Oscars 2019: Arab nominees at the 91st Academy Awards

The Egyptian American actor Rami Malek has already won best actor awards for his performance in Bohemian Rhapsody. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2019
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Oscars 2019: Arab nominees at the 91st Academy Awards

DUBAI: The Oscars countdown is almost over - both fans and critics have already locked in their favorites over who will take home this year’s trophies.

It is a particularly exciting season for Arabs and Muslims, as a few Oscar contenders are set to make history for the region. 

Rami Malek for Best Actor

It would be a big upset if Rami Malek does not win the coveted Best Actor trophy on Feb. 24, as his epic transformation into rock legend Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been recognized in every awards show preceding the 91st Academy Awards: The Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and SAG.

Born to immigrant parents, the Egyptian American is poised to make history as the first actor of Arab descent to clinch the top acting prize at the Oscars, seen as one of the highest recognitions in the field. In 2016, he scored an Emmy for his performance in the hit TV show “Mr. Robot.”

Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor

A frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor, Mahershala Ali is heading strong into the Oscars with multiple wins on his resume for his role in the historical dramedy “Green Book.”

The 44-year-old made headlines in 2017 when he became the first Muslim to win Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars in its 91-year history. Ali could replicate this success this year.

 

 

Capernaum for Best Foreign Film

Oprah Winfrey, a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has said Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum,” nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, is a must-see.

Ever since the Lebanese drama won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, more and more people, including colleagues in the film industry, have been praising Labaki’s work.

But it is going to be an uphill battle as her film competes with Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” which has won all foreign-language film recognitions ahead of the Oscars.

Of Father and Sons for Best Documentary Feature

Berlin-based Syrian director Talal Derki took it to a different level when he lived with a Daesh family to shoot his award-winning documentary “Of Father and Sons,” which depicts radicalization from a very personal viewpoint, and is nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

But the courageous Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner is up against a tough bunch, including fan favorite “RBG,” which documents the life of US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a living legend in American law.

Critics have also placed their bets on “Free Solo,” a sports documentary that depicts the athletic feat of professional rock climber Alex Hammond.


REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' season three

Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), Natalie Dyer (Nancy Wheeler) and Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven/Jane Hopper). (Netflix)
Updated 21 July 2019
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REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' season three

  • Hit series returns, funnier and freakier

DUBAI: Netflix’s “Stranger Things” crossed the line from hit series to cultural phenomenon pretty early on with its mix of Eighties nostalgia, sweetly humorous kids-coming-of-age story, sci-fi thrills and genuinely spooky scenes.

After a second season that brought a darker, more dangerous vibe but lost some of the fun, showrunners the Duffer Brothers seem to have struck a better balance between the two in the third season, released last week.

Set in the summer of 1985, the central gang of kids: Mike Wheeler, Will Byers, Lucas Sinclair, Max Mayfield, Dustin Henderson and telepath Eleven (or El — or Jane Hopper as she’s now the legal adoptive daughter of Sherrif Jim Hopper) are on school vacation, and it’s that awkward summer when the boys start to take more interest in girls than in Dungeons & Dragons, much to Will’s chagrin. Mike and Lucas are (at the start of the series at least) bumbling their way through relationships with El and Max respectively. The Duffers mine these awkward ‘first-love’ scenarios for rich humor and some genuinely touching moments, as well as some realistic takes on how the complications of love interests affects the tight-knit gang of boys we met in the first series. And of how they enable Max and El to bond. It’s great to see El relax into hanging out with her first real girlfriend (in the platonic sense).

There’s plenty of humor too in the double-act of Dustin and Steve Harrington — formerly the high-school heartthrob, but now struggling to retain his ‘cool’ edge while working in an ice-cream parlor in the town’s new social hotspot, the Starcourt Mall. New arrival Robin is his co-worker — and thorn in side, constantly puncturing his ego.

Of course, there’s a darkness stirring too. The sinister, otherworldly monster defeated by El at the end of season two is not, it seems, as gone as everyone thought. Strange power fluctuations trigger Will’s awareness of his nemesis, and the kids quickly realize that their summer holidays aren’t going to be as carefree as they’d hoped. There’s the issue of exploding rats, for starters, and Max’s older brother, Billy, is acting very, well, strange.

Everything that made “Stranger Things” so wildly popular, then, is still in place, including stellar performances from the ensemble cast and the eye-catching attention to Eighties pop culture (new Coke, Phoebe Cates and Ralph Macchio, for example), to — of course — the unsettling notion of something very wrong happening just beneath Hawkins’ shiny, happy surface.