Meghan, Roma, Director discussed on The BreakPoint Podcast
I'm Shane Morris. Thanks for listening to the breakpoint podcast ideology, trumped art in Hollywood, where has all the good storytelling gone, and what can young Christian filmmakers due to develop their craft. These are the questions Warren Cole Smith and world magazine. Film critic Megan Basham wrestle with as they discussed the film's actors and directors nominated for this year's Academy Awards Meghan will also give us her predictions in. What was truly a less than stellar year at the movies? Here are Warren Cole Smith and Megan Basham. Megan Basham, welcome to the program. And you know, I've been excited for a couple of weeks about having you on the breakpoint podcast just to talk about the ostrich which are coming up this Sunday night. You know, we often the Colson center say politics is downstream from culture. I was talking to I had dinner interestingly last night with Makoto Fujimoro who has written a book called culture care, and one of the things that he said over dinner, and he has made that point in his book is that sometimes the reason we have culture wars is because we don't pay attention to culture care and movies are great culture shaping experience this day and age, aren't they certainly certainly our most popular art medium. Well, that's right. Billions and billions of dollars every year changes hands on tickets, and a lot of the stories that we see in movies are stories that become part of the popular imagination become part of the conversations that take. In the public square. So that's why I get as I said again, I'm really excited to have you on the program what I'd like to do Meghan. Just kind of go down the list of all the major categories. There are so many awards given out by the academy of Motion Picture Arts and sciences that we can't possibly do them. All. In fact, we're going to miss even some of the major wards, but let's start with a few maybe with a particular attention paid to any worldview aspects of that. But let's start with the actor in a lead role. We've got Willem Dafoe Rami Malik for bohemian rhapsody. Bradley Cooper stars born Christian bale for vice and Vigo Mortenson was in green book, any of those performances and or movie stick out to you. Well, yeah, you know, I would tell your listeners that if you saw Christian bale as Batman you probably don't need to see vice because he does exactly the same thing to play Dick Cheney. So if you liked that man, you know, what he does with Dick Cheney so you can skip that, and you should skip it for other reasons, it's a terrible movie. But you know, I was. Get a say kind of laughing that this is a rough year to tie, which we were doing this on some year where there was some better movies. You know, some I liked, but I didn't feel just overwhelmed with love for any particular major nominee this year. So that's been kind of tough. And as I particularly look at the actor in a leading role that stands out that I go. I liked Rami. Malik. I you know, I liked Vigo Mortenson performance. But I would have said, you know, in past years, they wouldn't have been actor in a lead role quality of all of the. Yeah. I mean, did you feel that way? Well, did you know in some with the exception of Rami Malik who of course, played Freddie, Mercury and bohemian rhapsody in some ways this category to me feels like they to use the great lawn from Casablanca, they rounded up the usual suspects. You know, Bradley Cooper, Christian bale be Morrison Willem Defoe. These are all guys that are, you know, let's say middle aged or beyond that have sort of. They've been inside Hollywood for the last ten fifteen twenty years. Right. And and I liked Romney Malik performance. But I actually think when I finally saw it it was, you know, well after the original hype of the movie coming out, and I read your piece, and I think that's what struck me is it could have been so much more complex. But it was a great performance, but it wasn't terribly complex because the script is terribly complex. And by the way, since you mentioned, it a forgive my shameless self promotion here, but I did right along piece on bohemian rhapsody and on Freddie Mercury. The bog repeat, Freddie. Mercury four world. It's on their website right now. So you can go to world MAG dot com and see that. And we'll also put a Lincoln the show notes as well. But since you mentioned vice of being such a terrible movie that your assessment, Meghan. I must push back on that a little bit seems to be at odds with the academy because not only did Christian bale. Get an anonymous for actor in a leading role. But Sam Rothwell got a supporting actor nod for vice Adam McKay got best screenplay for vice. And best director for vice. So somebody likes the movie, even if you don't is that because of the sort of anti conservative ideology of that movie. Yeah. That's the only sense. I can make of it. Because this is a ludicrous done. I mean, it is one step beyond SNL sketch. It's just so ridiculous. And even the supposed- mocking. It does if Cheney and it's not even funny like you, just I have friends who are very liberal that went that was a painful movie wasn't clever. The way thought it was it wasn't. It was just a screed and not a very funny one. So I honestly can only go they just wanted to reward the politics of that movie because I can't make any other sense of it. Yeah. Well, let's move on to the supporting actor role. Adam driver for a black klansman Szalai elite did I pronounce his name rider or close to right Allie? But mar Marschall leaf bring a Richard grant for can you ever? Forgive me. Sam Elliot stars born. And of course, the aforementioned Sam Rothwell for vice any surprises there. No, not really. And I like, Adam driver. I've liked him before. And I had some issues of black clansmen, but I liked him in that role. I liked Marschall Ali in green book. Sam elliot. I don't really understand that one. It's it's a very Sam Elliott Esq performance. And I love him. But it wasn't something that particularly deep in that