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My Favorite Moments in the Best Picture Nominees: Bohemian Rhapsody

Every year, the day before the Oscars, I present my favorite moments from the Best Picture nominees. I do this because things get so subjective and because lines get drawn during the Oscar race. People pick favorites, people start to have negative feelings toward certain films because they’d prefer something else have won or have been nominated. I do this to clear the air of all that. I try to remind us of what this is all about — a celebration of film and of the great films that have come out this year.

I take this day to look at all the nominees as great pieces of cinema. Forget what will win or won’t win — let’s celebrate the films themselves. The point is, when you take away the competition, the awards, the completely arbitrary nature of how no one can truly pick which film is better than another, what we’re left with are great movies. That’s what today is about.

Our next nominee is Bohemian Rhapsody. Not the coffee maker.

5. This moment

It’s the cheapest moment in the film, one guaranteed to get a laugh or even a chuckle. But you know what? Kudos to them for doing it. Because it works.

I hope that most people know the backstory behind this. This character is played by Mike Myers, who of course famously used Bohemian Rhapsody in Wayne’s World in that famous car scene where they’re all bopping their heads along to it as they drive. So to cast him as the record executive who says, “No teenagers are gonna be listening to Bohemian Rhapsody in the car.” It’s so on the nose that somehow it comes around to being okay. I was very torn on this moment when I first saw it. But you know what? Queen as a band is meant to be wildly over the top, and it perfectly fits with who they are and provides a nice fun moment to people who know what’s going on. I think it’s totally fine, and I enjoyed it, even if building him up as a sort of doubter just to call him a loser at the end is a bit much. But hey, we know this isn’t high cinema. It’s just a gloriously fun movie and I think this moment is totally fine.

4. The music

It’s fucking Queen. No matter how poorly written this movie was, the music was always gonna save it because Queen has one of the best music catalogues out there. They’ve got hit after hit after hit. And there’s like a dozen songs they didn’t use that are straight bangers. No matter how much you cringed at that “I’m going solo” scene or the numerous other completely on the nose moments, every time they cut back to a hit, you didn’t care. I mean, come on… the generic “band gets into a fight” scene that just ends with everyone bopping along to “Another One Bites the Dust”? That’s all the music, baby.

3. Rami Malek

I had such doubts when they cast him, but man, does he deliver. The only thing I really held against him in the earlier parts were those prosthetic teeth, which, while seemingly accurate, did feel a bit too out there and obvious when you watched him talk. And I also, not really having grown up with the band the way my parents did, wasn’t used to seeing him with the long hair, so that took me out of it a bit. But his performance was solid all the way through. You totally started believing he was this guy, and the only detracting stuff was out of his control (like the script). And honestly, by the time we got to that final sequence, there was no doubt in my mind that I was watching Freddie Mercury. All that credit goes solely to him.

2. But seriously though, the music

How amazing are those music montages. This is one of the better uses of music that I’ve seen in a biopic like this. It felt like actual concerts, the way they showed the performances. It sounded like a live show, where it still held the integrity of the original music while also having that ‘in the moment’ kind of feel to it. And, like I said — Queen’s got hits, man. The music was always gonna carry the way, but the way they incorporated all songs into it. It never felt stale or forced. It was just a rocking time with, sure, the greatest hits, but they never felt like, “And now we’re gonna get this one.” So I give them a lot of credit for that.

1. Live Aid

We all know this is the only part of this movie that matters. And I’m just gonna explain this as such: my mother is a huge Queen fan. She saw them in Shea Stadium in the 80s, and watched the entire Live Aid concert on TV. She remembers everything about seeing this set live. And when she saw this movie in the theater, she said, “It took all my strength to not get up and dance right there in the theater.” I’ve only seen this performance on tape, or on Youtube or something. And I’ve seen it a bunch, but she’s right. You feel like you’re there. It’s nuts. It’s so compelling that I even overlook the obvious crowd CGI they try to intersperse to make it look real. The true test of a movie is when it can make you forget about everything around you except what you’re watching and make you believe fully in what you’re seeing on the screen. And there’s no denying that this does that. You are totally in the moment and witnessing one of the greatest musical moments in history come to life again. This sequence will be this movie’s legacy. And it’s a damn worthy one.

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