Why ‘Us’ Should’ve Been Nominated for Best Picture

Jordan Peele has proven that he has the chops to produce, act, and front a major motion picture. In 2016, which seems like ages ago now, I went to the theater and saw the comedy Keanu, which he starred in, wrote, and co-produced. To this day it is still one of the funniest, underrated comedies in recent history. A year later he put out what many consider to be a modern horror classic and magnum opus, Get Out. I was skeptical of all the hype until I saw it as an in-flight movie. I understood the hype. Peele managed to create a film that both entertained and educated. Educated the public about what I’m sure there’s a better phrasing for, but I am going to say as ‘racial ignorance’. If you haven’t seen the movie *spoiler alert* the family in the movie tries to ‘be black’ and tries to get Kaluuya’s brain so he can see the world in his eyes. What an interesting idea for a movie! I didn’t think the movie was perfect, but it was very entertaining and original. Everyone I knew had seen this movie and very few disliked it. So you can imagine the excitement my friends and I had when the trailer for Us came out.

The trailer for Us gave off a terrifying, slasher movie vibe promoting the golden scissors the villains use in the film as murder weapons. A Jordan Peele slasher film? Sounds awesome. When the day finally came for Us to come out though, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Not only is Us better than Get Out, I think it is a perfect movie. The whole time I was watching Us I kept thinking “Woah this is really Hitchcock”. There are so many layers to this film that it almost demands a second or even third viewing. The setup is simple, a family all goes to the beach for a vacation where the mom (played by Lupita Nyong’o) used to go as a kid. However, when she was a child she had a very traumatic experience that left her scared of ever returning to the beach. Everything seems normal until one night a group of doppelgangers clad in maroon jumpsuits and bearing golden scissors comes to their vacation home at night.

Simple, right? WRONG. This film is different and eerie from the start. This is mainly credited to the amazing set design and performances from the kid actors. The boardwalk at night just terrifies and is grim from the start. Even teasing the situation is a Michael Jackson Thriller shirt that is won at the boardwalk. Nyong’o’s character ventures underneath the boardwalk to an unattended, house of mirrors like maze. There she walks down the dark, narrow hallways and eventually runs into a clone of herself where the last thing you see and hear is the child actors wide, shocked expression in utter silence. Then it cuts to the main plot. That is all you are given.

The best mystery and horror films lead with a question. Films like Poltergeist, the first Insidious, and Rosemary’s Baby come to mind. They all have these beginnings that shake you and make you question meaning and what is going to happen next. Us makes you question MULTIPLE things within the first 20 minutes. What happened at the boardwalk? Why does the boy always wear that mask? Why are these doppelgangers trying to attack them? Why does the mom snap off-beat to I Got Five on It? So many questions raced through my head while watching.

From there we are treated to amazing acting, wonderful film editing, memorable settings, a great set of villains, great usage of symbolism, and an amazing plot-twist that I won’t spoil. Trust me it is awesome. So this leads to my question… Why the hell wasn’t this nominated for an Oscar? No joke, this amazing, thought provoking film got ZERO nominations. CATS got more nominations than Us!!!! How did this happen???

In past years the film-making aspect of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars has been a big factor in whether or not it coins recognition. Birdman, The Revenant, Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, and La La Land all amazing on technical scale.

Think of La La Land. If you have seen the movie before you know that the story is told a lot through the costume and cinematography. The scene where Sebastian and Mia dance on the hilltop after going to find their cars is a great example of this. The lighting is dark blue with a glow of purplish-pink from the sunset and bright lights from the city below. Mia wears a yellow dress, symbolizing hope, optimism, and brightness. Her dresses change color progressively throughout the film as well as the color schemes. The scene where the two argue over dinner leaves Mia and Sebastian’s faces both in the dark of a pale blue light, symbolizing their fading love and dissembling of their relationship.

Us is a film that also relies on colors heavily. The usage of the color red and various shades of it promote a sense of danger. Adelaide (Nyong’o) as a child carried a bright red candy apple while walking across the boardwalk. Red is a color that symbolizes passion and love, but also is a color that raises blood pressure. When she ventures onto the beach, the redness of the apple is the color that is most prominent on screen. This is also demonstrated by the redness of the doppelganger costumes.

The symbolism in this movie is on a Citizen Kane level of greatness. The frequent use of rabbits, the verse Jeremiah 11:11, the golden scissors, and Hands Across America all contribute to the overall theme of the film and multiple conspiracy theories too. The power of great storytelling is being able to tell little stories along the way through imagery. This isn’t really that common in modern cinema with the exception of films like Inception and No Country for Old Men. In the past you had movies like Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, and A Clockwork Orange that perfected this method of storytelling.