performance. And Sam ado wonder if the Sam Elliot performance might have been an award for a body of work for a career of work because you know, he's now, I don't know probably seventy ish. And and as you say, it's kind of a Sam Elliott performance. But you know, he's done. He's done sort of yeoman's work for decades. And hasn't you know, maybe gotten the star treatment that he's deserved in the past. So maybe they did it for that. Yeah. I have to think that and I really like him. So, you know, it's not like it would hurt my feelings if he ended up there, but I I wouldn't say that it was. Was that this was his Ord worthy performance as far as Sam Rockwell? He's the best thing in vice even though again, he's only one step beyond will Ferrell in playing George W Bush, so well, I'm a big fan of Sam Rockwell, generally. But yeah, I agree with you about the movie vice is just I think it's gotten all the attention because of its politics and ideology and not for its artistic performance at all. Well, let's move onto a best actress because you know, that's another major category. Glenn Close for the wife. I'm gonna need your help. Probably with another name yell -letes operate GIO for Roma believe, that's correct it pretty close. Okay. Good lady Gaga for stars born Olivia Colman for the favourite and Melissa McCarthy for can you ever? Forgive me, going close is one of those act-. She's you know, kinda become an American icon. And so it's no surprise, you know, any role that she's in she's probably going to get nominated for. But I think there are a couple of. Sizes here. One would be Melissa McCarthy. At least to my way of thinking was a bit of a surprise and Roma y'all Lisa operatiothe in Roma was interesting in part because that's a movie that was on Netflix. It got released on Netflix. And it's kind of an example of how Netflix is shaping entertainment. He stays. Yeah. You know? And they had said that the past couple of years there's been a real resistance from the academy to recognize net flicks movies, and it appears that that between that and BUSTER Scruggs, that's breaking down this year. We're starting to see into be fair. There was so little this year worthy of rewarding that I think Roma probably really benefited from that. And you know, that's a funny movie because I enjoyed it. I thought you know, there's good coffee discussion there, but it was hardly to me a traditional best picture best. Actress, you know, major award winner like we would have seen him pastures. I enjoyed her performance. But it's a very quiet movie. There's not a lot of activity. There's not a lot of. Action. There's there's not even a whole lot of story. I mean, it's a very quiet still film. So there's not nearly as much for her to do as say a Libya Coleman who is chewing the scenery in the favorite in a movie. I didn't like, but I liked her performance best. So I'm kind of hoping it goes to Libya Coleman, very good. Well, supporting actress, and we'll make short work of this one Meghan Rachel vice of for the favorite marina day. Tavira also for Roma Amy Adams, another vice nomination. Emma, stone for the favorite in Regina king for Bill streak could talk again, I would just note that Fleiss getting another nomination and Roma. The Netflix movie another nomination. So again, it's just highlighting kind of what a weird year. It is. Yeah. And this is at least the one category where everybody seems to think this one sewn up this is Regina kings, and she will walk away with it. And I have to admit I have not seen this film yet. But my hearing from people I trust is that she will deserve to walk away with it. Right. I want to don't want to spend too much time on. This category Meghan adapted screenplay, but I accept to mention this that some of the movies that we've already mentioned are in this category of Bill street could talk stars born can you ever forgive me black klansman, but one movie that you just barely mentioned a few moments ago. But let us spend a few more minutes within that is the ballot of BUSTER Scruggs. You mentioned BUSTER trust just a minute ago. A cone brothers film, Joel Coenen Ethan Cohn, again, another movie that was out on Netflix. And it's a strange movie as well. It is not a continuous narrative. It is a collection of short films, which makes it unusual in that way as well. And I really enjoyed the ballot of BUSTER scraps. And to me, that's actually one of the it's an example of the positive development of net flicks. That as you have these extremely big budget. Studio pushes for it seems like all we get now are superhero movies superhero as a western superhero as romantic comedy. That you go. Thank goodness for net. Flicks. And other streaming platforms coming along to give us something creative in different and the ballot of BUSTER Scruggs is that and it's one of those that I go it will not be for everyone. But for me the moment, I heard the strains of cool water the old cowboy pallet I was in. And so I really enjoyed this movie. And it was something different. And I I was really grateful that Netflix was around to give us something like, well, I'll tell you that I didn't love it. But I found it sort of one of those movies at couldn't take my eyes off of as I said there were several I think think there were five shorts that made up the whole, and I found a couple of the shorts very compelling and very interesting. The thing that I like about the Cohn brothers is that they swing for the fences most of the time I mean, even on some of their lights stuff, you know, like, oh, Brother Where Art they? I mean, you know, they they're dealing with deep philosophical in in some cases, theological issues. They're not. Coming at it from a Christian, worldview perspective, of course. But they are coming at some of these questions from a very thoughtful perspective and asking serious questions in serious ways. And I like that about him. Well, and I kind of you know, in BUSTER Scruggs is sort of the dark humor that it has I sort of saw that in some of these little vignettes, you saw a story of an old