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Is ‘Green Book’ the Worst Best Picture Since ‘Crash’? Film Critics Sound Off

It's déjà vu at the Oscars all over again as a polarizing race relations drama wins Best Picture over an art house favorite.

Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley in "Green Book"

Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley in “Green Book”

Universal Pictures

For many film critics who watched, the 2019 Academy Awards ended with a whimper when Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” was named Best Picture. The victory was immediately met with outrage from movie journalists and critics on social media, who all felt a sense of déjà vu in watching a polarizing drama about race relations triumph over a critically acclaimed art house favorite. In this case, the critical daring was Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma.”

“Green Book” beating “Roma” for Best Picture has now inspired countless comparisons to “Crash” beating “Brokeback Mountain” at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006. In fact, many film critics said that “Green Book” was such an uninspired Best Picture winner that it could help ease the backlash against “Crash” that continues to this day.”

“No one is happier than [‘Crash’ director] Paul Haggis right now,” RogerEbert.com editor Brian Tallerico wrote on Twitter.

The New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis used “Crash” to try and ease the pain of “Green Book’s” victory. “Remember that this is the same organization that gave its top honor to ‘Crash,'” Dargis wrote. “So not surprising but still, fuck it”

Justin Chang, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, even published an entire essay declaring “Green Book” the worst best picture winner in over a decade. “[Like ‘Crash’], Peter Farrelly’s interracial buddy dramedy is insultingly glib and hucksterish, a self-satisfied crock masquerading as an olive branch,” Chang wrote. “It reduces the long, barbaric and ongoing history of American racism to a problem, a formula, a dramatic equation that can be balanced and solved. ‘Green Book’ is an embarrassment; the film industry’s unquestioning embrace of it is another.”

“Green Book” was plagued by controversy throughout its release. IndieWire’s Tambay Obenson slammed the film for simplifying race relations and featuring a magical negro storyline. Despite the backlash, “Green Book” walked home with three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali.

The film’s Best Picture win was not a huge shock, as it previously won the PGA Award and was considered neck-and-neck with “Roma” to win the Oscars’ biggest prize. Many film critics had hoped that the Academy’s increasingly diverse membership would sway the vote in “Roma’s” favor, especially after well-received Best Picture wins for “Moonlight” and “The Shape of Water” in recent years. Alas, the old-fashioned feel of “Green Book” appealed to the most Academy members in the end.

Check out reactions to the “Green Book” Best Picture win below.

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