Thoughts on top-nominted movies in 2017 awards season
I took advantage of $5 movie Mondays to see my second film of the awards season, Fences. The movie reminded me a lot of Manchester by the Sea in that it was a real and straightforward. Don't expect to leave happy, as it is another sad movie that shows that life isn't always filled with sunshine. Having Denzel Washington and Viola Davis lead the main roles was a no-brainer - the two are undoubtedly two of the best to grace the big screen. Denzel also directed, doing a superb job. I can't comprehend how he was able to give such a profound performance without an outside director; simply brilliant job by him. The movie is based on an August Wilson play of a family, mainly the patriarch, struggling with its place in life in the 1950's. You can tell it was originally a play based on the dialogue and the simple, one-set production. This is one you need to see just for the Denzel and Viola's greatness.
Hell or High Water
Honestly, I don't think I would have seen Hell or High Water if it wasn't for its Best Picture nomination. That being said, I'm very glad I saw this film. There are no surprises here: two brothers, one desolate, one trying to better his condition, rob the bank that is working to take their family's land, all while a retiring Texas ranger is in pursuit. Jeff Bridges is Jeff Bridges: spectacular in the role and plays his character with ease. He received the nomination for Best Supporting Actor as it seems that every time he plays a role in a successful movie he gets an acting nod. Not to take anything away with his great performance, but it was Chris Pine that most impressed me in this film. This was a look from him that we haven't seen before. And if I was to give anyone an acting accolade, it would be Pine. I don't think this film has a chance with the other Best Picture nominees, but I am glad it earned the nomination. Worth seeing.
La La Land
Disclaimer: I went in thinking this movie would be just okay and prove to be overhyped. How wrong I was! I absolutely fell for La La Land! My all-time favorite movies come from the 1940s and 1950s, and this movie played such a fantastic homage to that era of films. It was so easy to see Gene Kelly swinging around lampposts and he, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor tipping over the couch. Most of all, I think An American in Paris was everywhere in this movie. First, with the most obvious big dance number conclusion that mirrored Gershwin's ballet; secondly with the struggling pianist (Adam Cook was a secondary character in the former while Gosling's Sebastian takes the main role in the latter); probably the most subtle but my favorite parallel between the two would be the solidly-hued, gem tone dresses worn by Mia and the similarities in some of the scenes to that of "Lise" from An American in Paris - which is my favorite dance number performed on screen of all time (thanks in part to Leslie Caron being my all-time favorite actress). La La Land's story isn't anything that we haven't seen before. Struggling artists trying to make a name for themselves in the big city while falling in love at the same time is a common plot. I appreciate the realness this one had; the ending makes you remember it isn't the perfect fairy tale but it is the reality of true life situations. I was completely enamored with this film, and I hope it makes more people go back and take a look at old cinema and see that this film is tipping its hat to those earlier years. It is a wonderful, nostalgic reincarnation.
Manchester by the Sea
The first big film nominated for the 2017 awards season that I saw was Manchester by the Sea. Wow. So sad. But the acting was absolutely brilliant. No role was overcharactersized, making you believe every person on screen was your neighbor next door. That, perhaps, is what made this film so poignant. All the characters seemed like such real people and the events, unfathomable in most our minds, seemed so real and made us realize that these things do happen, and they happen to your average Joe that lives across the street. Bring tissues, but go see this movie. Don't expect a action-packed twisting and turning plot, but prepare to be moved.
In my attempts to see all the big 2017 movies, I know I have to include the animated ones as well as the live action. I'm less likely to go see an animated film on my own, so I was happy that the team took us to see Sing on our last roadtrip. Plus, the song "Faith" will more than likely be nominated for best original song. Anyway, I loved it! I fell in love with Mrs. Crawly. All the different characters were real and unique and it was very uplifting. I got a little more sad than I had thought at the film's lowest point, the ending was adorable. Kids and adults alike will enjoy seeing this movie.
I had heard good things about Zootopia and since it won the Golden Globe for animated movie, I knew I must watch it because it is likely to receive an Oscar nod. This movie was very cute and had a great message of how we must follow our dreams and that we cannot judge other based on their biology. It was a little more complex than some other animated films and I have to admit it seemed a little bogged down and a tad too lengthy, but all-in-all it was enjoyable. I believe its theme is what puts it in the spotlight.