Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t deserve to win
YES, I get you liked Bohemian Rhapsody - you and millions of other people.
Yes, it's a crowd-pleasing, rousing musical that had you tapping your toes and listening to that Queen Essentials list on Apple Music for the next three weeks.
Yes, Rami Malek makes an excellent Freddie Mercury, capturing something akin to the complicated soul and life of a musical prodigy.
But, and this is a big but - Bohemian Rhapsody is not a great movie.
And yet, it just took home the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama.
At the risk of lending too much credibility to the Golden Globes, an awards ceremony voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a ragtag group of less than 100 starstruck people whose membership requires them to publish only four articles a year, the question on many people's lips: What. Just. Happened.
Bohemian Rhapsody may have taken $29 million at the Australian box office, finishing fourth below three superhero movies and just above another superhero movie, but box office prowess and general popularity among the popcorn crowd does not equal an excellent movie.
Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom was the sixth highest-grossing movie of the year in Australia.
Music journalist Bernard Zuel, on ABC Radio late last year, said Bohemian Rhapsody was one of the worst things about 2018.
Is it funnier that Bohemian Rhapsody was entered in a category of motion picture drama (which to be fair is hilarious when there is a category of musical or comedy - though the only laughs were accidental) or that it won? As a friend put it ... pic.twitter.com/6MPvcT89s0— Bernard Zuel (@BernardZuel) January 7, 2019
Sure, its musical sequences were energetic and propulsive, threatening to send you stomping in the aisles and clapping your hands - but most concert movies do that.
Malek may have been excellent but all the other performances were forgettable. The tone was all over the place and the writing was uninspired.
So if not Bohemian Rhapsody, then what? A Star is Born and Blackkklansman, while both flawed, were much better movies. Black Panther was a cultural flashpoint with a rare villain that was complex. If Beale Street Could Talk hasn't been released in Australia but by all accounts is incredible.
Before you get your hackles up, resist the urge to come yell at me on social media, and let me tell you that I enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody, but it was so-so at best and should not have won the big prize.
I'm not a Queen fanatic - I knew briefly of Freddie Mercury's struggle with AIDS and that he died from it but I certainly didn't go into the movie with any expectations of which parts of his life the movie should explore.
It felt shallow, jumping from point to point without really connecting emotionally, glossing over some of the darker elements like the drug use, which was only briefly referenced.
All the scenes in between the songs felt like fodder until they could cue up another Queen ballad and lull you into the pretence that Bohemian Rhapsody is a great film because you could feel those heartstrings stirring.
Don't be fooled.
What Bohemian Rhapsody was excellent at was cynical emotional manipulation.
It spent the last 30 minutes of an unevenly paced and long flick working towards a poignant climax with such blatant falsehoods.
(Some spoilers ahead).
Queen never disbanded - they had released an album the year before Live Aid and had gone on tour with it. Freddie Mercury didn't get his AIDS diagnosis until after Live Aid, so he certainly didn't tell his bandmates.
The movie built up the emotional stakes so high in the lead up to the Live Aid sequence - Freddie finding out he has AIDS, telling his crestfallen bandmates, wondering if they still had stage chemistry - of course you felt like was a triumph when the performance came together so flawlessly.
It's a cheap trick and it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you realise how inauthentic it was.
Biopics and "based on a real story" movies take creative liberties all the time, that's common, but when you build your entire climax on lies, you don't deserve our emotional investment.
If you loved Bohemian Rhapsody and felt like it whipped up some long-dormant connection to your youth, that's great - music, more than any other form of pop culture evokes those moments in time.
You can like, even love a movie, but still recognise that it's not that great. Me? I still love Cruel Intentions - it's a terrible movie.
You're better off listening to that Queen playlist on repeat than worshipping at the altar of a mediocre movie.