The Oscar Project
Best Biography Film
Green Book is one of the most recent films on my list this year and it is fantastic. There is a reason this film won the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), and Best Original Screenplay a few years ago and was nominated for several others.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a perfect film by any stretch, but a great film doesn’t have to be perfect. There is plenty to quibble with in the film and its depiction of race in the Southern United States in the 1960s, but at the heart it is a story about two men from different worlds that come to understand and respect each other through a series of shared experiences.
If you don’t know the story, Ali stars as Dr. Don Shirley, a black pianist who is about to embark on a concert tour of the American Midwest and South. He hires Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) as his driver. The men start off as complete strangers, Shirley trying to get Tony to act with more refinement and class, while Tony makes some attempts to get Shirley to lighten up a bit and “live a little.”
As the trip wears on and the pair venture further into the Deep South, the attitudes towards a black man change and Tony starts to see how Shirley is treated. The final straw comes when Shirley is denied permission to eat dinner in the very dining room of a white country club that he has been hired to perform in that evening. Tony stands fully by Shirley’s side and begs the owners to relent on their rules and allow Shirley to dine with the white members.
While I don’t know much about the two men depicted in the film, I do love the actors that portrayed them. I have been a Mortensen fan since seeing him in G.I. Jane and of course his star turn as Aragon in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Ali has been a rising star as well, garnering his second Oscar for this role following his win for Moonlight several years ago. These two roles couldn’t be more different, so it’s wonderful to see the actor inhabit these drastically different characters.
Your favorite superhero film
There are so many films to choose from in this category, and thankfully the superhero genre has gone through a bit of a renaissance in the last decade or so. Many people credit Iron Man with updating the superhero films and bringing them a bit more into the mainstream, but I honestly think 2005’s Batman Begins set the stage even more.
When Christopher Nolan took over the Batman franchise, he placed it in a world that felt more real than anything else in superhero films of the past. There were some elements of fantasy at work, and Batman Begins is probably the most “comicbooky” of his three Dark Knight films, but it was a different way of looking at the character that many people enjoyed.
Fast forward to 2008 and the release of The Dark Knight. If you thought the story in Batman Begins was dark and gritty, Nolan took things to an entirely different level with his second installment. This film has it all. While the first film featured Bruce Wayne’s ascension into the role of Batman, while this featured him wrestling with the need to retain the Batman persona, while also running his millionaire empire. There is the love triangle of Bruce, Rachel and Harvey, whom we all know becomes Two Face. And there are the dual father figures of Michael Caine’s Alfred and Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox.
There are so many strings to pull on with this film, and I haven’t even mentioned Heath Ledger yet. One of the few actors to receive an acting Oscar posthumously, his work on this film was rightly praised. While Cesar Romero portrayed the Joker as a prankster in the 1960s Batman television show and Jack Nicholson turned Batman’s nemesis a bit darker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, it was Ledger who truly transformed the character into a sinister psychopath. It is a shame that he didn’t live to receive the acclaim for the role, but his Oscar is well deserved.
Ultimately, the story unfolds, and we discover, along with Bruce, that he and The Joker are two sides of the same coin. As throughout the comics, they almost can’t live without each other. While in prison, Ledger’s Joker even throws out a Jerry Maguire reference when he tells Batman, “You complete me.”
I had several films in my final grouping before selecting The Dark Knight as my favorite superhero film. Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse was an option, as was Logan, for very different reasons. Avengers: Endgame also landed near the top for the way it was able to pull together storylines from dozens of different characters and almost as many writers and directors into one grand finale. Even the first Iron Man and Thor: Ragnarok came to mind, but in the end, my choice was clear.
The Dark Knight is currently available on HBOMax.
Day 9 – A film you hate that everyone liked | Day 11 – A film you like from your least favorite genre
We're finally getting to some of the big categories here with my predictions of Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Don't forget to check out the previous prediction posts in my series to see all of my predictions and look for the last few posts with the Best Actress/Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture categories on Monday.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?