Bless us thee: Oscars.
I LOVE the oscars. Every year I watch all the movies that are up for best picture to make sure I know what the fuck is going on when I watch them. If I was unemployed I would endeavour to watch all the movies that are nominated. Every single one. Unfortunately, I find myself gainfully employed so all I’ve got for you are my not at all comprehensive reviews on the nominees for best picture. My top 6 out of 9 are the ones you really ought to pay attention to, the last three are a solid ‘meh’ in my books.
The thing I’ve found interesting about all the nominees this year, other than most of them being true stories, is they’ve all got a very distinguishing film style. Long drawn out scenes, rife with awkward moments and dull lags in the conversation, showing us the full picture and leaving us with a more completed feeling from the movie rather than monumental snippets of big moments, and a lack of the time in between.
**TRUE STORY ALERT HOMIES** Every review of this glorious movie starts by saying be prepared to cry, a lot. So. Much. Truth. My mother and I had sore tear ducts for DAYS after we saw this movie. It’s about a little boy (Saroo) who gets lost on a train and travels thousands of miles across India, only to end up in Calcutta. Inevitably, he gets adopted by a family in Australia. Later in life when he starts to ascertain his sense of self as it relates to his heritage, he starts having sporadic memories that lead him on a quest to find his mother and brother whom he has spent so much time being estranged from. That’s like the most bare bones description, there are layers of etched in stories, memories and pain that only bare themselves by watching the movie. So much heart. The climax of the movie had me full blown blubbering and thats from someone who’s self-diagnosed as having ‘under-prodcuing tear ducts’. It was a serious toss up between Lion and Manchester by the Sea as to which was my favourite, but Lion came out on top. And, Dev Patel can come on top of me anytime, know what I mean?
Manchester by the Sea
This movie was… heavy. That’s really the best word I could use to describe it. It’s overflowing with visceral pain. (That was even a heavy sentence, little on the nose eh?) But it’s not like a, ‘woe is me, I’m forever alone because I’m dark and brooding and nobody understands me’, kind of movie. It turns out to be much better. When I first started watching Casey Affleck (BY THE WAY: holy fuckin’ hot right? Way to not leave any good looks for the rest of the men, Casey) portray a mysterious, detached, over-burdened white male, I was all like great! Another movie about a lone, ‘nobody could ever understand me’ male character. The movie surprised me though. He doesn’t get any less brooding, but you become almost appreciative of his demeanour. It has some extremely gut wrenching scenes that’ll make you all moist in the eyeball region. (God I’m gross.) Go see it NOW. So much Casey though and you end up missing Ben. Just is what it is.
Because I truly couldn’t say it better here is The Fader‘s description of Moonlight:
…[T]he movie follows the story of a poor, black kid named Chiron who lives in Miami with his drug-addicted mother. His life unfolds in the film across three pivotal chapters, points at which his suppressed queerness comes into question with a sort of desperate, beautiful tenderness.
You know where it’ll hit you? Right in the feels. What’s remarkable about this movie is Chiron starts off as a nice, sweet kid. That’s why the ‘beautiful tenderness’ bit is on fucking POINT. He’s soft and docile, completely undeserving of the pile of shit life just handed him. He inevitably reinvents himself ‘hard’, ready to cope with the circumstances in which he lives. As the movie progresses, it poses some pretty profound questions about the intersectionality of being gay and black, all while growing up in a rougher than average part of town. I actually watched this movie with a 14 year old, and was shit terrified her mother was gonna be pissed for showing her a movie with drug use, and violence and prepubescent sex scenes. What’s really beautiful about it though, is that in the end is wasn’t glory-holed to be about the sex, it was actually really sweet, really tender. Anyway, top fucking notch in my books. And my books are serious.
You know I’m a sucker for a good ‘I am woman’ movie. Especially one that shows how super capable women are in a fascist, patriarchal world. (My inner fem-nazi almost came out there) Hidden Figures is about the ‘women of NASA’ who were pivotal to the launch of John Glenn into orbit during the first few years of the US space program. The actresses: outstanding. Here’s a huge high five to Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe (who can sing like an angel but turns out can also act?!). But an even bigger high five to the women this movie was based on: Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson.
Another true story! Some people like to disparage war movies as another glorification for the US army machine. Myself, I love a good war movie. (Can I get an amen for Jarhead!?) There’s some great stories in times of war, and Hacksaw Ridge did a fantastic job displaying the heroism of Desmond T. Doss, a man who single handedly saved 75 injured people in Okinawa during the second world war. Remember the scene in Shindler’s List at the very end where he talks about how if he sold his car he could have saved just one more person? It’s kind of like that, super fucking devastating, but worthy of the watch… despite it being directed by Mel Gibson. I’ll forgive his anti-semitism for like a second for making this movie. Oh, and Andrew Garfield is adorable.
Here’s what I thought: great another movie about the ‘great alien arrival’, probing the main characters with their green thumbs and flying in with their disc shaped ships. I was pleasantly surprised. This movie wasn’t filled with cheap jump shots, and explosions and all the things that make a ‘great’ war/terrorism movie. It was a lot more tender and intelligent than that. I will admit that upon leaving the theatre I was a little confused and felt rushed through the ending, but I re-watched it for a second time and got a fuller understanding of the message Denis Villeneuve was trying to get across. Without divulging too much, Arrival send a great message of the human spirit, endeavouring into a world where the viewer is forced to challenge their preconceptions about time, memories and connection; human and otherwise. There is also an underlying appreciation for language and how communication is what essentially makes us, human. All the feels to be had in this one. And… Amy Adams is great, despite the consistent inner monologue.
Nominees for Best ‘Meh’
La La Land: You know what we don’t need? Another movie about Hollywood. Although I would watch anything with Ryan Gosling in it because, well, you know. I still wasn’t overly impressed with it. I audibly laughed at a couple parts, but there was too much signing and the ending was super unsatisfying. Watch for a feeling of nostalgia and sexual frustration at the sheer hotness of Mr. Gosling.
Hell or High Water: HARD MEH on this one. It’s still a good movie, well shot and written. But I couldn’t really care for the story. A pair of brothers that go on a string of robberies all to save the family farm? MEH.
Fences: I actually can’t even say because I didn’t even watch it. I know, I’m such an asshole. I started to watch it and was bombarded with an unbelievable amount of dialogue. I turned it off. Googling it later, a reviewer said “It’s exhausting but it’s worth it.” I imagine it is, if you can endeavour the haul.
P.S. See what I did there?
P.P.S. Don’t be alarmed by how punny I am
P.P.P.S. Did you see it again?
P.P.P.P.S. Why is anyone friends with me?