Green Book is a 2018 American biographical comedy-drama film directed by Peter Farrelly. Set in 1962, the film is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Italian American bouncer Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) who served as Shirley's driver and bodyguard.
The film was written by Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie and Vallelonga's son, Nick Vallelonga, based on interviews with his father and Shirley, as well as letters his father wrote to his mother. The film is named after 'The Negro Motorist Green Book', a mid-20th century guidebook for African-American travellers, written by Victor Hugo Green.
Green Book had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2018, where it won the People's Choice Award. It was then theatrically released in the United States on 16 November 2018, by Universal Pictures.
The film won the National Board of Review award for the best film of 2018, and was also chosen as one of the top 10 films of the year by the American Film Institute. The film received numerous accolades and nominations, and at the 91st Academy Awards in 2019 won Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali. The film also won the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, while Ali won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA awards for Best Supporting Actor.
Viggo Mortensen began negotiations to star in the film in May 2017, and put on 40 to 50 pounds for the role. Peter Farrelly was set to direct from a screenplay written by Nick Vallelonga (Tony Lip's son), Brian Currie, and himself.
On 30 November 2017, the lead cast was set with Mortensen, Mahershala
Ali, Linda Cardellini and Iqbal Theba confirmed to star. Production began
that week in New Orleans. Sebastian Maniscalco was announced as part of
the cast in January 2018. Score composer Kris Bowers also taught Ali basic
piano skills and was the talent stand-in when closeups of hands playing
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 78% . The website's critical consensus reads, "Green Book takes audiences on a surprisingly smooth ride through potentially bumpy subject matter, fueled by Peter Farrelly's deft touch and a pair of well-matched leads."
On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 69 out of 100. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a rare average grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 91% positive score and an 80% "definite recommend".
Writing for The San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle praised Ali and Mortensen and said: "...there's something so deeply right about this movie, so true to the time depicted and so welcome in this moment; so light in its touch, so properly respectful of its characters, and so big in its spirit, that the movie acquires a glow. It achieves that glow slowly, but by the middle and certainly by the end, it's there, the sense of something magical happening, on screen and within the audience."
Steve Pond of TheWrap wrote, "The movie gets darker as the journey goes further South, and as the myriad indignities and humiliations mount. But our investment in the characters rarely flags, thanks to Mortensen and Ali and a director who is interested in cleanly and efficiently delivering a story worth hearing."
Jazz artist Quincy Jones said to a crowd after a screening: "I had the pleasure of being acquainted with Don Shirley while I was working as an arranger in New York in the '50s, and he was without question one of America's greatest pianists ... as skilled a musician as Leonard Bernstein or Van Cliburn ... So it is wonderful that his story is finally being told and celebrated. Mahershala, you did an absolutely fantastic job playing him, and I think yours and Viggo's performances will go down as one of the great friendships captured on film."
Green Book has received numerous award nominations. It was nominated for five awards at the 91st Academy Awards, winning three, for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali. In addition to winning the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018, Green Book was the fifth film to win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination.
Green Book had five nominations at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, with the film winning Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. The National Board of Review awarded it Best Film, and it was also recognized as one of the Top 10 films of the year by the American Film Institute. The film was also nominated for Cinema for Peace Most Valuable Film of the Year 2019.
The Negro Motorist Green Book was a mid-20th century guidebook for African-American travellers written by Victor Hugo Green.
• Viggo Mortensen as Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga
• Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley
• Linda Cardellini as Dolores Vallelonga
• Dimiter D. Marinov as Oleg
• Mike Hatton as George
• Iqbal Theba as Amit
• Sebastian Maniscalco as Johnny Venere
• Von Lewis as Bobby Rydell
• P.J. Byrne as Record Executive Producer
• Montrel Miller as Birmingham Hotel Waiter
• Tom Virtue as Morgan Anderson
• Don Stark as Jules Podell
• Brian Stepanek as Graham Kindell
• Dennis W. Hall as Wise Guy Mags
• Randal Gonzalez as Gorman
• Maggie Nixon as Coat Check Girl
• Brian Distance as Macon Cop No 2
For the film's soundtrack, Farrelly incorporated an original score by composer Kris Bowers and one of Shirley's own recordings.
The soundtrack also includes rarities from 1950s and 1960s American music recommended to him by singer Robert Plant, who was dating a friend of Farrelly's wife at the time he had finished the film's script. Peter Farrelly asked Plant for advice on picking songs for the film that would be relatively unknown to contemporary audiences. This prompted Plant to play Farrelly songs via YouTube, including Sonny Boy Williamson III's "Pretty 'Lil Thing" and Robert Mosley's "Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye".
In an interview with Forbes, the director explained that the soundtrack ended up not only avoiding rote nostalgia, "but also those songs were really inexpensive and I did not have a huge budget so I was able to come up with some sensational pop songs from the time that were long forgotten".
A soundtrack album was released on 30 November by Milan Records, featuring Bowers' score, songs from the plot's era, and a piano recording by Shirley. According to the label, it was streamed approximately 10,000 times per day during January 2019; this rate doubled the next month as the album surpassed one million streams worldwide, and became the highest-streamed jazz soundtrack in Milan's history.
The music played at the black blues club toward the end of the film, which featured the piano performance of Étude Op. 25, No. 11 (Chopin), known as the Winter Wind etude by Chopin, was not included in the soundtrack release.