The Academy always finds a way to nominate some of the best films a year has to offer, but select the most wide appealing choices as winners. The 91st Academy Awards saw “Green Book” win Best Picture, Spike Lee win his first Oscar and Olivia Colman upset the heavily favored Glenn Close for Best Actress. Bottom line is that there were a lot of great films that took home awards (no, not you “Bohemian Rhapsody”), but there are still several films nominated for various awards that are certainly worth your time. Looking back on the year 2018, these are the four films out of all of the nominees I would absolutely recommend.
“BlacKKKlansman:” Won Best Adapted Screenplay; Nominated for Best Original Score, Best Editing, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Adam Driver), and Best Picture. I believe that “BlacKKKlansman,” given the Academy’s selection for Best Picture, should have been the film to take home the award. It is a poignant, stunning and incredibly relevant piece of filmmaking and is absolutely Spike Lee’s best film since “Do The Right Thing.” The performances are incredible all across the board and Spike Lee’s talent for creating films with a powerful agenda is on full display here. While the Academy chose to pick “Green Book,” a film that tackles race in a certainly more heartfelt way, “BlacKKKlansman” would have certainly been the more powerful choice with a stronger, more intent stance on combating racism. “Green Book” labels racism as an issue of the past, while “BlacKKKlansman” treats the topic has a force that is still present in today’s world. If the Academy wanted to start a conversation regarding this issue, “BlacKKKlansman” should have been the way to go.
“The Favourite:” Won Best Actress (Olivia Colman); Nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Two Best Supporting Actress Nominations (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) and Best Picture. “The Favourite” tremendously balances the power struggle between the three main characters with a solid dose of comedy that make this a blast to watch. This might be my favorite film nominated for an Oscar this year, solely because I can’t think of anything really wrong with it. Everything on screen feels incredibly authentic. The castle hallways are long and grand, accentuated by the expert camera work. Director Yorgos Lanthimos breathes life into these characters and creates a briskly paced and effortlessly interesting journey. This was probably my pick for Best Picture this year.
“Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse:” Won Best Animated Feature. I’m sure everyone has either seen or heard about this film, and rightfully so. This new take on Spider-Man is an action-packed, visually stunning, hilarious time at the movies. The animation is groundbreaking in the sense that it is probably the best animated movie of all time. I’ve never seen a piece of animation is that has more thought or content packed into every frame than “Into The Spider-Verse.” The story is also well written and powerful. If I was a kid when this movie came out, this film would probably be my scripture. This film is absolutely worth a watch, if you like Spider-Man or not.
“Free Solo:” Won Best Documentary Feature. My experience watching “Free Solo” might be the most uneasy I have felt in a theater this year. If you haven’t heard of this film, it follows Alex Honnold, a rock climber who attempts to “free solo” El Capitan in Yosemite. Yes, that’s a jagged rock face and yes, he doesn’t have any harnesses or support. The entire last act of the film is jaw dropping and intense because you don’t know if you’re actually going to watch this guy fall to his death. The cinematography captures the event and the essence of Yosemite in grand detail. This film is definitely worth a watch if you love incredible feats and beautiful landscapes.
Overall, I’d give all these films a A grade.