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5 Reasons Why “Wild At Heart” Is The Most Subversive David Lynch Movie Ever

In May 2020 we celebrated the 30th anniversary of David Lynch’s film “Wild at Heart.” It was initially released in 1990 to mixed reviews. There were group walkouts in the first few screenings and there are stories of people heckling the movie at Cannes, even though it ended up winning the Palme d’Or. At the time of its release, Lynch was slowly beginning to build his reputation as an auteur. “Blue Velvet,” however divisive, showcased that Lynch had a fresh voice paving a new path for independent American cinema. It’s easy to consider David Lynch as an iconic director right now, but even though some critics hailed “Blue Velvet” to be one of the best films of the decade, others (Roger Ebert among them) were having trouble adjusting to Lynch’s cinema.

Ebert called the film “repulsive” and “manipulative,” a film hiding behind a “copout of parody,” but that’s the very reason why “Wild at Heart” is an interesting case. “Blue Velvet,” however satirical and ironic, had a certain sincerity at its core (a certain ‘magical realism’ if you will) while “Wild at Heart” did away with the sincerity and built its fundamentals entirely on artifice. It’s important to consider that this is a re-visiting of the film, 30 years after its release. The film has a much different meaning now than it had at its release date.

All intended meanings set aside, apparent superficial meanings are equally valid subjects for criticism, so consider this list a mixture of “intent” and “extent,” a merging of the profound, the artificial, and the superficial to criticize a piece of film that has a deeper relationship to American cinema and the American psyche than it does to life. “Wild at Heart” is not a representation of American life – it’s a representation of a representation of the American psyche.

David Lynch has produced many films worthy of a deep-dive, almost all of which are more critically acclaimed and more successful than “Wild at Heart,” but seldom has a David Lynch film made such bold, subversive statements. Before “Wild at Heart,” Lynch’s films were obscene and explicit, but they still had a certain nuance to their expression. With “Wild at Heart,” Lynch throws away all nuance and bares his cinema for the audience. Through the exploration of several aspects of this film, this list will explore five reasons why “Wild at Heart” makes Lynch’s most subversive work to date.

This list contains numerous spoilers.

 

1. Nicolas Cage: An American Emblem of Individualism

By 1990, Nicolas Cage had a mixed bag of performances on his resume. He had charmed audiences in both “Moonstruck” and “Raising Arizona,” but he was still a new face on a long road to stardom. With his machismo and eccentric acting sensibility, he was beginning to attract odd characters and strange roles disguised as cookie-cutter Hollywood roles.

Watching Cage on the big screen in 1990 must have had a completely different meaning to the audience than it does now. Cage’s performance as Sailor delivers a whole new message to audiences in 2020. In 1990 he may have been overlooked or underestimated, but in 2020 his performance as Sailor is one of the first pivotal “Nicolas Cage” moments. There are devout Nicolas Cage fans who organize large screenings of his movies just to watch him deliver his lines in his signature bombastic and highly stylized manner, and when they do so, they do not watch his Oscar-winning performance in “Leaving Las Vegas” or his Oscar-nominated performance in “Adaptation.” They instead watch “Vampire’s Kiss” or “Wild at Heart” to witness the genius of a truly unique American actor.

It seems acting under David Lynch provided the much-needed free reign for him to experiment with his acting style. Sailor’s character may be one of the absolute most ridiculous and over-the-top characters in the history of American cinema; however, there is an unwavering sincerity behind his artificial acting. The film begins with a knife fight where Sailor kills his assailant, after which Cage turns toward the screen, panting. There is a cigarette in his mouth, and with a single finger raised he stares at Marietta (Diane Ladd) with the most uncomfortably unnatural expression. This scene perfectly showcases what Ethan Hawke once said about Cage in 2013, that Cage has “taken us away from an obsession with naturalism.”

Cage may have done away with naturalism, but his exaggerated performances have opened the door for a new sincerity that has laid bare all absurdity of acting. Sailor may not be “natural,” but he is infinitely more flexible and believable as a person than most naturally-acted characters. Sailor is a caricature of the freedom-seeking American hero, but as with all caricatures, the exaggeration is the message.

 

2. Music as Cultural Compartmentalization

David Lynch has always had a love affair with music and musicians. His use of music is deliberate and calculated, and he frequently uses musicians as actors. With “Wild at Heart,” Lynch takes his cultural knowledge of music a step further.

The music is highly codified in “Wild at Heart.” When Lynch wants to make a cultural statement, he first lures the audience in with codified music. His encyclopedic musical knowledge of American subcultures and countercultures is at its peak in this film, something that American filmmakers like Tarantino started using satirically soon after.

Throughout the first half of the movie, violence and sex is often punctuated by Powermad’s “Slaughterhouse” that pretty much acts as the film’s theme for the first half. Peppered throughout the film are scenes of Nicolas Cage lashing out at simple events surrounding him, and every time, his violent outbursts are cued with a few power chords from Powermad. Lynch wants us to connect the violence to the music and attribute it to the supposed violence inherent in heavy metal music. However, through the blatant portrayal of such violent outbursts and sexual content with metal music, he is in no way trying to perpetuate the stereotype, but instead highlighting its opposition to the musical status quo, which in the film is chosen to be Elvis Presley’s seductive crooning.

