‘Green Book’ Doesn’t Deserve Its Oscar Nominations [Opinion]

The period drama had no business being nominated for Best Picture, Actor, or Original Screenplay.

The 'Green Book' cast and director.
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

The period drama had no business being nominated for Best Picture, Actor, or Original Screenplay.

Green Book — director Peter Farrelly’s period drama about a road trip to the South in the 1960s involving two unlikely friends — was nominated for five Academy Awards, per the Inquisitr. The nominations were announced Tuesday morning.

The film, which told the story of the friendship between Italian-American bar bouncer Tony “Lip” Vallelonga and African-American musician Don “Doc” Shirley, was nominated for Best Picture. Viggo Mortensen secured a nod for Best Actor and Mahershala Ali followed suit, being nominated for Best Supporting Actor. The film was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay (for Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, and Peter Farrelly), and Best Editing (for Patrick J. Don Vito).

Three of those nominations are totally indefensible.

Green Book has absolutely no business being nominated for Best Picture. It’s silly and mawkish, centering the wrong main character and building its story around a ridiculous narrative arc — one in which a racist idiot slowly learns to become a slightly less-racist idiot. The film’s racial politics are clumsy at best — and in a year during which films such as the not-nominated Sorry To Bother You, Blindspotting, and If Beale Street Could Talk dealt with racial issues much more skillfully, any of those were much more deserving of a Best Picture slot. This is to say nothing of other contenders such as Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman.

Similarly, the Green Book shouldn’t be nominated for Best Original Screenplay, either. Co-written by Vallelonga, and essentially based on stories which his father told him, the screenplay is at the crux of many of the film’s faults. It focuses on the less-compelling of the two main characters, while putting key exposition in the mouths of supporting characters. The dialogue isn’t so great either, having characters say ridiculous things like “hey, I’m workin’ here!”

And finally, I have no idea why Mortensen’s performance — which is an extended Italian-American caricature on the level of Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny— is doing among the acting nominees. It likely has something to do with the Academy’s tendency to over-award performances that involve extreme weight gain and loss.

I have no quarrel with the movie’s other two nominations, as Mahershala Ali is excellent as Shirley, and there’s nothing wrong with the film’s editing. But this is part of the problem: a film that centered around Doc Shirley — or told a story about his life that wasn’t about the time in which he spent a couple of months with his fool of a driver — would have been much more interesting. Such an offering would likely have notched Ali a Best Actor nomination, rather than a Best Supporting Actor nod.

In achieving those nominations, Green Book overcame a sluggish box office performance, as well as a series of negative stories about the film. Per the Inquisitr, various essays criticized the film’s racial politics, and — also per the Inquisitr — Shirley’s family came forward to take issue with the film’s depiction of their late relative. An old interview appeared, one of Farrelly admitting that he exposed himself to women. An old tweet surfaced, one of co-screenwriter and co-producer Nick Vallelonga tweeting at President Trump about Muslims celebrating the 9/11 attacks.

But Green Book‘s support has rebounded, with a Golden Globe Best Picture win, and it’s now seen as a Best Picture favorite alongside A Star Is Born and Roma. It shouldn’t be, because it’s a much worse film than either of those by nearly every conceivable metric.