By Sergio Martinez
This Sunday movie fans from all over the world will be watching the annual Oscars Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Although at times dismissed as a mere exercise in banality: all that attention to what the stars are wearing during their walk on the red carpet, for instance; on the other hand, the Oscars as awards given by the most globalized film industry in the world have an undeniable worldwide impact.
Of the eight nominees for Best Movie, my own preference would be divided between “Vice” (directed by Adam McKay) and “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Brian Singer), however, taking into account that the members of the Academy may be influenced by extra-cinematic factors, the final decision might lean toward “Roma” a film directed by Mexico’s Alfonso Cuaron. While “Vice” captures in a very dynamic and entertaining way the intricacy of American politics and all the manoeuvres in which politicians engage to obtain their goals, “Bohemian Rhapsody” portrays the life of iconic Queen’s vocalist Freddy Mercury excitingly and sensitively. On the other hand, “Roma,” which I saw at the Toronto Film Festival, fails at creating an emotional link with the viewer. The Mexican film, however, features amazing photography. The Best Film category is often a subject of controversy. It has also seen many injustices, the most recent that I remember was denying the distinction to “Brokeback Mountain” by Ang Lee in 2005, the first contender with an openly gay plot (although prudish people still maintain that the movie was about “relationships”). Instead, the Academy gave the award to the now forgotten “Crash.”
Trying to make a decision on Best Actor in a Leading Role is not easy: in my view the award should go to Willem Dafoe for his portrayal of tormented painter Vincent Van Gogh in “At Eternity’s Gate,” however this was a movie for selected audiences, and the Academy instead may go for Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”). I think there shouldn’t be any discussion in awarding the Oscar for an Actor in a Supporting Role to Mahershala Ali, for his notable portrayal of Don Shirley in “Green Book”.
In my view, there shouldn’t be any question that the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role should be given to Glenn Close who delivered a devoted, yet very self-assured wife to a Nobel Prize winner with a dark secret in “The Wife.” The Oscar for an Actress in a Supporting Role should go to Amy Adams (“Vice”), although in the end, the Academy may give it to Rachel Weisz or Emma Stone since both delivered excellent performances in the film “The Favourite.”
In the Animated Feature, my favourite is Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” because of the originality in the technique employed and the kind of surreal ambiance it creates; however, it is possible that the Academy leans toward the more popular “Incredibles 2” which is also a valuable film, although its animation is more conventional.
For Cinematography I would give the Oscar to “Roma” since its visual aspect is indeed the most remarkable achievement of this movie which in my view has been overvalued in other respects. The images (black and white) of these films are reminiscent of the Italian neo-realism.
In the Foreign Language category, my favourite would be the Polish film “Cold War” directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, although the Academy may give the prize to Cuaron’s “Roma”. The Polish movie is an exquisite story where politics, opportunism, and romance, mix, but without letting us know that each of the characters has their own ethical shortcomings.
No question for me that the Oscar for Best Director should go to Adam McKay for his intelligent film “Vice,” but once again, factors outside the realm of cinema could work in favour of the director of “Roma”, Alfonso Cuarón. Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favourite”) could also be a worthwhile contender.
The Oscars Ceremony will be broadcast live by CTV.