The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony will be taking place Sunday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m. on ABC. In preparation for the event, it is now time to analyze each of the “Best Picture” nominees.
Parasite (2019) made history for being the first international film to win “Best Picture” in 2020. It’s considered the most prestigious award in motion picture entertainment by organizations such as the New York Film Academy. So the question is: who’s next?
Every “Best Picture” nominated film is listed below with a brief summary, review and rating:
“See you down the road.”
An open road is a place called home for many, as shown in Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland”. This film takes its audience through the experiences of Fern (Frances McDormand), a widowed and unemployed nomad. It is a thought-provoking work of art; the viewer is unsure whether to feel sympathetic towards the travelers or admire their dedication to expanding their little worlds. This film, though not for every movie go-er, has human layers of community, grief and hope. It executes these themes through stunning performances (some by real-life nomads) and dream-like hues.
Rating out of 10: 8.5
The Sound of Metal (2020)
“I want you to keep writing continuously without stopping until you feel like you can sit again.”
“The Sound of Metal” features its protagonist, Ruben (Riz Ahmed), on his frustration-filled journey to accepting the decline of his hearing. The audience watches the musician and former heroin addict as he adjusts to this lifestyle, living in a deaf community with minimal contact with the outside world, including his own girlfriend/musical partner.
The character development in this film is spectacular and potentially one of the greatest to ever be shown on screen for Ahmed’s realistic and complex nature. “The Sound of Metal” is mild and gentle but keeps the attention of the audience with the true vulnerability from its characters.
Rating out of 10: 10
“They need to see me succeed at something for once.”
The American Dream is appealing to many immigrants for the promise of the country’s dedication to allowing those who reside within its limits the ability to pursue their goals and own ideas of happiness. “Minari,” titled after an edible water plant native to East Asia, shows Jacob, a Korean father trying to achieve this promise when he moves himself and his family to Arkansas to start a farm.
“Minari” also seamlessly acknowledges the difficulty of balancing cultures. In this case, Korean and American cultures, as a second-generation immigrant child. The film’s passion and struggle are captured through the breathtaking cinematography.
Rating out of 10: 8
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
“We are going to storm the hearts and minds of the American people.”
Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” takes its audience into the courtroom of the notorious case against seven individuals who were (allegedly) key contributors to the harsh uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Unity over the same cause (ending the Vietnam War and returning U.S. troops home) is prevalent in this film, despite the different methods of revolution from the different groups on trial.
The overall performance in this film is very satisfying to watch, which is expected of such an elite cast but the editing is what really ties everything together. This film is quick, amusing and genuinely shocking at times. It poses valid questions to the ethics behind badges and benches—questions that are still being asked today.
Rating out of 10: 10
“This is the business where the buyer gets nothing for his dollar but a memory.”
“Citizen Kane” (1941) is often regarded as the greatest film of all time. Well, behind all great films are great screenwriters. David Fincher’s “Mank” introduces Herman Mankiewicz, the man who wrote said “greatest film of all time” as he works on his most important project.
Though the shift of perspective is refreshing to see, without extensive knowledge of the time’s (the late 1930s) history, the viewer may find themselves lost or even uninterested. This film was disappointing when put next to Fincher’s reputable filmography, however, it is interesting to see him wander into new territory while still maintaining his overall directing style.
Rating out of 10: 5
Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)
“You can murder a liberator, but you can’t murder liberation. You can murder a revolutionary, but you can’t murder revolution. And you can murder a freedom fighter, but you can’t murder freedom!”
“Judas and the Black Messiah” shows the events that lead up to the ultimate death of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and the F.B.I.’s role behind it. Betrayal is the most prominent theme in this film as Bill O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), a Black man, infiltrated the Black Panther Party for the sole purpose of being an informant to the F.B.I.
This film was particularly impactful because of this betrayal. Although the audience knows that O’Neal is not doing this voluntarily, there’s noticeable uncertainty and hesitation associated with his actions. This film is an excellent look into the kind of operations used to dismantle the Black Panthers. It was especially wonderful seeing Kaluuya and Stanfield on screen together again, as they were both remarkable in Jordan Peele’s 2017 horror film, “Get Out.”
Rating out of 10: 7.5
Promising Young Woman (2020)
“Hey. I said, ‘what are you doing?’”
“Promising Young Woman” gives the audience a story of revenge so compelling, it’s difficult to look away. This is not to say the movie is enjoyable to watch as it can be painful and devastating for many with any prior knowledge of statistics about rape culture.
Despite the actions of the protagonist being concerning and unhealthy, it is clear that this is a reaction caused only by the unexplainable grief she is experiencing due to the actions, inactions and lack of remorse of others. This film is divisive and gutting, but it is important. It manages to get important messages to the audience without giving up thrill or its mainstream entertainment factor.
Rating out of 10: 8
The Father (2021)
“I feel as if I’m losing all my leaves.”
“The Father” is a story that may, unfortunately, be all too familiar to some either now or in the future. It’s the story of having a parent with an irreversible and compromising condition. At times, the film simulates the symptoms of dementia for the viewer, giving a more thorough understanding of what the lead character is experiencing.
When Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) is not onscreen, however, things are much more clear as they are shown in the perspective of his loving daughter. This allows viewers to note the unfortunate tension in their relationship which stems from Anne’s (Olivia Colman) desire to be accepted by her father, despite the debilitating disease he is plagued with. There is a sense of resilience in this film that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. The performances by both Colman and Hopkins are sure to stick with all viewers.
Rating out of 10: 8.5
To see the big winners, tune in Sunday, April 25 at 8 p.m. ET on ABV for the 93rd annual Academy Awards