Spanky’s Sunday Film Review: 2018 Best Picture

Hello Spank boys. Every so often I will be watching all of the movies nominated for best picture for a given year and posting my thoughts. I’m going to be re-ranking them since those Hollywood elites don’t know anything. Anyway let’s get right into it.

  • Here’s the list of movies nominated in 2018:
    • BlacKkKlansman
      Black Panther
      Bohemian Rhapsody
      The Favourite
      Green Book*
      Roma
      A Star is Born
      Vice

    BlacKkKlansman:

    I had very high hopes going into this movie and it did not disappoint. BlacKkKlansman details a Black police officer’s infiltration to the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish officer. I thought the screenplay was excellently written and it was entertaining throughout. This was the easiest watch of all the movies and was surprisingly lighthearted for a movie tackling tough issues like race, racism, whiteness, and police brutality. John David Washington (Denzel’s Son) plays the lead in this but I found the character of Flip, played by Adam Driver much more interesting. I really enjoyed watching Adam Driver in a movie that isn’t a steaming pile of shit *cough* The Last Jedi *cough*. Flip has to wrestle with his own identity as he’s Jewish but passes for a white Anglo-Saxon. At first he’s hesitant to really put some skin in the game and wants out. He “passes  as white so he believes that this isn’t his fight. It isn’t until Ron talks to him that Flip realizes that his Jewish identity means something to him. Flip’s own internal struggle is easily the most compelling and fascinating aspect of the movie. It shows very real and believable character growth. I also really like Topher Grace’s performance as David Duke. He nailed it and it really fit well with the tone of the movie. As for the plot of the movie I thought that it flowed nicely and I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the black and white rallies exposing the evils of white supremacism which is unfortunately becoming more and more relevant today. It had a very warm and feel-good ending which seemed appropriate for the movie. I don’t think that it necessarily needed the real footage of Trump and Charlottesville at the end of the movie. I thought the movie made its point clear enough without that but that’s fine. Other thoughts about the movie that I liked was listening to the speech in the beginning talking about how black is beautiful with the shots of the audience members floating on screen. This was a really cool scene. Also Ron speaking at dinner talking about trying to change the system from within. Overall it was an excellent movie that made some very solid points about race in America without taking itself too seriously. I’m still not sure why Ron had to be the one talking on the phone when Flip could’ve easily taken over at some point but whatever. It was a very fun watch and a strong contender for best picture. 8.2/10 unburnt crosses


    Black Panther:

    Black Panther is a movie out of Marvel’s cinematic universe staring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. Overall this movie was much better than most of the movies in the MCU but not deserving of a best picture nominee in my opinion. This movie was never written to be best picture and was clearly never intended to be nominated. It’s a fun and exciting action-packed superhero movie. Granted it’s a lot deeper than most of the Marvel movies but it still is unfair to rank it against movies like Roma and Green Book. That being said it was a very enjoyable film and did have some deeper aspects to it. The thing that makes a great superhero movie isn’t a great superhero but a great super villain. The most obvious example of this would be the Joker in The Dark Knight which, in my opinion is still the greatest superhero movie ever made. Black Panther does a good job of this too. Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan is an excellent villain with a compelling back story. He has a reasonable motivation and is somewhat sympathetic. The overall story is solid. This is what makesBlack Panther one of the better Marvel films. The soundtrack featured a lot of really good artists and fit well with the theme of the movie. Another small note was that I loved the font used for the title scenes and the location. The shots of Wakanda were amazing but I wish the movie would have explored it more. With the budget it had there could have been more to this movie. It didn’t seem to make much sense that the younger sister was somehow the smartest person on the planet but whatever. She makes Tony Stark look like an idiot and he discovered time travel overnight. There’s also no reason this movie needs to be two hours and 16 minutes. The ending was pretty deep for a Marvel movie so ill give it that. Anyway nominating Black Panther for best picture is kinda like making hamburger and fries on Iron Chef. They’re never intended to be part of this competition. We all know why it was nominated but I still think it was a tad unfair. Ill give it 6.1/10 surprise winter soldiers. 


