Is this the most contentious Oscars in recent Academy Awards history? Consider: the Kevin Hart controversy, the quickly reversed decision to not air four awards during the telecast, and nominations for the entertaining but hardly stellar likes of “Green Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” — to say nothing of the short-lived Best Popular Film award. (Remember that?)
But there are still some fascinating films receiving Academy Awards attention, and four of them are screening for an Oscar Showtime Week, Feb. 22 to 28 at the North Park Theatre (1428 Hertel Ave.). The four films are three Best Picture nominees - “Roma,” “A Star Is Born” and “Vice” — and a Best Animated Feature nominee, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” The Oscars will be held at 8 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and broadcast on ABC.
Here’s a rundown of all four:
“Roma”: Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” was a Netflix release, meaning people could only originally watch it on their TV and iPad screens. While that made it easy to watch this story of a wealthy family and its housekeeper in early 1970s Mexico, it was also a mixed blessing. After all, this stunningly photographed black-and-white drama was clearly made for the big screen. It finally opened at the North Park in January and will have additional screenings this week.
Showtimes: 1 p.m. Feb. 22, 1:40 p.m. Feb. 23, 7:15 p.m. Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Feb. 25, 4 p.m. Feb. 26, 10 p.m. Feb. 27 and 4 p.m. Feb. 28.
“A Star Is Born”: After seeing director-star Bradley Cooper’s Lady Gaga-starring remake at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, I confidently declared it the Oscar film to beat. Things have not gone as planned. While the story of a rising young singer’s relationship with a rock star earned eight nominations, it’s a long-shot for Best Picture. That’s too bad. While it is easy to sneer at this soapy romance, “Star” is a tremendously entertaining drama with killer songs and wonderful performances.
Times: 7 p.m. Feb. 22, 7:25 p.m. Feb. 23, 10:05 p.m. Feb. 24, 1 p.m. Feb. 25 and 26, 4 p.m. Feb. 27 and 10 p.m. Feb. 28.
“Vice”: “Big Short” director Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney-biopic is, quite frankly, a mess. Yet it’s an entertaining one, anchored by a stunning performance from unrecognizable Oscar-nominee Christian Bale. Also starring Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell (as George W. Bush), “Vice” is a jumble of ideas, many of them fascinating. It all adds to very little, however, and tells the audience nothing it did not already know about the Machiavellian maneuverings of the former Vice President. Still, it qualifies as a must-see, and certifiable conversation-starter.
Times: 4 p.m. Feb, 22, 4:30 p.m. Feb. 23, 4:20 p.m. Feb. 24, 4 p.m. Feb. 25, 7 p.m. Feb. 26 and 1 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”: Several months after its release, there seems to be little doubt that the animated “Into the Spider-Verse” is the finest Spider-Man flick yet. I would go even further and say it’s one of the best superhero entries, as well. A bold, gloriously colorful creation, “Spider-Verse” is a meta take on Spidey, centered around teenager Miles Morales and his collision with a universe of alt-Spiderpeople. It’s a treat for the eyes and the mind, and how many superhero films can be described like that?
Times: 10 p.m. Feb. 22, 10:20 p.m. Feb. 23, 1:40 p.m. Feb. 24, 9:50 p.m. Feb. 25 and 26, 7 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28.
Tickets are $10.50 for adults ($8.50 for matinees) and $7.50 for seniors.Visit northparktheatre.org.