Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far .
Today, Doug Jamieson of The Jam Report is here to look at the Best Picture Nominee – Roma.
Best Picture –
Oscar nominations – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress – Yalitza Aparicio, Best Supporting Actress – Marina de Tavira, Best Original Screenplay, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
Key wins this season – BAFTA (Best Film, Best Direction, Best Film Not in the English Language), Critics’ Choice Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography), DGA (Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film), Golden Globes (Best Foreign Film, Best Director)
In a year of excellent films, one stood above them all. Alfonso Cuarón‘s masterful Roma is a simple yet powerful familial story where ordinary moments somehow become entirely extraordinary. When crafted by an expert, the simplest tales often become the most powerful and affecting. This rings especially true of Cuarón’s latest masterwork.
It’s no exaggeration to call practically every frame of Roma a moment of genuine beauty. While that beauty may often be elicited from the strangest of places, Cuarón knows how to make this film shine as only he could. Every single moment has been considered with ample care. Nothing here happens by chance. Working as director, producer, writer, cinematographer, and editor, Cuarón has a hand in crafting every aspect of this film. It’s a personal work of the highest order.
But, as we all know, being the year’s finest film is simply not enough to win Best Picture, especially with the complicated preferential ballot voting system. Roma will have to overcome numerous obstacles to take home the prize. No foreign language film has ever won Best Picture. A black-and-white film hasn’t won Best Picture since 2011. And it failed to capture the all-important SAG Ensemble nomination (although so did The Shape of Water and look how that turned out). But its biggest issue stands with its distributor.
There are many in Hollywood who are utterly terrified at the prospect of Netflix and their game-changing release strategies. With a limited theatrical run and a focus on the home entertainment release, Roma has been delivered in a way like no other Best Picture contender. After skirting around the film festival circuit since late August, it arrived in everyone’s living rooms, laptops, and smartphones in early December.
This is the Netflix model and potentially the wave of the future of film distribution. That very idea scares the hell out of most movie producers who rely on box office returns to fund their studios and, of course, their own pay checks. Just the idea of declaring a Netflix film the best of the year is enough to send many Academy voters running from the Dolby Theatre in terror.
With thinly-laced attacks from people like Steven Spielberg, Roma is facing a backlash that may be too great to overcome. Streaming films stand as a threat to blockbuster filmmakers. Honouring one with Best Picture is potentially too risky. It’s ridiculous, of course. Pretending Netflix doesn’t exist and movie viewing habits aren’t evolving is a fool’s errand. But the longer they can delay the inevitable, the better.
While it seems highly likely Roma will receive the majority of #1 votes on the final Oscar ballots, it may not be enough to reach the 51% required before preferential votes kick in. There are rumblings that many voters who dislike Roma are placing it at #8 to dampen its overall chances. If that proves to be true, the film may collapse and a more universally liked film (like, god forbid, Green Book) will take its place as our Best Picture champion.
In my opinion, that would be an absolute crime. There is no greater achievement in cinema this year than Roma. Rarely do we film critics allow ourselves to call a film a work of art, but that’s the only turn of phrase for something as unforgettable and astounding as Roma.
It’s the kind of film that reminds us why we love the art form that is cinema. A moment we only get once or twice a year, if at all. A film that leaves you in a delirium of wonder and delight at what you’ve just experienced. An absolute cinematic masterpiece. And, hopefully, this year’s deserving winner of Best Picture.