Oscar History
Welcome

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!
Comment Fun

Oscar's 10 All Time Favorite Leading Actors

"Please come back Jack." - MDA

"Two performers I wish were on this list: Montgomery Clift and Henry Fonda." - Arkaan

"Interesting comments on this thread about how fashions in acting styles change over the years." -Edward L

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500... no 465 Patron SaintsIf you read us daily, please be one.  Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

Interviews

recent
Jeremiah Zagar (We the Animals)
Desiree Akhavan (Mis-education of Cameron Post)
James Ivory (career)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)

What'cha Looking For?
Subscribe
« Complete these 'A Star is Born' Sentences... | Main | 25 Films to Compete For "Best Animated Feature" Oscar Noms »
Wednesday
Oct242018

Believe the hype: "Green Book" is a true crowd pleaser

by Nathaniel R

The final day and a half of the very short but very fun Middleburg Film Festival went by with a whirl. We've since received word on the winners. Though Middleburg is a non-juried festival, the audience votes for a people's choice style prize. The documentary winner was Biggest Little Farm, a film about the director and his wife trying to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres in California. Farm has been making the festival rounds for the past two months and is aiming for an April 2019 bow in movie theaters.

The narrative feature winner, echoing the crowd-response at TIFF a month earlier, went to Peter Farrelly's Green Book. Green Book was the closing film of the festival and I was able to catch its first screening on Sunday before racing to the airport to return home. The crowd went wild for it and it's worth noting that Middleburg has a more diverse audience than a lot of festivals (that's probably due to the vast social connections of the founder Sheila C Johnson, co-founder of BET who is one of the nation's richest African-American women and very involved in the arts). Sadly I wasn't able to attend the Q&A though I did manage to snap this photo before racing to the airport as the star Viggo Mortensen, the composer Kris Bowers, and director Peter Farrelly entered to a wild standing ovation to discuss the movie... 

As mentioned yesterday on the podcast, watching Green Book with a crowd provides strong circumstantial evidence that the movie is going to be both a huge box office hit and a formidable Oscar contender. The movie tells the true 1960s story of a racist Italian boxer (Viggo Mortensen in an against-type comic star turn) with a huge appetite and terrible manners who reluctantly takes a job as a driver/bodyguard for an uptight intellectual Jamaican-American classical musician (Oscar winner Mahershala Ali of Moonlight fame). Together they road trip to the deep south for holiday concerts where the musician suffers more explicit racism than in his relatively privileged life as an elite musician in Manhattan. Along the way the driver becomes far more sympathetic to his employer's circumstances. Both performances are occassionally cartoonishly broad -- not entirely uncalled for given the film's tone --  and it's easy to fault the movie for its simplistic but inspirational implication; racism can be cured by friendship!

Few will mistake the movie for a deep investigation of our country's deeply entrenched race problem -- it's far more old school than that in that it safely condemns the blatant familiar racism of the segregated past with its high risk of violence in the South, and repeated plot points about separate bathrooms and accomodations ("Green Book" refers to an actual guide as to where African-Americans could stay during vacations -- sometimes the musician has to stay in total dive motels despite his wealth).

Yet somehow it all works in a kind of heightened movie-movie way. Mortensen and Ali's oil & water chemistry is a delight and the movie is often very funny, director Peter Farrelly (Dumb & Dumber, There's Something About Mary) being no stranger to pulling off big movie theater laughs. One particularly sweet thread involves Ali helping Viggo write letters to his wife (the always reliable Linda Cardinelli, adding great warmth and sensibility to every scene) while the two men are on the road. Despite that subplot the movie doesn't go the full dread 'magical negro' route, since it's much more balanced than that in what the characters do and become for each other (Mahershala Ali's "supporting" campaign is absurd since it's a two-hander with a little Cardilleni on the side) 

With its enjoyable central friendship, clearly drawn lines of good and evil, charismatic actors, chill live-and-let-live vibe (who'da thunk 'live and let live' would feel so progressive in 2018. sigh), holiday scenes, and happy ending it's all very easy but quite satisfying. Given the sorry state of America these days with the White House condoned evils and renewed shamelessness of old school racism, it's possible that Green Book will work just like comfort food for exhausted goodhearted American audiences of many stripes when it opens for Thanksgiving. We'll see.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (23)

Is there a chance they’ll both be pushed Lead? How unfortunate if Ali is put in supporting.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

George -- the studio is already on the lead/supporting plan. the only difference really is that the first 10 minutes dont feature Mahershala and you're only with Viggo but still. UGH.

