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

 

Review: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Aaron Sorkin’s learning curve

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO-7.CastI became totally caught up in the movie The Trial of the Chicago 7, which I saw on Netflix. The time period in which it took place corresponded with my political awakening, so I was certainly a “market” for the film.

For those who didn’t know, there was violence between the police and Vietnam war demonstrators during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August 1968. The Justice Department under President Lyndon Johnson declined to press federal charges against the protestors, although there were local charges. But after Richard Nixon was inaugurated, Justice, under John Mitchell decided to prosecute eight men.

They (and the people who played them in the film) included Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) and Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), from the Students for a Democratic Society. Also, Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Alex Sharp), founders of the Youth International Party, or Yippies. Plus the pacifist David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), leader of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE); Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), and John Froines (Daniel Flaherty).

Wait, that’s seven. Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was the national chairman of the Black Panther Party. “Seale’s attorney, Charles Garry, cannot attend due to illness, leading Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella), [no relation to Abbie] to insist that William Kunstler (Mark Rylance) represents all eight defendants. This insistence is rejected repeatedly by both Kunstler and Seale.” Eventually, Seale’s trial is severed from the others’.

A long path

I did not know this. “Aaron Sorkin stated… that he first found out about the planned film during a visit to Steven Spielberg’s home in 2006… Spielberg told him “he wanted to make a movie about the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention and the trial that followed.” Aaron, who was born in 1961, had no idea what Steven was talking about.

Sorkin wrote the script in July 2007, but the making of the film was delayed numerous times. He noted, “Spielberg saw Molly’s Game and was sufficiently pleased [with Sorkin’s directing] to suggest I direct ‘Chicago 7’… At his rallies, (Donald) Trump started being nostalgic about the good old days beating up protestors and the movie became relevant again,” with the Black Lives Matter protests.

Praiseworthy

The Trial of the Chicago 7 was nominated for several awards, especially for Sorkin and Sacha Barron Cohen. On Rotten Tomatoes, “the film holds an approval rating of 90% based on 305 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The website’s critics’ consensus reads, ‘An actors’ showcase enlivened by its topical fact-based story, [it] plays squarely – and compellingly – to Aaron Sorkin’s strengths.”

I fully admit that I totally surrendered to the film, which showed the antiwar movement was not a monolith. It could be funny, shocking, and ultimately moving. This was a function of Sorkin’s use of language, as is his wont. Plus this was a fine ensemble, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Richard Schultz, assistant federal prosecutor, and the various actors who played the cops infiltrating the demonstrations. I’m a sucker for a good courtroom drama.

Yet I do understand the frustration some critics have, unhappy that Sorkin played fast and loose with the timeline and certain facts. I’ve even soured on certain movies – the climax of Bohemian Rhapsody, for instance – myself.

John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter writes, “Sorkin has made a movie that’s gripping, illuminating and trenchant […] It’s as much about the constitutional American right to protest as it is about justice, which makes it incredibly relevant to where we are today.”