By Nick D’Andrea
In 2005, the Baseball Widow came home from work and said “Michael Graham just said something I thought was pretty cool”. She went on to explain to me the tradition that Graham and his wife had going to see the Oscars Best Picture nominees. I like movies and the idea and I said “Let’s do it”. That year, “Crash” took the award and we haven’t looked back since.
The biggest mistake that the Oscars made was going from 5 to 9 films in 2009. That was the same year that the first Baseball Orphan was born and made going to the movies just that more difficult. It also watered down the nominations. There are always movies that don’t belong, or are not in the running because there are too many films.
It also made the “snub” list for acting that much greater because they are still nominating 5 actors/actresses for those. Nine Best Picture nominees and five Best Actor nominees? Someone is going to get snubbed. I will continue to wage this war, every year.
Anyhow, here is my Best Picture preview:
2017 Oscars Best Picture Nominations (order of viewing)
Moonlight – I get why this was nominated, but for me there was something missing. The acting, tremendous. The cinematography, outstanding. The direction, fantastic. The story, lacking. I know it is customary for Indie films to just end and leave the viewer wanting more. The story in Moonlight had me wanting more because there was a lot I didn’t get. There were references to the gaps in the movie, but not enough to sustain me. If the story were told better, this wins hands down!
Hidden Figures – I am glad this got nominated because I wanted to see it anyway, nothing like forcing the hand. I loved everything about this movie. The acting, Henson, Spencer, Monae and Costner were just awesome. The story is not only one of struggle but perseverance. I went into this movie with high expectations and I was not disappointed. The reason I don’t think this movie will win best picture is, dare I say it, it was too Hollywood. The Academy normally dismisses these types of movies, especially since they have gone to 9 films (I will not let this go). Ten years ago, this is a favorite. I hope it wins, but unlikely
Lion – If you liked Slumdog Millionaire, you will love this movie as well. Not because Dev Patel plays the main character. It brings light on similar issues and has a de facto same story line. The difference on this one, is that it actually happened. The cast was great. Kidman and Patel earning acting nominations, deservedly so. I would have liked to see Rooney Mara get a nod as well, her performance in this film was highly underrated. The director did a good job getting inside the main character’s head to visualize what he was going through, he should have gotten nominated for best director. I guess the nomination for cinematography will suffice. I think this is a longshot to win but definitely a must see
Hell or High Water – How did this movie get nominated?? I know, because we are nominating too many movies!!! We literally watched a bank robber chase for 90 minutes. I have seen episodes of Chicago P.D. done better than this movie. Chris Pine was the only acting job worth noting. I know Jeff Bridges was nominated but I did not think he was anything special in this film. I will have to say that the only bright spot for this film was the music throughout was great. But if you don’t like the bluegrass/country type of music, you won’t think so. I rank this higher than a Wes Anderson film, but that’s not saying a lot. If this wins, I quit
La La Land – Ok, so this is the overwhelming favorite. I just don’t get it. It was a good movie, but not one that would say “I have to go see it”. If you are going into this movie thinking that it takes places in the 40’s/50’s…wrong answer. The good thing is that it is not a musical from beginning to end, which was my biggest fear. The acting was good, the story was overly predictable and part of the ending was somewhat irrelevant. Emma Stone was good as always and deserved her best actress nomination. Ryan Gosling’s acting was par for the course and as the Baseball Widow would say “Ryan Gosling can’t sing for….”. This movie is the favorite because it is a nostalgia film. It brings us back to the films of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. There was no swearing, nudity or violence. La La Land is this year’s version of “The Artist” (2012 Best Film), for the record I didn’t get that movie either.
Arrival – THE OSCARS ARE NOMINATING TOO MANY MOVIES. Full Disclosure, I am not big into Sci-Fi movies. I was willing to give this one a chance because of the cast. Adams, Renner and Whitaker are about as solid a cast you can get. I just thought the premise of the movie was weird, and I thought the ending was more confusing than it needed to be. It did go away from the traditional “Aliens invade earth” mantra of death and destruction but this film is just not Best Picture worthy.
Hacksaw Ridge – I loved this movie. It kept my attention the whole time from the moment he was a boy to the real life footage and interviews that closed out the movies. The story of Desmond Doss is one of true patriotism and faith. Andrew Garfield gets better with every movie he does and will be a serious contender for Best Actor. I felt Hugo Weaving’s performance father Tom Doss was excellent and was a true portrayal of PTSD soldier. This movie may be a bit too Hollywood but along with Hidden Figures it is definitely the best picture thus far.
Manchester By The Sea – The local favorite. Overall a very good movie and deserving of its Best Picture nomination. Casey Affleck once again proved he is the better acting Affleck. His character was a mess from start to finish and he definitely brought that home with his performance. Michelle Williams was not in the movie enough to warrant a Best Supporting Actress nod, but the one scene everyone knows, she was fantastic in. I thought the movie dragged at points but it may have been designed to portray the main character’s struggle. Lastly, Hollywood needs to stop portraying everyone in Massachusetts as someone who lives deep in Southie. WE ALL DON’T SOUND LIKE THAT. I really don’t think this one will bring it home, but it is definitely worth a watch.
Fences – A movie with very good acting and directing. An adaptation of a play that starred Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. I felt that the first 10 minutes or so of the movie had a stage like atmosphere. Most of the scenes were shot in the same place (but not entirely). It is a good story of man who has struggled with his place in the world from experience and wants to hold everyone else back because of it. Denzel and Viola were great in the movie and will be serious contenders for their categories. The Baseball Widow is really pulling for Davis for Best Supporting Actress and have a serious meltdown if she doesn’t. I thought the movie dragged on a bit, but not too bad. I don’t think it is the best film this year but would not be surprised if surprises and takes home the prize. A definite must watch.
So, there you have a review of the Best Picture nominations. A good group of films this year, not the best crop in recent history bust a good group none the less. The Academy really needs to re-visit their pre-voting method to avoid certain movies from getting in and so that the lesser known films get their due. So here is my predication
Who do I want to win? Hacksaw Ridge, slightly over Hidden Figures.
Who will win? La La Land, because, you know, Hollywood.