Best Picture Preview: Ford v Ferrari, Joker, Jojo Rabbit and Marriage Story


Aayushi Chaudhary

The final 4 movies I will be reviewing are Ford v Ferrari, Joker, Jojo Rabbit and Marriage Story.

Click here to read the first part of this review, featuring The Irishman, Little Women, 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Parasite.

With the recent announcement of the 2020 Oscar nominations for Best Picture, I decided to take on the challenge of watching and reviewing all of the candidates up for the award. As there are nine movies in the running for Best Picture this year, this review will be split up into two parts, and will go over each of the films in no particular order. In addition, instead of ranking or comparing them, I’ll be giving my general thoughts over each of the films completely spoiler-free. 

Watiti’s over-the-top performance as Adolf Hitler was impressive, and did a good job of satirizing German nationalism of the time. [Property of 20th Century Fox]

Jojo Rabbit:

Taika Watiti is easily one of my favorite comedic actors working today, and his latest directorial venture, Jojo Rabbit, is a solid addition to his list of great films. Jojo Rabbit follows the story of Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), a Hitler Youth who must come to terms with his country’s beliefs after he discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie), in their attic. In my opinion, the heart of Jojo Rabbit is in its child actor performances, and Davis, as well as McKenzie, did a good job of making you empathize with their characters. There were many emotionally impactful scenes, especially later in the film, and both child actors did an impressive job of portraying real emotion to the audience. The film also featured many impressive performances from adult actors, such as Sam Rockwell and Taika Watiti. Watiti was fantastic in his role as a child’s interpretation of Adolf Hitler, as he knew exactly how over-the-top to make his role in every scene he was in, and it added a lot to the comedic scenes of the movie. The filmmaking behind Jojo Rabbit was also rife in personality, and I especially liked the film’s use of the German version of David Bowie’s song, Heroes, as part of the soundtrack. While Jojo Rabbit isn’t my favorite of Watiti’s films, it’s an emotional ride that still manages to get a fair amount of laughs. If you’re got a free afternoon or just want to see a fun movie that allows for discussion, I’d recommend this film to just about anyone.

Ford v Ferrari:

If there’s ever been a movie to take your car-loving dad to, this is the one. Director James Mangold’s newest film, Ford v Ferrari, follows the story of car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they attempt to build a car for Ford Motor Company capable of beating a Ferrari in the “24 Hours of Le Mans,” a prestigious car race in France. The movie’s protagonists, Damon and Bale, were both good in their roles, although, in my opinion, Damon’s character’s accent was painfully inconsistent throughout the film. In one scene, Damon would be speaking with a heavy drawl, and the next he would sound exactly how he has in every other film. While Ford v Ferrari had nothing special I noticed as far as camera work or editing was concerned, I was impressed with the score, and it did a good job of setting the scene throughout the film. The set design was also impressive, and I liked how much of a period piece they were able to make an otherwise “car-focused” movie. My major complaint with Ford v Ferrari was with how repetitive the film became. I understand that the script is based on a true story and that the filmmakers had a lot to cover, but there were so many scenes of races which went on for way longer than they needed to. There would be a close-up shot of some cars racing, a few reaction shots from the crowd or driver and a cheesy one-liner from Matt Damon. Rinse and repeat for thirty minutes, and you’ve got yourself a two-and-a-half hour film with an hour of filler. While I enjoyed watching the racing scenes, I would have enjoyed them a lot more if the plot didn’t pause while they were going on. In the end, Ford v Ferrari was able to keep me interested throughout its runtime, even if I went into it with zero interest in car racing. If you’re a fan of Christian Bale or Matt Damon, or just want to see a fun car movie with high-stakes, you’ll probably have a fun time. If not, I wouldn’t race to the theaters to go see this one.

While Phoenix’s performance in Joker was certainly impressive, it didn’t blow me away like other performances I’ve seen this year. [Property of Warner Brothers Studios]


To be completely upfront, I have never been a huge fan of comic book movies. When Joker, a character study of the Batman villain, directed by Todd Phillips, was announced, I didn’t bat an eye. Eleven Oscar nominations later and here we are. Joker follows the story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a clown and failing comedian as he cares for his mother (Frances Conroy). Tormented by those around him, Fleck slowly begins a descent into becoming the notorious Gotham villain, the Joker. The major film comparisons I’ve heard to Joker are two Martin Scorsese movies, The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, and in watching both of those films in preparation for Joker, I left the theater feeling a bit cheated. Both of those films revolve around the central idea of “society striking down a misfit, and that person getting back at society,” and if that sentence doesn’t perfectly summarize Joker, I don’t know what does. Almost all of the iconic scenes from Joker are simply retreads of better ones from The King of Comedy or Taxi Driver. While I understand that a film can be an homage without blatantly ripping something off, the only notable change between Joker and The King of Comedy is that one is a pre-established DC character. In my opinion, it’s difficult to enjoy a film that’s a near carbon copy of one you’ve already seen, especially when the only difference is that one of them has a red nose. Another major talking point behind Joker is that Phoenix’s performance is one of the best of the year, and while it’s certainly impressive, it is nowhere near Robert De Niro’s original performance in either The King of Comedy or Taxi Driver. I would be happy to see Phoenix get Best Actor solely as a nod to his performances in other movies such as Her or You Were Never Really Here, but his performance in Joker didn’t blow me away. To put things bluntly, one of the few redeeming values of Joker was its soundtrack, as it helped to set the satirical tone of the movie, but even that got stale after a while. If you’re a die hard fan curious about the origins of one of your favorite villains, feel free to give this film a go. However, if you’re more interested in a character study about the psyche of a mad man, I’d say to watch The King of Comedy or Taxi Driver. They’re twice the social commentary with a quarter of the clown makeup.

Marriage Story:

It’s difficult for me to think of a time that I have been as emotionally-invested in a film as I was with director Noah Baumbach’s latest film, Marriage Story. The film follows the story of a husband (Adam Driver) and wife (Scarlett Johansson) as they begin the lengthy and arduous process of divorce. While the film’s premise isn’t particularly new, the way Baumbach goes about the storytelling in Marriage Story is what makes me love the film so much. While I certainly “took sides” with characters in the film, the story itself tends to keep a fairly neutral lens on the situation, and I liked that the movie let its audience think for themselves. Both Driver and Johansson give fantastic performances in their roles, and, in my opinion, Driver’s is one of the best of his career so far. The performance for Johansson’s divorce lawyer, played by Laura Dern, was simultaneously one of the most infuriating and spectacular roles I have ever seen Dern play. In addition to great performances, the film also featured a fantastic score which added a lot of character to the emotional scenes of the film. One scene in particular, towards the end of the film, I went back and rewatched multiple times because of how raw and heart-wrenching it was, and the score certainly played into that. The camera work and framing for Marriage Story was another aspect of the film which stood out as excellent to me. The rhetoric hidden in the framing of shots showed just how “distant” the characters were becoming as the movie went on, and I love how the camera reflected that. Even after watching all of the other nominees for Best Picture, Marriage Story is easily my favorite film of 2019. I would recommend the film to almost anyone, just as long as you’re ready for the emotional baggage which is about to be piled on top of you.