“Mudbound“ is the type of film that can start conversations. It’s dialogue-driven and consists of many different narratives. Based on a novel from an American author named Hillary Jordan, Mudbound drops you in a time period that is both uncomfortable and hard to understand. Many scenes are extraordinarily tense and will leave you in thought. The movie is directed/written by Dee Rees and includes wonderful performances from musical artist Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty), Garrett Hedlund (Unbroken), Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby), and Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton).
The film centers on one white family, the McAllens, and one black family, the Jacksons. Set in the World War II era in Mississippi, the film essentially opens with the introduction of the McAllen brothers, Henry and Jamie, and Henry’s wife, Laura. Later, you learn about the Jackson family, and exactly what they mean to the story. One of the many things that I enjoyed about this film is that it is driven by voice-over narration from certain individual characters. Each main character is given a chance to tell their story and talk about their family and lives in a style that usually doesn’t work, but is carried out so beautifully in this film. In some ways, you find yourself truly caring about the characters, and for me, that is important as a movie-goer.
This is one of the most tastefully shot films of the year. In my opinion, cinematography is something that can make or break a picture in just one scene. This film is shot by Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station). Throughout, you notice little things that she included to make each scene look just as good as the last one. A type of grayish tint colors the screen to give Mudbound the western, classic look that it is going for. In doing this, Morrison scored the first-ever Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography by a woman. This is huge not just for the Academy Awards, but for women empowerment around the world.
There are a few problems that I had with this film, but the good outweighs the bad. Such as, it takes some time to really get started. Also, I found myself really becoming fatigued with certain characters from time to time. Melodrama drives much of the film, which is not always a bad thing. But, some scenes can really be brought down by the overly dramatic sense that Rees was trying to capture. All in all, I found that Mudbound is one of the best pictures of the year, and I find myself still thinking about it.
Mudbound is nominated for 4 Oscars:
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Mary J. Blige
- Best Adapted Screenplay – Dee Rees, Virgil Williams
- Best Achievement in Cinematography – Rachel Morrison
- Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) – Raphael Saadiq, Mary J. Blige, Taura Stinson