    Bohemian Rhapsody:

    Bohemian Rhapsody is a biopic on rock band Queen. The movie focuses mainly on lead singer Freddie Mercury played by Rami Malek. Overall I thought this movie was pretty solid and as a Queen fan I really enjoyed it. It was a little long and dragged at times with Freddie’s slow decline from AIDs and band’s breakup but there’s a lot to like here. Rami Malek’s performance was incredible so it’s no surprise he won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in this. The musical performances  and soundtrack were by far the best parts of this movie and probably the reason this film was nominated for best picture in the first place. Just about every popular Queen song is featured on the 22 song track-list. The Live Aid performance at the end was extremely well done and easily the best part of this movie (the scene in Michael Myers office was also pretty good too). I really appreciated the attention to detail as well as the special effects for the Live Aid concert and if you watch old footage it’s pretty spot on. This was the perfect way to end the film. But besides for Rami Malek and the musical performances thought the movie was nothing special. It was a PG-13 movie covering an rated R topic which prevented maybe some of the grittier and more realistic version of events coming to light. Another problem I had with the movie was the whole spontaneous song writing cliché. The “We will rock you” scene specifically was a little played out and a little cringey if I’m going to be honest. Maybe once in the movie but there were a few moments that I thought it seemed a little too corny. This movie is just ok as a movie but it’s a fun watch if you’re a queen fan. Like I said before the music and performances on stage are really the only way I see this movie even being nominated. I’ll give it 5.9/10 HIV diagnosis’


    The Favourite:

    The Favourite takes places in early 18th century England, as two rivals compete for the frail Queen Anne’s attention. Emma Stone plays Abagail, an ambitious new servant who works behind the scenes to improve her status in life. Meanwhile Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) rules the country in Queen Anne’s stead and tries to outcompete Abigail at every turn. Now when I saw this movie on the list of nominees I was excited for one main reason, Emma Stone. Not only is she great in this movie but Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman do not disappoint either. The costume and set design are very well done and aesthetically pleasing. For example the change in Abagail’s clothes changes as she increased in status was fun to watch. Now at the heart of this movie is political intrigue and manipulation but the overall tone of the movie is lighter than you’d expect. It had a weird dry humor to it with some weird and hilarious visuals. I have a hard time putting my finger on this one. At the surface its about two woman using sex and wit to manipulate their way to the top of a male dominated society…except the monarch is a woman and all the men in the movie are portrayed as dumb and vain. It’s actually pretty fascinating to watch as there’s no real distinction between a matriarchy and patriarchy here. Women are portrayed as just as deceitful and manipulative as men usually are and women hold all the power here, except Abagail still needs to arrange a marriage for herself in order to move above servant, so there’s a weird mix here. Another interesting thing about the film was Queen Anne’s portrayal. She is shown as dumb, easily manipulated, and childlike only to later realize that in the end she is really the one in control. It says something about class structures that it doesn’t matter how high Abagail climbs because she’s still nothing compared to the queen. She can climb as high as she wants to but still has to “rub the queen’s legs”. The queen as a third player in the game of manipulation and deceit adds an interesting element to the movie. The whole lesbian part of the movie was wild too. I didn’t see that coming and to be honest I thought Sarah was the Queens sister at first so I thought we had a whole Game of Thrones incest thing going on for a second. Anyways this movie was perfectly enjoyable once it got going. At first it felt like I was watching a random episode of a TV show Id never seen before but I liked it overall. There was a very odd but pleasant tone to the movie with a dark last scene that was stylistically much weirder than it needed to be. There’s a lot more that could be said about this movie which is much deeper than it appears on the surface, but I’m not smart enough to figure any of that out. I think overall I’d give it 7.2/10 naked men being pelted with tomatoes.


