Oscar Nominee: Green Book

Max Eguizabal, Writer

In many of the other best picture nominations, there will be one thing that severely limits the movie from being excellent. Whether it be a limited script, a hamfisted message, or bad action, it tends to make it difficult to enjoy the film. Green Book, however, is able to avoid all the pitfalls of the previous films while still being bold and unique. It has interesting themes, great script and characters, and overall is an enjoyable and fantastic film.

Green Book depicts race relations with more nuance than other best picture nominations like BlacKkKlansman and Black Panther. Those two movies believed that they had to treat their audiences like children in order to get their point across; they spelled it out big bold font. 

In fact, I believe Green Book shines a light to different parts of the race relation issue. For example: in many movies, there is a clear separation of the free, non-racist north, and the cruel, racist south. This is from a bias that the north is and never was racist, which simply is not true. Green Book shows multiple examples of Brooklyners being prejudiced against black people. Of course the south is more racist than the north, but stereotypes and distrust still exists in the north.

Another theme that this movie explored is the idea of being black. Dr Shirley, the protagonist, is black, which means he is not accepted into high white society. He is not only abandoned by the white half of society, but the black half as well. He does not fit into either culture easily because of his skin, or “proper” way of being. This is an often ignored part of the black experience, where black people may grow up and identify with white culture and music, but are still not fully accepted into white society because of their skin. Yet they can not identify with black people, because they belong to a different culture. So, they are left without a group to call their own.

The performances of this movie are fantastic. I could feel the contrast of the two main characters, Tony Lip and Dr. Shirley, from the moment they come in contact with each other. This movie also switches the inaccurate roles typically placed on white and black Americans, that white people are more “polite” and “well-kept”, while black people are more “coarse” and “rough”. In Green Book  Dr. Shirley, the black pianist, is the one correcting the manners of Tony Lip, an Italian New Yorker.

The characters learn from each other as well. Tony learns how to be proper and behave, while Dr, Shirley learns how to stand up for himself and become tough at times. The characters are some of the most believable in the best picture list. This in part due to the amazing script. There is never a dull or boring moment, and every line of dialogue reflects something new about the characters I had not learned before. The script also manages to pull off something amazing: To be a funny and hold dramatic tension at the same time. The film has jokes in it, but it never feels forced or out of place at all. All jokes are in the characters themselves, instead from any outside force.

The filmmaking itself is quite excellent, even if it is not one of the best. The cinematography ranges from only good to amazing, and the score had me engaged throughout the film.

Overall, Green Book is the most impressive movie in the best picture category so far. It combines drama, fun, filmmaking, and messages seen in the previous films without having any significant problems. Green Book is a fun drama that I recommend everyone to watch.