Academy Awards 2017 / Part 1 / #Oscars
The Oscar nominations for the Academy Awards were released mid-January. Every year my sister and I try to see as many of the Oscar nominated films as possible so we can then more accurately guess who will win.
Watching the Oscar-nominated films with my sister is more than just a shared hobby steeped in sibling tradition, more that a project of fun. It’s a cultural education which has provided unanticipated perception.
Even if you don’t watch the entire list on an annual basis, it’s worth checking out the nominated films from years past for an idea of how societal mores and values have evolved. That alone can give us hope that all is not lost — there is still room for growth and maturity in our world.
The Academy Awards will be presented February 26, 2017.
Let’s go to the movies!
Here are the films, in alphabetical order, going up for at least one of the following:
Best Picture; Best Director; and / or Best Leading / Supporting Actor / Actress. Films in BLUE are those I have seen as of this writing, and are briefly reviewed below.
- Captain Fantastic
- Florence Foster Jenkins
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Hell or High Water
- Hidden Figures
- La La Land
- Manchester by the Sea
- Nocturnal Animals
If you see these 15 films before the Oscars are presented at the Academy Awards, you should be in pretty good shape. Of course, I won’t see most of these until the last minute, since my sister and I like to purchase the Oscar Movie Week Festival Pass, available for $35 at most Cinemark theaters. Pass holders can watch all the Best Picture nominees, as well as all the short film nominees, during Oscar Movie Week (February 20 to February 26). It’s well worth the money!
On what I have not yet seen:
Prior to the announcement, I only recall seeing ads for Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, and La La Land. That may be selective memory at work, though, as those also happen to be the ones to which I most looked forward seeing. Glad I have an excuse to watch them!
On what I have already seen:
Arrival: 4/5 stars
From IMDb: When twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.
Thought-provoking and interesting in concept, this movie provided more meat juice than action. And maybe that’s why I couldn’t give it that last star, which is surprising because normally I prefer a more cerebral approach in movies. The acting was fantastic, the music and sound were spectacular, and the storyline was really unique… or at least, uniquely conveyed. I enjoyed Arrival enough that I would actively consider watching it again at some point, but I wouldn’t necessarily rush out to buy it on DVD.
- Best Picture? Not for me.
- Directing? Meh.
- Adapted Screenplay? I haven’t read the original source material (yet! It’s on my reading list though.) but it seems well adapted for screen. I reserve the right to change my mind after reading the story upon which this movie is based.
- Cinematography? Absolutely. Yes. The camera work was phenomenal.
- Film Editing? Yep. The way it all came together was nothing short of amazing.
- Production Design? Yeah. The set – the artistic backgrounds – the various locations of which the audience was granted brief views – they felt personal and real.
- Sound Mixing? Oh yes.
- Sound Editing? For sure. Creep-tastic to the max.
Fences: 4/5 stars
From IMDb: A working-class African-American father tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life.
Ten minutes into the film, my sister leaned over and whispered that it felt like a stage play with characters delivering monologues rather than a movie. I wasn’t sure she meant it as a compliment, but as the movie continued, we both agreed that since the style didn’t wane, it really worked. Turns out, this movie was adapted from a screenplay, which totally makes sense. Imagine the play Our Town and you’ll get a sense of the feelings this movie delivered. I didn’t care for the ambiguously (and unnecessary) spiritual ending, and the more I think about it, the more it pisses me off, but overall this movie was a marvel, in large part due to the cast since this was another meat juice offering with a lack of action that actually wasn’t lacking at all because the script was delivered so well.
- Best Picture? I wouldn’t be upset if this won. I just hated that one scene at the end. I made me so damn mad.
- Leading Actor? Holy Shit YES. Denzel Washington has always been one of my favorite actors, but he seriously hit it out of the ballpark with this role. He was amazing.
- Supporting Actress? Tentatively, yes. Here’s the thing: Viola Davis is a wonderful actress, and I will watch her in anything. But she is a dirty crier. I get that it makes her performance real and honest, but that snot and spit thing is a one-trick pony that she keeps trying to show at the circus, and I’m about over it. No offense intended. I love her. She’s fantastic. But just please no more dirty crying.
- Adapted Screenplay? I haven’t read the original source material, and honestly I’m not sure I want to. Nothing I read will compare to Denzel’s deliverance. That man knows how to monologue.
Jackie: 3/5 stars
From IMDb: Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.
I hate to be mean, because the time period was really interesting, but the movie itself was boring-ish. Which is hard for me to admit because I love Natalie Portman and think she did a swell job, and I loved the costumes and the set. I just didn’t love the story itself, or the way it was told. I don’t think I totally “got” it. My husband loved it, for what it’s worth.
- Leading Actress? Sure, I guess. I mean, Natalie Portman was good, no doubt – she always is – but I’m not sure yet that she was the best. I know, I know. How can I say definitely that Denzel was totally worthy of winning Best Leading Actor when I haven’t sussed out his competition, yet not extend the same assumption to one of my favorite actresses? But that’s just how it is. He was phenomenal. She was merely “really good” and that is all the difference in the world. #SorryNotSorry
- Costumes? Yay! Definitely the highlight of the movie!
- Original Score? No. No-no-no-no-no. Nope. Noop. No way. I didn’t even realize it was going up for music while I was watching it, and I commented to my husband how annoying the music was. I hate it. I’m sorry to the composer or the players or whatever. I don’t mean to be mean. But I didn’t not like it at all and I hope it doesn’t win. I also hope I never have to hear it ever again.
On what I will NEVER see:
I began keeping this section as a placeholder after the year a Jackass movie went up for something. Thank goodness there isn’t anything I’m particularly dreading this year.
… but, now and forever, I reserve the right to change my mind.
Where I stand:
Of the 15 listed, I have seen 3 films, an “F” at only 20%. Ugh.
Upcoming posts regarding the Academy Awards:
Movies NOT nominated for Best Picture; Best Director; and / or Best Leading / Supporting Actor / Actress, such as the following:
- Animated Films
- Foreign Films
Do you plan to watch the Academy Awards this year?
- Which of these Oscar-nominated films have YOU seen?
- Are you getting a movie pass?
- Will you attend an Oscar Party?