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Oscar Predictions: Part 1

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It’s Oscar Day! This is part one of three of my Oscar predictions. This post features:

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Review: Hell or High Water

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Directed by: David Mackenzie
Written by: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges

Summary: Two brothers execute an elaborate plan to rob banks in Texas in an effort to keep the ranch their recently departed mother owned. A cop on the eve of his retirement works with his partner to catch them.

Hell or High Water snuck by everyone over the summer. I believe this was in theaters around August and just about nobody saw it, including me. (more…)

Review: Hacksaw Ridge

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Directed by: Mel Gibson
Written by: Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey

Summary: Desmond Doss enlists in the army as a conscientious objector in World War II. Despite doubt from his officers and fellow soldiers, Doss proves to be a selfless, devoted medic and saves the lives of dozens of men at Hacksaw Ridge during the Battle of Okinawa.

Hacksaw Ridge is like sandwich made with premium deli meat that is slapped between two pieces of Wonder bread. The beginning and ending of this film are just empty calories, even cringe-worthy at times. But what happens in the middle is high-quality filmmaking rich with sustenance and flavor that lingers.  (more…)

Review: Moonlight

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Directed by: Barry Jenkins
Written by: Barry Jenkins, based on the story by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Starring: Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monaé, Naomie Harris, André Holland

Summary: Told in three parts, Moonlight follows Chiron as he endures the growing pains of growing up gay in the Miami inner city.

Moonlight is a film full of painful and sometimes uncomfortable honesty, but it is beautifully told. When I walked out of the theater after seeing Moonlight the first time I realized, I’ve never seen this story told on screen before. (more…)

Review: Nocturnal Animals

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Directed by: Tom Ford
Written by: Tom Ford, based on the book by Austin Wright
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Summary: A successful art dealer in Los Angeles reads her ex-husband’s manuscript which he has dedicated to her. As she reads the disturbing story she reflects on their previous relationship, its downfall and how it is represented in his latest work.

Nocturnal Animals was my favorite movie of 2016. I was super disappointed to see that it didn’t get the Oscar attention it deserved because, this movie is very well done. Most of the film is Amy Adams (Susan) reading a book. Sounds dull, right? It’s riveting. (more…)

Review: Arrival

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Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Written by: Eric Heisserer, based on the story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Summary: Linguist professor Louise Banks is brought in by the U.S. military to help communicate with aliens that have made their first contact with Earth. International tensions rise and Louise is under pressure find answers about the aliens and about herself.

I don’t know what I was expecting from Arrival but it wasn’t this. From the outside it looks like a potentially interesting movie about aliens, but it turns out to be far more complex than that. (more…)

Review: La La Land

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Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Written by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

Summary: Mia and Sebastian’s lives intersect as they both pursue their dreams living in Los Angeles. They fall in love amidst their successes and failures as Sebastian strives to open a jazz club and Mia works to be an actress.

On paper La La Land was made for me. It’s directed by Damien Chazelle who made Whiplash, one of my favorite movies of the last few years. I was confident that he would assemble a super talented team, so the Film Studies student in me was excited to see what he would produce. I’m a long-time fan of musical theater, both as a performer and a spectator. One of my favorite choreographers from So You Think You Can Dance was on board (Mandy Moore). I should love this movie.

But I don’t.
I’m actually not even sure I like it.
Yet, at the same time it’s also one of the most beautiful and innovative films I’ve ever seen. La La Land is impressive.
But I don’t need to see it again. (more…)