[Film posters and stills from official movie websites]
Every year, I try to watch as many films as I can to do a blog on the Oscar roundups. And every year, I’m absolutely gobsmacked at some of the films that are left out. This year the kind folk at Founding Fuel have asked me to put down that list, and guide you, gentle reader, toward films that might have otherwise been missed.
I will note though, that Oscar-type films are not for everyone. If you’re kicking up your heels after a hard day at the office, or are absolutely fatigued by your college melodrama, these usually aren’t the sort of films you should select to wind down. Oscar films should make you think broader, or feel deeper than you have previously. The absolute minimum requirement is that they must push the craft of cinema. (Did anyone else notice that CODA failed to do that or is it just me?)
Look, I don’t mean to be bitchy. CODA was an enjoyable film; it just feels a little like an Oscar cop-out. It’s a remake of a perfectly serviceable (if not entirely exceptional) French film. I admire it, and it will certainly make you weep, but in the long history of Oscar-winning-fare, it will be glossed over. And you, good reader, deserve better. So here are five films that are better than this year’s Oscar winners (according to my irreproachable standards), but weren’t even friggin’ nominated.
In the brackets below each film, I also tell you what I think they should have won (because they are better in that respect than the films that won or were nominated).
With a heavy heart, I’m not recommending our friend and colleague Wes Anderson’s film, The French Dispatch. While it should have won Best Editing, and would have given Best Cinematography a run for its money, it’s gotten enough buzz, and we’re here to shed light on the otherwise overlooked.
(Best Acting - Lead and Supporting, Best Editing and nomination for Best Film)
I would much rather you enter not knowing anything about Mass. Think of it as God of Carnage but with the tension ratcheted up to 11. Keeping it spoiler free, two sets of parents are brought together to have a conversation about a horrendous event in both their lives. It begins with a viscous tension, where a casually tossed reaction from one character smacks another character like a runaway army tank. Unfortunately for our first time writer (the dopey guy from Cabin in the Woods, who woulda thunk), he chooses to ease the tension at an inappropriate point in the narrative. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that Jason Isaacs should have grabbed Best Actor, and if I could figure out which of the two women were lead and supporting, they should have grabbed an Oscar or two. Some unconventional editing (cutting on a camera drift to catch a sniffle!) and complete circumvention of the “show don’t tell” rule makes this a film that merits more than one recognition.
Watch a clip:
Rent to stream at home: https://www.mass.movie/watch-at-home/
(Best Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress)
The lead in this film wrote the screenplay for herself (pardon the pun). She therefore takes her destiny into her own hands, and in many senses, parallels the film. (If you ever had dreams of branching out on your own, take heed.) In the film a single mother builds back her home, her life and her family, against the backdrop of failing support systems, vengeful misogyny and non-existent finances. There’s also a clever circular symbiosis of her taking care of her two daughters, while they save her life giving her a will to live. CODA was life affirming without the back-break and wrenching effort to get there. This film has lower lows, higher highs, and some zingy dialogue to boot. And by the by, if you ever wanted to see Varys, the Master of Secrets from The Game of Thrones, as a construction worker, you’ve got your (very specific) wish.
Watch the trailer:
Rent to stream at home: https://www.herself.film
3. Green Knight
(Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay and nomination for Best Film)
The original Green Knight, the Arthurian legend, is a difficult story to feed to an audience, in that it makes the case for integrity over life. This film really does honour that belief, and tells it with some thoroughly avant-garde filmcraft. What genre is it really? Well, what do you call Magic Reality, when there’s no reality? It certainly should have won for Best Editing, as it unfolds unimpeded by such trivial concepts as the singularity of time. It ruminates instead on choice, exploring concurrently. Now this is not a film for everyone (it has a pleasant casual disdain towards your confusion), but I assure you it will be a film that will be studied in the future (or the past).
Watch a clip:
Rent to stream at home: https://a24films.com/films/the-green-knight
(Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best film)
Like Herself, Supernova tragically lost out its chance at the Oscars by being in the grey area of eligibility both this year and last year. But it is head and shoulders a better picture than any of this year's Best Film nominations. It is a story of a long-time couple, the enchanting and fiercely intelligent Stanley Tucci character who suffers from dementia (but outwits anyone who thinks he’s losing it) and the worried and weary Colin Firth character, who is keeping it all together, while simultaneously falling apart. The two approach love with a mature but intense chemistry that shows us that love is not the first meeting at a park bench, but the passionate embrace even as the light of a supernova decays.
Watch the trailer:
Rent to stream at home: https://www.supernovamovie.com/watch-at-home/
1. C’mon C’mon
(Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film)
I really do think this unassuming film deserves many awards more than those that have won it (and I’m willing to fight you). In case you were counting, Joaquin is simply a better actor than Will Smith as he is able to play someone other than himself. Nine-year-old British boy Woody Norman doing a constant and specific American accent in an honest, impulsive and delicate style, should have whisked away Best Supporting Actor (though Troy Kotsur from CODA was actually quite sublime). Writer/director Mike Mills is able to write a child’s point of view far better than Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, in that he is neither condescending nor voyeuristic to a child’s take on the world. And it is a deeper, more meaningful meditation than what CODA has on offer.
C’mon C’mon has Joaquin as a radio journalist, who’s job includes asking youngsters their views on the future. Without warning (or much consent), he suddenly has to take charge of his sister’s son. While previously he could wander in and out of children’s lives, pondering, but not engaging, he is now forced to engage, in fact becoming the main orchestrator of both joy and melancholy that besets the boy. If you’ve ever sat next to a child, and had your mind opened because they explained something to you in a manner you’ve never considered before, this film is for you. What’s that? Yes, I do think you deserve to treat yourself to the best film made this year.
Watch a clip:
Rent to stream at home: https://a24films.com/films/cmon-cmon
So there you have it. Did you catch any of these films? What are your views? Was there a fabulous film that I missed? We have an ear here for both your indignancy and extolment, so let us have it.