By Stacy Bauer
Get ready for Oscar night Sunday! Tune in live to ABC for the 91st Academy Awards at 7 P.M., CST. We’ve got eight stunners this year in the Best Picture category. My picks in order, from most to least award-worthy, are as follows:
The film follows lead singer of Queen Freddie Mercury’s life from joining in 1970, breaking up the band mid-note, to reconciling to perform Live Aid in 1985. Starring Rami Malek as Mercury, it is acclaimed for “becoming the seventh-highest-grossing film of 2018 worldwide, and setting the all-time box office records for the biopic and drama genres,” according to Wikipedia.
The first superhero movie to ever receive such a nomination, it’s based on the Marvel Comics character Black Panther and has a predominantly black cast. Starring Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther (T’Challa), he is crowned Wakanda’s king as his dad’s successor, but his sovereign rule is challenged by an adversary who plans to rid the country of current policies and begin a global revolution of selfish intentions.
Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, he’s a quintuple-threat, since remarkably he also produced, shot, and edited it. Based on his experiences as a youth in late ’70s Mexico City, its key star is Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a live-in maid to a typical middle-class family. It’s a simple story illustrating the political and social turbulence of the time. “The film has tied with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), as the most Oscar nominations ever received by a film not in the English language,” per Wikipedia.
Here’s Bradley Cooper (Jackson Maine) in his directorial debut, co-starring Lady Gaga (Ally). He is a troubled, addicted musician who falls in love with the fresh, vibrant, and as yet, undiscovered chanteuse in Ally. A tumultuous romantic relationship ensues, wrapped up in tragedy and triumph. It’s not a newly told story, but remains a moving one.
This tale takes place in early 18th century Britain. It stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. Though fiction, it is based on actual letters between the three main female characters, a memoir and other factual, historical tidbits discovered by scriptwriter Deborah Davis. Queen Anne is ruler; Britain is warring with France. Her female advisor and companion is Sarah Churchill (yes, that Churchill lineage). Abigail Masham soon arrives on the scene to disrupt the existing relationship. Who is The Favourite now?
In this film, Christian Bale leads, depicting former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. The film follows him on his trajectory to becoming the most powerful V.P. in our history. A satirical-dramedy laced with truths, it notsurprisingly received a highly polarized response, much like the real-life, current political climate. “The critical response to Vice made it one of the worst-reviewed films to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards,” according to Wikipedia.
Directed by Spike Lee, and inspired by Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir, John David Washington stars as Detective Stallworth, in 1970s Colorado Springs. The plot follows as the first African-American detective in the city’s police department actually pretends to be Caucasian over the phone, thus setting out to infiltrate and expose the dirty deeds of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
A loosely biographical film set in 1962, it is inspired by written accounts of a true story: an eight-week jazz piano tour of the Deep South by the duo, African-American classical pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), a Caucasian bodyguard and subsequently, driver. An adventure, yes, but not the enjoyable kind. Both must navigate precarious predicaments pressed upon them by a relentlessly inhospitable environment.
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