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Late To the Oscars...What'd I Miss?

I had actually seen all the Oscar nominated movies for 2016? 2017? (that always confuses me) before the Oscar broadcast, but due to a wrist injury, I never posted about them.

So now, after the Oscar Kerfuffle---who won Best Picture BTW? I will review what is Gone and Past (like Gone With the Wind but not so hungry).

Moonlight:

  • I appreciate the Late confusing Win for this movie, I cried all the way through the movie. So emotionally, I am drained and happy for the win.

  • Have you ever read Black Boy by Richard Wright? It is memoir of his youth growing up black in the South of the early 20th century and Jim Crow laws. The book and this movie are very much alike, perhaps Barry Jenkins, the director, and Tarell McCraney (the writer) were making a tribute to Wright and his memoir with this movie. That is just my speculation, in all the interviews that I have read about Moonlight, this is never brought up. A pity, that in Black History month, such recent literary and artistic history and the probable antecendent for this movie is forgotten. I can recommend the movie and the book.

  • I thought that the best actress award should have been given to either Naomie Harris for her portrayal of Black's mother in this movie or Natalie Portman for Jackie. Emma Stone is a charming lady, and her charm came through in La La Land, but the real acting, a true portrayal of a complex woman unlike the actress, was done by Harris and Portman. Harris successfully portrayed a woman with addiction problems and poverty problems and a son through a twenty year period. She was so convincing, that until I looked her up, I didn't realize that she was English. She had the accent and the culture, and she only had three days of filming to do it in. Magnificent Job! Kudos to her!

  • Mahersala Ali who won Best Supporting Actor is a man to watch, but he played his basic charmer much like Emma Stone. The award was for what he is not what he acted. Maybe he has the talent to take over for someone like Denzel Washington and become not only a Star but a major acting talent, or maybe not. We'll see.

Hacksaw Ridge:

  • In the poster for this movie, the main character, Desmond Doss, an Army medic in WWII who won a Medal of Honor for bravery and duty above and beyond that of an Army Medic, (---think about that for a while---what is beyond and above a medic's duties? It is even more Incredible than you can imagine) carries a wounded soldier on his back during combat. And that is what this movie did for  anti-semite and misogynist, Mel Gibson. This movie carried a marred and disreputable Mel Gibson back to the Hollywood Hospital to administer a whitewash and rehabilitation of his reputation. Apologies to Corporal Doss, who tended not only American soldiers during his night of salvation, but also Japanese wounded soldiers, but Good God, what a travesty!

  • Andrew Garfield was good in this movie. He had the goofy pleasantness of a Good Ole Boy. I am no Spider Man or Marvel fan so I never saw any of those movies and this and Silence were my first real exposure to him. More on Silence later. Most of the actors were Australians and they all gave good portrayals and accents.

  • I was surprised that this movie was nominated. The combat scenes were surprisingly static, they didn't move. Watch any Kurosawa samurai movie or Steven Spielberg's first thirty minutes of Saving Private Ryan to see how a combat movie should move. Or watch Battleground, an old William Wellman movie of the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, to see how an action and combat movie should handle the calm between the abrupt spikes of chaos of battle. This movie did not compare to any of these.

La La Land:



  • It was obvious that this movie was a tribute to the old Hollywood musicals, the cinematography, the story line, the production, etc. It was quite pleasant in its way. But watch Singing in the Rain, it's much better with better music, dancing, and all the rest. And Singing in the Rain doesn't take itself or Hollywood so seriously.

  • Ryan Gosling is a good dancer. He moves fluidly. Emma Stone is charming.

  • I found the music unremarkable. It didn't come alive for me until John Legend and his "Sellout" band showed up. Loved him.

  • This movie was pretentious.

Silence:

  • This movie wasn't nominated and shouldn't have been anyway. I got through about 40 minutes of this movie before I gave up on it.

