Here’s a collection of my thoughts from the 2017 Oscar Season!
Who/What Will Win (Who/What I Liked The Most)
BEST PICTURE: La La Land (Manchester by the Sea)
BEST DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle (Damien Chazelle)
BEST ACTOR: Denzel Washington (Casey Affleck)
BEST ACTRESS: Emma Stone (Emma Stone)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Lucas Hedges (Jeff Bridges) #rememberrylance
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis (Michelle Williams)
- Manchester by the Sea
- La La Land
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Hell or High Water
- Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures (Theatre): Three women defy the odds at NASA in the 60s. I started off with a great one. I was immediately taken by Janelle Monaé. Her performances in Moonlight and Hidden Figures are her FIRST. I should have known by how expressive she is in her music videos that she would slay in Hidden Figures. Just a powerhouse cast: Ali, Parsons, Dunst, Costner, Henson, Spencer. Outside of Monaé, I particularly enjoyed Mahershala Ali and Kirsten Dunst. And that soundtrack from Pharrell had me smiling after the first track.
Hacksaw Ridge (Theatre): Didn’t know much going into the movie… but boy was I impressed by the film. The movie tells the story of Desmond Doss, a combat medic who is also a pacifist. Split into two parts it tells the story of why he is “the way he is” and how that affects his role in the battle at Hacksaw Ridge during WWII. The two standouts were obviously Andrew Garfield and VINCE VAUGHN. Andrew Garfield is nominated for Best Actor for a reason. Simple is complex. The character he plays is a simple man in conviction, but simple as an actor is never easy. He became someone else entirely. And Vince Vaughn. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him in a serious role before – and he brought a sliver of what makes him “Vince Vaughn” to the role of an army Sergeant. Also… the MOST battlefield choreography I’ve seen in a movie in recent memory. Thumbs up.
La La Land (Theatre): La La Land is movie about Hollywood for Hollywood. Yup. It is. Uh-huh. That’s not a bad thing. Trust me. So Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in a musical about trying to make it in Hollywood. Ryan Gosling as a struggling jazz musician and Emma Stone as a struggling actress. They have undeniable on-screen… watch Gosling lift Stone in Crazy, Stupid Love and tell me otherwise. People keep pointing to the performance by Emma Stone, but I enjoyed Gosling a little more and that takes a lot for me to say because of how much I love Emma in Crazy Stupid Love, Easy A, Birdman… the list continues. Not only that but these two can dance… my word. John Legend played a character not just a musician. Yay. I really noticed the colour in the movie (and maybe because we are studying it in class a little bit) and also the sets and locations where the movie was shot. I’m sure that the soundtrack will be on repeat for me for the next few days. Here’s the skinny for those of you who are on the fence. If you don’t like musicals and don’t like “film” there still may be something here for you to latch onto. It’s not super out there from a content perspective… it’s a simple story that builds to a really nice ending. I like musicals – so that’s my slant.
Hell or High Water (Apple Rental): Simple movies are good movies. With simple movies comes not much to say… look… Hell or High Water is a simple movie with one plot and a couple of simple sub-plots that fit with the main plot. This one is much like Sicario last year (perhaps because the screenwriter for this one is the same as Sicario). Chris Pine was good. Ben Foster was great. They play brothers who begin robbing banks. Foster, an ex-con recently released plays the unhinged brother and Pine plays the straight shooter. I won’t spoil why the brother start robbing banks (it’s kind of what makes the movie). Jeff Bridges was great as the law-man trying to chase the brothers down despite sounding like he had a mouth full of marbles at certain points. It was interesting to see how some of the themes came to affect the plot… especially the open-carry and stand-your-ground laws as well as the US banking system. I’m calling my Dad to tell him to watch Hell or Hell Water. It’s pretty good. Kind of makes me think about my time in Texas and what would have happened if I went into a bank…
Arrival (Apple Rental): Sometimes we all have difficulty offering an opinion. I just ramble-recorded for 7 minutes about the way I felt after watching “Arrival”. And I probably won’t do much better with a written critique, but here goes nothing. Arrival looks and sounds great. I may be biased but the costumes look great – especially the scientists’ helmets 😃. It was shot outside of Montreal and the locations were all great. The manufactured sounds for the aliens were great and the language that was created for the terrestrial beings in this movie was neat – something that I’m sure that I’ll read about. But look, this movie was a slow burn. It’s based off a short story – and there isn’t much that happens in the first hour. Not every movie has to punch up the action from minute one, but the build doesn’t lead to a pay-off that I adored. Amy Adams was fine. Jeremy Renner was fine. Adored him in The Town. I don’t know… it was okay? Curious to know your thoughts.
