Yeah, this happened. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Yeah, this happened. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Oscars, you’ve really stuffed up this year

COMMENT

What the hell, Oscars?!

We don't always agree - in fact, we usually don't. But sometimes you make the strangest, most infuriating choices, I have to wonder: Are you drunk?!

With a voting body in the thousands, I'm not saying every single one of you was under some of sort of bourbon-induced stupor, but a fair chunk of you must have been. Surely.

In 2019, the Oscars has chosen to give its highest honour - Best Picture - to a movie that could be described as naive at best, and racist by the rest.

Green Book, a crowd-pleasing movie about a talented African-American musician, Don Shirley, was told solely from the perspective of his racist white chauffeur Tony Vallelonga, partly because Vallelonga's son Nick is a co-writer.

On the surface, it's a nice movie about a white man learning that black people are "not that different". Yay! Racism solved! Everyone hug now, please.

 

Viggo Mortensen (Tony Lip) and Mahershala Ali (Dr Don Shirley) star in Green Book.
Viggo Mortensen (Tony Lip) and Mahershala Ali (Dr Don Shirley) star in Green Book.

 

But think about it, even a little, and you realise how problematic a movie this is, featuring, no less, a jaw-dropping scene of Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley being taught to eat fried chicken in the back of a car.

When Driving Miss Daisy won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1989 for a movie with a similar, sentimentalised tone about "the way things were", it was denounced as regressive and there to make white people feel better about racism. In 30 years, not much has changed.

And let's not forget that Nick Vallelonga is now personally an Oscar winner, having picked up the gong in Original Screenplay.

This is a man who, only four years ago, tweeted that Donald Trump was 100 per cent correct and that he too saw Muslims cheering on 9/11 when the Twin Towers were attacked.

That man should not be given an Oscar. But then Donald Trump was given the presidency, so maybe that's just how things go now.

That Original Screenplay award should have gone to The Favourite with its bitingly perfect script.

Green Book's win is all the more offensive given two of its seven competitors in the Best Picture race this year were black stories that tapped into this current moment with the kind of rage and injustice that are much more reflective: Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman.

When Green Book was announced by Julia Roberts, BlacKkKlansman director and co-writer Spike Lee reportedly waived his hand in disgust and tried to walk out of the theatre.

His movie may have just lost the Best Picture award but you know a Black Panther or Roma or anything else win wouldn't have prompted the same reaction.

 

Backstage, Lee said he thought he "was courtside at the Garden - the ref made a bad call".

Jordan Peele, who made last year's Get Out, was spotted declining to clap for a Green Book win.

Just watching the Green Book-ers gathered on stage, it was pretty glaring that save for Ali, producer Octavia Spencer and two other people, it was a lot of white men.

Oh, and director Peter Farrelly thanked star Viggo Mortensen, saying it all started with him. Not a single word about Victor Hugo Green, the man who created the actual Green Book - a motorists' guide for African-Americans travelling through the segregated south.

A book that was necessary so that African-Americans wouldn't be killed for walking through the "wrong" door.

Green Book and the people who voted for it wants credit for having noticed that black people were treated badly in the 1960s. Yeah, sure - well done, you.

 

 

 

For all the hoopla the Oscars has made about expanding its voting body so it would be more diverse, culturally, gender-wise and generationally, it's clear that a large chunk of its membership are still pale, male and stale.

Now, if Green Book's Best Picture win was the only shocker of the evening, it would almost be OK. But it capped off a night of ridiculous trophies.

I mean, for about 20 seconds, I was actually relieved Green Book had won Best Picture - anything to keep Bohemian Rhapsody from a sweep - but then the rage flooded in.

Bohemian Rhapsody - a blockbuster beloved by Baby Boomers with too much money and too much time, but that is creatively mediocre at best - looked on track to pull off a surprise victory in Best Picture after winning FOUR out of FOUR of its other nominations.

 

Um, Bohemian Rhapsody won the most Oscars today … OK.Photo Credit: Alex Bailey.
Um, Bohemian Rhapsody won the most Oscars today … OK.Photo Credit: Alex Bailey.

 

Yes, I've ranted about Bohemian Rhapsody's inclusion in awards season before, so I won't bore you again, but it's here if you want to read that particular tirade.

As it is, on numbers alone, Bohemian Rhapsody is the most successful movie out of the Oscars with its four gongs, compared to three each for Roma, Green Book and Black Panther. That's insane.

BoRhap's two gongs for sound design and sound mixing are disappointing - should've gone to First Man - but nothing too taxing.

I guess it is impressive that the movie recorded each individual clap to create the crowd applauding, but seriously, did the voters just go, "Oh, that movie has music, and I love Queen, so, yeah! Sound awards!"?

How it picked up the award for editing is a total mystery. Maybe now you get an Oscar for just having to piece together a movie from two directors after the first director - alleged paedophile Bryan Singer - was sacked for bad behaviour.

Never mind that its editing was actually choppy and could give you whiplash if you're not too careful.

 

I have to put in a word for Bradley Cooper, who was robbed (ROBBED!) of his Best Actor gong.

A Star is Born is not perfect and its second half was definitely flawed, but Cooper created an actual performance, one that is nuanced and pained, instead of relying on mimicry.

Cooper should've been a much stronger contender.

For that matter, so should've been Willem Dafoe, whose role in At Eternity's Gate was easily the second best performance in the category.

To call the 2019 Oscars a mixed bag is an understatement. There were genuinely excellent choices - Olivia Colman for The Favourite, Spike Lee's Adapted Screenplay award for BlacKkKlansman, Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk, women of colour Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler for Black Panther.

But like Crash and Driving Miss Daisy before it, the Oscars picking Green Book as its pinnacle will not be remembered kindly by history.


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