For this segment of my Oscars 2019 roundup, I am looking at the four “big” categories in the creative department – both adapted and original screenplays, director and best picture. I have previously discussed my thoughts on the acting categories here. The screenplay categories are my favourite categories in the whole of awards season and this year provided an array of offerings from industry veterans and newcomers alike but ultimately we saw the veterans win the day.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Blackkklansman was one of my favourite films of this awards circuit. I knew it didn’t really stand a chance against the other Best Picture nominees that appeared to be more popular so seeing this great film recognised for its killer script was a great feat and to see the genius Spike Lee win an Oscar in competition was one of my personal highlights of the ceremony. This truly was his moment and although set in the 70s, the script seemed as though it could have been set this year. The timelessness shows not only his skill as a filmmaker but also breaks the illusion that we live in a society that is “equal” or “more equal” to make ourselves feel better. Spike uses this film as a vehicle to hold the mirror up to society through techniques such as combining footage from the news today with racist propaganda film The Birth of a Nation. The protagonist is the only black policeman in his unit so we get to see how he is treated within the African American community as well as the white men in power.
This script was my pick by far for the adapted screenplay award so I am thrilled that it won.
Best Original Screenplay
This winner was both a surprise and a disappointment in my personal opinion. Peter Farrelly won for the script for Green Book which was a very mixed film for me. My main issue with the film was its script. The story was lifted by the charisma of the actors rather by being lifted by the words they were saying. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali did a fantastic job of carrying the film but sadly it seemed that they were driving a cardboard car rather than a real one.
My pipedream is to one day win the gong in this category so it tends to be the one I follow the most. My vote would have gone to The Favourite. The humour and depth of all three leads is unlike anything I have seen and to see a film treat three women with such vigour and respect was really refreshing. In my eyes, this was one of the major robs of the night.
There was no doubt that Alfonso Cuaron would take the trophy home for Best Director. Whether or not Roma was to everyone’s liking, it cannot be doubted that this was the film Cuaron was born to make and could only be made by him. The vision was truly his as he took over practically every aspect of production including cinematography (which he also won) and co-editing. It’s rare that a film brings a first time actor award attention yet Cuaron created a star in the form of film lead Yalitza Aparicio, a recently graduated teacher who had no plans to enter acting and happened upon the audition by chance. Within the last six Academy Awards, Mexican filmmakers have won this gong with this being Cuaron’s second win in this category. In an industry where diversity still has a way to go, those statistics show good promise for the future of film.
Although Cuaron undoubtedly deserved his win, my personal pick would have been Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite but I knew Cuaron would take the gold and I am really happy for Roma’s success. Also, considering Lathimos had been largely left out of the director races for other awards, I was thrilled that he received a director nomination at all.
Now for the big one! We know the eventual winner of the big prize (Best Picture) went to Farrelly’s Green Book which some have viewed as deserving but others have already deemed will go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the Academy’s history. I think it’s too early to see whether it’s one of the biggest mistakes in the Oscars history but I do think it was the wrong choice. Usually this category tends to be a race between two (sometimes three) films but there was an array of films that had a chance this year all for different reasons. Green Book was among these but given that it was being consistently recognised for Mahershala Ali’s performance which I think is a huge bulk of its eventual win in this category, I didn’t think it would actually take it. I do feel strongly that this award should have gone to Roma or The Favourite because these films were experimental and yet had a lot of heart and love in them. I’m not sure I felt the same way about Green Book. As I said above, the script was too bland for my liking but also the context of production put me off. The fact that the film has all white male producers, director and screenwriters is already problematic. How do you make a film about the black American experience without a major black figure of authority behind the camera? I know I speak from a white female perspective but it just seemed so strange to me when you had other films in the mix such as Blackkklansman and Black Panther which proved to be popular with audiences and critics alike. On another note, I really feel that If Beale Street Could Talk should have been included in the nominees and considering films like Bohemian Rhapsody were included, there’s no reason why it was omitted.
I would have loved to see The Favourite or Roma take this award. I felt more of a connection with them. Both were films that stretch the imagination and remind me why I love films so much.
That’s it for this post. My next blog will look at another batch of creative awards including Best Animated Feature, Best Documentary Feature and Best Foreign Film as well as the shorts.
What did you think of the winners and losers in these categories? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below!