My Favorite Moments in the Best Picture Nominees: Marriage Story

So my favorite Oscars tradition, aside from getting hammered and eating Chinese food during the ceremony, is, the day before the ceremony, presenting my favorite moments in each of the Best Picture nominees. I originally started it in 2011, when I felt like there was a lot of anger over certain things that were nominated (The Artist, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help), and I just wanted to take that step back and remind myself and everyone else what it’s all about — this is because we love movies. We’re just giving out awards to the movies we liked best. It’s not about the damn awards. It’s about good movies and love of the art form. And it’s something I think we need to be reminded of, which is why I now do it before every Oscar ceremony. It doesn’t matter what wins and what doesn’t, it’s all about celebrating the great movies that came out this year.

Our next nominee is Marriage Story.

5. Divorce Lawyers

I do appreciate that a movie about divorce is ultimately saying how evil divorce lawyers — and by extension, all lawyers — are. That was kinda nice to see. Because here’s a divorce that starts off pretty amicably, and then it turns into this contentious, cutthroat fight for money and custody and ultimately no one ends up happy and they don’t even end up abiding by what was decided in it. So really all that happened is they spent a shit ton of money and these lawyers got even richer off of it. Kinda fucked up, kinda accurate.

4. Alan Alda

God, I love this man. He’s been so great forever and it’s so nice to see him still acting in spite of his Parkinson’s. He’s such a welcome presence in any movie. Plus, here, his character is so great. The nice, affable but ineffective lawyer. His scenes with Adam Driver in the deposition rooms are actually great. “If I were representing you, I’d tell you to–” “You are representing me!” And how they dump him in a conference room with a box of crumbs instead of pastries, and then he starts eating the crumbs! He’s so good here. He was the best actor in the movie for me.

3. What I Like About Charlie/Nicole

I really liked that as an opener to the film. Starting a movie about divorce with one person saying what they love about the other person, and vice versa. And then we reveal that it’s happening in marriage counseling, and that all the stuff they said are for naught because they’re on their last leg and about to divorce. It’s a nice moment, and pays off very nicely at the end.

2. This moment

It’s not the most unique moment in the world, but it is a nice way to wrap up the movie on a hopeful note. Showing that there is still some semblance of love or at least feeling for one another despite all the stuff that’s happened. I liked it. Also, what is it with Scarlett Johansson and tying people’s shoes this year?

1. This moment

I really liked this moment. I liked when they did it at the beginning, and seeing it come back here at the end was really well done. Some people might have found it forced, but I think it worked. Seeing him finally read the list of things she wrote about him, because even though we heard it at the beginning, she refused to read it during the counseling session, so he never heard it. So now he’s reading this and you see that little lip quiver, and just everything about them and their relationship is in that one moment. It’s really nicely done, both from a writing standpoint and from an acting standpoint.

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2 responses

  1. Chinoiserie

    I think the hostility in the divorce was caused by the by the parents wanting to live in different sides of the continent with the child. The lawyers were merely inevitable consequence of the conflict of interest (and his anger of her moving and her anger of him cheating) and lack of communication. The lawyers weren’t really agents in the story but the manifestation of the issues in their relationship and the combative nature they both mentioned in the opening Monopoly sequence (unlike the child who doesn’t care about winning). The nice lawyer being replaced and Dern’s character seeming amiable in scenes set outside of the offices and the count is evidence of this.

    I liked the movie but it didn’t really wow me and the similarities of the director’s own life go to the film (he cheated and left his wife Jennifer Jason Leigh for Greta Gerwing) is a bit uncomfortable. I mean you can use your own life as an inspiration but it feels the movie that as making Charlie the more sympathetic character.

    February 11, 2020 at 7:25 am

    • My two biggest issues — aside from the fact that everyone felt unlikable (which is always my main problem with all of his movies) — are that it definitely felt like a one-sided portrait, taking more of his side than hers, and that it treated her TV show as something frivolous and stupid while making it like the theater work he was doing was ‘important’ and high art. I’d try to give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was unintentional, but it certainly seems like it wasn’t.

      February 12, 2020 at 11:13 pm

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