Green Book (Peter Farrelly, 2018)
With a beautiful screenplay and strong acting performances, Green Book seems to be Peter Farrelly's redemption as a director and his fast pass to the Oscars table.
I will start by saying this: I was completely and utterly, pleasantly surprised by Green Book. I walked in on the movie theater with few expectations for this film and, boy, did it prove me wrong. It is an amazingly-written story that goes beyond the void moralisms that are at the core of most films with plots that revolve around racism. It obviously has an underlying message regarding the subject, but I think the film tells the story in such a clever way that it does not seem to be just another touchy feely movie trying to teach us a life lesson. So, the screenplay, much to my surprise, is definitely a strong contender in the run for the Oscar. The film was also a huge improvement for director Peter Farrelly, whose previous work was made up of silly comedies, with a few hits (i.e. Something About Mary) and a lot of misses. With a filmography containing works such as Shallow Hal, The Heartbreak Kid, or Movie 43, Farrelly seems to have come a long way from where he started, and we sure hope he continues the journey through this new path.
However good the direction and the screenplay are, this is nothing compared to the performances from the cast of Green Book, specially that of Viggo Mortensen. In this regard, I know the spotlight has been on Mahershala Ali all through awards season, and the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award is practically a lock for him, having won the prizes for that category in almost every single award show so far. And although Ali's performance is undoubtedly amazing, I think the focus everyone has had on him has ultimately cast a shadow on what can only be described as a perfect performance from Mortensen. I actually happen to think that if anyone in this film deserves an award, it is him; and if having a vote for Best Actor, I would probably give it to him, even over Christian Bale. His performance is so absolutely genuine and well-studied that you simply can't help acknowledging the immense talent in this underrated actor. I know he is a long shot in the Best Actor category, specially because the Academy has a thing for physical transformations and method acting, but I think what Mortensen's performance proves is precisely the fact that you don't necessarily have to undergo tremendous feats to be worthy of a spot in the acting podium. Ultimately, what he proves is that, sometimes, less can really be more.
I don't think Green Book is the best film in the run for Best Picture, but this is merely because it is facing some of the strongest contenders I have seen in the past years: Yorgos Lanthimos's The Favourite and Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman. Other than that, the film in itself is very good. I wouldn't say it's memorable either nor one of the greatest films I have seen lately, but it is made up of a beautiful story, an amusing script, and some really remarkable performances, all for which it definitely deserves some recognition.