Before I begin with my movie recommendations, I want to use this opportunity to write something about the upcoming Oscar Awards. Although for many years I’ve enjoyed this celebration of movies, I’ve also endured Sunday nights of frustration watching how the Best Movie awards are given away to films of no relevance whatsoever. Sure, entertainment is king but the Best Movie of the Year should also be socially relevant, inspiring, meaningful, controversial or at least irresistibly funny. Certainly, it hasn’t been like that in many ocassions. Come to my mind movies like Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013) and Selma (2015) which deserved the Best Movie of the Year Oscar and didn’t get it.
This coming Sunday (Feb. 24) we have a good list of contenders. However, I don’t expect too much from the Academy members. I have my own list of winner movies and documentaries.
First, Roma. Alfonso Cuaron’s long overdue portrait of a social reality mostly accepted by Latin American societies and ignored by its filmmakers: the drama of indigenous poor women whose best chance to survive is by working as housemaids in many middle to upper-class homes from Mexico to Chile. Many of them like Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) work from dawn until late at night when their “Senores” finish requiring their help. They wash, dry, iron clothes, prepare meals, take care of children and handle ridiculous tasks as serving snacks from the nearby kitchen to their “tired” employers; this not only in Cuaron’s 1970’s Mexico but today in most of Latin America.
If you read the Jobs Classified sections in these cities you’ll notice the strict requirements these housemaids need to fulfill. One of them, insidiously “convenient”, is that the maid is required to live in the employer’s house. Those desperate ladies with no homes or families of their own see it as a refuge, not so the others who can only see their kids and relatives once a week. They are basically on call, underpaid, overworked and exploited with the excuse they have food and a roof over their heads.
All of this, subtly, almost in a timid way, is shown beautifully in black and white by Cuaron’s cinematography.
The other relevant contender, in my opinion, is BlackkKlansman. Spike Lee surprise us again by the way he tells us the story of Ron Stallworth who infiltrated the KKK in Colorado in the 1970s. Not only he shows this man and his fellow police teammates heroic and daring feat, but also the history that still envelops us today with a powerful and unexpected ending.
Most people have heard of Black Panther, the superhero movie (no relation at all with the Black Panther movement, curiously). It’s been praised as a great achievement as a comic book franchise, especially because most of its cast is African American (2018! about time!). Nevertheless, comparatively few have watched BlackkKlansman. I wonder why.
My Oscars 2019:
Best Movie: BlackkKlansman
Best Director and Cinematography: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Best Actress: Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Best Actor: Christian Bale, Vice
Best Documentary: Fahrenheit 11/9 (Michael Moore ignored again. I wonder why?)
2nd Best Documentary: Active Measures (Directed by Jack Bryan)
Best Action Movie (My own category): Mission Impossible Fallout