Of Course It’d Be ‘Green Book’
Of course it’d be Green Book. It had to be. Green Book was always going to win Best Picture. I’m sorry, but these are the facts. I can’t change them.
After it won at the Golden Globes, Green Book became a fast favorite to take a number of statues. Despite the controversy surrounding the film, it was the real frontrunner for Best Picture. Why? Green Book’s a prime example of “Oscar Bait”: catnip for Academy voters. It’s not bad, per se. It’s just so paint-by-numbers; it’s serviceable and it’s safe.
What about Roma, you ask? It looked like a heavyweight competitor even before the Golden Globes, and it stole the show at both the Directors Guild and the BAFTAs. Alfonso Cuarón deservedly took Best Director, which wasn’t a long shot in the slightest. However, it’s also a Netflix film, and many Academy members bristle at that (even Steven Spielberg’s not a fan). Roma might’ve been the strongest competition, but at the end of the day, it’s direct-to-streaming, black and white, in another language, and there’s no star power (not to disparage Yalitza Aparicio or the rest of the cast by any means). Also, while it screams “art,” the Academy prefers “important” movies. Green Book ticks a number of the boxes for voters; it’s a biopic with a White Savior who overcomes racism. Should Roma have won? Probably. Just don’t be surprised that it didn’t.
I also can’t help but notice that a Spike Lee film didn’t win Best Picture, but an automotive White Savior story did—just like in 1989. BlacKkKlansman‘s loss stung just as much as Green Book‘s victory. There was a definite vibe in the room when that envelope opened. Oscar-winner Jordan Peele, reportedly, didn’t clap, and he wasn’t alone. Spike Lee tried to storm out with his award in hand as the producers gave their speeches; he would later get six glasses of champagne deep:
Brief tangent here, but let’s be frank—Black Panther never had a shot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine movie and a standout of the superhero genre, but remember that the average Academy voter is 100 years old. They’ll cling to safer, old-fashioned films with their gnarled claws until death finally takes them. Besides, genre wins are rare; 2018’s winner The Shape of Water and 2003’s Return of the King are notable examples. But still, that’s a 15-year gap. Taking home awards for costuming and design was a no-brainer (and that speech!), but Best Picture was always a pipe dream.
Look, awards shows like the Oscars and the Golden Globes are, well, total bullshit. It’s less about rewarding creativity and more about the almighty dollar. Do you know how much money a nomination alone earns a movie? The “average best Picture Oscar winners over the last four years saw a bump of 22.2 percent (or $20.3 million) in box office revenue after they were named a nominee,” according to the researchers at IBISWorld. A win nets “an additional 15.3 percent (or $14.0 million)” on top of that. So, how do studios lock that sweet, sweet cash? Noted sex criminal/executive Harvey Weinstein would throw lavish, celebrity-filled parties to drum up interest for award campaigns. Celebrities send gifts and glad-hand to woo voters, and it works. Denzel Washington even admitted it onstage when he won the Cecil B. DeMille Award at 2016’s Golden Globes:
I’m speechless. I just thank you. I thank the Hollywood Foreign Press. Freddy Fields. Some of you may know Freddy Fields, he invited me to the first Hollywood Foreign Press luncheon. He said, ‘They’re gonna watch the movie, we’re gonna feed them, they’re gonna come over, you’re gonna take pictures with everybody, you’re gonna hold the magazines, take the pictures, and you’re gonna win the award.’ I won that year. I wanna thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for supporting me over the years. They’ve always made me feel like a friend—part of the party.
Still, people watch. People care. People love the pageantry. Everyone’s all dressed up, and sometimes things we like actually win. Plus, there were some highs this year! Right off the bat, Regina King started things with a killer speech. Spike Lee finally won an Oscar and gave another speech to remember. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse beat out The Incredibles 2 for a well-deserved win in the animation category (with yes, a great speech). Also, is it just me, or does the ceremony work better without a host? There was a distinct lack of social media stunts and the ceremony didn’t knock out a calendar day like it usually does. Refreshing!
Nonetheless, Green Book was always there, its shadow looming over the tastebreakers. Look at the difference between Samuel L. Jackson reading Green Book‘s name for Best Original Screenplay and his reaction to BlacKkKlansman for Best Adapted Screenplay:
Samuel L. Jackson’s reactions announcing the Green Book win versus the BlacKkKlansman win were um distinctive to say the least pic.twitter.com/B3USRJGKo7
— Hanna Yowell (@HannaYowell) February 25, 2019
From confused repulsion to unbridled joy.
Perhaps you’re wondering what’s next for Nick Vallelonga, whose writing for Green Book netted him that coveted Best Original Screenplay statue. With that kind of notoriety, he’s got the world of Hollywood in the palm of his hands. What sort of prestigious project will he tackle next? After all, he originally wanted to direct Green Book, so maybe…
Your morning reminder that freshly minted Oscar winner Nick Vallelonga's next movie is called THAT'S AMORE, and in it, a man meets a woman named Patti Amore. https://t.co/ABTK84hj19
— Linda Holmes (@lindaholmes) February 25, 2019
Oh, that can’t be right. Can it?
That’s Amore! is a musical romantic comedy about a 40-year-old bachelor who thinks his best years are behind him and who is resigned to working in his family’s pizza restaurant. That is, until he meets Patti Amore, a shy and introverted loner with an overprotective father and a dark secret in her past. The two emotionally damaged people enter into a relationship.
That’s Amore! enters production this year, and will probably win everything because God is dead.