Sunday, April 04, 2021

Movies: 2021 Oscar Nominees Triple Feature

I've been watching the Academy Awards since high school drama class, and some years have better "Best Picture" nominees than others (in 1994, Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, and The Shawshank Redemption were all nominated, and I'd argue all three movies have become classics). 

With all respect to the filmmakers, this year's slate isn't terribly impressive, perhaps because of the pandemic. I saw most of the nominees anyway, though, and here are my takes on three of the frontrunners:


Steven Yeun's career really took off after he left The Walking Dead10 years ago, he was slumming it with yours truly at a fan convention, now he's the first Asian-American to be nominated for "Best Actor" in Minari:

The film follows a family of Korean-Americans starting a farm in rural Arkansas. Yeun plays the patriarch Jacob, a headstrong man whose sometimes-unreasonable optimism about growing Korean produce reminds one of Jean de Florette. It's an okay movie with good acting, but there isn't much plot or tension.

Rating: 7/10


I like Frances McDormand's performances as much as the next guy, but even a two-time Oscar winner can't hold up ChloƩ Zhao's weightless drama, Nomadland:

The movie is a year in the life of a van-dwelling widow (McDormand) after the Great Recession and the death of her husband and her town. Zhao depicts some heartbreakingly gorgeous vistas of the Southwest and gets surprisingly good turns from famous van-dwellers playing themselves (Bob Wells actually has the most emotional scene in the movie). But there's no story here, and almost no conflict, so the 108 minute runtime feels like a slog.

Rating: 6/10

Promising Young Woman

At this point, the revenge thriller is an old genre (I Spit on Your Grave came out over 40 years ago), so it's disappointing that writer/director Emerald Fennel's Promising Young Woman misses the point of these films:

Yes, it's a revenge movie in the #MeToo era, and it's about as contrived and tedious as you might expect, with evil caricatures in place of characters. Now, to be clear, date rape is a despicable crime, rape victims shouldn't be "blamed" for being otherwise sexually active, and institutions have sometimes been complicit in aiding the perpetrators. But there's a difference between a movie and a message, and Carey Mulligan's protagonist is way too sterile and blameless in a genre that demands the audience not sympathize with the lead character too much. After all, is there a "good guy" in Death Wish?

Rating: 5/10


Post a Comment

<< Home