Red carpets are being rolled out, golden trophies are being polished and envelopes are being organised. The Oscars are nearing, and what better way to celebrate than watching the first ever Netflix film to be Oscar-nominated?
Before we begin, the Movie Metropolis Alternative Oscars close this Friday (March 2nd) before the big reveal on Sunday (March 4th). Make sure you cast your vote for the best films and performances of last year. It takes less than 2 minutes.
The film in question is Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees. The movie follows the McAllan’s and the Jackson’s: families in deep farmland Mississipi. Set during and after the war, the film deals with many issues, particularly the treatment of African-Americans in 1940s America.
This film is a harrowing example of injustice and racism in the US. The slow-paced, quiet, Mississipi farmland is almost suffocating. When it rains, you feel the rain. Each family becomes so well-known to you that it is almost as though you are there, watching everything unfold, crying at their misery and laughing at their good fortune.
The depiction of a 1940’s black man played by Jason Mitchell is an absolute triumph. Ronsel Jackson is good. He is kind, he loves his family and he just wants to be accepted in his own country like he was accepted overseas during the war. Your heart aches for him, it wishes for him to just get everything he wants, everything he deserves. There is one scene which broke my heart; a heart-wrenching, blood-boiling event that is a very real, all too recent part of African-American history.
Mary J. Blige plays Florence Jackson, the mother of Ronsel. Although Florence hardly speaks, her character shows emotion with such conviction that she does not need to use words. It is obvious why her portrayal of Florence has garnered her an Oscar nomination – it is thoroughly and wholeheartedly deserved.
The white man in this movie is the antagonist and, my goodness, do those white men know how to be mean. Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) and his father, referred to as Pappy (Jonathan Banks) both know how to be horrible. This is a masterclass on how to play an entitled, racist, bigoted man – it’s almost scary how well they play it. Every bone in your body ends up hating these men, wanting them to suffer the same fate which they inflict upon everyone else who they wrongfully judge to be less than them, despite them being in exactly the same situation.
This movie also deals with the topic of women. Every woman, be they black or white, commits their own act of rebellion, whether it be stealing money from their husband to help a friend in need, or running two households single-handedly. Both Laura McAllan (Carey Mulligan) and Florence are examples of how women, no matter how they may be oppressed within society, still have their own spark of survival within themselves.
It is not often that a film can be said to tug at the heartstrings of every person who watches it. The writers, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, carefully orchestrate every word they write to create emotion, to create power. Not a word they say is out of place, not a phrase is unwarranted. It is a meticulous, marvelous piece of their history.
If you are scrolling through Netflix, and happen upon this film, please watch it. It will make your eyes tear up, it will make your soul sad: it will make your heart full. There is a reason they called it Mudbound. You will be bound in every sense of the word.