Film Reviews by Ben Silverman '20
Release date: November 21, 2018
Green Book, released November 21st and directed by Peter Farrelly, is praised as one of the best films of the year. In fact, it was nominated for 5 Academy Awards: Best Film Editing, Best Actor (Viggo Mortensen), Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Original Screenplay, and the kicker a Best Picture nomination. And it’s likely going to win almost all of those categories. Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, does an excellent job and plays his part perfectly and completely deserves the Best Actor award. Mahershala Ali, playing the most involved supporting actor that I’ve seen in a while, does an excellent job playing his character. I’ll expand on these more, but the real question is whether or not Green Book can stand up to the other nominees for Best Picture. Does the excellent portrayal of racial divide stand up against arguably the best rock band to exist (Bohemian Rhapsody) , an excellent political commentary on the reign of Vice President Dick Cheney (Vice) or the introduction to a new Marvel hero (Black Panther)?
Green Book portrays a piano player, Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali), on a tour through the deep south. His driver and bodyguard, Tony Lip (played by Viggo Mortensen), is a working class old school Italian from New York. Tony is a perfect cliche of an old school Brooklyn man. He’s tough, Italian, can eat, is somewhat racist and basically illiterate. The contrast painted between a black upper class, rich, well known musician and a tough, working class Italian, is shown excellently throughout the entire movie.
The award of Best Picture is a highly subjective one. It is exactly why the Oscars introduced “Most Popular”. There is a fine line between the most popular film of the year and the best film of the year. Infinity War might win Most Popular at The Oscars, but it would never win Best Picture. Best Picture takes a look at the filmography, directing, script, casting, framing, cinematography, reviews, advertising, trailer releases, cast reception to the release, as well as any and all controversy surrounding the film. Typically, Best Picture winners (and nominees) are films that either make a statement, such as when 12 Years a Slave won in 2014, or films that are miles ahead of any other film released that year, similar to when LOTR: The Return of the King won in 2004. Green Book is most definitely the former. A true story, it bests some of the best race-relation movies ever released, especially ones released in 2018. The Hate U Give and The BlacKKKlansman are both incredible films, but come nowhere close to Green Book. This is definitely a huge plus in the contest for Best Picture, especially when The BlacKKKlansman is also in the running. Green Book is the most effective “statement” film of the year, it takes a point and proves it incredibly well. It dominates the Nominee pool in this category. Add in the amazing script, casting and filmography and it certainly has a very big chance of winning Best Picture. The other Nominees, although excellent movies, don’t come close. A Star is Born has great filming, music, acting and script, however it doesn’t leave the audience with questions when they leave the theater (it’s also somewhat of a remake, which is fairly frowned upon for Best Picture). Vice is also a great film, with a great narrative and acting/casting but that’s all it really is. Great film, but nothing revolutionary. Similar to Vice, Bohemian Rhapsody has great music, great cinematography/filmography and casting/acting but it’s not something that I’d tell my kids is a “must watch classic”.
I do think that Green Book deserves to win Best Picture. It proves a great point about race relations by telling an unbelievable story, it has great acting/casting, the script is excellently written and cinematography/filmography is almost perfectly executed. It also had a hugely positive reception, another good checkmark to have when nominated for Best Picture. Between Bohemian Rhapsody, The BlacKKKlansman, Green Book and The Favourite, the race will be a close one. All of these films deserve this award - but in my book, and many others, Green Book deserves an award that will immortalize this film.