Unlike Elizabeth I am no longer the queen…of the Oscar pool…long live the king!
I did a last push to try and take in a few more nominated films before the big show and will share my insights. First, Honeyland was nominated for both best documentary and best foreign language film. Already I was intrigued intrigued. The story follows a woman who seems to live in the middle of barren land alone with her mother. She spends her days covering a vast territory tending to her bees who provide for her well being. She lives an impoverished life caring for her bees and elderly bedridden mother with one simple rule, when taking from the bees always leave half for them. Half for me, half for you; a symbiotic relationship for equal sustainment of life. One day a family moves in next door. I never did tally up the number of children they had but they could not be more different from our bee keeper. Nonetheless she affords them kindness and shares her knowledge of bee keeping when they express an interest. If I hadn’t read that this was I documentary I would have never known. It plays like a well scripted film and is non-typical of a documentary in that there is no narrative, no presentation of the subject and position of the documentary maker up front. Even when the credits roll it leaves you to draw your own conclusion of their story. It will not take you long to get the message of this film but I’m not going to ruin one second of it for you. Brilliantly done in a year of Parasite and the Obama’s documentary, Honeyland was winless but well worth you time.
The other foreign language film nominee that I watched was Corpus Christi. This is a film from my honorary Polish homeland and marks the first time their Oscar entry featured someone smiling; but just one person, everyone else had the scowl (Oscar nominees The Nun and Cold War both featured miserable people beautifully shot in black and white). Corpus Christi features a young man about to be released from a juvenile detention centre. He sings like an angel and wants to be a priest but is told that he would never be accepted to the seminary due to his criminal past. The priest at the centre arranges for him to report for work in a mill. For what ever reason, our young hero steals the priest’s collar and by a trick of fate ends up being mistaken for a priest and decides to go with it. He was not like any priest the townsfolk had seen – he swore, admitted failings, called a thing a thing but most of all he found joy in it. And the pews filled. But every hero has to have a foe and well, scowlers gonna scowl. This film sucks you in and has you rooting for young Daniel and also for the townspeople he was trying to reach. I liken its tone to Waking Ned Devine and St. Vincent but with Polish sensibilities. If I didn’t have to vote for Parasite I would have given Corpus Christi the win.
Harriet was a pleasant surprise and I had hoped it would have won best song. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this film but was curious because it was an unexpected surprise at the box office and because Cynthia Erivo was nominated for bestie. I knew little of the extent of Harriet Tubman’s extraordinary life and bravery and this was my primary take away. Who escapes slavery to the safety of the north and goes back time after time to rescue others? Harriet Tubman. She rescued some 700+ people. She served in the civil war and was the only woman to ever lead an infantry. Quite a remarkable person. The cast that surrounded Cynthia just couldn’t match her performance and was the weakest part of the film. Cynthia is currently starring in a supporting role in the Outsider (mentioned by Rob below) and as in Harriet has a scene stealing intensity I’ve only ever seen from Viola Davis. See both so you can jump on the Cynthia bandwagon.
Lastly I watched Richard Jewel as Kathy Bates was nominated for best supporting. Honestly it was just awful. Somehow Clint managed to coax out the worst performances from Kathy and my boy Sam Rockwell. Don’t bother.
Unlike me, Rob reviews on a weekly basis. Catch up at https://mondayswithrobbie.com/