In 2019 I saw seven of the eight films nominated for an Oscar as Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
For me, 2019 was a great year at the cinema. Looking back at that list, I realize I even saw one of the Oscar nominees, Black Panther, twice, as well as half of the eighth nominee, Roma, which I still plan to finish one day. Green Book, inspiring and positive–if not 100% accurate–won the award. I wouldn’t have wanted to choose a winner from so many fine films.
In 2020 I saw three of the nine Oscar nominated movies, not one of which I enjoyed.
I’ll confess I don’t like war movies, so even though I know that 1917 was an important and beautifully done film, I passed on it after watching the trailer multiple times. Unfortunately I didn’t pass on another. After hearing so much hype about Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Proman and I settled into our den last night and numbly watched as a movie with a drawn out, boring story crept toward horrifying violence.
While many reviewers doted on this film, and it received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, a favorite review conveyed my feelings: “Watching the movie is like listening to a friend explain a Wikipedia article that he’s been obsessed with since he was 15.” (Damian Levy from the Jamaica Gleaner.)
With the exception of Ford Vs. Ferrari and Little Women (whose director was convinced that showing scenes out of order would turn a well loved novel into art) all the films were, in their own way, dark stories of difficult times. I leave it up to you to decide why, after Green Book won an Oscar last year, filmmakers chose so many grim stories to showcase.
In all fairness to the movie industry, though, there’s another list of recent films you might want to see.
Recently Greater Good Magazine published an article describing twelve films that highlight the best of humanity. Films like Harriet (about Harriet Tubman), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (about Fred Rogers), Just Mercy, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, even The Rise of Skywalker.
The article describes each movie and awards it a title like The Compassionate Heroism Award, or The Resilience Award. If you’re looking for thoughtful, sensitive movies to stream or see in the theaters, this may be the list for you.
I will point out that two of the films on the Greater Good list were also nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. Parasite (Oscar winner) and Marriage Story. I haven’t seen either. Although I know the stories, I suspect that after or if I ever recover from Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, I’ll try them both.
Did you have a favorite film last year? Want to share and tell us why?