Contrary to popular opinion I’m not limited to enjoying superhero films and and straight to DVD B-movies, I’m a connoisseur of all cinema including grown up films. Therefore I’ve been putting my cinema pass to good use these last few months and managed to watch as many films as possible that have an interest in the 89th Academy Awards this weekend.
This along with my ability to write lots of words decorated with images grabbed from google searches qualifies me to share my opinions on who should be going up to collect a little gold statue and get several minutes to make it clear they didn’t vote for Trump either.
In the interests of full disclosure I’ll be making it clear which films I may have missed out on that feature in these categories.
Oscars 2017 Predictions and Analysis: Best Picture: Moonlight
Of all the Oscar nominated films this was the one I had the least expectations for yet ended up leaving the cinema buzzing with goosebumps having had the privilege of witnessing a exquisite work of art.
Watching the story of Moonlight unfold is not an easy experience. It follows the harsh life of Chiron at three stages of his life (all played by different actors) as he contends with bullies, a drug addicted mother and his social awkwardness that makes it hard for him to accept his sexuality. His only positive relationships ironically come first with a drug dealer (played by Mahershala Ali with an abundance of charisma) and his girlfriend who take Chiron into their home as a surrogate family and later when he falls into a romantic relationship with another boy at school.
As heavy and heartbreaking experience that it can be at times it is still a joyous film to watch and interpret. There are moments which are wonderfully uplifting as Chiron glimpses moments of happiness and acceptance. While the film is constantly challenging with the way it subverts stereotypes and identity in it’s characters but also in the way it shoots the inner city environment not with bleakness but with a beautiful tone of clear, warm colour.
It’s a film that constantly surprises and having the lowest box office of all the best picture nominees it greatly deserves to find a wider audience.
Disclaimer: Seen all the Nominees (you can do stuff like this when you’re single)
Oscars 2017 Predictions and Analysis: Best director Barry Jenkins for Moonlight
If you are a believer of Auteur Theory (which for the record I’m not) then you’ll probably assert that surely a best picture winner should naturally be judged to also have the best director. As far as voting goes it’s simple, the best Picture award is open to voting from the entire academy members, while the best director award is voted on only by those members who are themselves directors. The two awards can sometimes differ as directors are better qualified to recognise appreciate the craft of the director.
Me myself am no director, however I’ll still put my twopenny in and state that Moonlight should also win best director for the work of Barry Jenkins. Moonlight is a feast of brilliantly done cinematic techniques that at times take the place of dialogue in expressing the emotion and mood of it’s characters. The use of lightening, slow motion, music, tracking shots are done breathtakingly with a purpose, especially haunting and unsettling is the use of actors staring directly into the camera in certain highly emotional scenes.
Rich and stunning to look at Moonlight is a triumph of a director pushing the boundaries of cinema and making a grounded story sing with magistracy.
Seriously I don’t know what I’m trying to say I’m not Mark Kermode. Goosebumps, lump in the throat, tears in my eyes, this film played havoc with me. It’s heartbreaking, joyful and simply put a wonderful display of creative cinema. If enough of you go see it guess what studios may make more of this and less Transformers movies.
Disclaimer: Seen all the Nominees (Yep I’m so alone)
Oscars 2017 Predictions and Analysis: Best Actor: Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge
Amongst all the heavy and moody performances I found being able to pick Andrew Garfield’s performance for best actor to be an absolute breath of fresh air. This was an uplifting display of the attributes of integrity, honour and of a highly principled individual who refused to budge from his beliefs of non violence even in the face of court martials and intimidation from his platoon leaders and fellow soldiers. Garfield manages to convey innocence and goodness in his portrayal as well the courage both on the army base and on the battlefield towards the end of the film in some of the most harrowing depictions of war on film since Saving Private Ryan.
In these war scenes Garfield looks frantically terrified even while pushing himself in extreme acts of bravery.
Disclaimer: Have not seen Captain Fantastic
Oscars 2017 Predictions and Analysis: Best Actress: Natalie Portman in Jackie
In Jackie there is a scene where Natalie Portman recreates the filming of a documentary on life in the White House. It’s acted with curious, exaggerated affectedness but it’s not until you watch the actual documentary itself that you realise how on point her performance here was.
That’s not to say Portman’s performance should be regarded as a simple impression of Jackie Kennedy, but rather how she captures the grief so convincingly in her portrayal of a woman who’s entire life has been torn apart in a split second. The haunting melancholy that comes with the sudden death of a loved one is perfectly conveyed, but added with the turmoil of this moment being played out in front of the entire world, while having to face that losing her husband also means losing her life and home and everything that she is.
It’s a challenging role and Portman rises up to the task incredibly, with a moving and sometimes distressingly haunting performance.
Disclaimer: Have not seen Elle or Florence Foster Jenkins.
Oscars 2017 Predictions and Analysis: Best Supporting Actor: Dev Patel in Lion
There may be canny political strategies going on in pushing Dev Patel into the “supporting actor” category, but Patel is good for the award as he brings pure emotion into this role of a man who was separated from his parents as a child and longs to know what became of them. He portrays the turmoil of his character so well without turning it into melodrama. At times the pain and heartache seems permanently etched on his features, driving a story not of the science of the quest to find his way home but what how the trauma of his childhood has affected his adult life and his relationships with his surrogate family and friends.
Patel is always likeable in his roles even here as challenging as his character can be at times. There are moments of selfishness as his actions push loved ones away and threaten to tear bonds with family apart and he threatens to allow his life to descend into frustration. Patel conveys his moods perfectly and when it comes to delivering on some truly moving and tear jerking moments he proves more than up for the task.
