Where I Watched It: Amazon
English Audio Description?: Yes
Sometimes, it can be extremely rewarding to pick a film to watch even if you don’t care about it. Even if the subject matter just pulls this extreme indifference out of you. Every once in a while, these movies surprise you. I’m someone whose tastes are all over the place. I’ll champion a tiny Sundance indie that no one saw, then be amazed by a comic book adaptation, and laugh through a generic romcom. But when it comes to documentaries, some of them are just slow, boring, and I couldn’t care less. Good night oppy seemed to be that, and then it blew my mind.
I found myself charmed by the story of a Mars rover that overstays its welcome, and has the attention of adoring fans here on earth. As the opportunity rover manages to traverse Mars, there’s this quirky personality it starts to show. Little kinks in the system appear as personality quirks, and something that is the opposite of human starts to be this thing you care about its well being. Perhaps it has no self awareness to know anything that is happening around it or related to it, but oppy becomes the hero we all need, and he’s just trying to collect some rocks and take a few photos. He’s a tourist in a place we’ve never been, and this documentary perfectly captures a story anyone would love. Anyone except the Academy, who bafflingly left this off their shortlist of 15 eligible documentaries.
This isn’t just the infuriating case of it missing out on a nomination, like it wasn’t one of the five. This branch thought there were 15 superior documentaries, which there are not. Not from what they chose. Of course, this is the same branch that rewarded When We Were Bullies with an Oscar nomination last year, which might be the most infuriating Oscar nomination in history. If i could buy a print of that film just to set it on fire, i would.
But, this branch has passed on crowd pleasing documentaries before, like Won’t you Be My Neighbor. it’s kind of their thing. I don’t know who these people are, in terms of where their mental state is, but the documentary branch is always on another planet. This time, that planet just wasn’t Mars.
With excellent audio description tracking our rover across the surface, Good Night Oppy is one of the years surprises. A delightful and charming documentary, which is usually loaded with heavy material, meant to make you think and feel about a wide range of really important topics. But sandwiched between documentaries about war, abortion, and climate crisis, is this nifty and adorable picture about a robot that refused to die. And if that doesn’t deserve recognition in some form, I don’t know what does.
Final Grade: A