Throughout the film, Elvis (though entirely unnamed) and his dreamlike serenades of young women seems to be portrayed as the ideal faithful young man who will go to any length to stand by his woman. The irony is that in this rock and roll/metal dichotomy, Lynch pits the counterculture of two generations against one another. Elvis Presley, a man who represented rock and roll and was criticized for the dangerous counterculture that he brought to the American youth during his prime, has now been peacefully assimilated to the American status quo, and is now an American ideal against the new counterculture posing a danger to the American ideal. And the musical tension throughout the film seems to be between the dangerous, rebellious heavy metal counterculture, and the now revered and idealized rock and roll.

 

3. Sailor and Lula: The Art of Adaptation

The screenplay for “Wild at Heart” was written by David Lynch, an adaptation of Barry Gifford’s pulp novel of the same name. The film adaptation is mostly faithful to the source novel; however, the small tweaks are what gives the film its Lynchian atmosphere.

What the film introduces is the metal music, the Elvis Presley songs, the Wizard of Oz references, and the entirety of the ending. The film starts with startling fidelity to the novel; the first 40 pages of the novel are acted out pretty much line by line, but as the film approaches the one-hour mark, the big changes begin.

The first hour revolves around the mystery of a house fire caused by Lula’s (Laura Dern) father years ago. The audience is led to believe that the story is driven toward a natural unveiling of that mystery, but as the characters unfold the mystery of the fire (not once, but three times with varying degrees of subtlety), there is an immediate shift in the tone of the film. Lynch narratively leads us with plot lines from the book, but simultaneously raises a big middle finger toward the story and slowly convinces us the film is about something entirely different.

That something else seems to be the eerie violent idealism of the American dream. Another minor tweak from Lynch’s part is when Sailor is narrating a past sexual experience. Everything is the exact same as the book, except the simple addition of assault rifles scattered on the bed where the woman is offering herself. Sailor’s sex story is a huge turn-on for Lula, who even repeats some of the sentences the seduced woman was speaking to Sailor in the flashback. This scene of pure wish fulfilment is further affirmed by Lula’s response and shows that Lynch has added the assault rifles to the mise-en-scene as a caricature of the violence in Pulp Americana.

The most significant addition, however, is the Wizard of Oz storyline, which deserves its own header.

 

4. The Wizard of Oz: The Puritanical Morality of American Suburbia

Glinda, the Good Witch from Wild at Heart

Of David Lynch’s additions to the original source story of “Wild at Heart,” none is as consequential to the movie’s ideology than the Wizard of Oz storyline. In the very beginning minutes of the film when Sailor gets incarcerated, the prison cell is depicted in a crystal ball, an image that may leave the audience to ponder before the Wizard of Oz storyline further develops.

Throughout the film, many discussions about the nature of good and evil receive a response that alludes to the Wizard of Oz as an ultimate reference for morality. When Lula speaks of her cousin Dell, whose severe mental illness caused much distress for the family, Sailor responds by saying, “Too bad he couldn’t visit that Wizard of Oz and get some good advice.”

The moral navigation through Wizard of Oz anecdotes (including the film’s depiction of Diane Ladd’s character as Wicked Witch of the East), seem to be trivial and superficial for the majority of the movie. However, it’s the ending that raises the importance of the Wizard of Oz in the film’s narrative.

Toward the end of the film, Sailor gets released from jail a second time and meets with Lula and his son; the whole scene plays out with maximum fidelity to the book, down to every line of dialogue. However, the book ends with Sailor bidding farewell to Lula and his son, walking away. In the film we continue to follow Sailor to a back alley where he is cornered by a comically multi-racial street gang who beat him up after Sailor calls them a slur. After Sailor is beaten to the ground, he has a vision of the Good Witch who convinces him to go back to Lula and take a chance on love. He gets up, apologizes to the street gang, and goes back to reunite with his love.

The Wizard of Oz acts as a spiritual divining rod leading to the picturesque happy ending where Sailor sings Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” and serenades her love with a backdrop of shining sun, like a Spaghetti Western’s emblem of “happily ever after.”

 

5. Be-Bop-a-Lula: The Death of Nuance

Bobby Peru

Most major critics of David Lynch have attacked his tongue-in-cheek, crude filmmaking, and “Wild at Heart” is pretty much the peak of Lynch’s crude filmmaking. It’s as if Lynch has done away with all subtext and employed all text instead.

When Sailor is released from prison, Lula brings him his snakeskin jacket (hilariously belonging to Nicolas Cage himself) and Sailor responds, “Did I ever tell ya that this here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom?” We don’t have to wait for the narrative to tell us what Sailor represents; we are spoon fed what Sailor represents in the first 10 minutes of the film, so the audience can stop guessing and pay deeper attention. It’s a deadly seduction from both Cage and Lynch’s side. Where most filmmakers bluff, Lynch reveals his cards from the beginning, or so it seems.

