With the ninety-first Academy Awards zooming ever closer into vision, we’ve asked some of #FilmTwitter‘s top bloggers to explain why their favourite Best Picture nominee should come out on top.
Our run through continues today with our very own Steven Allison’s take on Roma. You can follow Steven on Twitter @writerfox2 but not before you check out what he has to say here!
When this year’s Oscars nominees were revealed, a month in advance of the 91st Academy Awards ceremony, it came as no surprise that Roma did exceptionally well. The sensational Alfonso Cuarón tear-jerker collected a denary of nominations – including the coveted Best Picture nomination. Along with The Favourite, this made it the most nominated film ever.
Cuarón’s sharp, stylish foreign-language offering is worlds apart from his impressive 2013 sci-fi film Gravity. And yet, Roma is equally majestic, skilfully painting the most pedestrian elements of existence – whether it be the mundane splashing of cleaning tasks, the scraping of a car being parked by a drunk driver, or the squishing of dog poop – in a poetic and often surprisingly humorous light.
Set against a backdrop of political unrest, Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical drama tells the melancholic story of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a live-in housekeeper working for a well-off middle-class family in early 1970s Mexico City. Adored by the children she cares for, Cleo is an integral part of the family but never-ending demands and seething reprimands from her employers act as constant reminders that she is but a mere servant. Tragedy strikes Cleo but, amidst a confusing and upsetting period of change for the family, the broken-hearted maid must go about her work without complaint.
This excellently observed, evocatively glassy, black and white snapshot of life in domestic service moves along at a beautifully moderate pace, allowing viewers to savour every delicious moment of its palpable tenderness and dignified honesty. Roma is simultaneously nostalgic and contemporary, accurately reflecting the lived experiences of anyone – past or present – who’s had no choice but to press on in the face of adversity and suffering.
Everything about Roma – from its richly intimate story to its flawless screenplay; from its stunning cinematography to its deft soundtrack; from its adroit direction to its measured performances – is ambrosial perfection from beginning to end. Cuarón has gone to great lengths to ensure his latest film has it all and it’s terribly difficult to decide what to laud most. Whether it’s his spellbinding, ethereal dance between close-up and wide shots, his meticulous character development or his excruciating attention to historical detail, it’s all so wondrous. I think it would be a tall order to locate anyone who hasn’t been seduced by the discernible charms of Roma.
Of 2019’s nominees for Best Picture, Roma has a comfortable position at the top of the pile. Despite some formidable competition, it is more than deserving. Regrettably, while I’d like to see this insightful, unconventional picture walk away with the accolade, that seems like an unlikely prospect. It may very well clean up in other categories, including Best Foreign Language Film. While that shouldn’t be sniffed at, is it enough? It matches Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonin terms of the most Oscar nominations ever received by a film not in the English language but no foreign language title has ever won the prize for Best Picture in the long, 90-year history of the Academy Awards.
If Roma doesn’t pick up Best Picture, a real sense of injustice will walk the halls of my thoughts that night. Let’s face it, if that’s how things go down, the reasons underpinning the loss are unambiguous. I fully understand that foreign language films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea; for some, they’re not even in the tea category. And that’s okay, subjectively. Objectively, though, it’s not close to being acceptable. My fingers are crossed, but I’m sure that either The Favourite or A Star is Born will pip Roma to the post, swathing me in the same disappointment I was overcome by when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon lost out to Gladiator in 2001 and when The Departed won over Babel in 2007. Neither of those films really stood a chance, if truth be told, and the same can be said of the other eight foreign language films ever to have been nominated for Best Picture. Yet, Roma is so close to the finishing line that something feels different this time. I guess we’ll find out if that’s truly the case in a few weeks.
Do you agree with Steven? Read our review here and let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Don’t forget to check out Plain Simple Tom on why A Star is Born should win, Hamish on Black Panther, Chris on Bohemian Rhapsody, Dan and Nancy on Green Book and Lolo and BigJ on BlacKkKlansman too.