We don't go to many movies throughout the year, and we are very selective about which movies we do see. When the Academy Awards nominees are announced, we like to see as many of the Best Movie selections as possible. It's kind of a winter project for us, when the weather is raw and the hours of darkness need some brightening up. This year we saw six of the nine nominated movies.
We had no interest in seeing The Joker - too dark, or Parasite, with Korean subtitles. We would have had to travel a ways to see JoJo Rabbit, so we didn't, although I will want to see it eventually.
We saw some of the nominated movies in the theater and found others to watch on our big TV through Netflix and On Demand.
The Irishman is a Netflix movie. At three and a half hours long, you might want to divide it into two sittings. We watched it all in one evening because it was compelling enough to keep us entertained. This is a gangster movie and the stars are gangster movie stars. Joe Pesci plays a mob boss. Al Pacino is Jimmy Hoffa. The main character, played by Robert DeNero, is a guy named Frank, a WWII vet and Teamster who "paints houses", mob speak for assassin. Frank is an outwardly ordinary man who calmly offs other mobsters, and there are plenty of offings, and yet this movie doesn't seem violent. That's odd, when I think of it.
This is a good movie, but not a great movie, because it doesn't really leave you with anything to ponder. As I think back on it, I remember the comic relief provided by the gangster wives, chain smoking and shallow. Maybe they had to be.
Two other good movies that we saw were not nominated for Best Picture, but their lead actresses are nominated for Best Actress.
Cynthia Ervio is very good as Harriet Tubman in the film Harriet. Most of us are familiar with Harriet Tubman's story, of how she was ill treated as a slave girl, how she escaped to the north with help from the Underground Railroad, and how she became a fearless conductor on that Railroad, bringing many others, including what remained of her family, to freedom. She was a remarkable human being, and it's always a good thing to be reminded of her story. Cynthia Ervio does a masterful job of acting in portraying Harriet.
The other biopic we saw was Judy. While Harriet's and Judy Garland's stories are very different, there are parallels. Judy was a little girl with big talents who was exploited by her parents and then by the movie industry contract system, and especially by Louis B. Mayer. From early on her life was completely controlled, as is shown in flashbacks throughout the movie. She was fed pills to keep her weight down, to pump up her energy, and then to allow her to sleep. This movie covers a period of time near the end of Judy's life, when she is struggling with drugs, alcohol, and heartbreak. Her demise is hard to watch, but actress Renee Zellweger is outstanding in her roll as a tormented Judy Garland. She will most likely win the Best Actress award.
I'll be watching the awards show on Sunday. It's fun to see the fashions and all the glitz and glamour, and see who "the Oscar goes to".
And it will be a much needed respite from politics. (I hope)