So, It’s back. My Oscar Blog. After 3 straight years, I just couldn’t bring myself to write it last year. It just felt like homework instead of fun and ask all my teachers, I always hated homework! I did watch all the movies last year and Mad Max and Brooklyn were my favorites. Maybe I was boycotting last year without even knowing it. #OscarsSoWhite was trending this time last year. The Academy took a lot of criticism and rightfully so for their lack of diversity in nominated films and acting performances in 2016. It’s nothing new. Every person and organization has to do better to look past what is most familiar to what is most deserving. The argument I always hear against diversity is that we should just hire or choose the most deserving regardless of race, gender, etc. That assumes that we have been choosing the most deserving but we haven’t and we don’t. That’s the whole point. We continue to miss out on the truly most deserving because we choose the most familiar, the most comfortable. I am a huge fan of film. I always lament the Academy Awards because they often celebrate what is most comfortable over what is truly great. This notion will play out this year more than any year in recent memory. Not to be all competitive or make it sound like a football game or something but this year we have the showdown of all showdowns. A film shot in Hollywood about Hollywood vs. A film made in Liberty City, Miami by a writer and director from those very streets. You thought the Super Bowl was a classic? This is the real Super Bowl! Get ready for Moonlight vs. La La Land. Moonlight is the Atlanta Falcons(even shot part of it in Atlanta) and La La Land is definitely the New England Patriots. Let’s get real for a second…Moonlight is the best reviewed film of the year(and 4th best all time) with a 99 on Metacritic. 4th best of all time! Godfather is #1. La La Land is good and it has the sexiest actor alive, Ryan Gosling(The Tom Brady of Hollywood). Damn, I’m just praying and hoping that La La Land doesn’t get that last 2 point conversion! It is all about Moonlight for me. It was the best movie I have seen in years. I can’t even remember the last time I loved a film more. I will be legit mad if Moonlight doesn’t win. Don’t contact me for 3 days I will be rewatching it over and over again and crying! I’ll do the same if Moonlight wins!
I like to tell you who/what I think “should” win and who/what “Will” win. I’m usually pretty good at predicting what the Academy will do because it’s the opposite of what I want! It’s only a few more hours till the Oscars start so let’s do this. I’m ranking the nominated films from least favorite to most favorite. This year I will add the metacritic.com score next to the film. Metacritic is a composite score based on critics reviews of the film. It’s way better than Rotten Tomatoes to see how a film was reviewed.
Best Picture Nominees (not in any particular order…yet)
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
#9 Hacksaw Ridge – Metacritic Score: 71
Man, I hate that movies like this are even nominated but every year they throw a couple in. I’m not sure why they do this. I’m just not a fan of the true story made into a movie art form. My three lest favorite movies of the year were the three movies that fit this category. While the stories of all them were great, they are not made into great movies. I always, always find myself wishing I was watching the documentary rather than the cheesy movie version. Hacksaw Ridge is about a combat medic in World War II who was a conscientious objector and refused to carry a weapon but saved over 70 lives on the battlefield with extraordinarily heroic efforts. Amazing story right? A scene in the first 10 minutes of Hacksaw Ridge is why I don’t like the movie version. His mother tells him that killing is God’s worst sin and then he finds himself in a hospital where he realizes his calling and also sees his future wife from across the room! Really? I mean I know you have to move the movie along but to realize his life’s calling and meet the love of his life in the same 3 seconds! The best part was after the movie was over and before the credits rolled they had a brief interview with the actual man in his 80’s(He died in 2006) and a friend of his who he saved. This 1 minute clip was way better than the entire movie and just proved to me that hearing his story from his mouth is a million times better than listening to Mel Gibson(Director) tell it.