    Green Book:

    Green Book stars Viggo Mortensen as Tony Lip, an Italian-American tough guy driver for Dr. Donald Shirley, a black classical pianist, while they tour the deep south during the 1960’s. I’d say that just based off of the plot of this movie that this film is pure Oscar bait. It’s set up perfectly to win Best Picture as we watch the initially racist and ill-mannered Tony lose his prejudices along their journey. This film is exactly what you expect it to be. Tony becomes a better friend, a more loving husband, and overall a better person. Dr. Donald Shirley also experiences some character growth as he loosens up, tries new things, and learns to stand up for himself. It’s a very familiar movie theme; a road trip between two opposites who initially don’t get along. They have some sort of big fight after hitting rock bottom, and realize they have more in common than they thought. It’s a very cookie cutter movie format. Just of the top of my head I can think of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Tommy Boy, Road Trip, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle etc. Despite the cookie cutter mold this movie was cut out of it was one of the better movies nominated this year in my opinion and I have no problem with Green Book winning best picture. It was entertaining throughout and was didn’t ever get too dull. There were plenty of interesting plot points and other little things within the movie to think about. I especially liked when the black farmers in the deep south stopped working to watch as Tony fixed the car for Dr. Shirley. This was probably the first time in their lives that they saw a white man working for a black man. There were plenty of good parts in this movie but what I considered the best part was Dr. Shirley’s speech in the rain. Mahershala Ali does a really great job in this scene. He talks about the struggles of not being black enough and not being white enough either. It really makes you think about what it means to be part of a certain race and what the black experience is like. I thought that whole discussion within that scene was fascinating. Tony argues that he’s more familiar with the black experience because he’s never had anything and grew up on the streets while Dr. Shirley was born wealthy. It’s an interesting argument that is shows how complex race issues are. Just because of Dr. Shirley’s skin color he is more disadvantaged than Tony who grew up with nothing and still has nothing. The whole movie shows just how ignorant and backwards the era of Jim Crowe was and how abhorrent that ideology was. It’s interesting to compare this movie to BlacKkKlansman, a movie that also heavily deals with race, and see how racism comes in more forms, violent and nonviolent, subtle and extreme. Overall I really liked this movie and it’s hard not to. It had a nice mix of serious and lighthearted moments combined with some good messages. Id give it 8.3/10 late night phone calls to Bobby Kennedy. 


    Roma:

    Despite being shot in black and white and also in Spanish, Roma was a very solid movie. I’m going to be honest, out of all the nominees I was probably least excited for Roma but I was pleasantly surprised. The directing and camera shots were beautiful. It looked like a good photographers Instagram with the camera lingering on some scenes just long enough to paint a picture. After all it won Best Achievement in Cinematography and Best Achievement in Directing for a reason. It wasn’t the most action packed movie but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Roma follows a year in the life of a middle-class family’s maid in Mexico City during the early 1970s. The main character Cleo becomes pregnant and is abandoned by the father. While this is going on the mother of the family she works for, Sofia, is experiencing similar relationship problems. It’s interesting watching these two characters from completely different walks of life go through similar experiences and that is really the essence of the film in my opinion. I loved how complex Sofia’s character was; she is simultaneously loving but distant, harsh but kind, tough but fragile. Its demonstrated perfectly when she slaps her child for eavesdropping on her but then quickly realizes her mistake and comforts and cries with him.  Another thing I enjoyed was the subtlety to this movie, and that’s something Roma did much better than a lot of it’s counterparts. It really says a lot about the directors ability to tell a story. The story of Cleo is shown to you while Sofia’s problems are occurring in the backdrop. It’s extremely well done and the ending of the film ties it all up nicely. There’s a nice message about the value of human life and being a mother at the ending that’s far more complex than I’m going to explain here but it’s something that will stick with you. This movie reminded me of something I’d be forced to watch in a Spanish class and at first you’re just happy to be watching a movie in class but then you realize the movie itself is pretty solid. Not a movie I personally would have chosen for myself, but I’m glad I watched it. There’s not much I didn’t like about this film expect for Fermín’s dick swinging around. Overall it wasn’t the most exciting movie but I think its definitely a movie that deserves to be nominated and possibly even win. I’d give it a very strong 8.0/10 shit covered garages.


