Green Book is the movie everyone is talking about. It’s already racked up three Golden Globes – for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor respectively – and will likely have at least one Oscar to its name come the end of Sunday’s 91st Academy Awards. And there’s a reason it’s getting so much hype.

The film, which is written by Peter Farrelly, Brian Currie and Nick Vallelonga – whose father’s true story provided the premise for the film – is deftly written, incredibly performed, and packs an emotional punch akin to the types of films that have won Oscar gold in the past. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, who are each nominated for their performances, shine as the real life Tony Vallelonga and Don Shirley, the white bodyguard / African-American singer duo that journeyed together through the deep south in the heart of the 1960’s. Ali, whose breakout role in 2016’s Moonlight earned him his first Oscar, again proves himself to be a force on the big screen, with his quiet demeanor oozing so much confidence that it sends shockwaves through the audience when he breaks down in the middle of the film. The screenplay is also excellently executed, with lines that somehow manage to evoke tears and laughter at the same time.

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Green Book, however, has also been met with some controversy, even amidst its seemingly smooth award season run. Criticized as continuing a narrative that highlights racism through a “white savior” narrative, many have critiqued the film for its laissez-faire depiction of race relations in the United States. And it’s true, the film has its problematic moments – such as forcing Ali’s character to bend toward his bodyguard’s racist views, or at one point even lightly suggested that racism can be solved with just a little bit of fried chicken – but overall the film sends a message of friendship that extends far beyond the white gaze. Perhaps part of that is because Mortensen’s performance as a racist is never truly given the time to be fleshed out on screen, making most of the film into more of a classic tale of two men from different backgrounds learning to become friends.

There’s no telling what Oscars may end up in director/writer Farelly’s hands come Sunday, but Green Book has definitely made its mark. The DVD and Blu-Ray, which will be released on March 9, features bonus interviews with the cast and crew, including a discussion with composer Kris Bowers, whose music (and piano-playing hands) really bring Shirley’s music – and this story – to life.

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