Category: Uncategorized

Is Now The Time To Sell?

Have you been thinking about selling home? Is your current property too large? Too small? Too expensive? Too hard to manage? Are you ready to travel more? Whatever the reason, you’ve been thinking about a move but you don’t know if it’s the right time to move? 

This might be the right time to sell! The first step in making a good decision is information. You would be amazed how many people will use stories they heard at the grocery store to make the decision to sell a home. Before you make any decision, speak to a professional agent and talk about your local market and home values. Learn about the inventory levels of your neighborhood and get a comprehensive market analysis of your property.

Traditionally a great time to list a home, this selling season is seeing a low inventory of homes for sale. This means that the home values are stronger than they have been in the past. You might have more money sitting in your home than you expect.

As interest rates continue to tick up, many buyers are seeing this as a great opportunity to buy before it’s too late. With record low unemployment and changing tax laws, more and more buyers are entering the housing market. This has resulted in strong home values and with more buyers ready to find a new home, this might be the perfect time to sell your home as well. Ready to get moving?

Don't forget you can always call me for even more ideas or tips!

Nick D'Andrea

The Lux Group
MA License #: 9568145
Massachusetts Association of Realtors
National Association of Realtors

Smart Solutions to Make the Most of the Space You Have

One of the biggest complaints people have about their houses is that there’s not enough storage space. In fact, a lack of space is the number one reason people decide to purchase bigger homes.

But if buying a house isn’t in the cards for you right now, there are plenty of steps you can take to better utilize the space you do have.

Clean it Out!

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the best way to create storage space is to get rid of things you don’t need. This is easier said than done for a lot of people. If you’re someone who likes to hold onto everything and has trouble deciding what to throw out, here are some helpful tips to clear out common household items.

  • Clothes: A helpful trick for getting rid of unworn clothes is to hang everything in your closet backwards, with the hanger hook facing toward, instead of away, from you. As you wear items throughout the year, hang them back up the correct way. At the end of a year, whatever is still facing backward should be given away. Additionally, you should clean out your drawers between seasons. If you haven’t worn an item for an entire season, chances are, you won’t wear it next year. Anything with unintentional holes or stains should be thrown out, and anything that doesn’t fit should be donated or sold. A lot of people like to hold onto clothes that used to fit them with the hopes of losing weight in the future. If you truly don’t want to part with these items, consider boxing and putting them in the attic to make room in your drawers.
  • Toys: If you have kids, you know how quickly toys can accumulate and take over your house. Plus, even if it isn’t consistently played with, it’s hard to convince a child they no longer need a particular toy. If something hasn’t been touched in a while, move it out of the room and into a temporary storage space. If it goes unmissed for a period of time, you can safely take it out of the house for good. You can also tell older children that you’re planning to give their toys to other children who need them — they should be old enough to understand this concept and may enthusiastically clear out other toys they no longer play with.
  • Papers/Perishables: If you have piles of junk mail, letters home from school, old art projects, and grocery lists eating up room on your countertops, don’t worry — you’re not alone! In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to let things pile up. Take time to go through those piles and get rid of what you don’t need. If you can’t part with some of these paper items, consider clearing out a drawer or investing in a filing cabinet to store them. You can also put especially keep-worthy school art projects inside a bin in your attic.
  • Miscellaneous Junk: We all have infamous junk drawers in our houses. These drawers hold everything from old birthday candles, safety pins, and broken pens to ripped gloves and old pot-holders. Chances are, you could throw out everything in these drawers and never miss them. But they’re still worth going through a few times a year to make sure you aren’t missing anything important. Everything else can be thrown out or put into small containers/plastic bags and stacked back in the drawer to make room for other items you actually need.

Pack it Away

The key here is to put away everything you’re not using during a particular time of year. For instance, winter jackets, snow boots, sleds, and snow blowers have no use taking up room in your closet or garage during the summer months.

Move these items to more permanent storage when they’re not being actively used. These are the best places to store items you’re not currently using:

  • Attic: If you have attic space in your home, make sure you utilize it. Everything from winter jackets to holiday lights can be stored in the attic when they’re not being used.
  • Under the bed: Putting clothes under your bed when they’re not being worn keeps them out of your way but close by in case you want to wear them.
  • Shed: If you have a shed in your yard, you should store all outdoor/landscaping items in it, rather than in your garage. Garages can quickly become overcrowded if they accumulate too much.
  • Storage unit: According to CostHelper, the average storage unit costs $40-$50 per month for a 5-by-5-foot unit and $75-$140 per month for a 10-by-15-foot unit. If you can afford it, storage units are a great asset that can allow you to save space in your home.

