Oscars: ‘Green Book’ Overcomes Backlash to Win Best Picture
Peter Farrelly’s film nabbed three wins on Sunday night, including the top honor at the 91st Academy Awards.
Green Book won best picture at the 2019 Oscars on Sunday, beating out frontrunner Roma and robbing Netflix of its first-ever win in the coveted Academy Awards category.
“This is like a dream,” said producer Jim Burke while accepting the trophy with the Green Book cast and team, including Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga, on Sunday night. “We made this film with love, and we made it with tenderness and we made it with respect.”
Farrelly added, “This whole story is about love. It’s about loving each other despite our differences and finding the truth about who we are; we’re the same people.”
The director then thanked the film’s star Viggo Mortensen and co-star Mahershala Ali, who, earlier in the night, won his second best supporting actor award. He becomes the second black actor to win more than one Oscar for acting.
Wessler then dedicated the win to the late Carrie Fisher before presenter Julia Roberts signed off on behalf of the Academy and its hostless show.
The win marks a somewhat surprising development for what was anticipated to be an unpredictable Oscar year. The 2019 best picture category was considered one of the toughest to predict going into Sunday night. For one, both presumptive fronrunners Roma and Green Book have proven to be divisive among Academy members — the former because of box-office rival Netflix, the latter because of awards season missteps.
The best picture race also included box-office hits favored by viewers — Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born — and the Hollywood guilds, which usually settle on a consensus by Oscar night, had not agreed during the 2019 Oscars season. The Directors Guild feted Roma, the Producers Guild picked Green Book and the Screen Actors Guild awarded the cast of Black Panther.
Farrelly’s Green Book tells the story of Tony Lip (Mortensen), a bigoted Italian-American who was hired as a driver and bodyguard by pianist Don Shirley (Ali) for a tour through the civil rights-era South.
Universal’s Green Book was an early Oscar favorite, until passionate debate about the racial dramedy grew along with its awards season rise. Some of Shirley’s family members criticized the film’s portrayal. Then Vallelonga, Lip’s son and screenwriter, had to apologize for a resurfaced anti-Muslim tweet. Farrelly, who did not earn a best director nom, also had to apologize for exposing himself in the past.
Green Book earned five nominations, including a best actor nom for Mortensen. Brian Hayes Currie and Farrelly claimed the award for best original screenplay.
A win for Roma would have nabbed Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white autobiographical drama a number of firsts, including the first non-English film to win best picture. Roma had several strikes against it going into the Oscars. Many Academy members resented that the film comes from rival streaming giant Netflix.
Roma did earn Netflix its first-ever noms for best director, actress in a leading role — for first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio — original screenplay, foreign-language film, production design, sound editing and sound mixing. Of those categories, Roma won best director for Cuaron and best foreign-language film, a first for Mexico, on Sunday. Cuaron also won best cinematography.
In taking home the best picture trophy, Green Book also beat out the timely BlacKkKlansman, fan-favorite A Star Is Born, groundbreaking Black Panther, global box-office hit Bohemian Rhapsody, female-fronted The Favourite and the politically charged Vice.
Roma and The Favourite were tied for a total of 10 nominations going into Sunday. Roma also tied the record for most noms received by a foreign-language film. Netflix nabbed 15 nods in all.
Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody walked away with the most wins of the night with four.