Lynch seems to have a profound distaste for subtext, so he often complicates things by explicitly cutting out the middleman to give voice to certain mental connections that are often made subconsciously. There are far too many examples of literal exposition, as if the film is being pitched in an executive’s meeting. While Farragut drives to New Orleans, a voice on his radio station sings “baby please don’t go down to New Orleans,” which overshadows the dark fate that awaits him there. When Marietta confronts Sailor in the bathroom, she calls him a piece of shit, and the camera quickly cuts to a toilet.

One time, during one of the film’s sex scenes, the music changes from Powermad to “Be-Bop-A-Lula she’s my baby”; and last but not least, at the time of Sailor’s confession about being involved in the mysterious house fire, Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” plays, and at the moment when the song is bound to start saying “world was on fire, no one could save me but you,” Sailor confesses to being involved in the house fire and receives support from Lula nonetheless.

The film is peppered with crude scenes; but in its crudeness is where “Wild at Heart” dissects the underlying logic of the American psyche. Lynch shows you the connections that the audience would have made if given the chance, and leaves them to question why such seemingly disconnected ideologies, subcultures, and imagery are connected. “Wild at Heart” existentially unravels the mental schemata set in place by the prevalent culture of America, and makes the audience question how they arrived at such conclusions.

In the end, there seems to be a reason behind the harshness and unpalatability of “Wild at Heart.” If it seems “manipulative” and “repulsive,” that’s because it is. If it is hard to watch, it’s because it wants to be. “Wild at Heart” is a great cultural product that informs through the discomfort that it imposes on its viewer. It is David Lynch at his most satirical and subversive.

The 10 Most Disturbing Horror Movie Endings of All Time

best sci-fi movies

The ending of a horror film is paramount. The feeling you take away all rides on the finale of the film. A good ending can leave you disturbed forever. It can etch itself into your soul. The ending can make or break the film. The final image is the last attempt to truly impact you, one last attempt to leave you with an image or idea you can’t forget, and when it works, it can haunt you far beyond the 90-minute runtime.

Nailing the finale is not so easy though, countless horror films have attempted the final scare, the last thrill, but most of the time it’s just as soulless as the many cliché scares that came before it. It takes a special magic to create a truly disturbing ending, and here is a list of the films that did it best.

For obvious reasons this list is ripe with spoilers.

 

10. Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)

One of the more prominent films to come out of France’s extreme horror trend, Martyrs is a brutal exercise in tolerance and religion. Set around a cult that wishes to torture people in the belief that a martyr can experience the outer realm of existence, and thus prove if there is indeed anything beyond the physical realm, the film showcases some of the most extreme and gruelling imagery to date, and the ending is the most shocking part.

Both thematically and visually, Martyrs is a heavy film, and the ending is the heaviest moment. When the captive girl, played by Mylene Jampanoi, has been tortured to her physical limit by being skinned with all but her face remaining, she finally reveals what she sees, but we the audience never find out. Although one message is clear, whatever the martyr saw, it was not the heaven they hoped for and the film ends with a depressingly dark climax that leaves you feeling very unoptimistic.

 

9. The Human Centipede 2 (Tom Six, 2011)

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The human Centipede trilogy is an experiment in shock. Six pushes his audience but always leaves a sense of humour present, something the second film truly capitalises on. Easily the most disturbing out of the trilogy for its British realism aesthetic and its sombre tone, Centipede 2 is a hard pill to swallow.

When the film finally reaches its climax, it ramps up the grotesque to absurd levels, babies being crushed under acceleration pedals, blood, guts, and everything else! And when it is all over, we see Martin, played by Laurence R. Harvey, still alive and ready to try the dreaded experiment all over again. An open end you’d much prefer closed.

 

8. Begotten (E. Elias Merhige, 1989)

Begotten (1990)

How can you explain Begotten? Unlike any film before it, unlike any after it, Begotten is a truly unique piece of art. The film very loosely depicts the creation of earth. The film became an underground cult sensation with theorist Susan Sontag even championing it from the start. It struggled to find an audience but over time it has become a staple of avantgarde art.

Still to this day it is a hard to watch meditation on the very cinematic form it exists in, and its ending is just as twisted as the entirety of its narrative. The ending to the film is so powerful because it reveals nothing, it feels sombre and dark like the images that proceeded it and it leaves you with no sense of equilibrium.

Begotten feels like you have been ripped from the womb too early. You feel like you are seeing images that you will never understand, you can never comprehend, and when it is over you feel vulnerable and dirty.

 

7. Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983)

Cronenberg’s defining surrealist achievement enclosed in the iconography of a sci-fi horror. This film is a masterpiece of cinema. The film is the crescendo to many of the ideas Cronenberg had been exploring in his early career. His biological horror seemed right at home in the story of TV president Max Renn, played by James Woods, and his discovery of a pirate channel named Videodrome. He slowly becomes infatuated with the channel as it warps his mind and distorts his perception of reality.