Invest in Smart Storage

If you’re struggling to find space in your house, luckily, many options exist to organize and save room in the storage spaces you do have.

  • Vacuum-sealed bags: These bags compress clothes, pillows, blankets and other soft items to help them fit into tighter spaces. You can stack and store them away in closets or under beds, and you have the added bonus of knowing your items will be protected from outside damage.
  • Stackable storage bins: If you find you’re running out of space in drawers or closets, consider organizing your items into plastic bins. Unorganized messes can take up more space than clutter organized into containers.
  • Shelving and cabinets: Adding closed or open shelving units throughout your home can take care of storage and also provide an attractive feature if used in the right way. But if you don’t want to add shelves into high-traffic areas, consider putting them in laundry rooms, garages, or other less-seen areas of your home.
  • Hidden storage: You can add hidden storage spaces numerous places in your home, including on staircases and inside furniture like coffee tables and ottomans.

Why Hire a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home?

Selling your home is a big endeavor with lots of twists and turns. Choosing to work with a real estate professional can save you time, money and a lot of headaches. Here are just a few of the benefits of working with a real estate agent.

1. Real Estate Agents Possess Overall Market Knowledge:

A good agent knows the housing market inside and out and can help you get top dollar for your home. They will advise you on the best ways to market your property and inform you of any potential issues that might deter potential buyers.

2. Real Estate Agents Are Trained in the Many Legalities of Selling a Home

Selling your home is probably the largest transaction you’ll ever undertake, and making sure you don’t miss anything is crucial. There are a lot of forms required when selling your home and missing just one little step could mean the difference between a smooth transaction and disaster. A real estate professional is an expert in this area and will make sure that everything is completely accurately and timely. They will also be able to alert you should problems arise in which you need to consult with a lawyer.

3. Real Estate Agents Are Able to Network & Coordinate Showings

Putting your home on the market and navigating the process of selling can be a full time job–it may be difficult to get home from work for showings, not to mention all of the marketing that is necessary to draw potential buyers to your home. A real estate agent becomes your marketing specialist and will be able to run open houses, set up showings, and other marketing activities to get your house seen by interested buyers. Agents are typically connected to other agents, so are able to provide referrals that help you get a quick sale.

4. Real Estate Agents Assist with Pricing to Sell, Negotiation, & Inspections/Diligence

Negotiating is tricky. While you may think it would be easier to not have the middle men (the buyer and seller real estate agents) the negotiation is not always easy. Be prepared. An agent acting as a messenger or bad guy in the process prevents any disagreements that could result in a deal being pulled from the table. Once you are under contract the agent will have many recommendations to assist with any final details to get you to the closing table.

Selling your home can be a long process that ends in a significant financial transaction. A real estate professional is a huge benefit to you during the process. The expertise of an agent allows you to better navigate the rocky waters and end up on the other side with a transaction with your best interests in mind. Please give us a call today if you are looking at listing your home.

Nick’s Christmas Movie Survey Results

Nick's Christmas Movie Survey Results

So I trying something different buy getting opinions on things that matter and affect my life.  So setting up with the start of the Christmas season I decided to keep the Survey festive. Below are the results with a little commentary, like that surprises you.

When do you start watching Christmas/Holiday Movies? (28 Responses)

After Halloween                    3

After Thanksgiving               22

All year long Baby!               1

Other                                       2

Nick’s Take: This sounds about right.  The two others were “Christmas Evening”, which is a good one but falls into the After Thanksgiving category.  “Die Hard can be watched all year long”. Correct that’s why it’s NOT A CHRISTMAS MOVIE

How much time do you watch Hallmark Christmas movies? (28 Responses)

All Day Everyday                                              0

Only on the weekends                                     4

1 or 2 movies                                                     6

I thought they made greeting cards             13

Other (please specify)                                     5

Nick’s Take: I’m calling shenanigans.  I believe everyone has seen at least one Hallmark movie, even if by mistake.  It happens. We move on.

What is your top Christmas Movie? (28 Responses)

It's a Wonderful Life                                       8

Miracle on 34th St                                           3

White Christmas                                              3

A Christmas Story                                            1

Christmas Vacation                                         7

Elf                                                                       4

Other (please specify)                                     3

Nick’s Take: I’m a Christmas Vacation guy, because some people just want to see the world burn.  A Charlie Brown Christmas was a submitted answer.  I always thought of it as a TV special, but cool, I like it. Die Hard was suggested, a) No. b) it has its own question.

Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie? (28 Responses)

Yippe Ki Yay (Yes)               13

Nah(katomi)                         15

Nick’s Take: A little too close for my liking but Die Hard is not a Christmas movie.  Sorry, I don’t buy it and as someone commented above, “you can watch it all year long” thus proving the point.

Is Gremlins a Christmas Movie? (27 Responses)

Mogwai (Yes)               9

No                                   18

Nick’s Take: I agree with this.  But it should have been the same result as the previous question.  So if you voted yes for Die Hard and no for Gremlins you are just wrong.  Die Hard happens on Christmas which has always been the argument or that John McLean says “Ho, Ho, Ho”.  Well, the damn monsters go out caroling, doesn’t that count for something?

Thanks for taking the survey.  If you liked this one take this one HERE

Worcester’s Recycling Dilemma

So the Worcester City Council took up the issue of the City Manager’s new recycling plan at Tuesday night’s meeting.  Much to the chagrin to all this was not the slam dunk that it was once thought to be.

The council postponed the vote until August after Councilor Khrys King threatened to hold the item if was not voted on as proposed coming out of committee, which was not to include the mandate of the clear plastic bag.  He saw it as an increase of fees on the backs of the residents and it would most likely not solve the problem.

One thing I did notice however is how some councilors started to look at it a different way once the public started weighing on the topic.  

“People are telling us that plastic is no good for the environment and that we may be going backwards if we go to the clear plastic bags,” Councilor Gary Rosen said, as reported in Telegram. “We should listen to the people. Plastic bags are bad; it’s hard to argue with that.”

Councilor Mo Bergman also said that the program needed tweaking.  Bergman took to Facebook earlier in the day asking residents their thoughts on it as well.

All due respect to Councilor Rosen, it’s not just that “Plastic bags are bad”, it’s about the optics of the whole thing.

As a resident of Worcester, that recycles religiously with no issues other than my pick up man forgetting me on occasion (we hugged it out and we are cool now).  Why am I being punished for doing things on my own? Why do I need to change my habits? Why do I need to pay more to change those habits?

I’m not blind to the fact that there is littering going on in the city and quite possibly the open lid containers are to blame, I’m not arguing that.  I think the bins have always been to small and you cannot fit everything into them. Causing people to jam in as much stuff as they can and not securely latching them down.  That’s a problem, it’s not THE problem.

Many residents have taken it upon themselves to buy their own recycling containers and according to my buddy from the recycling company all the drivers want is the bar on it so they can lift it with the truck attachment.  

I went out and bought one for my house and I have not asked for a refund or rebate from the city.  I live on a Private Street and I already get hosed on services but I am not going to try to stick it to the man by asking for a refund.  Not the hill I want to die on.

The proposed plan lacks one key component that I think would garner public support, and that is choice.

Why must we HAVE to buy clear plastic bags if the bins are working for us?  

Why MUST we only get three clear bags with each purchase of yellow trash bags?  If we run out of clear bags and still have trash bags left, guess who is not recycling that week?  This guy.

I have no issue with the clear plastic bag, I really don’t.  I have an issue with the word “mandate”. This is another example of punishing the masses because of the few.

Just my 3 cents.

How Candidates in Worcester Can Earn My Vote

As we head into July and the dog days of summer the election process will be ramping up in the city as we have a primary for both the City Council and the School Committee.  Will this year be the year we see change in our city?

I used to be a political junkie.  I used to love reading up on candidates and throwing my support behind candidates.  I have been soured on this in recent years because of the political climate, and yes, both sides are to blame.  I no longer publicly voice my political opinion and I don’t have discussions regarding policy or politics with people I don’t know, and some people I do know.  It’s a sad state of affairs.

However, I do enjoy the local elections and I think this years races are great and I am excited about the primary and general elections.  I have voted in every primary and election in Worcester since I became a citizen in 1994. I don’t see it as an obligation or right, I see it as a requirement of citizenship,  no citizens should sit on the bench for an election.

I do have some advice for the candidates as they try to earn MY vote this year.  If you follow the below six points, you have a good shot at earning my vote come September/November.  These are in no particular order: 

Don’t assume you either have or don’t have my vote – I have found this to be very annoying.  I have noticed that people determine my political views and who I support based on my social media posts.  That’s why I have basically stopped posting or commenting on anything remotely political. Have a conversation with me on the issues, you will be surprised to find out where I land on certain issues.  You probably will not be very surprised on other issues. I disagree with some of my best friends and people I respect the most, it does not mean I will or won’t support you.

