‘Green Book’ heads to the Panida with Oscar buzz

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

The announcement of the 2019 Oscar nominations brought some welcome news for the cast and crew of “Green Book.” 

Viggo Mortensen, right, and Mahershala Ali, left, from ‘Green Book.’ Courtesy image.

In total, the comedy-drama about a friendship between an African-American pianist and his Italian-American bodyguard garnered five Academy Award nominations. Co-stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali received nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. The film also snagged nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. 

Locals can get up to speed on their Oscar nominees over the coming weeks when “Green Book” screens at the Panida Theater Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 26 at 11:30 a.m. and Jan. 27 at 3:30 p.m. 

Yet another Oscar nominee comes the following week when “The Favourite,” nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and multiple acting categories, hits the Panida Theater. The latest in the Reader Reels film series collaboration between the Reader and Panida, the movie screens Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. and Feb. 3 at 3:30 p.m. 

“Green Book” stars Viggo Mortensen as Frank “Tony Lip” Vallenlonga, a blue-collar New York City bouncer who takes a job working as a bodyguard and chauffeur for the masterful jazz and classical pianist, “Doc” Don Shirley. With the musician preparing to embark on an eight-week tour through the 1962 Deep South, he brings Lip on to ensure the two months go by without incident. Before they embark, Lip receives a copy of “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” a guide identifying hotels, service stations and restaurants friendly to African-American travelers. 

The film focuses primarily on the growing friendship between Lip and Shirley as they experience the dangers and racism of the 1960s South. That story is anchored by acclaimed performances by Mortensen and Ali, whose characters grow to depend on and support each other as their trip progresses and their friendship deepens. 

“The two performances at the center of ‘Green Book’ are undeniably charming and effective,” wrote critic Brian Tallerico for RogerEbert.com. “Mortensen hasn’t been this playful in years, but the movie really belongs to Ali, who perfectly captures a man who feels trapped by society. He is not only the wrong color for most of the places he’s going in the South, but he is also clearly smarter and more talented than most of the people he meets.” 

Regional audiences will likely need little convincing to see a movie starring Mortensen, who is considered a local favorite due to his many Sandpoint connections. In fact, Mortensen has hosted local screenings and Q&A sessions for several of his movies, which served as fundraisers for KRFY Community Radio and the Panida Theater. 

“I’ve always loved seeing movies and concerts at the Panida,” Mortensen told the Reader in 2017. “It is a great performance space, and one of Sandpoint’s true historical gems. I’m glad that its programming is of such a high standard, and that it continues to receive such strong support from the community.”

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