Here it is, Oscar season, and the program airs this Sunday night. It may be all kind of silly and pointless, but when did that ever stop me from giving my opinion? Every year, I always make it a point to see all nine Best Picture Oscar nominees and then rank them according to how I liked them. Meanwhile, you may be saying, “I haven’t been in a movie theater in years”, but you might want to know what to see when it comes out on DVD or Netflix, right? I should lecture you on getting out of the house once in a while, pay the ten bucks, and see a movie while it is still a thing…
… but of course I won’t do that.
I may be dumb as a post when it comes to filmmaking, but I know what I like: an interesting story, told imaginatively.
Overall, I didn’t think most of these nominees were much above ordinary, except for one of them
and that is my #1.
Here we go, from my “most deserving of an Oscar” to the “less deserving of an Oscar” to “Huh??..”:
1) La La Land. It’s exceptional, a creative, colorful sometimes-musical. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone totally nail their roles. I went back and saw it a second time and liked it even more.
2) Manchester by the Sea. A beautiful heartbreaker. Casey Affleck is perfect. Michelle Williams is memorable in one scene in particular. This movie feels like real life.
3) Hidden Figures. Three of the nominated films are based on true events. This one, about three African-American women crucial to the space program of the early ‘60s, might surprise some of you not alive during that era. This movie is entertaining and feels good.
4) Moonlight. Excellent acting, especially Naomie Harris as the crackhead mom. Intense and challenging, I just wasn’t sure what I was supposed to feel when it was all said and done.
5) Lion. Another tear-jerker, this little-boy-lost-in-Calcutta story. The little kid is great, as is Dev Patel as the grown-up version of him. It drags a little during the sitting-at-the-computer scenes, but overall it is a winner.
6) Fences. Fences is probably August Wilson’s best play and I like it, but this film adaptation always feels like a filmed stage play. Denzel Washington is amazing, though, as is Viola Davis.
7) Hell or High Water. I had really low expectations for this one, and I ended up sort of liking it. There were times when I would have appreciated subtitles for some of the conversations, mumbled in West Texas-accents by the two brothers, the main characters. Jeff Bridges (a/k/a “The Dude”) is fun as the sheriff.
8) Hacksaw Ridge. Agreed, this is quite the story. But the battle scenes, with heads being blown up and such, just went on and on, as if the filmmakers were enjoying the blood and gore way too much. It doesn’t help my opinion that this film was directed by notorious bigot Mel Gibson.
9) Arrival. How can a story about aliens from outer space be so mind-numbingly dull? Amy Adams is cool, though.
My choices for the other major categories:
Best Actor: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea. Denzel might beat him out, though.
Best Actress: There is a good chance that Isabelle Huppert might win this Oscar for the French movie, Elle, but I didn’t see that, so I gotta go with Emma Stone for La La Land, and who doesn’t love Emma Stone? Meryl Streep has very little chance of winning for Florence Foster Jenkins, but it would be fun to watch her, in her speech, verbally shred our over-rated President again.
Best Supporting Actor: I’m not sure why Dev Patel is in this category instead of Best Actor, but I’ll go with him for Lion.
Best Supporting Actress: Same with Viola Davis – why not on the Best Actress list instead? She certainly deserves an Oscar for Fences.
Best Director: Damien Chazelle for La La Land. Of course.
That’s it for this year. My endorsement is usually the Kiss of Death for nominees, but, hey, I am due for some validation!
If you watch the Oscars, enjoy. Let me know what you think. Cheers!