Knock on my door – You increase your chances of getting my vote exponentially if you just show up at my house.  I live in a somewhat low voter turnout area of Worcester and I very rarely see candidates come my way.  I like to be engaged by the candidate. I like to know where you stand, why you are running, how you came to decide to run.  Tell me your story. I am one of the few votes that every candidate is not going after, take advantage of that.  There are more of us than you think. Never be afraid to ask to throw a sign up on my lawn.  I live in a remote area of town, so it may not get much visibility, but I would be happy to for the right candidates.

Hand me your collateral – I actually put up a sign on my door asking not to leave any materials in my door.  There is nothing on your rack card that I can learn about you that I haven’t already researched.  I want to talk to you (see above). Plus, I will most likely be getting something in the mail from you.  We have a recycling problem in the city, lets not add to it.

Phone calls –  I’m ok with phone banking, but don’t have the person on the phone ask me who I am voting for, that’s my business.  I will ask questions, I will ask for clarification. The person on the phone is a reflection of you and if they cannot answer, I will assume you cannot either.  Be cautious

I will listen to your top issues, if you listen to mine – I will listen to your elevator speech, I will listen to your “Top 3 issues”.  But keep in mind, your top three issues, won’t necessarily be my top three issues, and that’s fine.  But I will ask you where you land on mine, and it’s ok to say “I will look into that” if you don’t know what I am talking about or haven’t even thought of my issue.  But if we meet again I will expect some sort of answer.

Enjoy – Have fun with this.  You are going to meet some amazing people over the next couple of months.  If you gain anything from this experience is that your voice is being heard and believe it or not people do remember that.

These are the things I look for in candidates.  Other voters may have other things or none at all.  Each voter is different and that’s what makes this process so great.

Thank you to all the candidates that are running.  It is hard work, and if you don’t win it will initially feel unfulfilling.  But when you go back and reflect you will realize it was well worth it.  This is a great city and you will only confirm that by getting out and meeting Worcesterites.

Good Luck!!!

A Journey to a new Life

Tuesday February 13, 2018.  That was my day of clarity.  I had a sleepless night because it was my first night with a CPAP machine.  I had recently been diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea.  During a sleep study just after the New Year I had stopped breathing 23 times an hour.  So that Monday night was the first time I used the machine full time at home.  It was an adjustment that I didn’t think I could do.

Most importantly on that day I stepped on the scale in my bathroom and I weighed in at a gasping 237 pounds.  I was the only person who saw this and yet I felt this overwhelming feeling of embarrassment.  Like the world was looking at me as “the fat guy”.

That was the day that I dedicated 2018 to be “The Year of Nick”.  Not only was I going to do something about my weight, I was refocusing my life.  I was going to be a better husband, a better father, a better employee, a better son and a better friend.  I was going to remove stressors in my life and I was going to take everything thrown at me with a grain of salt.

Prior to that day my wife and I had already decided we were going to try the diet called “The Whole 30”.  It was more of a plan to break unhealthy eating habits, reduce cravings and portions.  All of those were my weak spots.  My wife’s company was doing a challenge and she thought we should try it.  At this point I was willing to try anything and so we started our journey.

I am not going to write about what I ate daily and what my weigh-ins were, it’s very boring.  However, as I began this lifestyle change I decided that I wanted to take it further.  I wasn’t going to have a lifestyle change in the way I ate but also the way I lived.

I set a weight loss goal, seems normal right?  I did not set a timeline of when I wanted to lose that weight.  I figured it took me 45 years to put it on, why am I trying to stress myself in getting rid of it in 30 days.  It was unrealistic, and an unrealistic goal is the first step to failure.  I was not going to set myself up to fail.

A picture that my wife and I wanted to redo. 2016 – 2018

I have battled weight issues my adult life.  Believe or not, the aforementioned 237 pounds wasn’t even the heaviest I had ever been.  Just over 13 years ago I weighed in the 250’s and I dropped 65 pounds.  I was in my early 30’s at the time, and had no children and significantly less responsibilities.  I was able to keep that weight off for the better portion of the decade.  I actually looked better at 40 than I did at 30.

I got too comfortable and the weight kept creeping back up. I took up biking, nothing.  I took up running, nothing.  At my physical last year I told my doctor I wanted to control my weight this year and asked for suggestions.  “Watch your diet” was all that he said.  He knew how active I was so exercise wasn’t the issue.  I was just taking in more calories than I was burning.  Plain and simple.

Could it be that easy? Yes.  I immediately remembered an article written by ESPN writer Bill Barnwell wrote in 2016 “The easiest way to lose 125 pounds is to gain 175 pounds” .  It was the swift kick in the ass I needed to get me motivated.

