“Trial of the Chicago 7”: Not afraid to show the war at home

By: Collin Frazier

frazierc@findlay.edu

@Collin_53

Ensemble cast, great editing, and a poignant history piece

The Vietnam War was a unique war in that it was essentially two wars in one; one war overseas, and the other at home. People were at odds on whether or not it was a war worth fighting, and unfortunately, many protests and riots occurred because of it. One such riot occurred during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. This riot and the fallout was depicted in a Best Picture Nominee “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” The film follows the trial of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, Lee Weiner, John Froines, and Bobby Seale, as they are accused of inciting the riot. Knowing nothing about this piece of history, I was interested to see how they would stretch a trial into a 2-hour movie and make it Oscar worthy. I am glad to report that the Best Picture nod is deserved.

The first thing that stood out to this movie was the absolute dominance of the ensemble cast. Eddie Redmayne as Hayden gave such a calm demeanor, for the most part, that it felt like he was the leader of this group, even though each actor could stand on their own two feet. John Carroll Lynch as Dellinger acted as the moral compass of the group even when he was facing discrimination. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Seale was perhaps the most underrated performance of the year as the leader of the Black Panther party and pointing out the racism of the 1960’s justice system. Mark Rylance as William Kunstler tried to keep his clients under control, but even he had his limits with the justice system. And of course, the Best Supporting Actor-nominated performance from Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen was always there for a either a witty, serious, or thought-provoking line. It is a shame that not everyone earned a nomination, but just shows how many great performances there were in this film.

Something else I really enjoyed, which is something that I never pay attention to in movies, is the film editing done in this film. Each transition from one scene to another was smooth and I knew it was good when even I noticed it. The best example of this was when it seamlessly switched from a clash with the police to the courtroom describing the case.

The last thing I really liked about this film was that, much like some of the other movies that have earned the nomination for Best Picture, it showed that problems in the past are still very much present today. Protests still happen in this country today, and they can still end with police fighting back. It showed that our justice system is flawed, there is racial bias in the treatment of African Americans, and there is civil unrest in the country. It is a nuanced topic, but maybe one day, the system will no longer have its flaws.

Overall, having no knowledge of these events, I had no expectations for this film, and it certainly delivered. There was not a bad performance in sight, it had a lot to say on protesting and freedom of speech, and there was even some humor to it. My final rating for “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is 89/100.

With all of that said, I will be unable to review “The Father” and “Minari” before Oscar Sunday. Thus, I will give my opinion on what will win Best Picture.

What film do I want to win Best Picture: “Nomadland” or “Sound of Metal.” Both of these films gave amazing leads, made you cry and cheer, and provided you a look into different communities. The stories they told were not only entertaining, but educational. One on the nomadic life, and the other on the deaf community.

What film do I think will win Best Picture: “Mank.” I hated this movie. Absolutely hated it, but it is about Hollywood, and the Academy loves movies about Hollywood, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes home the big award.

Featured photo: Netflix.

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