By L. Mores
It came as no surprise to me that Green Book won best picture at the 91st Academy Awards. I mean, how couldn't it? A film so rich in history and emotion that even the harshest of critics would be touched. I'm no critic nor film expert, and my opinion is probably not very credible, but I must tell you one thing: if you haven't watched this cinematic masterpiece yet, do so!
Based on a true story, Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen both act perfectly and produce a heartwarming performance. Viggo plays Tony Vallelonga, an Italian bouncer living in New York who landed the job of being Don Shirley's, played by Mahershala, personal driver. Shirley was a famous African-American musician who went on tour on the American South – thus why he needed someone to drive him around. Vallelonga received what was called the "Green Book"; a sort of "travel guide" of the South especially designed for African-Americans. This book contained hotels and restaurants were only those of African-American descent could frequent.
Together, both men face a vast journey ahead of them. Vallelonga not only has the job of driving and protecting Mr. Shirley, but of softening his uptight heart. Mr. Shirley, on the other hand, is tasked with eliminating Tony's racism. This aspect is explored all throughout the film. Whenever Tony and Mr. Shirley have an argument or encounter any dangers, the issues of race and class as well as sexuality are approached carefully. The manner in which these arguments are presented truly make the viewer understand the issues of that time and causes them to reflect upon their own actions too.
By the end of the movie, we can clearly tell that both men have grown fond of each other during their journey of self-discovery. Mr. Shirley has obviously reduced Tony's prejudice towards African-Americans (we can clearly see this whenever Tony invites Mr. Shirley into his home for a nice Christmas dinner with his family), and Tony has managed to soften Mr. Shirley up (we can also tell this from whenever Mr. Shirley excitedly plays the piano in an African-American only bar and makes everybody present dance).
In real life, Tony Vallelonga later had a very successful career in acting, starring in the 1990 motion picture Goodfellas alongside Robert de Niro and played a crime mafia boss in the HBO series The Soprano. Whenever he died in 2013, Vallelonga's son Nick decided he would pitch the idea of turning his father's life into a movie. Nick was then the film's producer and co-screenwriter, adding that very special personal touch to the motion picture.
Green Book has now totalled an outstanding 13 awards, including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Mahershala Ali also won 6 awards for his outstanding portrayal of Don Shirley, and later on, mentioned in on of his acceptance speeches that he was "honoured" to have portrayed such a brave and brilliant figure of African-American history.