Breaking with tradition, there apparently there will be no host for Sunday night's Academy Awards telecast, but, in keeping with a tradition almost as significant, here is the annual ranking of the Oscar Best Picture nominated films from my humble, untrained perspective.
I still wish that the Academy would go back to five nominated films instead of eight to ten because I don't think there are more than five films that potentially deserve the Best Picture Oscar -- unless it's a really exceptional year.
This was not a really exceptional year. But here we go:
1. GREEN BOOK. I loved this movie for its message of love and friendship, for the humor and the tears. It's a film that I would watch over and over, and that's a major criteria for how I pick my favorites.
2. A STAR IS BORN. Okay, I realize that this is the third film version of this story, but what it might lack in originality it makes up for in excellence. On the other hand, I have sort of a thing for Bradley Cooper, so how I could I not like it?
3. ROMA. If you see this movie on Netflix or on an airplane, you'll wonder what all the fuss is about. If, like me, you see it in the fifth row center of a movie theater, you'll be blown away by the real-life grittiness and intensity. It starts out slow and turns out to be amazing.
4. BLACKKKLANSMAN. Like Green Book, this story revisits an embarrassing and cruel era of my country's past. This particular film also reminds us that it's not as much in the past as some of us wish.
5. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Good story, well done, although some say it is too sanitized. Great music if you like Queen (which I do, of course). Rami Malek is terrific as Freddie Mercury (although the prosthetic teeth are overdone).
6. THE FAVOURITE. Speaking of Queen -- in this case, Queen Anne -- this film seems to be a costume display of woman's inhumanity to woman. It took me a while to realize that this movie is a comedy, although the beyond-imagination wigs should have tipped me off.
7. VICE. Christian Bale is a quite convincing Dick Cheney, but I personally found it painful to be reminded of Cheney and the lies that led to the war with Iraq. Not funny.
8. BLACK PANTHER. I'm not a Marvel Comics guy, so I was mostly lost and bored during this show, and, if it's about the special effects, I've seen better elsewhere. I think the only superhero film that I ever loved was Superman II, which probably makes me pretty primitive in this genre.
Here are some of my favourites in other categories (although, truth be told, there are several nominated performances that I didn't see):
BEST ACTOR: For A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper, for whom, as I said, I have kind of a "thing" anyway, but he did more than just act in this film. He acted and directed and produced it and sang in it and deserves an Oscar!
BEST ACTRESS: Glenn Close in The Wife. And you're going to say, what about Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born?, who, admittedly, was great, but this is Ms. Close's seventh nomination (versus Gaga's first) and she finally deserves her Oscar.
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Adam Driver for Blackkklansman. He's good at playing a cool guy. I used to like him in the HBO series Girls.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: I don't have a big preference in this category, but I'll say Emma Stone in The Favourite. And I think her role was large enough to be in the Best Actress category instead of Supporting.
DIRECTOR: Without question, Alfonso Curaron for Roma, although I admit that it would be kind of fun to see Spike Lee win for Blackkklansman.
That's it for this year. Let's hope for some good 2019 films. Be sure to watch the Oscars this Sunday night so that we can discuss the "winners", which, of course, we will undoubtedly disagree with. After that, get out of your recliner sometime soon and go to the movies!