The film slowly builds as does Renn’s insanity, until the climactic ending leaves a sense of dread and insecurity as Renn ends his own life. Well, that is what the film depicts visually but thematically it feels very open-ended. What was real, and what was not? Like the very channel that plagues Max’s mind, Videodrome feels like an insane fever dream where reality and dreams collide, and the ending further justifies that sense of disturbing surrealism.

 

6. The Fly (Kurt Neuman, 1958)

When you think of The Fly you would not be hated for thinking of Cronenberg’s 1986 body-horror first, because without hesitation it is a far superior film. Neuman’s Fly may be a cheesy B-movie, but its iconic imagery is still pop-culture relevant today, and its ending is still a unique finish to a pretty standard monster movie.

The thing that sets Neuman’s film apart from Cronenberg’s is the ending, and while it may be the less superior film, its ending is arguably the better of the two. In the 1958 film, when scientist Delambre, played by Ali Hedison, enters the chamber and fuses with the fly he simply emerges with a fly head and arm, unlike Cronenberg’s slow transformation.

When the ending reveals that the fly that has been pestering the characters is actually Delambre’s head attached to a fly body (the reverse of what we believed to be Delambre), we are shocked due to his presence being known for so long. When this is revealed though it is too late as we watch him caught in a spider’s web as Vincent Price puts him out of his misery.

A chilling ending for 1958. A disturbing classic. A true example of how an ending can truly propel a film into a different league.

7 Reasons Why “Parasite” Deserved To Win Best Picture

Though many predicted it could happen (and many hoped that it would), it was still a massive surprise when Parasite won the Academy Award for Best Picture at the recent 92nd Academy Awards. Parasite immediately made history by becoming the first international film to win Best Picture as well as being the first South Korean film to receive recognition from the Academy. As well as winning Best Picture, Parasite also won Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film.

Parasite has also won other numerous accolades, including the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Parasite was directed by Bong Joon-ho, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Han Jin-won. The film stars Choi Woo-shik, Jang Hye-jin, Park So-dam, Cho Yeo-jeong, Song Kang-ho and Lee Sun-kyun.

Parasite originally premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Palme d’Or with a unanimous vote – the first film to do so since 2013’s Blue is the Warmest Colour. After its release, Parasite went on to gross over $206 million worldwide, becoming one of South Korea’s highest grossing films.

As with any film that wins Best Picture, Parasite will be thoroughly analysed and critiqued by audiences to determine whether it is a worthy winner. Previous recipients of Best Picture have been found wanting and declared as unworthy – so, will Parasite join those unlucky films?

After viewing Parasite, it would be very difficult to class it as an unworthy winner as Parasite is such a well-made, complex and watchable film. Perfectly calibrated and choreographed, every frame of Parasite is perfect and precise. There are so many small details in this film, from its symmetry to its social commentary, that it is a film that audiences should definitely deem a worthy Best Picture recipient.

 

1. Talented ensemble cast

Though it can happen, it is slightly unusual for a Best Picture nominee not to also have at least one acting nomination. Parasite did not gain any acting nominations at the Academy Awards. While this could be seen as a negative, suggesting that the performances in Parasite are not as good as the other nominees, this may actually be to do with the fact that there is not one performance that outshines another in this film – rather the cast all make up one of the best ensemble casts of all the Best Picture nominees demonstrated by the film’s Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Each cast member perfectly portrays their role and encapsulates their character with aplomb. This is what helps elevate the film even more – the audience is not straining to see the character through the actor as can sometimes be the case with other films. Great characters are another facet of what can make a film appealing, and Parasite reminds us that these characters do not even need to be particularly likeable. In truth, there may not necessarily be one character that we are really rooting for in Parasite. But in that is a cleverness that means that audiences are invested in all the characters’ outcomes and it is also shows how they are all intricately linked.

 

2. It marks an important step forward for diversity

Parasite made history when it became the first foreign language film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Not only was this an incredible achievement in general terms, as it is for any film that wins the accolade, but Parasite’s win was even more phenomenal because of what it represents.

There has been much talk and many headlines that have lamented the lack of diversity at awards shows, and in particular the Academy Awards, with hashtags such as #oscarssowhite trending. There was a lack of nominations for minority groups at the 92nd Academy Awards, and many believed that this meant that a foreign language film would never be able to scoop the top award.

Parasite’s win has propelled foreign language films into the spotlight. Audiences who have never even considered going to see a foreign language film are now lining up to get tickets to go and see the film, as well as now seeking out other foreign language films to watch. This type of visibility can only be a great thing, allowing audiences to experience other cultures which in turn leads to acceptance and visibility.

