2019 started out as a less than excellent year for movies. It was a startling surprise when the middle of the year rolled around and ‘Avengers Endgame’ was still in the working top 5 films for listmakers worldwide. Eventually, there came a cavalcade of quality films that created one of the most competitive and consistent collections for a year in a long time.
And the Academy still managed to get it wrong.
That may be a little underhanded. To be honest the Academy had its work cut out for it this year. And at first glance, the list of film’s assembled as the year’s very best is a film buff’s dream. A comic book movie has been given the most nominations of the night. Scorcese has a near 4 hour crime epic starring, De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci. Quentin Tarantino, Hollywood’s biggest hollywood nerd making a movie about…hollywood. And most importantly, Bong Joon Ho getting the white-spread recognition he’s always deserved.
Dig a little deeper though, and there are still some egregious snubs.
I write this list every year, so I like to keep an eye out for contenders that I certainly think deserve attention, but are likely to fly under the Academy’s radar. This year, I thought I could’ve given it to Eddie Murphy in Dolemite, Taron Edgerton in ‘Rocketman’, George Mackay for ‘1917’. I really struggled to choose one of them. Then the Academy pulled a fast one on me and made this the easiest category to fill. Sandler’s performance in Uncut Gems isn’t just an important element of the movie, it’s the whole movie. The fact that he’s been snubbed is the heights of Academy snobbery.
That’s right, ‘Us’ came out in 2019! It seems so long ago but the doppelganger drama was indeed released last year. While the movie seems to have faded out of cultural conciousness, the performance of Lupita Nyong’o is so haunting, it will remain in my mind forever. The woman double handedly made it so that if a pair of scissors is too big, I get chills. Don’t even get me started on bunny rabbits. Playing a suburban woman as well as her sinister counterpart, Lupita is able to get a pair of magnificent performances for the price of one film.
Bong Joon-ho is getting a lot of attention from the West right now. More than that time he made Captain America into a baby eating revolutionary. While Joon-ho has always been a genre unto himself, but his secret weapon is the man willing to become whatever his director needs. Song Kang-ho has been a principled actor in ‘The Host’, and ‘Snowpiercer’, and he’s always delivered. Never quite so than in ‘Parasite’. His character is complex and demanding, but Song Kang-ho makes it look like a cakewalk.
The trailer for Hustlers is fun. It makes you hungry for drama, in the trashy way one is hungry for a whopper. Imagine my delightful surprise when the movie turned out to be one of my instant loves of 2019, thanks in no small part to Jennifer Lopez. Like the film itself, her role as Ramona, the veteran exotic dancer with a mind for manipulation is not that compelling on paper, yet Lopez elevates the material so well. Making her character one of the most memorable of 2019.
Truthfully, I would love to give this movie several awards. It’s such a playful and emotional journey. It’s firing on all cylinders for creating one of the most original experiences of 2019. The one element that stands out above the rest is the screenplay. Many of the scenes have so much going on that taking stock of what’s on the page for one scene is enough to develop an Ivy League thesis. The words said by the characters themselves, is simply poetry.
Let’s get one thing straight here. Greta Gerwig crafted a masterpiece with ‘Little Women’. It’s a movie that manages to take two timelines, play them almost parallel to each other, each with the same actresses portraying vastly different characters at different stages of their lives. The film was nominated for best picture, but Gerwig has been snubbed. But yeah no, the ‘Hangover’ guy deserves a nomination, definitely.
Yes ‘Parasite’ is nominated, so rightfully it has no business being on a list of snubs. It’s getting its moment in the solar system, but not quite in the sun. I have no doubt that ‘Parasite will be lauded for years to come, even on the Academy stage, but if it gets the award for ‘Best Picture’, I will…eat my hat. That said, it’s the best film of the year, and I couldn’t make this list without saying that. Go see Parasite.
There were several amazing films in 2019, but they don’t always get the recognition they deserve. I would’ve loved to see ‘Rocketman’ get half the love that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ did. I think Lorene Scafaria deserves accolades for her work with ‘Hustlers’. I’d love to give James Bond an accolade just for the donut speech along. Some snubs are political, but this year, the films came out swinging and made it hard to determine which was the best. What a way to end the decade.