    A Star is Born:

    A Star is Born try’s to tackle one of life’s most challenging questions, is Lady Gaga Hot? Honestly after watching I’m going to say kind of? Maybe? Sometimes? I will say though that this movie definitely bumped her up. Anyways A Star is Born stars Bradley Cooper as alcoholic country musician Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga as aspiring singer Ally. This movie is all about the soundtrack, and its all great. We all heard that “Shallow” on the radio for months after it came out, and then we saw Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper almost make out while they performed it at the Oscars. Lady Gaga is extremely talented both singer and acting in this and honestly should have won Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. The chemistry between Cooper and Lady Gaga was very visible onscreen and most definitely the reason for Bradley Coopers breakup. Everyone saw that one coming. Anyway back to the movie. I thought it was very entertaining and like I said earlier the musical performances were excellent. Bradley Cooper does a little too much as Jackson Maine and at some points I wondered if he was trying to be Matthew McConaughey playing Jackson Maine. Lady Gaga does end up outshining Bradley Cooper in this just like in the movie Ally outshines Jackson. Some parts of the movie get a little outrageous and dramatic. I didn’t think the movie needed Jackson punching his older directly in the face and peeing himself on stage were needed to illustrate what was going on but that’s to be expected from a movie like this. The spontaneous song writing aspect was much better than Bohemian Rhapsody though. As for the ending, I was a little surprised but that was a good thing. Not all stories have happy endings. The movie ended appropriately for the story and made the movie better in a lot of ways. Overall I’d give it 7.4/10 Drag Queen Singers.


    Vice:

    Vice stars Christen Bale as former Vice President Dick Cheney alongside with wife played by Amy Adams and Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld. Overall I thought this movie was pretty good. I’m not going to say great but I’ll say pretty good. It covered a very ambitious subject matter and I respect that. I did think at times it teetered into a quasi-propagandist piece though. I think the messaging was a little heavy handed when the subject matter could have allowed the viewer to reach those conclusions on their own. The film also failed to establish an identity. It went back and forth from a serious drama about a naive political aide’s decent into a greedy power-hungry politician to a political hit piece about Dick Cheney. It was like a political documentary and drama wrapped up into one. This movie actually reminded me of The Big Short in a lot of ways which is no coincidence since Adam McKay wrote and directed both (Bale and Carell are The Big Short). I thought The Big Short worked better for this type of format however. There was enough political corruption surrounding the Cheney’s with Halliburton’s no bid contracts, the invasion into Iraq, and illegal torture methods that I don’t think the film needed to say explicitly how evil Dick Cheney really was. It would have interested me much more to see Dick slowly move more and more towards the man he would become under the Bush administration rather than the explicitly telling the audience. As they say, show don’t tell. Another problem I had with the movie was the pacing seemed strange. It did cover a lot of time but going back and forth between past and present multiple times didn’t work in some cases. It seemed like there was too much information the writer wanted to express and not enough time. I didn’t need 2 minutes of the Cheney’s saying a poem to each other in bed. This was easily my least favorite part. This movie was good however and there were things I liked. I thought the subject matter was fascinating. Dick Cheney secretly working behind the shadows is a very interesting concept for a movie. I just thought the lack of identity and awkward pacing seemed to not allow this concept to really flourish. Another thing I liked was the casting. Christen Bale, Amy Adams, and Steve Carell are all great in this movie. I have no idea how they made Bale look so old at the end but whoever was in charge of that did a great job. Sam Rockwell plays a great George W. Bush, Tyler Perry plays a great Colin Powel . The movie mostly kept my interest throughout and I loved the use of real footage within the movie. This really gave a good sense of the time period and brought back some nostalgia. Overall I’d give this movie 6.8/10 Iraqi oil fields. 


    Spankys rankings:

      Green Book 8.3
      BlacKkKlansman 8.2
      Roma 8.0
      A Star is Born 7.4
      The Favourite 7.2
      Vice 6.8
      Black Panther 6.1
      Bohemian Rhapsody 5.9

    Overall I’d say it was more like a 3 horse race rather than the 8 films listed here. It probably should’ve been more like 6 nominees. A very front loaded class for 2018 but a solid class nonetheless.

    Big thanks

    -Spanky