October 24, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The trailer is very slick- it made me think"Driving Mr Daisy" and yes its pure Oscar bait

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

It was so much fun watching this in a massive sold out screening. It's a bit predictable but I couldn't help but love it.

We had a Q&A with the whole team (at the London Film Festival) including the screenwriter/son of the man Viggo plays, who told this story about how Linda Cardellini wore his mother's actual jewellery in the movie - he was super charming and reeaally sold it to the audience.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAnya

Cardelinii could be a stealth BSA nominee,no one is predicting but every1 will once she becomes mentioned on lists.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Oh, Viggo! The Golden Globe is going to look lovely next to your football memorabilia.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Does anyone know if the Globes still pay any lip service to category fraud? Three years ago they put their foot down, but since then they've nominated Dev Patel, Armie Hammer and Viola Davis in supporting for lead performances. Was that just a one-time thing? Or could they insist on nominating Ali in lead?

As far as Green Book goes, I had no idea Linda Cardellini was in it, but after reading this review, I immediately checked the age difference between her and Viggo.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Hopefully, if deserved, they both go lead.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

Its trailer is so gross as to feel entirely too antiquated to exist and not remotely appointment viewing.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Is anybody else finding it icky that a 2-character movie about racism finds the white guy going lead and the black actor going supporting?

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I honestly feel Ali is underestimated if he ends up in supporting.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBlinky

Glad to see you enjoyed it, Nathaniel. The trailer hasn't done its charm justice; this one (at least to me) was impossible to dislike.

I've been saying since I saw it that it's destined to make more than $100M at the box office. It's like Hidden Figures or The Help, but about men which I suspect gives it a leg up above them (by which I mean that women will see movies about men but the reverse isn't always true). It looks like it may even be the third highest-grossing BP nominee after Black Panther and A Star is Born...

And that potential Cardelini nom mentioned above sounds very possible.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

What brookesboy said. I can already read the outraged tweets about this campaign.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I agree with brookesboy and cal roth. There are so many great actors of Italian descent that I wonder of Viggo's casting will become a point of contention as well (the stereotypes are dialed up to 11 in the trailer with regard to that character).

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Right now, GREEN BOOK sounds like a lock for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) and Best Original Screenplay. Wondering if Viggo Mortensen can enter the Best Actor nominees shortlist given this year's strong competition... Will Farrelly be taken seriously for a Best Director nod after his past movies? Is Best Editing that likely to happen since the AMPAS always recognize its favorites in this category?

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEd

brookesboy -- blame the Oscar greed of studios / actors / producers / whomever. People always want to pretend actors are blameless in this regard but they do have to sign off on these things. Ali has enough clout to say "nope, I'm a lead" if he wanted to. Look what Colman did on "The Favourite"! The buzz -- i dont know if its true or not -- was that she wasn't okay with the supporting placement.

October 24, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm less bothered by the campaign placements here than some others seem to be. Yes, they are co-leads, but Viggo has the more substantial role (and his performance, in my opinion, is the better of the two), so there is enough basis to justify that placement. Also, as Nathaniel points out, this is what Ali wants. If he wanted to go lead, I think Universal would campaign him in lead, just as Fox is doing with Colman. But his chances are simply better in supporting and he knows that. Unlike Colman, he wouldn't be a lock for a nomination in lead. So I think any outrage over that choice is misplaced. Also Cardelini is good and probably deserves a nom for the body of work she's produced throughout her career, but this is not the ticket for her. Her role is just too small (no Oscar "moment") and the category is too competitive. But I agree the film is for sure a lock for best picture, though I don't think it will win.

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJes V.

Seems like most people who have seen this movie have adored it, and a lot that haven't are sharpening their knives based on the trailer and a possible awards campaign ...

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

If I were Bradley Cooper I 'd be really, really worried...

October 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

Cardinelli feels a bit like Minnie Driver in Good Will Hunting, no?

October 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

JJM - you are correct.

October 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Word has it that Ali agreed to go Supp, outta respect to Mortenson who he felt is the true Lead o the film. But i agreed its more o a strategic move not unlike Stone goin supp for The Favourite.

Ali knew his chances in the overcrowded Best Actor cat is pretty slim, but over at the weaker supp cat, he immediately upgraded to one o the frontrunners, given his meaty screentime!

I said its a greed issue, rather than a racist move.

October 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Ali is a muslim. He shouldn't lie.

October 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDaya

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>