prospector, and I won't give it away. But it made you think about what do we spend our lives chasing after and the futility the vanity vanities. I agree with you. Yeah. That was the one that actually sort of, you know, I think that was in my view, the strongest of the vignettes. And of course, Tom waits was the star of that one. And I'm kind of you know, anything Tom waits as going to be interesting to me. So yeah. So great. Well, let's move onto the best screenplay because again just real quickly going through the amount of McKay for vice Nick Villalonga and Brian curry and Peter Farrelly for green book that was interesting because. Fairly brothers are folks that are known for sort of bald comedies and green book was anything, but that Afonso coral for Roma which we've already talked about talked about. But the thing that was interesting to me about that was that he sort of got his start as a cinematographer and now he's moved over into the director's chair for several movies now and Deborah Davis in Tony McNamara for the favor, but the one that I want to talk about with you Meghan is first reformed Paul Schrader movie. This was I think the only nomination that a God, it might have gotten some minor nominations. But this was a a movie about a pastor having a crisis of faith. I'm wondering what you thought about it. Yes. Funny, because I go man that I had feelings like the kids say about this movie. I had a lot of feelings. And yeah, my intended to be opposite of a lot of my fellow Christian critics. I really didn't like it. I could see the artistry of it. I could see and to be fair. I actually thought that I'm shocked that Ethan Hawke didn't get a nomination. For best actress because may to me too fantastic performance. Like that actually was a best actor performance if ever there was one this year. I struggled a lot with the story mainly because where some people read an allegory about replacing religious faith with environmental extremism. I felt like Paul Schrader was being a little more straightforward about that. And I struggled with the character of the pastor who really didn't seem to have deep faith at all. Like, I read so many secular reviews were saying this is a man struggling with faith. And I didn't feel that he was as a believer. I went he doesn't go to the word. I don't see him in much prayer. He reads Christian mystics, but he doesn't go to the source, and there were little asides that he kind of dismissed something scriptural like say sexual ethics. He sort of made a little comment about well. I know that's not real sin about his affair. He had with a choir director. And so that sort of thing was really hard. For me to like the film because I went I don't see this. As a believer struggling with faith. I see this as someone who doesn't have faith. And so it's not surprisingly rocked by events. Well, I completely agree with you. And plus again, I don't want to give away the ending for those who haven't seen it. But I found the ending way over the top for my taste, and the other thing that was kind of strange to me about the movie to be honest, though, was just how poorly it did at the box office. I thought within hawk and with Paul Schrader, and with the the buzz that this movie God because you know, they were on everywhere from you know, from entertainment tonight to fresh air with Terry gross, the movie kind of tanked at the box office. What ask you that the really unpleasant movie to watch a top of everything else? Besides a great performance. I would almost rather go get a root canal than sit through that movie. A second time it's out here that painful and. Yeah. And it's not particularly engaging. And and even when it brings up to. There was a few themes in it that I did appreciate you know, when he challenged the mega church abundant life discusses whether that is entertainment or worship, I went. I could get behind a theme like that. It's just buried in so much to me like humanist nonsense. Well, I I completely agree with your assessment Meghan, especially that Eaton hall at didn't get a nomination, I would've I would've traded his posh raiders best screenplay nomination for a best actor nomination for Ethan Hawke any day of the week. You know, the best cinematographer is not a category that you know, really gets a ton of attention. Maybe the actors and the actresses and the directors that usually get a lot of attention. But I wanted to just briefly mention it this year are today with you Meghan because Caleb Denzel got a nomination Afonso Koran for Roma. We've already talked about him as the director of Roma. I mean, the cinematographers directors of Taga fy as they're sometimes called are are slowly becoming more and more important to movies to the point where we're now seeing folks like, for example, Alfonso Koran moving from behind the camera to the director's chair, and I'm wondering if this is a function. Of the role technology is playing in movies these days. Well, you know, it's funny when I saw that about Alfonso Koran. I almost wondered is it also a function of our storytelling is growing weaker in some senses in filmmaking that the image is becoming more important than the storytelling character development. Plotting all of those things that make up story because they're just not as strong as they have been in the past. But that said Roma is almost wholly visual movie. So that is very well deserved. And I think he'll win because that is where I really think he deserves to win because it's so arrestingly visual as a film that you it's beautiful to look at even though. It's very quiet. Well, let's move onto the sort of enclosing here. Meg into the two top categories. Best director and best picture. We've got Spike Lee for black klansman Adam McKay of the aforementioned vice Alfonso Koran, which we who we've already talked about Roma again a couple of. As I might need some help with Powell Powell cow sqi for Cold War and your goose Lanta most for the favorite that. I come anywhere in the ballpark of getting those names. Right. Megan. I think you got them both