If this film were to be nominated for anything though it is Lupita Nyong’o’s performance. You can argue that 12 Years a Slave is her best role, but no. In my opinion this is one of the best performances I have ever seen. Look at her facial expressions and tone of voice throughout the film. She genuinely looks terrified. her doppelganger was equally as terrified and creepy as hell. If you’re gonna nominate Joaquin for Joker then you have to nominate Lupita for Us.

My parents always told my older brother and I growing up that the way you tell that a movie is good is if you are thinking about it the next day. I thought about this movie for months. I watched hours of conspiracy theory videos and different interpretations of the plot to see if anyone had the same questions I did. I think the only other movie I did this with was Inception, but that’s a whole separate blog.

With all of these things in mind, it really does not make any sense that a film like Us wouldn’t be nominated. Black Panther was nominated last year and was a fine movie, but didn’t break any ground in film-making or acting. Us did more than just be a fine movie, it was a GREAT one. With all the Scorsese talk of what is and isn’t cinema, this totally is cinema.

Whether or not you are a fan of horror films or not, I highly recommend you see Us. It has a lot to offer and should be a film shown in classrooms in the future. You can analyze the life out of this movie and have a good time watching too.

Geese

You’re walking down the same path you’ve walked to class for weeks. You wouldn’t expect anything different other than the views of the oak trees protruding over the you and the sight of a brace of ducks in the shallow pond following this gravel walkway. Everything seems fine until you hear an awful squawking coming from opposite the pond. Before you’re able to look up and pause your footsteps, you find yourself mid-slip in a pile of excrement. You fall on the cold, hard pavement covered in green and brown waste. Not only have you fallen to the level of nature, but you have also wet yourself in the process. You stare in dismay and embarrassment only to look across the pond to see that flock of black and white menaces to society known as Canadian Geese.

Ever since I was four years old I have had this massive hatred towards geese and I don’t think I am alone on that. They have the most obnoxious bird call known to human ear, they are mean for no reason, they’re uncomfortably big, their babies are ugly, and they SH*T EVERYWHERE. It is with full honesty and confidence that I can say I have never had a positive experience with one of these creatures. The most negative of these experiences being when I rode my bike down by our riverwalk when I was still in high school and a group of them unexpectedly jumped onto the path and I almost fell on one of their babies from braking too fast. One of the adult ones didn’t like that and hissed immediately and came within inches of pecking me while pedaling the opposite way.

Geese can also get you in trouble with the law. If you hit a goose while driving and leave the scene of the crime there is a federal law that can leave you with a nasty charge. I’ve done my research when it comes to running over geese and let me tell you… these dudes have it good. They can be assholes and poop wherever they want and they can get away with it and protected by law man. LAW. Look, I am in no way looking to kill another living creature, nor do I think I would have it in me to be a hunter. Why is it though that the one living thing that I would WANT to run over will get me in trouble? Just another reason to hate politics. I also found out that deer and cats aren’t protected by law and that you don’t have to notify the police if they are struck. Kind of strange.

Most birds have protection too, but it’s not too likely that you’ll hit a bird while driving that is in the air unless you have the Weasley’s car. After reading a little more I found out that it is very illegal to hit a badger, let alone have one dead or alive. Don’t know why anyone in their right mind would, but then again people also eat hardened laundry detergent (look it up, it’s real) so I guess there’s people out there.

Anyhow, I felt inspired to write this because every morning I am greeted to the wonderful screeching of sweet nothings by these fellas and they seem to feel like they own the entire college campus. It’ll be late at night and I’ll have to grab something I forgot in my car or something and there they are in both ponds by my residence hall cuddled up in the water.

My relationship with geese is best described as when you walked into class as a kid and you see your teacher is out sick and instead that one substitute teacher that no one likes is sitting in their chair (I’m looking at you Mr. Ramirez). I can safely say that geese are my least favorite living creature. If there’s any merit to their existence I guess I can say I admire their consistency and stubbornness in a weird way. Assholes.

First Entry…

Hey. This is the first entry of what I hope to be many and continue to grow in the years to come. This may not be the platform, nor domain, that I plan to stick to for my ever-so-entertaining entries, but for the time being this is suitable. I am fairly new to the world of blogging and have as much experience as a communications major with a minor in journalism (with the help of a handful of YouTube videos) can have. I feel as though a proper introduction is in order.

