Last October I wrote a blog post about my five most anticipated diverse movies. I saw them all. Here is the recap.
The Hate U Give
Directed by George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food)
Starring Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby
Oscar Nominations: None
Viewing Date: October 19, 201
Verdict: I succeeded in finishing the book before I saw the movie! And, yeah, the book was better. Read the book, y’all. Because Hollywood is apparently incapable of portraying a close platonic relationship between hetero boys and girls. And Starr’s boyfriend Chris had game in the book—you understood why she was with him. The chemistry was palpable. The climax—way more exciting in the book. That said, see the movie for Amandla’s and Russell’s performances.
Directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) [link to my post]
Starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo
Oscar Nominations: None
Viewing Date: November 17, 2018
Verdict: Richard Roeper named this one of the best movies of 2018. Many critics do not understand why it got no box office love. It was edgy and gritty for sure, yet a viscerally enjoyable heist movie starring women! But several of my friends gave it side-eye—it was one of my most commented-about posts on Facebook. I still don’t understand the disconnect.
Directed by Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary)Starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Actor – Viggo Mortensen, Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali, Film Editing, Original Screenplay
Release Date: November 19, 2018 (advance screening!)
Verdict: Oh, boy, the critics love to hate this one. They are pissed it got nominated for best picture. “White savior” and “family disputes the veracity” and (with dripping contempt) “crowd pleasing” chatter abounds.
First, the story is about a white bouncer traveling through the 1960s south to protect a black musician. Because, guess what. Black people were getting killed in the south. All the time. It’s part of American history. Secondly, family members tend to think they know their relatives better than the friends and lovers do. And that’s not always the case.
Finally, I do agree there were some flaws in the character development, e.g., the movie really should have covered how Tony went from being someone who threw away a glass because a black plumber drank from it, to being totally okay driving for a black musician. A Refusal of the Call story beat is what was needed there. (This is why I love the Hero’s Journey—it doesn’t let you skip over that stuff.) Despite that, I really enjoyed the movie, as did most of the people in the packed advance screening. Two months later, when I went to see If Beale Street Could Talk, the Green Book showing was sold out. I love a good road trip buddy story, which is what this movie was at its heart. I feel like critics have been scoffing at the idea that people grow and change because of friendships and relationships, when, in fact, friendships and relationships are why people grow and change.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Directed by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Starring KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King
Oscar Nominations: Supporting Actress – Regina King, Original Score, Adapted Screenplay
Viewing Date: January 5, 2019 (when it finally came to Albuquerque!)
Verdict: I thought it was slow in a few parts and that some of the dialogue was stilted or overdone; however, along with my friends and critics, I thought it was one of the most beautiful portrayals of love ever seen on screen. And the ending really packed a punch–two of my friends sat stunned in their seats until the ushers gently kicked them out. It left me contemplating how love can endure, yet in slow, steady, painful ways.
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Actress – Yalitza Aparicio, Supporting Actress – Marina de Tavira, Cinematography, Directing, Foreign Language, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Screenplay
Viewing Date: February 22, 2019
Verdict: So well done—beautifully shot, beautifully acted, beautifully written. I had to go look up the Corpus Christi massacre online afterwards, and I also checked out Guillermo del Toro’s illuminating Twitter thread. Definitely deserving of all the Oscar noms.
Can’t wait to see how it all shakes out on the Academy Awards tonight.