So who should be awarded the Academy Award for Best Picture? Not saying will – here we are discussing the much more personal should. A word of warning – the “s” word will not be used here. You can’t really say a movie was s—- (rhymes with flubbed) by voters of a private club. The sole criteria for Oscar voting is however they happen to feel like voting. These Hollywood insiders can and do what they want, and we all stay up late to watch. Gotta love it.
Less elite a group – but possibly more genuinely enthusiastic – is the faithful gang at Pop Culture Beast. Each of us has gone back and forth and back again trying to decide who should be the winner this year.
Eight of a possible 10 – but here’s some more
Were we happy with our options? Did the “s” work get tossed around? No and yes – a lot of the gang wanted to see the Academy flesh out the list of Best Picture nominees from eight to 10. Possibly slotting into those
two remaining positions could have been, in our various but overlapping opinions: If Beale Street Could Talk, Eighth Grade, Mary Poppins, Hereditary, You Were Never Really Here (two takes on that Joaquin Phoenix film here), Paddington 2 or Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Instead we got:
A Star Is Born
So, focusing simply on the biggest category of them all, the staff ranked the films from top to bottom, and here’s our thoughts on what should – not necessarily what will – win the Oscar.
PCB Staff give their picks for Best Picture Oscars 2019
Justin Remer – The Favourite
While The Favourite is too quirky to actually win, it’s the best acted and most creative film out of the batch of nominees. I won’t be heartbroken if (/when) it loses. The newest version of A Star Is Born is probably the most entertaining version of that oft-retold showbiz story so far, and Black Panther is the crowd pleaser of the year, so consider them close seconds. That said, even though I didn’t love Roma, I’d be happy to see it take the prize — as a dark horse victory for unusual, personal filmmaking.
Kyle Dodson – The Favourite
I found the list to be relatively lackluster, especially since they only used eight of the 10 slots for nominations. Although not the best superhero movie this year, Black Panther is full of representation and has a clear message about colonization and culture. It also will force superhero movies to step up in the future and paints them as legitimate films that the Academy refuses to recognize. However, I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Favourite. I think this bodes well for more independent films that take a risk to tell an offbeat story, but can still snag a wide release (similar to last year’s The Shape of Water).
Ayana Taylor-Johnson – Green Book
A child of a poor immigrant who worked as a cleaning lady (love you, mum), so I am supposed to love Roma, but it reminded me of French and Italian art films from the 60s that I was supposed to love, too. It almost got my lowest vote – just nothing going. I also did not give my tops to Spike Lee – BlackkKlansman was more fun than it had to be, which was nice, and had top man, Harry Belafonte, but was clownish. Best Picture for me was Green Book. This movie set me on edge and made me care what happened. I fancy Mahershala Ali and each moment he quietly clenched his jaw was worth ten minutes of anything brother Spike has done in the last fifteen years.
Garon Cockrell – The Favourite
I genuinely do not understand the praise for BlackkKlansman. Performances aside, which are great, it’s an on-the-nose snooze without a stitch of sublety. Why The Favourite? It’s nearly flawless and is a surreal, funny, brilliantly crafted and gorgeously-acted film. The three main performances are elegant, dark, funny, and masterful. It is far and away better than the rest of the films on this list.
Pat Francis – Green Book
Roma was beautifully boring. If you like close-up shots of wet dog poop (not a metaphor) and a story in which virtually nothing happens then this movie is for you. Plus you shouldn’t be able to submit as Best Picture AND Best Foreign Language film! That’s
double dipping and not fair. I voted for Green Book. This was the last film I saw because to be honest I thought it was going to be schmaltzy. Don’t get me wrong, this film is the most “movie-movie” of the bunch but it works on every level. It was funny, sad and uplifting. Was this a popcorn movie? Sure but for me this had all the elements of a Best Picture with out being heavy handed. Green Book tells a wonderful story of two men finding friendship, honor and trust at a time when society was telling them that they couldn’t possibly be friends. Viggo Mortensen packed on the pounds for this role but he also added a character with heart, and it doesn’t get better than Mahershala Ali.
Martina O’Boyle – Green Book
Full disclosure, I fell asleep during Vice, but it was very late, the seats were very comfy and there had been a lot of wine… so it could have been mind-blowing, instead of fourteen-dollars-blowing, for all I know. I based my Best Picture choice on the movie that surprised me the most and had me thinking the next day. That would have been Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but as discussed above, it ain’t on the menu, so, going on my stated criteria, it was between A Star is Born and Green Book. I think Bradley did a great job in the quiet moments of A Star, but he let the scenes go on… and on… the shopping trip for frozen peas happened in real time. I had to vote Green Book. Not because Viggo went out of his way to make himself unshaggable, not because I believed every minute Mahershala was on screen, but because the most cliche of endings – can they make it home for Christmas – seemed fresh, and I cared.
Aaron Conn – A Star is Born
Yes, I ranked a remake at the #1 spot. When it comes to the films of Spike Lee, they can be best described as “hit or miss” and with BlacKkKlansman, this is certainly a hit, but A Star Is Born remains my favorite movie from last year. I’ll admit: I thought this movie would flop badly. Why tell a story that’s been told three times before (four times if you count What Price Hollywood). Because Bradley Cooper’s movie is a nice modern day version of the story. Many will compare Cooper’s take to the 1976 version starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, as that version also tackled the contemporary at the time music world. Coming from someone who couldn’t finish the 1976 movie due to its pacing, this new version is consistently entertaining. While it probably shouldn’t have been nominated for Best Picture, it remains my favorite movie from 2018.
Opinions on Best (and some worst) of the eight differed, but let’s just say Vice did not make a strong showing around the PCB watercooler. With an extra point given to the top choice and the bottom two thrown out, the ultimate winner was…
So there you have it – The Favourite. Enjoy watching the ceremony on February 24th, and keep checking in with Pop Culture Beast for news on and reviews of movies big and small.