I am a guy in his early twenties looking to put forth my passion for writing and discussion to good use. The idea of me starting a blog started back in the summer of 2018. I had always felt like I had a lot to say with very few opportunities to share without sounding like a weirdo. There would be times where I would talk to friends on the phone or in person about something I read on Twitter or some random video I came across on YouTube and as good friends and family do, they listened. In their heads I imagined they were thinking “this might be interesting, but what prompted him to think of this?”

Going back to the summer of 2018… I was lost. It had been a year since graduating high school, seeing all of my closest friends everyday, hanging out with them after class, going to the school dances, and working nearly every day of the week while simultaneously juggling a heavy classwork load. I loved having the company. I like to think of myself as a social person and I love hearing what is going on in everyone’s day. Well, after high school and the summer following everything changed and not in the best way. I had a very tightly knit group of friends that hung out nearly every single day. I would say halfway through summer two of my closest friends went off to join the military. Even though I still loved every minute spent with my other friends, a bit of myself suffered. These two guys had no access to their phones and very little contact in general outside of letters. This was where my life started turning.

While being independent isn’t hard for me, I had gone from seemingly having no friends, to having this tight group, to by the point of summer 2018 having lost steady contact with most of them. This was a hard reality for me to grasp or want to accept. While I still had people to talk to the communication had gotten to an all-time low. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I really began to neglect my health and spirituality. I started gaining weight, became a bit socially awkward, and truthfully a little sensitive.

I think back to the first day I started community college. I had finished my first class and went to the student center to grab something to eat. I realized I had to charge my phone so I had gone to a small charging station that resided between two small chairs. There were multiple chairs surrounding at a distance, but none close enough to stay put on my phone while it was charging. I plopped down into the chair, plugged in my phone, and started looking at where my next class was for the day. The girl that was sitting on the opposite side gave me a small, but noticeable dirty look. I thought, man what did I do to offend her. So I did what I am good at and made some stupid, but inoffensive joke about invading her personal space. She said something along the lines of “this f*cking kid” and then left. “That was weird”, I thought. I brushed it off and went to class.

My next class was a business course back when I thought I was going to be a marketing major (story for a different day). The day was about as basic as syllabus days go, the teacher walked us through the curriculum and then conducted the dreaded ice-breaker activity. We were all sectioned off into groups based on where we were sitting and were instructed to interview each other in this small group. My group gathered together, looking lifeless and drab hunched over their desks. I started to introduce myself and got out my piece of paper to take notes about the others when this dude speaks up and says “Let’s be honest we’re just here to sit and then leave. Wanna just bullsh*t this?” Everyone else was quick to agree. I sat shook. Is this what college really is like? Well, both yes and no.

The two years I spent at community college were hell. The conversation skills and friendliness of everyone there were less than admirable. I tried multiple times to make efforts to be the outgoing guy that I was in high school and just never paid off. I felt defeated and fell into a VERY deep slump. I’ve said this multiple times to my close friends and family, 2018 was and still is the worst year of my life. I felt like my world was crumbling around me and didn’t know how to handle it. I tried to reach out to old friends, tried to go about life differently, and even did a free week of online therapy. I just was losing myself fast and I didn’t know what to do.

That’s when the idea of this blog came up first. I felt as though I was speaking into the void with no one to listen. I thought well if I made a blog it’d be some outlet for me to get whatever it was off of my chest. A healthy one at least. It seemed like week after week I told myself that I would make this blog and just lacked the motivation. This continued into about summer of 2019 when I finally woke up. I realized that I didn’t need to depend on everyone else around me to be happy and that my feelings are more important than what I could do for others. I was a “people pleaser” and couldn’t stand up for myself and I realized one day how stupid that was. I needed to speak my mind more. There would be times where I would share my writing with close friends, a Facebook post, or when giving advice and someone would say “why don’t you write more” or “why aren’t you a journalism major?” These thoughts really struck a chord for me.

Flash-Forward to orientation for NIU. I was ready to take on the next chapter of my life and leave the negative aspects behind. The meeting my mom and I attended prior to the small tour given for the specific majors said that if we wanted to declare our minors that now was the time to do so. Once communications was called I stood up and started to walk, stopped and thought “why am I not going into journalism?!” So I turned around and asked my mom, “Is it okay if I minor in journalism?” She was very motivating and encouraging and that was the big first step I had to take on the long quest to start this blog.

I adored my journalism courses my first semester and could not have been prouder of my choice. It wasn’t until this semester that I finally came up with the money and willingness to take time to write this blog, The Art of Vibing. The title might change eventually, it was made from a word generator site and sounded suitable. As for now that is the very long story of the origins behind the blog.

Not all my posts will be this lengthy, but I felt an introduction was in order. Hopefully this was mildly interesting enough to follow my life in the future!