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February 2017

The Lobster

lobster

Movie: The Lobster
What it’s up for: Original Screenplay

In the future, being single is illegal. Singles are gathered and sent to a hotel where they live for 45 days and try to find a suitable partner to spend their life with. If they don’t, they get turned into an animal of their choice.

Guys, guys, guys this movie is so GOOD. It so good just because of how interesting the plot is. It does that thing where you don’t get all the background information at once. It slowly reveals what’s going on over time. I love that. It’s a quirky, indie European film.

The screenplay is just amazing. It’s clever and unique. It tells the story well. There’s great use of things happening in the background that help you understand what’s going on in the film. For example, at one point, our characters are in the woods and random animals will just walk behind them. Those are the people who got turned into animals. We see a camel and a flamingo and many other animals that don’t belong in the woods.

The movie takes a satirical look at relationships that’s refreshing yet convicting. The couples are matched based on a common interest or similar physical trait. They call it being “well suited”. The whole thing is one well-written farce and it’s fantastic. 

 

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Passengers

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Movie: Passengers
What it’s up for: Original Score, Production Design

Space movie! But it’s a different kind of space movie. A passenger vessel, on its way to a colony planet encounters an asteroid field causing one of its passengers (Chris Pratt) to come out of hypersleep (or whatever type of sleep they call it, I can’t remember) decades too early. Alone and lonely on the ship, he decides to wake up one of the other passengers (Jennifer Lawrence) even though it means she will also be condemned to spending the rest of her life on the ship.

I actually really enjoyed this one. It’s one of the few happy films in the roster. It might seem cheesy to some, but I thought it was fun and exciting.

Score – two words: Thomas Newman. If you’ve been following my blog at all, you know how I feel about Thomas Newman. He’s the most nominated living composer to never win an Oscar. He deserves one. Unfortunately, this year is probably not his year.

The production design is about the same as any space movie. However, that is a high quality standard. It was beautiful, particularly the space effects.

I love it. Go watch it.

Predictions

2017-predictionsOk, here we are. Leading Actress and Makeup and Hairstyling I had to just pull out of thin air because I haven’t seen any of them.

I’m going the opposite direction with my predictions compared to last year. Last year I did a lot of analysis into other award shows and it totally threw me off. This year, I’m going almost entirely by my gut. We’ll see. Last year I was also really stressed out about being wrong but after being SO WRONG last year, I don’t care anymore. It just goes to show that a little failure now and then can help you be more confident in the future.

Moonlight

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MovieMoonlight
What it’s up for: Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score, Film Editing

Moonlight tells the story of a poor boy named Chiron growing up in Miami who is discovering who he is compared to who others expect him to be. He struggles to find purpose and meaning as he grows up, hoping to find where he belongs.

First and foremost, I have to criticize the cinematography and film editing. Half of the movie is out of focus. Literally. I’m not sure what happened there. I assume it must be some sort of artistic choice that represents the difficulty of discerning who you are as you grow up…or something. However, it makes the movie almost unwatchable. I had to close my eyes a few times because the distortion was messing with my head. Outside of that, the lighting and framing are creative and effective…when you can see it. But, the score is great. It’s eclectic and also helps with some of the exposition.

Mahershala Ali gives a great performance, however, he’s in less than 1/3 of the film. He’s not the first actor/actress to get nominated for a role that has a short screentime. That practice isn’t something I fully understand. Although he did great, I felt like he didn’t have enough time to make an impact. What was more impactful was how Trevante Rhodes channeled Ali’s characteristics as he played adult Chiron.

Naomie Harris blew her performance out of the water. She played Chiron’s drug addict mother who grows and changes just like Chiron. She was incredible and impressive in her range and depth of performance.

I can’t say much about the screenplay because this one is also achingly slow. Fortunately, it’s also the shortest of the movies. There are few conflict/resolution plot points in the film. It’s basically one big conflict, which is Chiron discovering himself. I understand that that’s the point, but not enough happens in the movie to even track his growth. *Spoiler alert* It also ends with no resolution which is frustrating after such a slow film.

Barry Jenkins wrote and directed Moonlight which leads me to believe he was going in a Boyhood or Terrence Malick direction with the film. If that’s the case, kudos and well done. If that’s not the case, then it’s just a slow film without an engaging plot. Perhaps he was just trying to portray realism. I get that filmmakers like to do that and those are the movies that get nominated for awards. But it’s just so depressing.

Predictions
Best Picture – Doubtful
Director – Doubtful
Supporting Actor –  Probable
Supporting Actress – Highly possible
Adapted Screenplay – Unlikely…I think
Cinematography – I doubt it
Original Score – Nope
Film Editing – Doubtful

 

Manchester by the Sea

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MovieManchester by the Sea
What it’s up for: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) becomes the legal guardian of his nephew (Lucas Hedges) after his brother’s death. He’s forced to face his own demons as he figures out what the future will look like for him and Patrick.

Manchester suffers slightly from the 2016 slow-plot epidemic, but much less so than the other nominees. The acting makes up for it. Casey Affleck is incredible as a troubled and haunted man whose just trying to deal with life. Lucas Hedges definitely deserved his nomination for playing Affleck’s nephew. I’ve been impressed by the “child” actors this year. Michelle Williams comes out swinging at a specific and important part of the film and I would love to see her win this year.

You can tell the difference in direction quality between this and Lion. And again, my favorite thing happens – the writer and director are the same person! Kenneth Lonergan does an almost perfect job directing his fantastic screenplay. There is that slowness but again, his direction towards his actors makes the film a good watch.