 

3. It seamlessly blends genres

These days almost every film can be called a combination of genres or categorised into a sub-genre – romantic comedy, psychological thriller, action horror to name but a few. Films may even begin as one genre before evolving into a different one. This blending of genres is certainly familiar to audiences, but this method is not always done seamlessly. Ideally blending genres should be something that happens smoothly and coherently, in a way that means that it is not too jarring for the audience or that it makes the film feel disjointed. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and the result can be a film that ends up being quite disorientating and confusing to watch. Alternatively, the mix of genres can be something that audiences find disagreeable and becomes an issue for which the film is criticised for.

Another example of a Best Picture nominee that mixed genres was Jojo Rabbit, a film that began very much as a satirical comedy but that later evolved into a much more dramatic and emotional film. Some audiences criticised this evolution of genres and felt that the change was too abrupt. This was not the case however for Parasite.

Parasite is a film that has been called a mystery thriller, a family drama, a tragicomedy, a black comedy, and a contemporary horror. The truth is that Parasite is all these subgenres and possibly even a few more. And what is also true is that Parasite involves dozens of tonal and genre shifts, but these shifts are done flawlessly and even though audiences will no doubt notice some of them, they are not jarring in any way. Parasite’s transitions between multiple genres is an integral part of the film, mirroring the transitions of the characters and of life itself. Blending genres is something that Bong often does in his films and is a trademark of his filmmaking.

 

4. It has universal themes that resonate with all audiences

Class struggles, the divide between rich and poor, family ties and ambition are just a few of the themes shown in Parasite – a film which is rich with both overt and underlying themes. And these themes are most certainly universal, not only to individual audience members but to audiences from around the world. Though Parasite has many trademarks that can be attributed to it being a South Korean film, it also feels like it could be set anywhere in the world. Bong recently talked about how Parasite could easily be set in London, after he saw how expensive it was to buy a house there, or in New York because there were so many homeless people and yet others lived in million-dollar apartments.

Parasite also uses its characters to further express its socioeconomic themes and class themes. Neither the poor nor the rich family are made out to be the villains of the piece. Though the poor family are essentially conmen, they are not bad people and though the rich family are privileged, they are not evil or cruel. In this way, Bong lets the audience ruminate on both how we view people and how we treat others based on our preconceptions of how they should fit into society.

As well as the more obvious themes, there are the clever underlying themes used by Bong that also help illustrate the film’s overall themes. For example, throughout there is the theme of the importance of our senses and in particular the sense of smell – something that becomes a key part of the film in the third act.

 

5. Incredible cinematography

There is one particular sequence in Parasite that can be found at the end of the first act. It is a montage that lasts for around five minutes and is made up of over fifty different shots. During this montage, the audience is given a story within the story and shown multiple Easter eggs and small, rich details that propel the story forward without any unnecessary scenes or expository dialogue. That is just one example of many of how Parasite uses incredible cinematography.

Cinematography is also used to reflect the film’s themes. Scenes with the rich family are flooded with natural light and sunshine, whilst scenes with the poor family are much darker and use artificial light. This was done to show the difference between the families’ situations – the rich family can afford to live in a beautiful house on a hill with floor to ceiling windows whereas the poor family live in a sub level basement apartment. The rich family can see the sun all day whilst the poor family only get glimpses of it.

Light is used to great effect throughout the film to reflect the families’ differences. Another scene which depicts this is when the members of Ki-taek’s family have to run through a rainstorm back to their house from the Park’s home. As they run back to their apartment, the streetlights gradually change from the expensive LED lights of the wealthy neighbourhood to the poor neighbourhood’s red lamps.

Parasite’s cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo and Director Bong worked together closely to produce a film that uses so many elements of cinematography in a way that is so effective and impressive. From mirroring shots to the almost balletic rhythm of certain sequences, from sharp angles to smooth parallels – Parasite more than deserves its Best Picture win for its cinematography alone.

 

6. The storytelling

Parasite may have picked up the Best Picture award, but it also won Best Screenplay. This is testament to the intriguing story that Bong came up with, as well as the fantastic screenplay co-written by him and Han Jin-won. A great screenplay is the first step to producing a film with compelling storytelling, and Bong further enhanced this with great direction.

Parasite has three very clear acts, which makes it a fluid and coherent watch for the audience – even though multiple events are happening with multiple characters all the time, the audience is never too far removed from the core of the story. Bong keeps the audience at the heart of what is going on, yet he also keeps the audience guessing with twists and turns. To use these two contradictory methods in harmony with each other is an extremely clever feat of storytelling, and the result is a film that is endlessly engaging.

 

7. The sharp social commentary

Intricately weaved throughout Parasite, is a compelling message of social commentary. At its heart, Parasite is a parable about the struggle between classes and the ever-growing divide between rich and poor. Bong has used similar themes in all his previous works, but Parasite was a unique filming experience because Bong had never focused any of his stories on a rich family before as well as a poor one, preferring to just follow the lives of poorer characters. Bong explained, “This is our first time filming rich characters. Even in Mother and The Host, my films have always featured poor characters. This was our first time filming a rich family and a rich house. Even Captain America…he was dressed in rags in Snowpiercer!”

