessment. Others will disagree with my take. That’s fine. I hope you will let me know your take. This is the order in which I saw these films.
This movie is set during the First World War. But it is not essentially about the war. It gives us a sense of the ugliness and absurdity of war and it’s inhumanity, But it is really the story of two men who show courage and loyalty and perseverance in terrible conditions. I came to care about these men. The acting was very good. The film was shot in such a way that you felt the starkness of the trenches and battlefields. It could have been best picture. A-
This was a beautifully made movie. The screen writer did an excellent job of making this old story seem fresh and relevant to today. The character of Jo symbolized the struggle for women to be taken seriously in their own right. Overcoming obstacles is still a part of any women’s life who wants to achieve something other than being married. It was not a big film. But it was worth seeing. B-
FORD VERSES FERRARI
I went to see this picture with low expectations. I am not into race cars. I thought this might be about that. It was not. The race track was just the setting to tell the story of friendship and perseverance and courage. It had a way of building suspense in the race scenes. But the strength of the movie was the character portrayals. The acting was very good. The characters were believable and not over-played. I did not know until the end that this was a true story. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Even though it was not given much of a chance, I could have accepted this one as best picture. A
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
This got a lot of publicity. I thought it was a stinker. It was the worst of the seven I saw. I think Tarantino is an overrated movie maker. He should have hired an editor. It was two and a half hours long. There were scenes of Brad Pitt driving that lasted for more than tree minutes and added nothing to the story. Brad won a best Supporting Actor Award. I don’t see it. I thought the acting in general was stiff and artificial. DiCaprio was even worse. The story dragged. It wreaked of Hollywood self-importance. The only redeeming factor was the creative twist in the Manson murders story. Best picture? This turd burger? No way. D
What an intense film. It was not fun to watch, Some movies are worth seeing even when they are difficult to watch. The value of the film rests on the performance of Joaquin Phoenix as the demented title character. His descent into madness while the world’s cruelty and indifference pushes him farther and farther into psychosis is a sad reflection on reality. Phoenix is kind of a goofball. But there was no denying that this was the best performance of the year. The setting in comic book land was not a plus. This was and is a real story for too many broken people in our world. This is a film worth seeing. A-
The win for best picture was a shock. I thought it was a good movie. I don’t mind the sub-titles though it does distract from the visuals of the film. It’s a story about class struggle. A poor family has the resolve and cleverness to survive. They latch on to a rich family who is portrayed as being clueless. It is definitely a tragic story that is all too real, whether in South Korea or in the U.S. I happen to think it was a little overrated. But still a good film. B
JO JO RABBIT
In some ways we saved the best for last. The boldness of presenting comedy in the midst of the terrible last days of the Second Word War in Germany was impressive. The 10 year old boy wants to fit in, So he strives to be a little Nazi. This same thing can be seen in the lives of those who join white nationalist groups or Neo Nazi groups. They want to fit in somewhere. The boy in the movie has Adolf Hitler as his imaginary friend. The director plays the part of Hitler with enough clownishness to let us know that this is not a tribute. It turns out that it is not really a comedy at all. It shows us the redemptive change in the boy. His bias is overcome with a human relationship with a Jewish girl. The acting was first rate. The story was well told. There are sad moments. You could laugh and cry and think all at the same movie. This would have been my pick for best picture. A
There were two other films that I saw this past year that did not get nominated. One was Yesterday. What a creative story. The other was Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It was a quiet human interest story about the redemption of one man and the amazing quality of grace in Fred Rodgers. Either of these pictures could have been considered as best of the year.
Let me know what your favorites were.