October, 1962. Italian-American Bronx native Tony Vallelonga - long called Tony Lip by those that know him for being able to BS his way out of anything - largely uses that ability to BS, his street smarts and his fists to do his job in "customer relations" (i.e. a glorified bouncer) at the Copa, where he has to deal with well dressed toughs and thugs, albeit with a smile and often without they knowing that he is screwing them. Like most of his Italian-American friends and family, he is a working class bigot, as demonstrated by his actions concerning some black laborers who did work in his and his wife Dolores' apartment. With the Copa closed for renovations until the new year, Tony has to find another job in the interim, he, without telling Dolores, pawning some of his valuables in the meantime to put food on their and their two adolescent sons' table. When he is given the inside scoop on a job working for Dr. Don Shirley, he only did not know before meeting Dr. Shirley that the Dr. refers to his multiple Ph.D.s, and that he is a classically trained pianist (the head of the popular music playing Don Shirley Trio) instead of a physician, but arguably most importantly that he is a well educated, wealthy and refined black man. The job is not only as chauffeur as Tony initially thought, but to be his all-expenses and well paid general foot soldier, especially in the area of security, for the eight week tour he has arranged for the trio with his record label, much of that tour in the Deep South (the last scheduled date being December 23rd in Birmingham, Alabama) hence the need for especially that security in he being black. Renegotiating the terms, learning that Dr. Shirley actually recruited him based on his reputation for being able to get the job done, and getting the okay from Dolores in the stipulation that he make it home for Christmas or else, Tony accepts the job. Beyond the obvious hazards of the race relations aspect of the job once they get to the Deep South, they will not only have to get over their own differences as humans in their moral and ethical values to survive with each other for eight weeks, but deal with the general role reversal of the uneducated white man being subservient to the well-educated black man. In that aspect, Dr. Shirley may have other issues in the Deep South as not fitting into either the white or black populations in general.
Oscar Best Picture 2019
Oscar Actor in a Supporting Role 2019 (Mahershala Ali)
Oscar Writing (Original Screenplay) 2019
Nominated for Actor in a Leading Role 2019 (Viggo Mortensen)
Nominated for Film Editing 2019 (Patrick J. Don Vito)