#8 Lion – Metacritic Score: 69
This is a true story too and would be an phenomenal documentary. It also had real life footage of the individuals involved at the very end and I just wanted to see more of that. Again, this is an unbelievable story of a 5-year-old Indian boy who fell asleep on a train and ended up a thousand miles from home. He didn’t really know the correct name of his small village. He ended up at an orphanage and was adopted by an australian family. After 20 years he used google earth technology on his computer to try to find where he was from and he did! It was a pretty moving film and the scenes of India were beautiful. The little boy actor, Sunny Pawar, was fantastic. Better than Dev Patel who was fine. The main issue I had watching this film was whether it was exploitive. I’m just not sure how I feel about films that seem to want to tackle a larger social issue(Like missing children or child slavery) but in a for profit hollywood movie. How many people leave a movie like that and think about what they can do to work on these issues? I don’t think many. I don’t think that is the point of these movies. I think the point is to exploit our emotions and give us this voyeuristic look into a terrible social issue. Instead of making a shit ton of money on this film, what about producers spending money to produce a film like Blackfish which aired on prime time tv and did a lot for animal rights?
#7 Hidden Figures – Metacritic Score: 74
This is the last of the “true story” films. It’s about three African-American women scientists and mathematicians who worked for NASA during the race for space. They were vital, along with many other women, women of color, people of color, in the success of NASA. Duh. When I first saw this preview I thought why do I not already know this story. We should already know this and it should be taught in schools. Of course we know about many of the white men in NASA. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we should have a moratorium on hearing from or about white men. Lol. After you read MY blog of course. Then stop completely. I especially get annoyed with films about African-Americans that have a prominent role for the white hero character (Kevin Costner). See my past Oscar Blogs for more discussion of the “white hero” in films.
#6 Hell or High Water – Metacritic Score: 88
Alright, I’m running out of time to get this out to you before the Oscars start so I’ll keep it brief. This movie was set in modern times just after the economic crash of 2008. Two brothers whose family land was screwed over by mortgage companies and banks started robbing those banks in order to get the money back. It was a little cliché but still pretty damn fun to watch. I loved the soundtrack too and Ben Foster is one of the meanest s.o.b actors to watch. Love him.
#5 Fences – Metacritic Score: 79
Fences is an August Wilson play starring Denzel and Viola. Only first names needed. It is so fun to watch a play on film because the dialogue is so damn good. I felt like I could get an academy award nomination acting out that dialogue. So damn good. The ensemble cast was really great as well. I balled at the end of this movie. Ending was super dope. Denzel and Viola were on point and are probably my picks for best acting performances. But I don’t think that is a coincidence. When something is written as well as August Wilson has done it must be so “easy” and a blessing to act in. Really the award is shared with Mr. Wilson. I hope they acknowledge as such tonight if they win.
#4 Manchester by the Sea
This film reminded me of Brooklyn in that all the characters were really likeable and the love between them was very present. So many movies nowadays have these villainous characters and plot twists. But really how many of us have villianous characters in our lives? Mostly we are surrounded by complex people that we love and struggle with. We have painful and loving experiences with them. I just love how this movie was made with so many great scenes that lingered in the still but deafening silence of real life. It wasn’t overacted (except maybe by Michelle Williams…who I normally love…maybe she didn’t) It is easy to overact in an emotional drama like this but they did a hell of a job with the subtlety of real life, love, and pain. Casey Affleck was pretty damn awesome in this role and it seems to be between him and Denzel for Best Actor.
#3 Arrival – Metacritic Score: 81
I was so happy to see this film nominated for Best Picture. It reminded me of movies that I have really liked in the past but never get nominated. It’s an alien invasion film but that’s the worst way to describe it. It’s about relationships and deeper concepts of time and space. I don’t have much to say about it except that I really liked it and I cherished the messages because they were particularly meaningful to me. I won’t get into the concepts here but see it and then think of how the possibility of those ideas would affect how you lived your life. Pretty trippy.
#2 La La Land – Metacritic Score: 93
Dammit, I am finally down to the showdown. So, I have La La Land as my second favorite film of the year. But I feel like I hate it now because of how great Moonlight is and how much I want Moonlight to win Best Picture. Is La La Land really my 2nd Favorite??? Ugh. It is if it doesn’t win. If it wins I will hate it forever. It was really beautiful and fun to watch. It’s about two artists(a jazz pianist and actress) trying to make it LA and in love. A modern-day Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire with tap dancing scenes and everything. Even though I’ve never seen one of their movies. I’m not that much of a film buff. I have always liked Emma Stone a lot. I could watch her all day long and yeah yeah Ryan Gosling is super hot. Blah, blah, blah. I do wonder how good this movie would be without music. I mean that’s not really fair because it’s a musical but does it stand on its own as a movie? Does the music stand on its own without the movie? I’ll be honest, I don’t think either of them are that great on thier own. Together, they make a pretty damn good movie and piece of art but nowhere near the same class as….
