And the Oscar for Best Picture goes to...
I have lots of thoughts about this.
Here's the thing: I loved Green Book. But here's the other thing: it shouldn't have won Best Picture.
When I saw it, it entertained me wildly and grabbed my heart. But then I spoke to some people about their feelings about the optics of the movie, and read articles like this one and this one, and now my feelings are far more nuanced.
Overall, I do feel these feelings in support of the film: while I absolutely feel that we need more movies told by minorities about minorities, I don't feel that every movie about race needs to be told by minorities. I think there is value in receiving a race-relations story through the lens of a white protagonist, and when a white man is the protagonist, it's not problematic for that story to be told by white men. Yes it's a shame that there isn't a movie in which Don Shirley is the lead and the movie is told through his perspective, but that's not what this movie is; and given that the movie was created by the son of Viggo's character, it's best that Viggo was the narrative lens - white men appropriating a black man's voice would have been problematic. I take no issue with him wanting to tell this story, and I think he & Peter Farrelly told it quite well. Furthermore, I think the complaints that they didn't consult with the family enough are overall unfair, as Don Shirley wasn't close with his family, and they consulted with Don himself!!! And got his blessing before he died. So, imho: calm down, "woke Twitter". You're overblowing your argument and making yourselves look extremist, which perhaps caused backlash against the backlash - there is speculation (or data) that some voters ranked Green Book higher than they might have out of spite for the backlash.
What Green Book's detractors should have focused on is THIS: that regardless of how good & warm & fuzzy the film is, it's so far from a progressive choice in a year when progress is what has most defined our art. Sure, it's absolutely ok for white men to tell a race-relations story through the lens of a white protagonist - we don't need to outlaw those films from being made. But if we as a Hollywood community were serious about creating change in the direction of inclusion & diversity, then we wouldn't be picking that movie as our BEST OF 2018. Instead it's a lazy, general, unconscious nod in the direction of change that doesn't actually represent any voracious thought. A vote for Green Book is a vote of "sure I support diversity in theory, but don't really actually think constructively about it."
Because THAT's why I think it shouldn't have won, even though I loved it maybe more than any of the other nominees. Sure it's a high bar to hold a movie up to - "do you define our social intentions of the entire year?", haha. Or "do your optics align with the change we're aiming for?" High bars, I know - and I tend to not hold movies up to that as fiercely as many do. But it's worth challenging oneself to think about even just a little, and if voters had thought about that 5% more, I think it would have lost. To the beauuuutiful & wildly artistic (albeit rather slow & boring, oh well) Roma. In the "year of the Mexico border wall" - that would have been far more progressive, while also appreciating the classic cinemas Cuaron paid tribute to with the palate of his film.
Sure I enjoyed Green Book more than Roma. But that's the other thing: there was NOTHING artistic or innovative about it AT ALL. Watching Roma felt like watching a classic 1950's French/Italian film, but with the crisp technology of 2018 cameras. It had the gentle pace that we all, in our social-media obsessed, I-need-satisfaction-right-now minds, need to challenge ourselves to slow down for. It dared to say "I'm going to trust that humans can take a breath and enter our slower world", and I PRAY that more movies hold strong to that approach, lest we spiral deeper & deeper into art that caters to our minuscule, & further depleting, attention spans.
So I'm also upset on an appreciation-of-art level that the artistically simple (albeit remarkably entertaining & crowd-pleasing) Green Book beat Roma. But of course more importantly, I'm upset that too few voters were aware of how tone deaf it would feel for Green Book to win. And I actually think it's bad for the future of Green Book, as it will surely go down as the most hated winner since Crash beat Brokeback Mountain. And already has, with articles like this.
I think Seth Meyers put it all perfectly with this hilarious sketch video. Do yourself a treat and have a watch, and you'll both laugh and more fully understand why the backlash. (If you don't already; I don't mean to white-man-splain ;)
So. Those are my Dickie thoughts. Glad there's at least a conversation about it, even if many voters aren't listening... :/ Here's hoping backlash against this result encourages more voters to think more critically in the future. (At least they already did in the past, with Moonlight's exciting win over La La Land. And at least there was such exciting progress represented among the other winners Sunday night.)
Here's to a better year of cinemas in 2019!
PS - um... look at the font on the Roma poster above... did they steal my website's font??!!! Haha.