“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” by Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino subverts the formulaic movie model in “One Upon A Time In Hollywood.”
The aging actor Rick Dalton stumbles his way onward in his career, as Tarantino leads us though Dalton’s most personal struggles. He faces what seems like his last chance and triumphs.
Then, in the last 45 minutes of the film, all of that falls away and the audience endures the gripping scene of the Manson murder. We are thrown into the perspective of societal misfits and engage with a drugged-out us versus them battle.
Considering this year’s nominations for Best Picture, “Once Upon a Time’s” curious blend of period drama, thriller, and historical documentary definitely stands out from the pack.
“Joker” is a joke, should not win Best Picture by Regan Meyer
Whether “Joker” is better than any of the other Best Picture nominees is a moot point. Even if it was loads better than its nominated counterparts, the film as a whole should not be winning any awards with the word “best” in the title. Yes, Joaquin Phoenix delivers an astounding performance. Yes, the music perfectly captures the uneasiness and insanity of the film. No number of incredible performances or well-orchestrated scores, however, can save a motion picture with a plot as uninteresting and unoriginal as “Joker.” The story is forced, the political statements ambiguous, and the exploration of mental health nowhere near as revolutionary as it was projected to be. “Joker,” as a whole entity, fell flat in too many ways to be an Oscar contender let alone win.
“1917” by Abby Liebing
The Best Motion Picture Oscar should go to “1917” a cinematically groundbreaking film that immersed audiences in the horrors of World War I like never before. Filmed to give the appearance of one continuous shot, director Sam Mendes captured the nuance and atmosphere of World War I in a beautifully unbroken narrative of bravery and human nature. “1917” did not just tell a mere story, but put the viewers in the trenches, making it feel as if you were another soldier on the mission with Schofield (MacKay) and Blake (Chapman). The film’s ability to completely immerse the audience, to the point of evoking a visceral reaction, in a real time story with human heroes makes it cinema history and deserving of the Oscar.
“Little Women” by Rachel Kookogey
Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” is successful because it stays true to Louisa May Alcott’s classic literary work by highlighting elements of the work not covered in previous renditions. By tying in shots and costumes similar to those in the 1994 version of Little Women with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale, Gerwig acknowledges our attachment to that older rendition. Not only does Gerwig recreate the work with scenes and dialog directly from the novel, but she puts more emphasis on the maturation of the March girls and surrounding characters by placing the movie in the perspective of an older Jo March when she writes her own “Little Women.” We identified with Winona Ryder’s Jo and Christian Bale’s Laurie when we were children, but now we’ve grown up and get to see the bittersweet ending of Alcott’s novel as the only fitting conclusion.