Little Women (5 Stars)
Marriage Story (4.5 Stars)
I Lost My Body (4 Stars)
Judy (3.5 Stars)
IMDB Benchmarks (Forrest Gump/Casablanca)
By far, the best romance in this year’s crop of just four movies has to be Little Women. Reviewed recently, this is a perfect movie for the holidays with just the right amount of drama and craftsmanship to pull at the heartstrings. Greta Gerwig, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep all do excellent jobs in one of the top two or three movies of the year. Alcott’s story is, of course, well known by now with countless movie and television adaptations. But Gerwig brings a fresh, modern, and feminist approach to a classic story.
If Little Women provides a modern twist to the notion of romance, emphasizing Jo’s independent streak, Marriage Story sort of turns the whole notion of ‘romance’ on its head. Despite the title, the film is actually about a separation and divorce. The only way it makes sense to include this movie in the romance category is if, in the modern context, romances all tend to end, and many of those endings, are bitter and sometimes ugly. While the early parts of the movie very tenderly portray the strong feelings Charlie and Nicole had for each other, the story also – accurately – shows what happens when events and personal growth cause a couple to grow apart. (And, with a child, the consequences are usually more severe.)
Judy, the Renee Zellweger star vehicle, we find another romance that is, shall we say difficult. Judy returns many times to her off and on lover, Mickey Deans. Although Zellweger does an outstanding job in her role (winning the Leading Actress Oscar), the movie as a whole is disappointing. Perhaps the biggest insight to romance to be gleaned from this movie, is that it is difficult to love someone else when you really never learned to love yourself.
Then there is the animated flick, I Lost My Body, which is really just strange, but in an intellectually pleasing way. Naoufel is a Parisian in love with Gabrielle. In a truly bizarre turn of events, he loses his hand. The movie is about how his hand attempts to reunite with his body. The journey reveals many things, including his love. Although I enjoyed this movie, I’m not sure how well it fits into the Romance category, so viewer beware.
There you have ‘em – the 2020 Oscar Romances.