  • I kept thinking that this would be a tribute to the old Silent Movies, much like Scorsese's Hugo was a tribute to the genius of Georges Méliès. You know, silent and all that. And there was some cinematography that used the coloring of the old Silent movies---blue tints for night and sepia for the poor (like a Mary Pickford flick), but the movie started out with a group of Jesuit priests in 16th century Japan having the Japanese crucify them, the priests, to prove their Christianity to the Japanese. I'll say it again, the Jesuits put the thought of crucifixion in the Japanese officials' minds to crucify them for their religion. Isn't that sacriledge? I am not Catholic or Religious, but that is Westboro Baptist Nutter Crazy. No wonder the Japanese closed themselves off from the West for the next three hundred odd years. It was too much crazy even for them. And the movie just got worse from there.

  • Scorsese is a movie sensei, but like his Jesuit priests, he just went nutters in this movie.

  • And now, let us cleanse our palettes with Méliès, because this is why the Japanese opened themselves back up to the West (well, that and those crazy Yanks and their ships)

Jackie:

  • I don't know why this movie received a nomination for its screenplay. The screen play was repetitious with its portrayal of grief. Yes, grief is unending and harrowing for its victim, but this was not the way to show that. The screenplay was better when Jackie was bitter and out for revenge, it did do that well.

  • Natalie Portman's portrayal of Jackie Kennedy was almost perfect. The only thing that she did not capture about Jackie was her athleticism.

  • Peter Sarsgaard was supposed to portray Bobby Kennedy. He didn't bother.


Manchester by the Sea:

  • Casey Affleck is a misogynist ass. But he did a better job acting to win Hollywood's approval than Mel Gibson did directing.

  • This was a good movie. Even though I don't approve of Affleck, I watched the movie and I was involved with his character and the character's tribulations.

  • I loved the moments in the movie when it just went Silent. Like an old Silent Movie, it let the action and the pictures tell the story and reveal and explore the characters' emotions and personalities. It also pointed up the incoherence and almost pointlessness of the Michelle Williams' character's inability to portray her feelings about the loss of her children. All through that scene where she encounters Affleck when she is out walking her new baby, I kept thinking, "You aren't getting anywhere with this. You aren't telling him anything that he doesn't already know and feel on his own. Your feelings matter, but this isn't making them better. Just stop it. You both lost this one."

  • It was a simple movie, but a powerful mix of emotions. In many ways, a low key movie that showed more about the human character and existence than any grand musical or combat movie. Just like Moonlight.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
dawnybee
Mar. 5th, 2017 08:56 am (UTC)
but due to a wrist injury, I never posted about them.

Glad you're on the mend.

Have you ever read Black Boy by Richard Wright? It is memoir of his youth growing up black in the South of the early 20th century and Jim Crow laws.

Surprisingly it was required reading in my school. I would think that McCraney may have been inspired in the sense that he's been moved to tell a very personal story like Wright did. Moonlight" is his story--it's his life as a gay man whose mother was an addict

this is never brought up. A pity, that in Black History month, such recent literary and artistic history and the probable antecendent for this movie is forgotten. I can recommend the movie and the book.

True. I think we need to look to the classics spotlighting the Black Diaspora but also usher in new voices and new outlooks. I still have "I Am Not Your Negro" on deck--the documentary about James Baldwin. I'm very happy about people seeing it and coming out either reinvigorated by his insight and those who are just discovering him.

She had the accent and the culture, and she only had three days of filming to do it in. Magnificent Job! Kudos to her!

I was shocked that she had such a short prep/film time. She did an outstanding job with it.

•Mahersala Ali who won Best Supporting Actor is a man to watch, but he played his basic charmer much like Emma Stone. The award was for what he is not what he acted.

Now very, very true. I love Mahershala. I've followed his career since he was on USA's "The 4400" but outside of that role, he has always played the same character. Juan is no different than his character on "Luke Cage", no different than his character in "The Hunger Games". His mode seems to be smooth, unflappable guy whether it's to be charming or to hide menace. Didn't watch him on "House of Cards" and maybe that character was different, but I doubt it.

But with such a short time in the film everything (for me) boiled down to Juan's shame after telling Chiron he was a drug dealer. That vulnerability is what voters responded to. The dichotomy of this tough drug dealer could care so much about what a little boy thinks of him. Beautiful scene.

