Ford v Ferrari: An Underrated Contender


20th Century Fox

Ford v Ferrari, directed by James Mangold

Though 1917 seems most likely to snag Best Picture at the Oscars, this year’s unexpected nomination of Ford v Ferrari, directed by James Mangold, should merit more consideration than it has received. The movie focuses on the legendary rivalry between automobile giants Ford and Ferrari during the 24-hour-long Le Mans race of 1966.
It is very rare to see a film about cars nominated for more than just Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, or Best Visual Effects. In fact, in the history of the Oscars, only two other similar movies have ever been nominated for Best Picture. Neither of these past nominations, American Graffiti or Mad Max: Fury Road, were based on a true story.
Ford v Ferrari stars Christian Bale as British race car driver Ken Miles and Matt Damon as American automotive designer Carroll Shelby. The film received praise from critics and viewers alike, earning a whopping 92% “fresh” score from critics on the ratings website Rotten Tomatoes.
The film’s ability to tell the story to both car-enthusiasts and casual moviegoers makes the film stand out from other racing movies. It does all this while immersing the viewer in the loud roars and fast-paced action of the race, which its three other nominations (for Best Picture Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing) reflect.
The performances by Matt Damon and Christian Bale have also earned critical acclaim. Bale’s portrayal of Ken Miles was described by motorheads as an accurate and fair depiction, while critics described him as completely immersed in his role. Through his intense method acting, Bale makes Ford v Ferrari a movie about character growth, competition, friendship, and so much more.
This transformation of a real-life story into an entertaining but accurate movie with broad appeal is exactly why Ford v Ferrari deserves this year’s Best Picture statue. Few movies in the past, car-centric or not, have managed to take relatively unknown events and topics that normally appeal only to a small audience and convert them into a Hollywood blockbuster. All filmmakers interested in bringing real stories to the screen should aspire to tell them in a way that teaches the viewer about the historical event and entertains them.
Ford v Ferrari faces tough competition for Best Picture, but overcoming competition is exactly what the movie is about. In the movie, Ford is the underdog trying to win the race. Now, the movie is the underdog of another competition – for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars.