I never thought much of “Green Book” upon release, nor did I make any kind of effort to see it. Frankly, I didn’t expect anyone else to either. The movie, which follows the developing friendship between an African-American pianist and his Italian-American driver during a journey through a segregated South, seemed like the kind of movie released 10 years too late. It was a strange anachronism in a world where most audiences expect more nuance from their movies than “all the races should just get along.” After watching it recently, I can safely say that, sometimes, you should just go with your gut and stay home. But, as it is in the running for this year’s Best Picture, it is clear that the Academy Award voters disagree. While it isn’t the most critically-panned movie in the running—that honor going to “Bohemian Rhapsody”—it is the most aggressively forgettable. With that in mind, here are a few films far more deserving of the Best Picture nomination, films that, while not perfect, are all memorable in a way that “Green Book” never was.
“Sorry to Bother You”
Director Boots Riley’s story of a telemarketer in dystopian Oakland has such an incredibly original premise executed with such a singular aesthetic vision, that it deserves the nomination for sheer creativity alone. While it was far from perfect, ending on a note as unsettling as it is Twilight-Zone-hokey, it dealt with themes of racial and economic exploitation with a power and urgency “Green Book” never even approached.
I was confused when I didn’t see “Eighth Grade” on the list of this year’s nominations. Even after Elsie Fisher’s gut punch of a lead performance won at the Golden Globes, even after all the talk of writer-director Bo Burnham’s remarkable talent, it still didn’t make the cut. That really is a shame given what a harrowing, uncomfortable, and wonderfully refreshing piece that it was. While it’s got the bones of a pretty typical coming-of-age tale, it builds from them a potent story about growing up today that never stoops to moralize about social media or “kids these days always on their phones.”
The Oscars have historically been unkind to genre fiction and, while that is less true now than in years past, the prestige drama still reigns supreme. Family drama / demonic possession flick “Hereditary” tells an incredibly unique and well-realized story while never bothering to hide its horror roots. It, just like everything mentioned, is a far more deserving contender for the Best Picture slot and will stick with me long after I have forgotten “Green Book” entirely.