“Green Book” wins Best Picture and the World is Coming to an End

oscar3People are still working themselves into a tizzy of outrage over who winds up winning Hollywood’s annual popularity contest and laughably inaccurate recognition of cinematic excellence.

Spike Lee reminds us that he hasn’t mellowed with age, taking all the acceptance speech time from the other winning writers for his multi-handed script Oscar for “BlackKklansman,” trying to storm out of the Kodak Theater when “Green Book” wins best picture and unloading on the movie to one and all when he loses.

Classy. Petulant, privileged and same old prickly bantam rooster, Spike.

I was rooting for a “BlackKklansman” upset and for Spike to get his due as best director. But all he did was remind me of the many times we’ve spoken in interviews, which sometimes went pleasantly and often did not due to his awful mood.

Justin Chang unloads in the Los Angeles Times that “Green Book” is the “worst Oscar winner since ‘Crash.'”

He forgot last year, but never mind.

Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan exchange “sideeyes” over “Green Book” winning Best Picture. So?

And on and on it goes. Over an award handed out by a vastly expanded and more diverse Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which still gets it wrong and pretty much always has. Same old Oscars.

But I think Chang accidentally hit on something pertinent to the whole argument. What do “Crash” and “Green Book” have in common? As I said in my review of “Green Book,” it’s “cinematic comfort food for the holidays.” “Crash” had that going for it, too. Optimism.

Comforting to whom? The vast majority of moviegoers, who want to feel good, even if the ugly truth is given a fresh coat of assuaged guilt, would be the answer.

“Crash,” manipulative as it was, covering a range of LA experiences re: race and crime and a roiled populace, was in the end, on the upbeat side. Good performances by Cheadle and others, a brittle turn by Bullock — and the film’s win was universally ridiculed.

“Crash,” like “Green Book,” made the viewer “feel” something. That’s the biggest thing they have in common. Anybody “feel” anything over the death in “A Star is Born,” over the life of privilege contrasted with powerlessness in “Roma,” “The Favourite” or “BlackKklansman?”

No? Then there’s my point.

Perhaps the only “worse” outcome this year would have been a “Bohemian Rhapsody” Best Picture win.

Seeing Javier Bardem joyously singing and dancing to “We Will Rock You” in the show’s opening number was THE telling moment of this year’s Academy Awards. “Bohemian Rhapsody” made Queen fans feel the way their songs and concert performances used to make us feel. Despicable director, lip-syncing star and all, it had that going for it.

Mahershala Ali seemed to be carrying the weight of “Green Book’s” vigorous social media, and yes “social justice warrior” beatdowns during his Best Supporting acceptance speech — stammering, at a loss for words, guilt-ridden. He didn’t have to accept the nomination, and he read the script. He didn’t have to accept the role.

But he saw something ennobling in the enterprise, the characterizations. As did Viggo Mortensen. They took a flier on Peter Farrelly being able to pull this off, and delivered a winner.

Farrelly? The second most classless performance by a director on Oscar night — ego tripping when he could have made the case for what “Green Book” actually is, what their intentions were, and defused a lot of this hatred. Nope. Read a laundry list of people nobody knows, crack a joke or two, make it all about “me.”

“Green Book” wasn’t the best picture of 2018. You could make the case for “First Reformed,” “Leave No Trace” or “The Favourite.” There were others that could have been nominated.

The rallying around “Roma” and “Black Panther” was misguided and tone deaf and created false expectations for middling movies. That sideeye, Chadwick, was ridic. Your comic book movie, as on-the-nose in its uplift as “Green Book,” deathly dull dialogue and triumphalist pose and all, didn’t deserve a nomination.

Chadwick Boseman’s been better in most every film I’ve seen him in, including the more moving, thrilling and problematic “Get on Up,” which should have been a Best Picture and Best Actor contender years back.

Oscar and the critics’ groups which delight in their “Oscar influence” got that wrong, too.

People remember “The Right Stuff,” “The Martian,” “Being There,” “Dunkirk,” “Loving,” “Get On Up,” “All is Lost” (a personal favorite) even if not everybody remembers which film the Academy voted into Oscar glory.

Who remembers “The Greatest Show on Earth,” which my friend Matt Olien labels “the worst Best Picture winner ever?” Snobs may smirk at “Dances With Wolves,” but there’s a reason it turns on TV constantly. “Do the Right Thing” might have been Spike Lee’s best picture, but with “Field of Dreams” and “Dead Poets Society” up against it, was he “robbed?”

Give it a few years, see if anybody’s still griping about how “Black Panther” was robbed after its formulaic twist on comic book “alternate history” has a sequel or two under its belt and its shortcomings (indifferent performances, cut and paste script, etc.) become obvious even to the oxygen deprived.

“Roma” is already forgotten, save by those who’ve never bothered to watch black and white Fellini classics which were its inspiration.

But the outrage over this Oscars goes on — trolling every moment of the telecast.

Rami Malek lets slip that Freddie Mercury was a “gay man” and Twitter explodes. The character went from being not gay enough for “Bohemian Rhapsody” to not stir up outrage, to its Oscar winning star taking heat for not covering all the nuances in Mercury’s bisexuality (married) in an acceptance speech.

A critic I don’t know had the most hilarious take-down of Malek on Twitter. Alonso Duralde urged Twitter users to “watch ‘Get On Up'” if you want to see a musical biopic in which the star (Chadwick Boseman, whom fanboys know can do no wrong) “did his own singing.”

Judas Priest, man. Are you blind and deaf? Any fool could tell Boseman wasn’t singing there, that was lip-syncing to the one-and-only James Brown. But even so, LOOK IT UP.

It’s enough to make you miss the days when Oscars were handed out pre-Twitter, when just you and your friends could fume over “The English Patient” or Dustin Hoffman winning for “Kramer vs. Kramer” while Peter Sellers went to his grave without an Academy Award.

Yeah, they vote on these awards and yes, they always get it wrong. Pretty much always, anyway.

 

 

 

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1 Response to “Green Book” wins Best Picture and the World is Coming to an End

  1. Keith says:

    This is so spot-on! The ire in Twitter-Land over “Green Book” winning BP is silly. First, it’s far from a bad movie. Certainly not the best of 2019, but certainly not bad. And second, are people STILL expecting the Oscars to get BP right? I would argue they haven’t done that since 2007. But some people seem to enjoy being outraged.

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