Manchester by the Sea (Windsor International Film Festival): I watched Manchester by the Sea for the second time. You want to get punched in the emotion sack? Watch this. If you’re sad or mad – this movie is just going to make it worse. Casey Affleck brings it in all respect. He’s gone through so much crap and all of that crap has made him into a guy that barely functions. Without spoiling much, he delivers an emotional, powerful and believable performance. Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams were great. There’s one scene where Michelle Williams travels through about a half dozen emotions in less than 60 seconds and it was still great the second time. I can’t decide if this is my favourite this year or not. The great part are the moments of humour that are sprinkled throughout the dread… some of them are genuine belly laughs, but I’m not sure if it’s the Boston accent or the moment itself. Also… we had snacks and I drank Mello Yello.
Fences (Theatre): A man is beaten down, scorned and disadvantaged for his entire life. He takes that emotional baggage with him and tries to create a life for those around him that was better than his life. In the process of working to create something better than what he received, he leaves a path of destruction in his wake. Like many of the other movies I’ve watched in the past few weeks, I try to go in with the least amount of information possible. Before I even saw that Fences was based on a play in the closing credits, I already knew. It just felt like a play – but that comment shouldn’t take away from Fences. It’s tremendous. I thought Denzel would steal the show and even though there were scenes that he did, especially in the beginning, Viola Davis came through. As did Joven Adepo who played one of Denzel’s sons. When this one hits your favourite movie streaming service in March – please watch it. I probably shouldn’t have watched Manchester by the Sea yesterday and follow it up with this – but thems the breaks. My emotion sack has been working overtime in the past few days.
Moonlight (Apple Movies): This is the story of a lifetime.
Moonlight tells the story of how shy teenager was bullied and persecuted based on his sexuality in Miami. That bullying lead to a single decision that altered the main character’s path for the rest of his life. I appreciated how grounded the depictions of sexuality were within the movie. I hope that Moonlight connects with anyone that may have struggled with their own identity at some point their life. Not only that, I appreciated the care in ensuring that the character traits were well-shared between the three actors portraying the main character. Finally, both Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monae are having one hell of a year…
Lion (Apple Movies): This is the last one. And a pretty good one to end with. Lion starts with five-year-old Saroo in Khandwa, India. Lion shares a plot device with Moonlight – in that the main character makes a snap decision that alters his life forever. In this one, Saroo ends up on a train that takes him over 1500 kilometres from home. He’s taken in by the state and adopted by an Australian family. The story is a little tropey – but it’s based on a true story. After being beaten down by Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight and Fences all in a row – it was nice to be uplifted. Again – based on a true story, but the focus on relationship between Rooney Mara and Dev Patel didn’t seem necessary. It’s only thread of the movie that didn’t fit to me. I’m a big fan of Dev Patel (The Newsroom, Slumdog Millionaire) and he doesn’t disappoint in this one. Nicole Kidman was great but to me young Sunny Pawar stole the show as the younger version of Dev Patel’s character. If you want a smile just watch his introduction of Lion from the Golden Globes or go see pictures of him from WWE Monday Night Raw from a few days ago. I’ll post one more time about the Oscars before Sunday… then you won’t see movie reviews again for a while. 🙂