Best Picture Reviews
February 14, 2020
The 92nd Academy Awards were held on Feb. 9, 2020. Our staff discusses our picks for Best Picture.
The Chilling Story of Class Struggles in Korea
Best Picture Winner "Parasite" Stuns
A Korean comedy-thriller film highlighting class struggles has made history by becoming the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. The nomination is well deserved. “Parasite” has special qualities that set it apart from other films. Having to read subtitles should not be what stops a viewer from seeing this incredible movie. From the brilliant cinematography to the stunning performance from actor Choi Woo-Shik, director Bong Joon Ho’s latest is a must-see.
The movie opens when Kim Ki-Woo (Choi Woo-Shik), a son from an impoverished family, scores a job working for the rich Park family after his wealthy friend, Min-Hyuk leaves to study abroad. Soon, the entire Kim family is working for the Parks after scheming their way in. From here, the Kims go about their daily lives, enjoying their new income. When the Park family goes on a camping trip for the weekend, the Kims decide to stay at their vacant house. While it is funny at first, it gets dark quickly. The movie does not fail to make viewers laugh. For me; however, those laughs were followed with an unsettling feeling that was with me for the entirety of the film.
“Parasite” is an excellent film that perfectly combines cinematography with a beautiful score. The contrast between shots focused on the rich, happy, Park Family and the scenes reflecting the disadvantages of the Kims, drives home the main message of the film; class warfare. At the beginning of the film, the Kims are struggling to get by, and cannot afford basic necessities. Viewers are shown the complete opposite of this when we are introduced to the Parks, who live in a mansion and can afford art therapy for their son. While the Kims believe that the Parks have made their lives better at first, their perspective soon changes. The climax of the film is unpredictable and unnerving, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats.
Despite what you may think, the hype surrounding “Parasite” is adequate. This film offers something for everyone. The brilliant themes, shots, and performances propel “Parasite” above any other film released in 2019.
NOTE: Parasite is rated R and contains violent and sexual content. This is not suitable for all audiences.
Thriller from the History Books
“1917” Makes For Enthralling Blast From the Past
Known as the Great War or World War I, it was perhaps one of the most savage conflicts in the history of the world. War became mechanized and millions of people from around the globe suffered. This is why any movie seeking to recreate this time period must do so with elegance and grace that pays tribute to those millions of military and civilian casualties. “1917” director Sam Mendes could not have done a more brilliant job bringing the era to life with touching refinement.
The most extraordinary aspect of the film is its production quality. From the incredible casting of certainly more obscure young actors Dean Charles-Chapman and George Mackay as Corporals Blake and Schofield the films central figures, to the costume design which wonderfully kits out the actors in period specific clothing, to the set design which brings the battlefields of World War 1 Scotland and England, where the movie was filmed.
Opening on two low-ranking British soldiers sleeping serenely in field the film follows these two corporals Blake and Schofield as they are ordered to relay a message deep into German territory to save a battalion of young men who are walking unwittingly into the teeth of the German war machine. To add a sense of urgency, Corporal Blake’s brother is one of the men who finds himself in that battalion. The two men set off across the German territory enduring all the horrors of war with a few death-defying experiences to give their message.
Now the difficulty in making a movie with a plot like that of “1917” is despite the fact it is set in a war zone you are in fact making a hiking movie. It is hard to say how enthusiastic people are about hiking, but it seems difficult to build a film around it no matter how many shots of explosions and gun fights you can cut to. That is where first-rate cinematography by Richard Deakins sets “1917” apart from war movies. The film is to appear shot in one continuous take giving the whole thing a linear feel that only adds to its suspense.
“1917” truly is a cutting-edge film. It features intense performances from up and coming actors, an engaging script from Mendes and his co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, as well as seamless editing from Lee Smith, and of course the cinematography of Deakins which is really a bit of a marvel. It is truly worth a watch and certainly vies for a place among the many other great WW1 films.
The Inspiring Story of the 1860s
Oscar Nominee “Little Women” Review
I am not the kind of person who would go out of their way to see a historical period drama, but the film “Little Women” surprised me. Despite my lack of knowledge prior to watching the film, I was swept off my feet. It is truly an inspiring film. What I really enjoyed about the film was the female empowerment, character development and the personalities of each character.
The film itself was inspiring to watch. Set in Boston, MA 1860’s, the four main characters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are being raised alone by their mother while their father is away at war. They are all being expected by society to marry for money since they did not come from a rich household. Meg, the oldest sister, married a man who she loved but had very little money. Jo, the second eldest does not want to get married and gave up things to help Beth. Beth, the third eldest, was still young but had gotten sick. Amy, the youngest, has always planned on marrying rich, but when she finds the right man, his heart is in another place.
Out of all the sisters, Jo played by Saoirse Ronan, is definitely my favorite. She is not like the other sisters. She wants to break society’s expectations and become her own person. Her love and passion for writing and wanting to be her own person inspire me. In the film, she says, “Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts, and they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it!”
Throughout the film, it shows the personal conflicts each of the sisters face, but in the end, they are all there for each other. The film has a great way of showing the tight bond the sisters have with one another. It reminded me of how lucky I am to have a sister. I hope that the film was just as inspiring to other viewers as it was to me.