right. Excellent. Very good. So who do you like, and who do you think the academy will like, you know, it's so funny because I actually started looked at this list and went well, yeah, there's two that are competing for what do I hate more versus? What would I award more? I really disliked vice and I didn't like the favorite at all. It had a real it starts out with a really cheeky tone. And you think it's going somewhere. And then it just evolves into it goes nowhere. It's very historical. I don't want to give away a lot. But it turns into a lesbian love triangle with Queen Anne. And even that they don't it just drops off. It goes nowhere with it. So I thought it was week writing. Even though it starts out so much strong. So for me, I think on this list everyone. Alphonso Koran to walk away with it. I think he will. I will say about Spike Lee, I enjoyed black klansman. But what's funny to me is I get a lot of letters people who get upset with me for not liking Christian films. Sometimes and I feel like what I didn't like about black Klansmen was the same thing. I sometimes don't like about Christian films is that it was so over the top and making its point it just wanted to underline its evangelism in a way that racism is damaging our country that it's bad that racist people are bad at its quality. We don't want to develop in our nation. And that's all true. Just like I would say these Christian movies. Yes. That's all true. And yet you don't leave any complexity for character growth for there are moments in the movie where you go. I don't believe that. I don't believe it would happen like that. And then you look at look it up and go it didn't happen like that. And so that's the thing. I feel a lot in Christian films. And I think Spike Lee did the same thing. So this I hate to say this was really a year where I go. It was really. Just a process of elimination going which one did I at least feel okay about and that would be Roma. I was really bummed. I feel like this year. There was not a lot of great movies to choose from. Well, that may take us into the best picture category. They'll given what you said it is ironic that while we only have five best director nominations, we have eight best picture nominations, and that's impart because a couple of years ago, they changed the rules to allow as many best picture nominations as the kademi felt was deserving. Rather than limited to a finite number. There have been as many as ten as I recall in this category. In recent years only eight this year, and again, just to quickly recap them the favorite black klansman. Vice Black Panther bohemian rhapsody Roma Asaraha's born and green book, I'm guessing that based on what you said before in your process of elimination. You would put Roma as your top pick their Meghan. You know, I actually went because there's a couple in that category that weren't in the best director category. I would just go did I none of them. I would consider great film that will stay on the test of time. And I like to star is born. But you go man MRs are four three iteration of this movie. And it would be nice to see something new green book is a nice old fashioned movie. I think it made people feel good it tells engaging story it it's not the best movie I've ever seen. But it is a good old. It's a solid old fashioned movie and again going along with a review of bohemian rhapsody. I go it is not certainly the best. I section I've ever seen of a famous person and their career trajectory, but it's an engaging movie and the music is so great that you can't help you caught up in that. And the way the music is filmed is good. So I would probably go with one of those three as as my pick. It's hard to say which one because I didn't just love any of them. But Roma will probably win. Well, inclosing Meghan just real quickly. And we've already kind of talked around the edges of some of this. But a couple of key takeaways, especially from a Christian, worldview perspective number one. I'd sounds like that the art in this year's selections is lacking less than it has been in the past ideology and politics, in some cases, for example in by. So he Mian wraps the and others. The favorites seem to again ideology, Trump's artistry any other lessons that we can take away. Well, you know, I I would look at young Christian filmmakers and go. I just see such a huge hole in the market for serious thoughtful spiritually developed films that are well done. And and I always want to say to young would be Christian filmmakers, go out and learn your craft, you know, don't start go. Find me page and immediately run out and start filming spent some years in the trenches. Learn your craft, but I go there is clearly such a need for. Spiritually mature good storytelling? And we just don't see it. And and not and also from non-christians we need that. Clearly, but you go there's just a lot of people. I think who are so intent on sending a message that we're missing out on a lot of good storytelling these days. So that's probably my message as the old classic movie. Goes we've got the greatest story ever told. We just need to learn how to tell a better. It sounds lawn. Yes that well, Meghan Basham. A culture editor with world is always a pleasure to chat with you just on a personal level. But especially in your role is culture editor there into kind of get this update on what's going to happen at the Academy Awards this Sunday night. Thanks a bunch, and I'll be watching right alongside you take care Warren. Thanks for listening to the break point podcast. We hope you'll join us for this year's Wilberforce weekend may seventeenth through nineteenth outside Washington. DC the nation's premier Christian worldview conference come in here from Rick Warren, Johnstone street, Eric Metaxas. John. Lennox star. Parker and many more will also be presenting this year's William Wilberforce award for all you need to know. And to register come to Wilberforce weekend dot org. That's Wilberforce weekend dot org. Don't wait too long. Last year's event was a sell-out. Thanks again.