Ford v. Ferrari is the best racing movie of all time. It isn’t even close. It did well at the box office, earned a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for Best Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards. But it’s better than that. Of the six nominated movies I’ve seen so far, it’s the best one yet.
It’s better than Roman Polanksi’s daydream tribute by Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It’s better than fan-favorite Joker. It’s on par from a film making perspective as Parasite and much more enjoyable. It’s even better than the big buzz machine, The Irishman. While I haven’t seen three of the movies, the only one that has a realistic chance of being better based on what I know already is 1917.
But Ford v. Ferrari will not win for Best Picture. It may pick up one of the editing or sound mixing Oscars, but the big prize is out of reach. James Mangold did not get nominated for Best Director. Neither Christian Bale nor Matt Damon were nominated for acting Oscars. It didn’t even get a nod for Best Screenplay. This movie was given one of nine nominations for Best Picture because not giving them one would be a travesty, but it was otherwise dismissed among the major categories.
Why? Is there a Hollywood-favorites angle that often comes into play in which internal strife in Tinseltown detracts from a movie’s appeal with the Academy? No. Did it take too many creative liberties diverting itself from the true story of Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles? Not more than usual, with the only two notable changes being Enzo Ferrari’s presence at Le Mans ’66 (he wasn’t there) and the omission of Miles’ loss at Le Mans ’65.
No, this movie didn’t suffer from standard Hollywood setbacks. It was tremendously produced, well-acted, and extremely entertaining. But it was missing something. It didn’t check off any of the modern day Hollywood’s required virtue-signalling boxes. In fact, the nature of the story as a celebration of American spirit and innovation is practically anathema in today’s Hollywood. If the movie wasn’t exceptional but merely very good, it would have been passed over by lesser movies for all of the four nominations it received.
There was a time when patriotism and American exceptionalism were bonuses for movies during award season. Today, Hollywood has a preference for rooting for anyone other than the United States. European progressivism is particularly appealing.
Then, there’s the lack of diversity. It’s a movie about a bunch of white men competing with each other. There are no speaking parts for people of color and the only woman with a significant role is Caitriona Balfe. But that’s the story. It’s mid-1960’s racing in America and Europe, long before Danica Patrick won a race and people like Wendell Scott were rare. Adding people of color would have been forced.
There are many reasons why Ford v. Ferrari won’t win the Best Picture Oscar, but there are plenty of reasons why it should. But it won’t. It’s just not “woke” enough for Hollywood despite being the best racing movie of all time.