I really did enjoy this one and would recommend it if you’re looking for a good Redbox night. It’s not a happy go lucky movie (few Oscar films are), but it’s worth watching.

Predictions
Best Picture – Highly unlikely
Director – Possible, but I doubt it
Actor  – Highly probable (unless politics come into play)
Supporting Actor –  Unlikely
Supporting Actress – Possible! (But again…politics….)
Original Screenplay – Possible

Lion

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MovieLion
What it’s up for: Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score

Five-year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets separated from his family and finds himself in Calcutta. Through a series of events, he gets adopted by a family in Australia, taking him even farther away from the family he knows is still out there. As an adult, Saroo (Dev Patel) decides to try and find his way back to them.

Although Lion also sticks to the theme of slow progressing plot lines, it diverges from the rest by having the slow part at the end of the film. Yes, I’m talking about Dev Patel‘s entire role. There’s a reason I chose a picture of Sunny Pawar for this post. He did an amazing job and deserves some sort of award recognition for being awesome. Dev Patel’s good looks couldn’t sway me to get on board with what felt like four hours of Dev looking at maps. The fault of this lies on the screenplay. The first half of the film is brilliant in this department, but the second half falls short. The cinematography was beautiful throughout.

Nicole Kidman was great. She had a specific monologue that, I would guess, led to her nomination. Will she be given an Oscar in the one category that is predominantly non-white actresses? We’ll see.

I remember noticing the score while watching the film and wondering if it had been nominated for an Oscar. It was beautiful and perfectly aligned to the story.

Predictions
Best Picture – I think this one might take it
Supporting Actor – I think it’s highly likely but I would hope not
Supporting Actress – Unlikely…I think
Adapted Screenplay – Probable
Cinematography – Possible
Original Score – I don’t think anything can – or should – beat La La Land

 

 

Hell or High Water

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Movie: Hell or High Water
What it’s up for: Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, Film Editing

A modern day, cops and robbers Western, Hell and High Water tells the tale of two brothers who go on a bank robbing spree. Why do they do this, you ask? Well, I won’t tell you because the revelation of their intentions is part of the greatness of the screenplay. (Yes, I know it tells you on IMDB, but if you don’t know it makes it better. Trust me.)

I actually really enjoyed this movie. It’s one of the few Best Picture nominees that is interesting throughout the entire story. It does keep with this year’s theme, though, and moves a bit slowly at times. However, the slow points are also the points of exposition and they help build the story from one discovery to the next. The screenplay is fascinating. Remember how I said I liked symbolism? Throughout the movie, their bank robberies are juxtaposed with images of small town poverty and malicious greed. It’s actually quite brilliant. The film editing was high quality but nothing too spectacular.

Jeff Bridges gets the nomination for supporting actor in this film. He plays the stereotypical ornery old sheriff, but with a few interesting twists of character. His character, Marcus, develops smoothly throughout the film into a performance that deserves the nomination. Ben Foster and Chris Pine also deserve recognition for their performances as the brothers.

Prediction
Best Picture – Doubtful
Supporting Actor – Doubtful
Original Screenplay – Possible
Film Editing – Probably not

 

Hacksaw Ridge

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MovieHacksaw Ridge
What it’s up for: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Film Editing

In World War II, conscientious objector Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) wants to serve and honor his country by joining the Army and becoming a medic. Met with obstacles from every side, he pursues this goal and ends up a hero. (Not a spoiler because this is a true story.)

I enjoyed this film the most out of the seven Best Picture nominees I watched. As with most Mel Gibson movies, there was some religious symbolism helping to guide the story along. I love symbolism/metaphoric storytelling, religious or otherwise. There was a lot going on in this movie and I think Gibson did a great job.

Andrew Garfield was fantastic and captured the real Desmond Doss pretty accurately. You can feel his determination, desperation, and fear at all the right times. Andrew Garfield with a southern accent does throw me off a bit, though.

War films often tend to be nominated for one or both sound categories. There’s not a whole lot I can say for Hacksaw Ridge in these categories other than it must have been challenging.

The film editing was quite well done and was crucial to the story-telling. With a lot of chaos and explosions in the final battle, it was necessary to have a good editor.

Predictions
Best Picture – Nope
Director – Hollywood give an Oscar to Mel Gibson at this point in time? To that I say “ha!” and “no”.
Actor – Unlikely
Sound Editing – Unlikely
Sound Mixing – Unlikely
Film Editing – Unlikely

Deepwater Horizon

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*Yes, I realize that this picture could be from any of Mark Wahlberg’s movies…*

MovieDeepwater Horizon
What it’s up for: Sound Editing, Visual Effects

This is the story of the April 2010 oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It thoroughly humanized the tragedy. Much of the focus after the incident was on how terrible it was for the environment (which it was). However, human lives were lost and loss of life should always be taken seriously. The movie as a whole was engaging and intense. I may have been sobbing almost the entire time, but I still enjoyed it.

The visual effects immerse you in a hellish landscape. You can feel the terror as the rig explodes and starts falling apart. The sound editing was complex, but not too far out of the ordinary.

This is another one where the score stood out in a strong, positive way. Gina Rodriguez (who is amazing in Jane the Virgin) did a fantastic job as one of the engineers and the only woman in any position of authority. All of the actors seemed fully committed and they added to the authenticity of the film.

Predictions
Sound Editing – Doubtful
Visual Effects – Doubtful

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