The less-than-satisfactory Oscar post

I saw all the Best Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay noms!

EmmaYeah, it’s been a less-than-satisfactory Oscar viewing season for me. I haven’t seen many of the nominees, certainly in comparison with most years. Although, seeing THREE Best Picture nominees in the last three days, which I haven’t yet reviewed, has made the list a bit more complete.

So this is a post for this moment, and I’m hoping to see the others eventually. The ! means I saw it. I’ll link to my reviews the first time.

BEST PICTURE
! The Father – I just saw this; well-acted, of course, depressing and a little stagey
! Judas and the Black Messiah – I saw this yesterday; the best in my opinion.
Mank – this played at the newly-reopened Spectrum Theatre, but I didn’t catch it.
! Minari 
! Nomadland. I’m aware of the controversy over how the movie doesn’t fully address the working conditions at Amazon, which the book apparently does.
! Promising Young Woman – I just saw, and I liked it a lot
! Sound of Metal – this is the movie I saw the earliest of the nominees, the only one before the noms were announced. It’s very good.
! The Trial of the Chicago Seven. Good film.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
! Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm 
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy – she’s overdue, but this movie reviewed terribly
! Olivia Colman, The Father. She’s very strong in a demanding role.
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
! Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari – my favorite

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – all great performances
But it is absurd that the two leads of Judas are both up for best supporting. I blame the studio.
! Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
! Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
! Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami
! Paul Raci, Sound of Metal – probably my #2 pick
! Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah, narrowly my #1 pick

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
Another Round – Denmark. A good film but this is the only one I saw in the category.
Better Days – Hong Kong
Collective – Romania
The Man Who Sold His Skin – Tunisia
Qu Vadis, Aida? – Bosnia and Herzegovina

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Collective
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher
! Time 

ORIGINAL SONG
! Fight For You from Judas and the Black Messiah
! Hear My Voice from The Trial of the Chicago 7
Husavik from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
lo Sì (Seen) from The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)
! Speak Now from One Night in Miami – my rooting interest

Screenplays and other things

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Onward
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Soul
! Wolfwalkers 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
! Borat Subsequent MovieFilm
! The Father
! Nomadland
! One Night in Miami – my favorite of the four
The White Tiger – there’s a 2021 movie called White Tiger about a tank. That isn’t this movie.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
! Judas and the Black Messiah – my #1 pick
! Minari
! Promising Young Woman – my #2 pick
! Sound of Metal
! The Trial of the Chicago 7

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
! Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal – excellent
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – like a lot of others, I’d be thrilled if he wins posthumously
! Anthony Hopkins, The Father – great, as usual
Gary Oldman, Mank
! Steven Yeun, Minari

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – I always root for her
! Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday – she is WAY better than the movie; review soon
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
! Frances McDormand, Nomadland
! Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman – possibly my favorite

DIRECTOR
! Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
David Fincher, Mank
! Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
! Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
! Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman. My pick.

The techie awards

PRODUCTION DESIGN
! The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
News of the World
Tenet

CINEMATOGRAPHY
! Sean Bobbitt, Judas and the Black Messiah
Erik Messerschmidt, Mank
Dariusz Wolski, News of the World
! Joshua James Richards, Nomadland – I can imagine this winning
! Phedon Papamichael, The Trial of the Chicago 7

COSTUME DESIGN
! Emma – hmm. I bought this DVD for my wife and we watched it some months ago, but I never reviewed it. It was pleasant enough, not great. But the costumes WERE fabulous.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
Mulan
Pinocchio

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND
Greyhound
Mank
News of the World
Soul
! Sound of Metal – the sound, and lack of, is pivotal here, and very effective

ORIGINAL SCORE
Da 5 Bloods
Mank
! Minari
News of the World
Soul

VISUAL EFFECTS – I’ve seen none
Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
Mulan
The One and Only Ivan
Tenet

FILM EDITING
! The Father
! Nomadland – will probably win
! Promising Young Woman
! Sound of Metal – rooting interest
! The Trial of the Chicago 7 – secondary rooting interest

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
! Emma
Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
Pinocchio

 

Movie review: Minari (Lee Isaac Chung)

Yuh-Jung Youn

MinariMinari is the first movie I’ve seen with another human being in over a year, in this case with my wife. It was a nice date night in front of the television.

It’s your basic American dream story, set in 1980s America. Except that the family is Korean and they have moved to rural Arkansas. More correctly, the father Jacob (Steven Yeun) really wants the dream. His wife Monica (Yeri Han) is not sold on the plan, especially when she first sees her new home. Yet she wants to support his plans to start a farm, selling vegetables. Part of the story arc is this tension.

And they’ve traveled all that way with their two kids, the daughter Anne (Noel Kate Cho), who is almost a second mother to her younger brother David (Alan S. Kim), who has a heart condition.

The most interesting relationship, though, is between David and his maternal grandmother Soonja (Yuh-Jung Youn). She was ostensibly brought in so that Anne wouldn’t be so lonely. But David finds her foul-mouthed ways unbecoming of a grandmother. She does know a lot about minari, a type of water celery, and how to grow it.

The audience summary for Minari in Rotten Tomatoes says to “prepare for an ambiguous ending.” I didn’t find it unclear at all. Perhaps the movie sagged just before that. I would agree that “this is a beautifully filmed blend of comedy and drama, brought to life by a wonderful cast playing well-written characters.”

Drawing on his childhood

Much of the credit for that goes to writer/director Lee Isaac Chung, who mined elements of his own growing up. I saw him in one recent interview, he was going to have to find a “real” job if this movie didn’t work out.

It has, of course, “worked out.” It’s been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Motion Picture of the Year. Steven Yeun is the first Asian-American and the first person of East Asian descent to be nominated as Best Actor. Chung was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Emile Mosseri is up for Best Original Score.

Unsurprisingly, Yuh-Jung Youn has been Oscar-nominated as Best Supporting Actress. She’s already won the Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA awards. The role is a hoot.

It is a small film, a quiet film. Not a lot happens, and most of what does is often supplied by Jacob’s most peculiar friend Paul (Will Patton). The movie uses subtitles, but so much of the dialogue is expressed in gestures and facial expressions that one almost doesn’t need them.

I liked Minari quite a bit. If I wasn’t wowed by it might be that I fell into that dreadful “buzz” effect. “This is Oscar-nominated?” In normal times, I might have seen it, and in a movie theater, before the awards season. Ah, well.