Oscar season is in full swing which means we are ramping up for our first ever Golden Donut Awards. As that approaches, I will be attempting to see and review as many of the “Oscar caliber” movies as I can. My first target- Green Book.
Green Book is based on a true story taking place in the 1960s that follows an Italian American (Viggo Mortensen) who is hired to drive and protect a famous African American pianist (Mahershala Ali) as he goes on a concert tour of the Deep South. In doing so, he must deal with the extreme racism of the cities the performances take place, while also battling his own prejudices.
Green Book is clearly an “Oscar bait” movie full of big, controversial ideas with great lead performances. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact it is one of the more entertaining Oscar movies of the last several years. Viggo Mortensen, whose career has been and always will be defined by his performance as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, turns in what is probably his best performance in this one. He never falls flat with his Italian American accent or with his mannerisms that define the character. He is matched step for step by Mahershala Ali’s performance. The movie focuses on just the two of them for a vast majority of the runtime, and not a single moment between them disappoints. Instead, their interactions lead to some very powerful and emotional moments that really work. The plot of the film is simple, but serviceable for what the movie is trying to accomplish. The story itself was not one that I had heard before, which made it fairly interesting. The production design of a 1960s America is also really well done and feels like the movie was shot during that time period.
And while all those aspects of the movie are great, the movie does suffer in other places. It is predictable and you can pretty much guess the direction the movie is going to take after the first few minutes. I also don’t feel that Mortensen’s character has a big enough arc in terms of him changing. He isn’t made out to be extremely racist at the beginning of the movie, so him learning to see past skin color at the end of the movie doesn’t feel like a huge shift. He does a couple things that make it obvious he has some prejudices, but besides one minor thing, he doesn’t do anything overtly racist. Granted, it is based on a true story, so I’m not sure how much more they could have dramatized that aspect.
Overall, Green Book is a strong film that deserves the praise it is getting. It is not a movie for everyone, but I do think a majority of audiences will enjoy it.
Green Book gets a Positive ROP from me.
Will it earn any Golden Donut Nominations? Find out when they are revealed in early January.
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