It would be good to know that a certain critic’s taste coincided with your own, especially if that critic were on The New York Times, which is my primary source of movie information. One easy test of this came this weekend, when the Times printed an Oscars section in which their two chief critics, A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis gave their lists of who the 2019 nominees should be. Alas, their choices were so far from mine that I worry about relying upon their recommendations in the future.
The most unwatchable performances for me this year were Natalie Portman in Vox Lux and Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate. Dargis had both of them on her lists of Best Actor and Best Actress. For Best Picture, Dargis listed The Death of Stalin, which we went to based on her review and thought was terrible. She also included Zama, which we saw at the NY Film Festival two years ago and led us to decide not to go to the Film Festival again. She touted both of those for Best Screenplay, as well.
I saw seven of the ten films listed by Scott for Best Picture and was less than impressed with four of them: If Beale Street Could Talk, Let the Sunshine In, Private Life and Support the Girls. The last, especially, left me cold, in contrast to both critics, who also gave it nods for Best Actress (Dargis), Supporting Actress (Dargis, twice) and Screenplay (Scott). Both critics surprised me by nominating Brian Tyree Henry from Beale Street as Best Supporting Actor. He wasn’t bad, but it was such a small role – one scene – compared to Adam Driver, say, in BlackKklansman.
A couple more films that I haven’t seen get a lot of love – namely, Happy as Lazzaro, Sorry to Bother You, Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Burning. Normally I would make an extra effort to catch up with them, but based on the apparent dissonance in our taste, I can no longer be so sure.