2021 Golden Globe awards was a novelty like any other things and events in life these days that resists the lockdown and scarecrow of the COVID pandemic. The ceremony went on with a few audience and presenters without masks. Moreover and while all cinema theatres across the globe were shut down for a year, and majority of people thought there would not be any film productions, we witnessed a list of nominated films for different awards. The strange 78th Golden Globe awards ceremony brought hope back to the screen and beyond by celebrating a new line of protesting American cinema.
Golden Globe as always cherishes the TV productions and in a way acts against the art and the existence of the silver screen, in the film category as before, awarded lame films such as “Nomadland”, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”, and “Soul”. But the Golden Globe at least recognized a few great new line of protesting American films against the system, such as “The trial of the Chicago 7” nominated for the best drama and direction, “The Mauritanian” nominated for the best actor, and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” nominated and won the best actress award for the magnificent “Andra Day” in performance and voice. Despite the failure as usual to recognize the great films, such as “The trial of the Chicago 7”, “The Mauritanian”, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” for different awards, and in the foreign section “The Life Ahead” from Italy for the best film, the Golden Globes at least nominated these great films. Therefore and in the recognition of these four great films of 2020, the year of COVID, the following brief critics will be posted here.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Perhaps the best film of 2020, the film heroically flashbacks to the life and anti-racial fight of the great Jazz and Blues Singer, Billie Holiday. The film perhaps is a shock to the star’s fans and lovers of her songs, to learn that beyond her personal suffering life with all kinds of abuses and struggling with addiction as self-healing a short-life long pains, Billie Holiday was a true legend. Indeed a true legend not only in her music that has barely surpassed to this day, but to her fight and resistance against the white American racism and Klan-type of treating her own black population up into the 50s and 60s. The great performance of Andra Day who also sings Billie Holiday’s songs beautifully aside, the film is a protesting voice against the American racism and mass murdering of her own black population just for the crime of their skin colour. Billie in real life as the film sadly depicts, has been a subject of prosecution by the police and the authorities for empathizing with the southern black victims by singing her song of “Strange Fruit”, as a protesting voice against the murdering of her people and hanging them up on the trees. The song that carried its grave guilt on the shoulders of all white supremacists since, has been bravely adapted by other great singers later on such as Nina Simone, Andra Day herself, and in our time, Dominique Flis-Aime, as an empathizing comradeship and tribute to the great Billie Holiday.
The film as its subject has also been a victim of ignorance for lack of recognition by American critics, such as “Rotten Tomatoes” that rates it as only 56% positive reviews by 126 critics, or on “Metacritic” weighing an average of 53. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter downgrades the film “It’s a mess, albeit an absorbing one, driven by a raw central performance of blistering indignation, both tough and vulnerable”. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gives the film 2 out of 5, criticizing it “Day’s rendition is heartfelt. But the direction and storytelling are laborious, without the panache and incorrectness of earlier Daniels movies…” The ignorance of these critics perhaps roots in their poor and narrow minded perception of missing the woods for the trees, criticizing the film for “isolated parts” shortcomings while disregarding the whole value of the film and its impact on the viewers.
The trial of the Chicago 7
This film is another depiction of American injustice at its highest anti-democratic and system self-preservation manner. This awakening feature documentary by Aaron Sorkin, reminds us again how the America system could be cruel and merciless, assaulting, injuring and sabotaging her own people, for just a peaceful demonstration against its invasive and war-mongering diplomacy. The true event of the anti-Vietnam War protest at the 1968 Democratic National convention in Chicago, where the peaceful demonstrators were incited by the police to a riot, were beaten, injured and its leaders arrested. The films goes back and forth from the demonstration to the trial in the court room, presided by the judge Julius Hoffman, where the truth of the US government of anti-democratic nature is stripped naked in a shocking dramatic way, while at the same time being a total mockery. The film depiction of over the six months of the trial ends truly with the defence statement of one of the defendant, Tom Hayden of the student leader by reading one by one the names of the 4,752 American soldiers who were killed in Vietnam during the period of the trial.
This film alone for being nominated for the best actor by Tahar Rahim in the role of the Mauritanian Mohamedou Ould Salahi who was abducted from his home, taken to the American military prison in Guantanamo Bay of Cuba, with false evidence of his involvement in the September 11, 2001, is an accolade for the Golden Globe. The film depicts well to the bare naked bones, and to the very surprise of many viewers, the American injustice, brutality and deception. After seven years in torturous captivity, thanks to the benevolence of the anti-war defence attorney, Nancy Hollander performed well by Jodie Foster, Salahi is proved innocent. But he was still kept captive for another seven years by the Obama administration, until finally released after 14 years, basically due to the publicity of his autobiographic diary. Again like “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”, this film confronts with the ignorance of American critics and receives only 72% approval from 137 critics at “Rotten Tomatoes” and a score of 54 out of 100 and a “mixed or average reviews” by “Metacritic”.
The Life Ahead
This Italian film directed by Edoardo Ponti, the son of Carlo Ponti Sr. and Sophia Loren (who performs as Madam Rosa, a former prostitute and Holocaust survivor) loses the best foreign film award to “Minari” a story of South Korean immigrant family in US, directed by Lee Isaac Chung. The golden Globe seemingly like Oscar perhaps is still fixated since the last year with the South Korean film surprise, “Parasite” fails to recognize this great Italian film by a young director from a long Italian family line of film making, with a novel subject line of story and remarkable performance of Sophia Loren at the age of 86. Madam Rosa (Sophia Loren), a former prostitute and Holocaust survivor provides childcare for the children of other working women in the port city of “Bari” until “Momo” a 12 years old Senegalese street kid robs her. She takes care of the boy, in a Les Miserables’ way, and develops a deep bond with him, helping him to find his way in life ahead. The film that has already won quite a few awards such as the best acting for Sophia Loren in Alliance of Women Film Journalist Award, Capri Hollywood International Film Festival, and the best international film at San Diego Film Critics Society awards, was not recognized by the Golden Globe.