Bong also drew directly from his own experiences – he too tutored a for a rich family whilst in college. He said of the film, “The sequence that depicts when he enters the house was pretty similar to what I experienced. I grew up in a middle-class family that’s in between the poor and the rich family in this film, but despite that, when I first entered, I had this very eerie and unfamiliar sense of this house. Actually, they had a sauna on their second floor – at the time it was quite shocking to me!”

The social commentary of Parasite is also at the very heart of the film in regard to the title of the film itself. Who or what we believe to be the ‘parasite’ can speak to how society treats certain individuals – is the parasite the poor family? The rich family? Both? Or is Parasite a reference to something else entirely?

Bong uses Parasite as a way to express his observations of the class divide in his home country and how it is something that only seems to be getting worse rather than better, but the truth is that Parasite is probably relevant to almost every country in the world. Bong said, “I think that this film is talking about something that we all feel, and we are all aware of, but we just never talk about. That’s what it is showing on the big screen.”

10 Great 2019 Performances That Should’ve Been Nominated For Oscars

The acting nominees this year seemingly disappointed more people than usual. Maybe it’s because of the time schedule changes done by the Academy, or the wrong campaigning strategies by the studios, or just a competitive race, but many great performances couldn’t make into the cut in the end, despite some being widely predicted and most of them being “safe” choices. Before we move on to the list, I have to note that this list includes performers who are either in Best Picture-nominated films, or have been nominated for or won at least one major film industry or televised award.

 

10. John Lithgow – Bombshell

Okay, Christian Bale (“Ford v. Ferrari”) was also considered for tenth place here, but Bale is a frequent in award season. Since ever his awards breakthrough with the “The Fighter,” he often gets nominated whenever his film is in contention. Sure, this year he’s snubbed, but he was way close (SAG, Globe). Instead, it’s better to put the spotlight on this American veteran’s great performance as Roger Ailes.

“Bombshell” is a film with an uneven tone, but John Lithgow still manages to come off as a frightening and engaging presence, even when the film makes some strange choices. His performance is actually great and nowhere behind Charlize Theron or Margot Robbie’s and they had both got onto the Academy’s final list. Sure, they’re in different categories but Lithgow has similar strengths; he’s a veteran, a previous nominee, playing a transformational role, and playing a real-life figure. A terrible human being, sure, but Russell Crowe just recently won a Golden Globe for playing the same terrible character in a less-acclaimed TV series.

Unfortunately, the only industry award Lithgow got nominated for ended up being the AACTA. Sometimes their taste ends up being similar to BAFTA, but Lithgow couldn’t surprise there. Lithgow has been a legendary presence in cinema (two-time Oscar nominee), stage (two-time Tony winner), television (five-time Emmy winner), and also a four-time Grammy nominee. He’s obviously overdue for an Oscar win and third nom. While Roger Ailes is not the role that would bring him a win, since the film had been losing buzz and it’s not the kind of a character they tend to award, it’d be nice to see him getting nominated after all those years.

 

9. Jennifer Lopez – Hustlers

The critics raved over her turn as Ramona, but Jennifer Lopez has long lost respect as a credible actress – maybe because of her pop diva persona in the media, her constantly trashed films since 2001, and her turning into some kind of a “brand” rather than an actual respected actress. But “Hustlers” is where Lopez is back to her character actress roots – when she was working with Oliver Stone and Francis Ford Coppola, and getting Independent Spirit award nominations for “My Family.”

Here, she’s doing it without losing the star charisma she displayed in Soderbergh’s “Out of Sight,” “The Cell” and her Golden Globe-nominated performance in “Selena.” Yes, her intro scene is great and she does a lot of physical work in the film, but what makes Ramona a great character and fine showcase for J-Lo’s talents is more than that. Lopez didn’t have such a strong part before; she’s funny, yet she has some very dramatic moments. She’s charismatic but she has her own weaknesses. She’s manipulative in a way that you keep wondering if her warmness and the way she takes others under her wings is a genuine way of her trying to help others or just a way to use them for her plans.

Critics probably needed to push her harder, given the film is not something that would appeal to major voters and many people still have a distaste for Lopez’s image. However, “Hustlers” was a great big step in her career in a way that she finally managed to get an independent film role over yet another major studio rom-com where she doesn’t get to do much. Her snub was harsh for her fans, especially in a weak year like this. However if she uses the goodwill she got from here and does more character work, who knows what future will bring.

 

8. Eddie Murphy – Dolemite is My Name

One of the biggest comebacks of the year has to be Eddie Murphy. The man was one of the best-known comedy actors in the world in the ‘80s and had an inconsistent but still decent run in the ‘90s with some great work like “Life” and “Bowfinger.” His 21st century filmography did not feature his best work, to say the least, even though he occasionally had his moments, including an Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning turn in “Dreamgirls.” Murphy decided to come back – he hosted SNL once again, he’s going to back to stand-up, and he found the right role to showcase his talent.

