Free Solo and Cold War

Oscar season comes at you so fast, it’s impossible to see everything during the two month window at the end of the year. Because of this, I usually need January and February to catch up on some that I missed, and this year has been no different. I recently finally got to seeing two critically-acclaimed movies that I had missed, both nominated for Oscars: Free Solo (nominated for Best Documentary Feature) and Cold War (nominated for Best Foreign Film, Best Cinematography and Best Director). Here are my thoughts on each.

FREE SOLO

Little Monster Films

“Free solo” is a rock climbing term that defines a climb that is done without any safety ropes or harnesses. It literally means man vs. mountain and it is the most dangerous and difficult way to climb anything, let alone one of the most challenging rocks in the world. The film Free Solo chronicles the attempt by world-famous American rock climber Alex Honnold to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, which would make him the first and only person to ever do so. If you’re thinking this is a National Geographic-type movie that is all about man vs. nature, you’re right. But what totally shocked me is how much more there is to it. It is a psychological study, a celebration of life, an homage to Earth’s beauty and power, but, more than anything, it is an riveting story that grabs you from the beginning and takes you on a harrowing but incredible journey that competes with any of the dramas created in Hollywood.

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The Oscars, They Are A Changin’… My Thoughts on All That’s Happened So Far

The Oscars are less than three weeks away. It’s been quite a tumultuous Oscar season (and it’s not over yet), but, even with all the drama, I’ve found myself uninspired to write about it. Until now. There is a rumor going around about a change the Academy is making to the telecast that finally is enough to get my blood boiling—but more about that later. First, let’s sum up what’s happened this season so far:

First, back in August, the Academy, out of the blue, tweeted an extraordinary declaration which sent the Film Twitter world on fire: “New award category — We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.” While there WERE no more details forthcoming, everyone assumed two things: 1) this addition was done as a pre-emptive maneuver to save face IN CASE Black Panther didn’t get a Best Picture nomination (it did), and 2) it was done to try to improve ratings (the 2018 Oscar telecast was the worst-rated in history). Backlash was swift and fierce—so swift and fierce, in fact, that the Academy then reversed itself and said the Popular Movie Oscar was on hold—for now. But the damage had been done. It was the first shot across the bow for all of us who love the Oscars and sometimes forget that it’s still a television show and that means ratings rule all. And, just as pink slips usually follow a terrible earnings report for a company, the worst ratings ever were destined to prompt some major changes in the telecast—and traditions—we have come to love. While we were able to get the Academy to withdraw from their first bad ratings-driven decision, there is only so much the little guy can do when the winds and waves of change are this powerful. The Oscars are a business. It has never been as apparent as this year.

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