The Oscars are tomorrow! I’m especially excited for this year’s Oscars because I’ve actually seen a lot of the nominees whereas in other years, I would have watched only one or two of them. I think this year I was a lot more interested in the movies released. The following are all nominees for best picture and two of them actually have the most nominations behind La La Land. I still wanted to see Hidden Figures but alas it’s tomorrow and I wanted to get this post up today. I will see it though sometime! In the meantime, enjoy!
Contemporary Drama | A
My favorite quote from this movie is spoken when Juan was telling Chiron about an encounter he had with an old woman: “In moonlight, black boys look blue” and the woman told him: “You’re blue. That’s what I’m gonna call you: ‘Blue'”. I really like that part mostly because it speaks to the preconceptions we have about others because of how we see them even though we don’t really “see” them. We see them shrouded in blue. And our main character, Chiron, struggles with finding his identity separate from the judgements that people bury him under. We first meet Chiron when he is running away from bullies as a young child. He is quiet, reserved and unassuming, contraindicative already of so many other black American narratives of hyper masculine men. In three separate acts from his childhood to his teenage days to his adulthood, the movie follows Chiron as he discovers who he is and his sexuality and what he has to sacrifice of himself to survive in this harsh ghetto environment that has a very limited idea of what it means to be a man. The fact that he also has no one to confide in only amplifies his struggle. It just makes the 2nd and 3rd act all the more vivid and heartbreaking. Part of this movie works so well because all three of the actors playing Chiron do an amazing job of channeling Chiron’s inner state. I do think this film deserves something for its film editing because it is just so seamless even when there are dream sequences and dream sequences usually hold back the narrative for me. It also is nominated for best original score which I can’t decide if La La Land or Moonlight deserves more. Moonlight has a beautiful classical score that settles in even in Moonlight’s most violent scenes which further magnifies Chiron’s sense of isolation and difference from the other boys. I really enjoyed this movie and I hope it at least gets some of the awards it deserves.
Hell or High Water
Neo-Western, Heist | B+
I initially wanted to watch this solely because Chris Pine was in this movie and I’m shallow
af. But it turned out to be a well-executed movie with nuanced acting and a good screenplay that transforms the modern Western into more of a character study than a gun-slinging action adventure. The storyline is simple enough, it follows two brothers who rob banks and Jeff Bridges plays a detective who tries to apprehend them. It does play and subvert these tropes well especially towards the end and delves with the idea of tradition vs progressivism. As well-executed as it is though, I think other nominees do it better and it’s probably not going to win any awards if I’m to be honest. Jeff Bridges is good in it but Mahershala Ali was better imo; editing is probably going to go to La La Land and I’m 99% sure it’s not going to be winning Best Picture. I’m glad to see it’s getting recognition though.
Science Fiction | B-
For some reason, Arrival actually was a bit of a let down for me? I thought the screenplay was unoriginal and it’s trying to tackle so many themes, themes of using language to communicate, themes of time-travel and knowing your future, themes of motherhood and it doesn’t explore any of them as deeply as I would have liked. The side characters were just so dull and were mostly used as plot devices than to serve as actual characters. Like why were you even here Jeremy Renner??? I will say that it’s different from other award-winning science fiction movies we’ve had of late. With Gravity and Interstellar and The Martian, it was about going into space or the perils of space itself but Arrival is about first contact with aliens and how humanity deals with a race that has a different language than ours. It has a good concept but its execution was off and I was expecting a lot more. Also, why does Amy Adams feel like the only important female character in this movie? Where are all the female scientists? Maybe hype got to me because most people seem to like this.
War, Historical Fiction (WWII) | A-
Hacksaw Ridge is based on a true story of Desmond Doss who was the very first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor for actions above and beyond the call of duty during WWII. This movie really has to thank its script and direction because if those were even average this movie would have just been a mediocre underdog story. And indeed, some of scenes feel a little trite and predictable. I mean we have all seen that one part in a movie where the underdog is beaten up by bullies and when asked who beat him up, he denies anyone did. There’s that one bully that we all hate but it turns out he never had any parents and he gets a redemption arc. *rolls eyes* However, Andrew Garfield always plays it just right so he kind of saves this role. In the second half of the movie, we get some overlong battle sequences that feel a tad too gratuitous. And I say that because, unlike movies like Private Ryan, Hacksaw Ridge surprisingly retains its stylized quality throughout. Not to say that it wasn’t violent (it was; there are spilled intestines), but even in the beginning, the colors are bright and saturated; there’s no shaky cam or “in-the-moment” camerawork that war movies seem to love.. Despite my qualms with it, I loved this movie; it’s probably my favorite behind La La Land and Moonlight for Oscar nominees because it is so grounded in its main character, Desmond. You get to really feel that conviction that Desmond has in his faith and his beliefs are the only thing he has to hold onto. It’s also quite a suspenseful movie especially in the latter half that really works because you feel so much for Desmond. Highly recommend because it is an Oscar nominee but it also can stand as a “blockbuster” movie. I like movies that can cross those boundaries.
Let me know if you’ve seen any of these movies, which one of them you would want to win Best Picture or which one’s your personal favorite. For me, it’s still La La Land and I know it’s now a trend to hate La La Land but I love it.