Oscar Showcase 2021
by Brooke Wolfenbarger | published Apr. 26th, 2021
Award shows always seem to be controversial and this doesn’t stop with the Oscars. At the end of the night, they announce the winner for best picture and there is normally a mixture of responses. You have people who have never heard of the film, people who disagree with the choice or people who’ve seen all the films and agree.
There can be several reasons why people disagree with the winner of the best picture category, from not being familiar with all the films presented to just having a different taste.
With 2020 being a tough time for films, this year's nominees are “The Father”, “Judas and the Black Messiah”, “Mank”, “Minari”, “Nomadland”, “Promising Young Woman”, “Sound of Metal” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7”.
Below you can see a review of all eight nominated films so you can enter the Oscars this year with some insight on each of the nominees, even if you didn't have enough time to watch them all.
“The Father”, directed by Florian Zeller, performances by Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman.
This film tells the story of a daughter, Anne, who is taking care of her father Anthony who is dealing with the struggles of dementia. You see Anne going through many caretakers to lessen the weight that she is carrying, even though her father keeps insisting that he is alright.
Throughout the film there were parts that, as an audience member, you feel lost and confused by. You're not really sure how the puzzle pieces fit together, but this is what the film does best.
The beauty of this film is it does not give you any straight answers. You are observing the mind of the main character, Anthony, as he deals with his dementia. You are witnessing his battles as they play out for him. It’s not supposed to make sense to the audience because it’s not making sense for Anthony. Inevitably, it gives you the feeling that you are part of the film and are experiencing it on yourself.
“Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Judas and the Black Messiah”, directed by Shaka King, performances by Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield and Jesse Plemons.
This film retells the end of Fred Hampton’s (Kaluuya) life as the chairman of the Black Panthers’ Illinois chapter.
The story also focused on Bill O’Neil (Stanfield), an FBI informant, and how he gained the trust and infiltrated the Black Panther Party.
Through the film we see how Hampton impacted black communities and the work he did for people. He was trying to unite people against the injustices that were happening in America.
On the other side of the story, we had O’Neal who was facing moral conflict throughout the film. He had cops and the FBI saying that Hampton was a threat, while he sees first hand what Hampton was doing for the community.
Kaluuya gave a very strong performance as Hampton and one of the ways his performance shone was through the speeches he gave in the film. The tone and power that Kaluuya put in them made you feel the emotion behind Hampton's messages and the unity of his followers in the room.
“Mank”, directed by David Fincher, performances by Gary Oldman, Amada Seyfried and Lily Collins.
In the film it tells the story of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (Oldman), at the time of his life when he was writing the drama film“Citizen Kane”.
Taking place in the 1930s, the world was going through identification and development of different political, social and economical philosophies —a major part of the narrative.
The film follows Mankiewicz as he is being essentially tossed out of the industrytrying to write one of his best pieces of work on a time crunch. It shows a man who is realizing how messed up the industry is, but is still trying to write his best screenplay.
This film can be hard to feel immersed in, but it gives an interesting backstory the screenwriting for "Citizen Kane".
“Minari”, directed by Lee Isaac Chung, performances by Steven Yang, Yeri Han and Alan S. Kim.
This film deals with the struggles that immigrants coming to the United States experience in search for the American dream. It also focuses onfamily, relationships, love, loss and acceptance.
In the film, we watch a Korean family moving out from a big city in California to start a farm in Arkansas, which has always been Jacob's (Yeun) dream. This dream comes with a lot of complications that put Jacob and his wife Monica (Han) at oddsthroughout the film. But you feel every emotion with the family. You laugh with them, you cry with them and you feel the heartbreak and love.
“Nomadland”, directed by Chloé Zhao, performances by Frances McDormand and David Strathairn.
This film shows the audience what it feels like to be a nomad.
The story follows Fern (McDormand) as she travels finding small towns to work in for normally a short period of time. She doesn’t want to retire even though her old way of life in the real town of Empire, Nev., is uprooted. She moves around in her van, meeting new people and listening to their stories.
A majority of the people in this film like Linda (Linda May) and Swankie (Charlene Swankie) are real people, real nomads, living in their vans.
There were portions of the film that made it feel like a documentary and there were parts that made it feel like a movie. This came down to what characters Fern was interacting with in the scene.
Visually “Nomadland” is stunning. The movie takes you to the deserts of Nevada and places like Arizona.
“Promising Young Woman”, directed by Emerald Fennell, performances by Carey Mulligan, Laverne Cox and Bo Burnham.
In the film, it deals with Cassandra’s (Mulligan) life after a traumatizing event changes her and her view of the world. She altersher life goals and works at a coffee shop at night, while she seeks vengeance for those that cross her path.
The film deals with the feelings of loss and how to cope with those feelings. It looks at how women are treated in society and what can happen when a woman is taken advantage of.
This film will take the audience on a wild journey and whenyou watch it you don’t really know what to expect. This film is a combination of a thriller, comedy and romance. None of these really seem to fit together, but that’s what makes the film so compelling.
“Sound of Metal”
“Sound of Metal” directed by Darius Marder, performances by Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci.
This film tells the story of a heavy metal drummer Ruben (Ahmed) and the difficulties he goes through when he starts to lose his hearing.
He has to balance how he used to live in the world and how he has to get used to this new world. He struggles with his deafness and wants to get back what he’s lost — his hearing.
One of the main themes throughout the film is finding stillness. This becomes very symbolic in the film, specifically at the end. Ruben needs to understand that time will keep passing and the goal is to find stillness and silence in a loud, moving world.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”, directed by Aaron Sorkin, performances by Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Mark Rylance.
This film tells the real life story of the seven people on trial for theuprising during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. This was during the Vietnam War when people were protesting the war heavily in disagreement.
The film is very interesting and presents the unjust side of the judicial system and this trial. It shows what a big trial was like when it is publicized and seen by the world.
I found it interesting that this was the second film that dealt a little with Fred Hampton’s story, the first being "Judas and the Black Messiah" and the impact of his death. Bobby Seale (Abdul-Mateen II) was a part of the Black Panther Party and was the eighth person on trial. Fred Hampton (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) was there in support of Bobby Seale and thus had a big impact on the trial when Hampton was killed.
As you watch this film you feel a wide range of emotions. This story keeps you on the edge of your seat and there are continuous surprises throughout. You don’t want to stop watching until the end.
Each of these films are unique in their own way. They tackle unique and important themes that are important to society. Whether they are stories telling historic events or not, they captivate the audience.