And that is what this movie did for anti-semite and misogynist, Mel Gibson. This movie carried a marred and disreputable Mel Gibson back to the Hollywood Hospital to administer a whitewash and rehabilitation of his reputation.

Unlike the soldiers Doss helped and his fellow soldiers, Gibson isn't even grateful! I think he feels it's about time, the loon.

I am no Spider Man or Marvel fan so I never saw any of those movies and this and Silence were my first real exposure to him.

I recommend "99 Homes". He and Michael Shannon are great in that. I loved Garfield in "The Social Network" and felt he deserved a Best Supporting nomination for that.
chatchien
Mar. 6th, 2017 10:29 pm (UTC)
More Oscar Notes...
Glad you're on the mend.

You are so kind. 😊

Surprisingly it was required reading in my school. I would think that McCraney may have been inspired in the sense that he's been moved to tell a very personal story like Wright did. Moonlight" is his story--it's his life as a gay man whose mother was an addict

I read it in high school too, but it was not required reading, no surprise. My lab partner in Chem was reading it and she recommended it to me. I loved it.

And yes, it is a step up the mountain from being black in Jim Crow land to being black and gay and the child of a dysfunctional mother. And then James Baldwin took it a step further to being "gifted" and gay and a preacher in Jim Crow land. I still have to see the documentary on James Baldwin that was nominated. I will be seeing it. I hope we can discuss it. I suppose that is why I like Jane Eyre so much. All these people are able to overcome their circumstances with their inheritances of self and inner being and awareness (and a little luck doesn't hurt either).

Naomie Harris

Well, at least she received an acknowledgement for her work.

The dichotomy of this tough drug dealer could care so much about what a little boy thinks of him.

It was heartbreaking that he destroyed Black's trust in him.

And Black had so much Trust in him.

because "Hacksaw" and "Arrival" were two, to me, that had no business even being in the discussion for Best Film.

Now I really liked Arrival. I compared it to something like Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third King which with its colorful cinematography and music and hopeful hijinks was almost a musical of Alien Encounters.

Arrival was muted in its cinematography and somewhere between despair and anxiety about its Alien encounter. Uncertainty was its major theme and the fear of loss (of sovereignty, of uniqueness, of control) was a strong element in its emotional makeup.

Amy Adam's panicked breathing as she bordered the spaceship for the first time was a powerful sound marker, no music could have conveyed that.

The murky cinematography reflected the murk of the Earth's various reactions of its countries to the appearance of the spaceships. No one really knew what to do and everyone had different ideas and things splintered into different reactions as Time went by (or around like the alien alphabet). And the murk heightened the uncertainty of the encounter with the Aliens---what did they want? why were they here? why so many ships? Who knows who they are or how they think? These Aliens weren't kidnapping humans to learn about them and learn their customs and languages. These Aliens were here with an unexplained agenda and very little prep work. What did that mean?

And the suspense and thrill of reaching out to What? an Alien, and attempting to connect, to learn its language (notice that the Aliens, despite their technology made no attempt to learn Human Language---was that on purpose? Was it to allow the humans to keep their pride and through their own efforts to learn the Alien language? Because the Aliens appeared to be more technologically advanced than any human. Were they giving the humans a platform of equality in contrast to their own superiority? Was that to assuage the human anxiety?) So many interesting thoughts developed from this movie. It was not just an emotional and thrilling experience (can the language be learned and interpreted before human nature ruins a relationship?), but it made me think and it is still making me think.

dawnybee
Mar. 5th, 2017 08:56 am (UTC)
I was surprised that this movie was nominated. The combat scenes were surprisingly static, they didn't move. Watch any Kurosawa samurai movie or Steven Spielberg's first thirty minutes of Saving Private Ryan to see how a combat movie should move. Or watch Battleground, an old William Wellman movie of the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, to see how an action and combat movie should handle the calm between the abrupt spikes of chaos of battle. This movie did not compare to any of these.

I thought the Academy would get nowhere near the 10 slots, and I think they were reaching when they pushed 8 because "Hacksaw" and "Arrival" were two, to me, that had no business even being in the discussion for Best Film.