#1 Moonlight – Metacritic Score: 99
This is the movie my soul has been longing for for years. Every year I see great movies and yet still something is missing for me. I don’t even know what it is. It’s probably a combination of things. Maybe it’s heart…soul…truth. Damn, this movie had it all. Brilliant storytelling, cinematography, acting performances, soundtrack, etc. It’s a three act play following Chiron, a kid growing up in Liberty City projects in Miami. The first act is him at elementary age, second is high school, and third is early 20’s. The diner scene in the final act is by far the best piece of film this year(and years). It’s the perfect film. It’s really hard for me to even write about it because I can’t seem to find the words and phrasing to tell you how much I loved this movie. Maybe I can write more at a later time. It just never strayed into cliche or gimmick or untruth. No white hero. A movie so true to the issues of race and sexuality, so true to itself that the viewer can be within it. See what I told you? I can’t write about it. I sound stupid. I can’t make sense of its greatness with my limited understanding. I’ve never talked about a film like this before. I’ll find words. Hopefully, we will all find words and ways to connect. I’m hopeful Moonlight has opened the door for more beautiful truth-telling art. I can’t help but think the greatness of this film is really about the greatness of the people of Liberty City themselves. Barry Jenkins, the director, and Tarell Alvin McCraney, the writer, grew up in this Miami neighborhood. I’ll write no more. They tell you. Promise me you will read this.
Actress in a Leading Role
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Emma Stone (La La Land) Will Win
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
I didn’t get to see Natalie Portman or Isabelle Huppert. The fact that most of these performances were not in nominated films made it a little more challenging for me to see in time. Isabelle Huppert has racked up some awards already this season for her performance. She is the safe bet to win but I have a sneaking suspicion that Emma Stone will win. Ruth Negga was great in “Loving”. Meryl Streep(aka LeBron James) just makes the finals every year at this point. She was fine but just like LeBron she might have to be great to win the “MVP” I sure hope there is some sports fans/movie fans crossover or none of this is making sense. Of the three I saw I wold vote Emma Stone.
Actor in a Leading Role
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) Should Win and Will Win
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)
I did see all these performances. Andrew Garfield was good but the movie sucked. Gosling was Gosling, sexy as hell. I really like Captain Fantastic the movie but wasn’t blown away by Viggo Mortensen. It’s all about Affleck vs. Denzel. And because one is known by his first name only I might have to go with him. Both were really great. I’m having a hard time choosing who I want to win and who I think will win. I’m literally gonna pick now.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis (Fences) Should Win and Will Win
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
One word. Viola!!!
Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) Will Win and Should Win
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
One word. Mahershala! Okay more than one. Mahershala Ali in Moonlight instantly became one of my favorite characters and acting performances of all time. That is not hyperbolic. I wanted to watch him forever.
Animated Feature Film
And the winner is…John Lassiter and Pixar. I don’t know I didn’t see them except Zootopia but it’s always Pixar right?
Moonlight, Barry Jenkins Should Win
Arrival, Denis Villeneuve
La La Land, Damien Chazelle Will Win
Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan
Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson
I swear to God if Barry Jenkins doesn’t win this thing for Moonlight, I will be as mad as Mel Gibson will be if Barry Jenkins does win.
I’m gonna go ahead and just list off my choices and predictions for some of the remaining categories.
I think OJ: Made in America will and should win best documentary. Crazy good.
I didn’t get to see Foreign Language Films this year and I’m looking forward to it. I predict The Salesman.
Moonlight for adapted Screenplay. I think Fences could win.
I didn’t see The Lobster or 20th Century Women in the Original Screenplay Category but I’ll guess La La Land wins this.
Thanks again for reading and sharing my blog with others. Academy Awards tonight at 8:30 pm. The most disappointing thing I love to watch every year! Obviously you know I want Moonlight to win. I’m really scared they are going to give it to La La Land. If I was betting the house on what will win I’d have to say La La Land. But please let it be Moonlight. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow morning feeling like that fateful Wednesday morning in November. Okay, it’s not that serious. Much Love to you all!