Unlike most roles Murphy has played in this century, Rudy Ray Moore is an interesting figure with complex and contradictory emotions, and Murphy gets a chance to explore his personality. He was able to completely vanish into the character. Not only does he deliver a great performance, but it once again reminds people what kind of charisma he holds on screen and how he’s still one of the most gifted comic actors on the planet, because unlike some of the other work he has done, it’s a role that is he obviously deeply cared about; unlike, say “The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” this is actually a serious project written and directed by talented people.

We’ve yet to see what Murphy has still to offer to his stand-up fans, but comeback is glorious so far. It’s disappointing that he didn’t get a nomination, but seemingly his film was not even the third priority for Netflix, which had many films this award season. An honorable mention should also go to another comeback story: Wesley Snipes. He came close to stealing the show from Murphy even. It’ll be interesting to see what they will deliver again in the “Coming to America” sequel.

 

7. Taron Egerton – Rocketman

Maybe it’s a post-”Bohemian Rhapsody” effect or whatever, but despite “Rocketman” receiving much better reviews and being a much better film overall, it didn’t get the attention it deserves. Who knows if it’s because Elton John doesn’t have the same popularity anymore; if it was because of the release date; if it were for the fact that it was an R-rated film; or maybe unlike Rami Malek, Taron Egerton is not a popular name, but he was amazing in this film. İt only shows that singing with your own voice can be such a great instrumental element to your performance.

What was distinctive about “Rocketman” was that it was an actual musical where characters were breaking into song by adapting Elton’s songs into different parts of his life. Egerton is full of energy; his singing voice is great, but it’s more than just a terrific performance on a musical level – it also works on an emotional level. His scene with his dad in the middle of the film is heartbreaking.

Another honorable mention should be gone to Jamie Bell who – crazily – didn’t receive a single major nomination for his performance as Bernie Taupin. However, this movie is also a friendship story and some of their scenes together were special highlights. Not sure what turned voters off; maybe they liked him but it was just a competitive race, but Egerton would be a worthy nominee. Regardless, thanks to his performance here, he finally got some major recognition and will probably get better movie opportunities from now on.

 

6. Awkwafina & Shuzhen Zhao – The Farewell

Maybe critics needed to push it harder, and it was interesting that they didn’t do enough to make it come to broader attention as they really, really loved the movie when it came out. “The Farewell” is an excellent film all around, a very warm story that can make your eyes get wet, but its not without its occasionally funny moments. Hopefully Lulu Wang will get more opportunities to tell such stories. And of course, some of the best parts of the film were the understated, nuanced performances. Awkwafina proved herself to be a very solid lead actress and her performance is mesmerizing. While she’s more focused, the show is almost stolen by Shuzhen Zhao, a veteran Chinese stage actress who has appeared in more than 100 plays for the Harbin Grand Theatre.

It’s unfortunate that Zhao, or “Nai Nai” as the internet refers to her after the film, didn’t receive much traction for the role. Sure, Laura Dern is great in “Marriage Story,” but she already had enough buzz. Wouldn’t it be great for critics to push Zhao a little more? Since it’s a type of film that needs more recognition to be widely seen. Awkwafina had a strong moment when she won the Golden Globe, but unfortunately it went unnoticed. Who knows what went wrong; probably many Academy members again didn’t bother to watch a film since it required to use subtitles, which are a damn shame as these two are giving two of the loveliest performances of the year.

All 20 Oscar Nomimated Performances This Year Ranked From Worst To Best

There were many notable Oscar snubs this year- it was certainly disappointing that performances such as Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems, Lupita Nyong’o in Us, Song Kang-ho in Parasite, and Zhao Shuzen in The Farewell were not nominated. There will be snubs and surprises every year, but overall this year’s nominations did a decent job at representing this year in film. The twenty performances nominated represent a great variety of performances given by many phenomenal actors.

It is challenging to rank Oscar nominated performances, as often the quality of the films they are in and the writing of the characters can determine how strong the performance is. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the performances and films that were nominated this year, the ranking tends to have more male performances towards the top. This is particularly disappointing considering the many great female performances that were snubbed at the Oscars this year.

While it is hard to compare what are very different performances given in many different films, there is a hierarchy to which performances are the best. Here are all twenty Oscar nominated performances from this year’s Academy Award nominations, ranked worst to best.

 

20. Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Marriage Story is definitely one of the best films of 2019, but the power of the film comes from the lead performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Laura Dern is certainly memorable as the divorce lawyer Nora Fanshaw, but it’s not a huge role and is quite similar to many other performances that Dern has given, particularly her character on HBO’s Big Little Lies. The character exists mostly to chew the scenery, and while Dern has one very effective monologue, it’s not a performance that evokes the audience’s sympathies. Dern is predicted to win Best Supporting Actress, but it would definitely be a win that honors her entire career, and not this specific performance.