•Ryan Gosling is a good dancer.He moves fluidly. Emma Stone is charming.

I think they're both charmer. I love Gosling I actually like his singing but everything about this film was subpar. The songs, other than the one you pointed out, where like half thought out. I couldn't believe they were nominated let alone won!!! "Audition" being the worst offender.

I have to believe that Gosling thought the nonsense he had to perform on "The Mickey Mouse Club" was better.

•Scorsese is a movie sensei, but like his Jesuit priests, he just went nutters in this movie.

It's great for Scorsese that the studios still want to be in the Marty business because "Silence", "Shutter Island" and even "Hugo" IMO were self-indulgent bores.

The screenplay was better when Jackie was bitter and out for revenge, it did do that well.

I loved how frank and down to business she was. Definitely a contrast to the image portrayed in the media. I love that what the film was about: the public persona crafted and what is truth. The era of JFK's presidency was Camelot because Jackie said it was and the media ran with it. I loved every minute of the movie...

•Peter Sarsgaard was supposed to portray Bobby Kennedy. He didn't bother.

Except that. I've always immensely disliked Sarsgaard and this cemented it. This dude just showed up for costume fittings and decided that it was enough. TERRIBLE.

This was a good movie. Even though I don't approve of Affleck, I watched the movie and I was involved with his character and the character's tribulations.

Casey can play sad sack, anti-social or socially inept characters like nobodies business. It's just he's a creep.

All through that scene where she encounters Affleck when she is out walking her new baby, I kept thinking, "You aren't getting anywhere with this. You aren't telling him anything that he doesn't already know and feel on his own. Your feelings matter, but this isn't making them better. Just stop it. You both lost this one."

My defense on that one--because I loved that scene and when they showed the clip during the Oscars I was nearly in tears all over again-is that he knew her grief, it was a shared grief. But because he shut himself off he didn't know that she forgave him, didn't blame him, felt that he was more of a victim because of his culpability in what led to their children's deaths.

I think the scene was important for the audience because the thought (for me) was "Her sharing this with him will give him the healing he needs." He gets everything one would want on a platter: absolution from this terrible tragedy from the one person besides himself who it affected the most. He gets at but what good does it do when one doesn't forgive themselves?

It was a simple movie, but a powerful mix of emotions. In many ways, a low key movie that showed more about the human character and existence than any grand musical or combat movie. Just like Moonlight.

Kyle Chandler remains the MVP for flitting in and out of films but still being a grounding force.
chatchien
Mar. 6th, 2017 10:49 pm (UTC)
More Oscar Notes...2
The character of Amy Adams, through her loss of her daughter, gained the knowledge of Time and its repercussions. Through her efforts to reach out to the Aliens, she gained more than she lost, as did the Aliens if what a few scattered thrown-away-lines indicated were true. The linguist gained a husband that she lost, she gained a daughter whom she lost, but then she got them back in the circle of Time.

I could go on, but I loved Arrival. And Amy Adams was robbed of a nomination.

even "Hugo" IMO were self-indulgent bores.

NO!!!!! 😳 Not Hugo!!!!!
Ok, it wasn't his best, but it was a tribute to the Silent movies! And I love my Silent movies.

I think the scene was important for the audience because the thought (for me) was "Her sharing this with him will give him the healing he needs." He gets everything one would want on a platter: absolution from this terrible tragedy from the one person besides himself who it affected the most. He gets at but what good does it do when one doesn't forgive themselves?

Yeah, you're right. The audience needed to see him have some sort of reconciliation with his ex-wife and the mother of his poor children to make the ending of the movie count and show some re-awakening of his familial and social ties to his life. We all want the character to show that he very well might move on from his tragedy.

But the scene didn't work that well for me. I did see a Hollywood Reporter video with the nominated actors where Affleck said that that scene had originally been set up differently, but because of time and budget restraints, they had to shot it very simply and the way that it was done in the movie. Perhaps if they had shot it the original way, it might have kept me in the mood. Or maybe I was just being as cranky as Affleck. 😝

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