By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Yes, you heard that right. Peter Farrelly is the director of one of the principle contenders for the Best Picture Oscar.
Half the mastermind behind this gem.
Green Book tells the (based on a true) story of a stereotypically Italian tough guy (Viggo Mortensen) who is enlisted to drive and protect an African American pianist (Mahershala Ali) in his tour of the Deep South in 1962. Yeah, not a good time and place pairing.
Against at least a few odds, Green Book is just goddamn effective. Sure, you’re pretty sure you’ve seen this film before, and you’re not entirely wrong, but it really does, just… work. The vast majority of this is due to the principal duo of excellent performances.
Mortensen is transformed into almost stereotypically comic creation that nonetheless is given real shading and growth as the movie progresses. He’s essentially the audience surrogate, which is a bold choice when you think about it and how much of a period-appropriate godawfully casual racist he is at the beginning of the film.
Bale, you ain’t the only one what can transform hisself.
Ali is the utter epitome of class and composure down to his every hand gesture and face twitch. The cracking of the ice in his personality and towards Tony is perhaps the film’s greatest pleasure, and his outburst at his impossible societal position- not white enough for white high society, not black enough for the African-American community, is undoubtedly the film’s (and his) Oscar clip this year.
As a bonus considering much of the film is a two-hander road-show, Linda Cardellini is charming as all hell, finally being allowed to sink her teeth into the long-suffering housewife roles she’s been getting in bunches as of late.
Finally, to prove there’s an stronger streak of progressivism than some might credit it for, there’s almost shockingly little fuss in the film about Dr. Shirley’s homosexuality. Maybe Viggo’s quick acceptance of this is anachronistic even for a few decades ago, but it’s a trail-marker of progress every bit as assuredly as a Moonlight Best Picture win.
I’ll take an Oscar for both, thank you.
This is no doubt going to be your grandparents’ Oscar Best Picture pick. It’s so tidily and conventionally constructed and tied up with a pretty bow that it’s hard for the film to truly surprise you, the most surprising thing being that genuine emotional streak mentioned above. However, it’s very careful not to offend anybody- even has a -mild spoiler- “cops aren’t all bad scene” and a “look at these formerly racist Italians embrace our black protagonist” scene.
Arguably the world needs films like Green Book as much as it does your Moonlights- films that will eat up a few yards at a time towards the goal line of a nation where the MAGA herds are a distant, bad memory. Progress is progress, and the grandparents need to see it just as much.
Green Book (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: anytime Tony smokes
Take a Drink: anytime he hits somebody
Take a Drink: whenever Dr. Shirley drinks
Take a Drink: whenever they show the gemstone or the Green Book
Do a Shot: for the YMCA- yes, they went there
Do a Shot: for every interaction with the police