Disclaimer: Seen all films in this category
Oscars 2017 Predictions and Analysis: Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davies in Fences
Of all the Oscar nominated films I found Fences the most underwhelming, which never felt like it broke free from it’s stage play roots and unlike Moonlight failed to bring any cinematic quality to the material. Truth be told the first hour gave me a blinding headache with the non stop yammering and I was begging for a pause for breath and two consecutive seconds without talking.
Which shows just how much the performance of Viola Davies left me shell shocked and absolutely in awe that I’m picking her for this award even being in a film I overall didn’t care for.
She brings life to every scene she is in as the charismatic wife of Denzel Washington’s Troy Maxson, especially when with a delightful sassy streak she overrules him in his disputes with others. Then in a pivotal scene that sets the film on it’s head and her life into turmoil she absolutely stuns the screen with an outpouring of emotions that is genuinely heartbreaking with speeches and revelations that feel deeply authentic .
Davies captures the essence of a powerful, emotionally strong woman and throughout the film she is a beacon of dignity and strength even as her heart appears to crumble.
Disclaimer: Yep seen all these performances too
Oscars 2017 Predictions and Analysis: Best Original Screenplay: Taylor Sheriden for Hell or High Water
In terms of story, nothing gripped me like this modern day western of two brothers on a bank robbing spree, tracked by a determined Texas Ranger on one last crusade. Flawlessly paced, patiently building to it’s inevitable bloody showdown the screenplay does it’s job with characters who are different shades of grey so that audiences loyalties are tugged throughout the cat and mouse conflict.
An exhibition of strong writing craft in terms of story and character, it’s the dialogue that is a true richness of the film. The script brings an authentic rough and earthy tone to the voices of the protagonists, brimming with the loyalty of the Howard brothers and the charismatic charm of Ranger Hamilton and his tendency for less than PC humour (played magnificently by Jeff Bridges).
There are twists and revelations in Hell or High Water which come at the right time to totally change perceptions on the crimes of the Brothers and make this an absolutely compelling and well written and heart racing, exciting story.
Disclaimer: Have not seen 20th Century Women
Oscars 2017 Predictions and Analysis: Best Adapted Screenplay: Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi for Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures depiction of three black women’s work behind the scenes of NASA’s race to put a man into space does justice to it’s serious subject matter, detailing the racism of the period with heartbreaking moments and awe inspiring triumphs.
It’s also very entertaining with moments of levity and humour. The banter between the three women is especially delightful and their relationship is written so well I was charmed by them from the very first scene, which only serves to make the difficulties thrown in their way by narrow minded prejudice all the more painful.
Occasionally heavy handed, (was John Glenn the only white person in the 1960’s not to recoil in horror every time a black woman walked into a room? actually I may be scared to hear the answer to that one) Hidden Figures celebrates the achievements of these women with a cheerful spirit that brings genuine laughs as well as anger at what they have to endure.
Disclaimer: seen all these babies
Oscars 2017 Predictions and Analysis: Best Original Score: Justin Hurwitz for La La Land
I didn’t walk out of La La Land, I skipped and wanted to pirouette all the way home with the wondrous echoes of the magical score drifting over my soul.
Let’s face it, if the one musical of the nominees isn’t producing the best music by a mile then something has gone very wrong. Never mind the backlash that La La Land seems to be now battling, the music was glorious and unashamedly feel good. The songs were very good, but it was the score that bombasted La La Land audiences with numbers so rousing that for two hours the sterile atmosphere of multiplexes seemed to sing with dreamy Golden Age joy.
Some will scoff at the film’s self congratulating pat on the back, but from epic orchestra pieces to moodful jazz, La La Land musically is a triumph that emotionally hits the right notes at every turn.
Disclaimer: Have not seen Passengers
Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren for La La Land
As well as drifting through the ears to massage the pleasure senses La La Land is also bacon for the eyeballs. Decorated with gloriously vivid colours throughout and with breathtaking visuals ranging from the massive frenzy of the opening traffic jam dance sequence to the soothing, heartwarmingly romantic notions of the planetarium date. Fantasy it may be but it’s a beautiful film to watch, with landscapes, skylines and scenes of the night sky that I just wanted to melt into.
The montage dream moments towards the end of the film are some of the most spectacular and poignant scenes I’ve seen in the past 12 months. As far as looks go, If I saw this film walking into a bar I’d be like a smitten puppy making a fool of myself trying to buy it drinks all night.
Disclaimer: I have not seen Silence, I spent the three hours it would have taken to watch it by checking out the BVS Ultimate Edition instead
Oscars 2017 Predictions and Analysis: Best MakeUp and Hairstyling: Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Nelson For Suicide Squad.
Opinion on Suicide Squad is intensely divided in the sense that I thought it was awesome and some others thought it was amongst the worst films of 2016. And when I say “some others” I actually mean the rest of the world. Therefore it’s with great joy that I can now refer to this movie as the “oscar nominated Suicide Squad” and means that I’m totally invested in the best Makeup and Hairstyling award to a frankly bizarre level.
And yes I think Suicide Squad deserves to win. The work that went into transforming Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jay Hernandez into the practically unrecognisable Harley, Joker, Boomerang, Killer Croc and Diablo was extraordinary even by comic movie standards.
Suicide Squad goes up against Star Trek and Man called Ove, the latter being a grown ups film so will probably win and force me to riot.
Disclaimer: Have not seen a man called Ove and if that film wins I will in fact riot.
And that’s all folks, I’ve not seen enough from the animated and foreign catergories to comment and I really don’t have a clue about sound editing and all the technical stuff.
So after all that maturity I’m going to book my tickets for John Wick 2 and see if Deathrace 2050 has dropped on Netflix yet.
Til Next time Dazza