 

19. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

Harriet was easily one of the most disappointing movies of 2019; the story of one of the most famous heroes in American history had the potential to be a future classic, but the film mostly simplifies the events and feels closer to a made for television movie than a cinematic event. Cynthia Erivo does her best to bring life to the role, and while she certainly gives many inspiring speeches and is believable as a brave freedom fighter, the weak writing limits what she is able to do. Erivo is certainly a very talented actress, but she gave much better performances in last year’s films Widows and Bad Times at the El Royale.

 

18. Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell

Easily one of the greatest actresses of her generation, Kathy Bates does an admirable job bringing to life a character with relatively little screen time. The film tells the true story of Richard Jewell, a security guard who saved many lives during a bombing at the 1996 Olympics, but was wrongfully accused of initiating the attack. Bates has a key role as Jewell’s mother, who maintains his innocence throughout and is forced to see her beloved son have his dreams of being in law enforcement shattered. In fact, the strongest scene in the film is when Bates delivers a speech at a press conference calling out the media and FBI for their misleading investigation. While very emotional, it is not as complex of a performance as the ones ranked higher on the list.

 

17. Renne Zellweger, Judy

Judy is another generic biographical film that is elevated by the strong performance at its center. While Zellweger’s performance can often become campy and overwrought, she does a phenomenal job with all of the musical numbers, particularly with the amazing final rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” There are also many more subtle moments, including a great scene in which Judy Garland encounters a couple of fans who have been moved by her work over the years. However, many of the film’s best moments are the flashbacks to a younger Garland, played by breakout star Darci Shaw. This doesn’t take anything away from the strong work that Zellweger does, but it’s a performance that is limited by the generic biopic tropes in the film.

 

16. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes

One of the greatest actors of all-time, Sir Anthony Hopkins gives a very charming performance as Pope Benedict XVI in The Two Popes. Hopkins is a veteran actor who can convincingly play figures of authority, and he does a great job at capturing the internal turmoil that Benedict faces as he begins to consider giving up the papacy in the wake of scandal. While Hopkins is able to bring a surprising amount of humor to the role, the film is ultimately told from the perspective of Pope Francis, and Jonathan Pryce gets more screen time and has more layers to his performance. While it’s a very pleasant and touching two hander, The Two Popes is more interested in telling Francis’s story.

 

15. Margot Robbie, Bombshell

Bombshell is a fairly uneven film that tells the true story of the Fox News anchors that stood up to Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) after he sexually harassed them. While the film’s fourth wall breaking and inclusion of real news footage can be distracting, the performances are all quite strong, particularly Margot Robbie as the character Kayla; the most unsettling scene in the film revolves around an encounter that Kayla has with Ailes. While Robbie does a great job at getting the audience to empathize with her after that traumatic moment, she doesn’t get a whole lot to do in the rest of the film, which mostly focuses on Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron). Part of this is due to the fact that Kayla isn’t based on one specific person, and is rather an amalgamation of several different real people.

 

14. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

While most of the humor in Jojo Rabbit comes from the relationship that young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) has with his imaginary friend version of Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), the heart of the film is Jojo’s love for his mother, played by Scarlett Johansson. Johansson does a great job at capturing the essence of maternal love, and her pureness of heart helps to empower Jojo as he grows as a person. While the shocking end to her story arc is quite emotional, Johansson has a somewhat shaky German accent that can sometimes take the audience out of the story. Johansson received her first two Academy Award nominations this year, but her stronger work was her lead role in Marriage Story.

 

13. Charlize Theron, Bombshell

Similar to Christian Bale’s transformative performance as Dick Cheney in last year’s Vice, Charlize Theron is downright unrecognizable as Megyn Kelly. What’s interesting is that Theron is able to show what Kelly is like on camera versus what she’s like off camera, and is able to make her a sympathetic character that also has many flaws. Many of the film’s best moments involve Kelly doing an independent investigation into the women at Fox News that were harassed, which causes her to reflect on her own experience with Roger Ailes. Theron does an impressive impersonation that is aided by the great makeup work, but it ultimately does feel more like a great imitation rather than a great performance.

 

12. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

The fact that a performance as great as Jonathan Pryce’s in The Two Popes ranks so low on this list should prove just how many excellent performances there were last year. Pryce is a veteran actor who received his first nomination for playing the future Pope Francis; while it is challenging to portray a real figure this well known, Pryce does a phenomenal job at capturing the spirit of a humble man who doesn’t expect to be thrust into the highest office in the Catholic Church. While Pryce has a great tenderness to him, he also adds a surprising amount of humor to the role through his interactions with Pope Benedict XVI. It is great to see an actor as experienced as Pryce receive his long overdue recognition.

 

11. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

The role of the Joker has been passed between many great actors, and after the amazing performances by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, the pressure was on Joaquin Phoenix to do something new with the character. Phoenix was able to reinvent the role by playing the character as a troubled and mentally ill man who becomes a monster after being ignored by society as a whole. Not only does Phoenix give a tragic performance that invokes both sympathy and caution, but he was able to make Arthur Curry’s downfall a believable escalation of events. As a film overall, Joker has some issues, but all of the problems stem from the writing and directing, and not from Phoenix’s excellent performance.