I am proud of what I have been doing, but also ashamed of having the need to do it.  I have made this futile attempt many times, but for some reason that number, 237, just stays in my mind and haunts me.  Maybe it’s because it’s the same number of the forbidden hotel room in “The Shining”.  Is that why it stuck this time?

My Wally World shirt got much bigger over the course of these last few months

People who know me could not believe I weighed as much as I did.  I have always been able to hide my weight and that’s probably why I got to where I was.  I was active, big and nobody noticed.  That’s a good thing, right?  No, it’s not.  The person next to me on the bathroom scale that morning, my conscience, noticed and it is all that mattered.

If you are overweight and reading this, I don’t want this to come off as “fat shaming”.  If you are comfortable and happy then you are fine.  A waitress at Disney World said to me last year, “You do you”.

I was not comfortable with the way I looked, I was not happy with the way I looked.  “I did me.”

Weight loss was not the only goal I wished to accomplish.  I was going to try something new that I have never done before to keep me motivated.  I decided I was going to run a half marathon.  That was a very ambitious goal for someone who never ran more than a 10K and weighed almost 240 pounds when he did it.  My wife has joined me in challenge and we will be running the Smuttynose Half Marathon on September 30th.

One of my passions, umpiring baseball, was taking a back seat so I could focus on my true passion, being a dad.  It was not uncommon for me to umpire a game every night of the week.  I loved it, I still love it.  But my girls are the most important thing to me and I was not going to be an absentee dad.

After the first 30 days I was starting to feel better and I had dropped 13 pounds, so I decided that this was going to be the way I ate for the foreseeable future.  Cutting out processed foods is not as hard as one would think; it’s all about the discipline.  Being Italian and not being able to eat pasta at my parents’ house on Sunday, proves that I can do this.  My mom has even started making meals that fit my new lifestyle.

One of the constants I have been doing, which has been known to be a cardinal sin in weight loss, is I weigh myself every morning.  It is a daily reminder, and motivation, that I need to keep this journey going.  I still don’t trust my myself to not revert back to my old habits, and that’s why I do it.

Although, I am the sole recipient of the results that have come, I have not done this alone.  There are countless people that have just been so encouraging throughout the process. People I haven’t seen in years will send me messages of encouragement.  If someone I know passes me while out for a run, they will honk or yell words of support.  You have no idea how much those beeps and screams mean to me.  I may not have said thank you at the time, but I say it in my mind every day.

I especially want to thank my wife Darcy.  She has never said anything about my weight.  She loves me for who I am, inside and out, unconditionally.  But when I started to rail against myself, she became my life coach, my number one fan, and my true partner.  I could not have done this without her, and I could not imagine doing it with anyone else.

It has been just over 6 months and I am happy to say that I have lost 38 lbs., I feel great and my half marathon training is going well.  I have not needed to use the CPAP machine, but I still have it, and will try to get off of it entirely.

I had my annual physical and my doctor said “Did you really lose 38 lbs. from last year?”  He went on to cancel cholesterol and blood sugar screenings because based on the weight loss he said they would have improved from last year, which weren’t terrible to begin with.  Then I on to tell him I lost it in six months.

What makes my story more special than any other weight loss story? Nothing.  Everyone has a weight loss story and this is mine.  Share yours with me, I’d like that.

My wife has also dropped over 25 lbs. and now I need to stay fit to keep up with my “Hot Wife”.  I do not regret any decision I have made over the past 6 months and “The year of Nick” will now be called “The Life of Nick”

No! It’s not OK!

So I wake up this morning to see that a Comedienne Kathy Griffin was trending on Twitter.  I couldn’t imagine why because I never really thought she was funny, and then she proved me right.  The picture of Griffin holding a bloodied mask of President Trump as if she had just decapitated him is disturbing to say the least.  Is this the new normal in American society?

Presidents being burned in effigy or portrayed as targets are not new and they won’t end.  As I skimmed through social media the left reminded all of us that President Obama was treated similarly. But was he?

In context and public actions by citizens, yes, absolutely, and those were just as grotesque.  But did a celebrity ever do such a heinous act?  The closest thing I could find was Ted Nugent running his mouth at a concert.  Equally disturbing and not to be dismissed.  That was the only celebrity I could find.

This is not ok!  In a time where we have seen American citizens have their loved ones killed in the same manner that Griffin joked about is not only disrespecctful to the President, but disrespectful to the people who lost their loved ones in the same manner.  We didn’t joke about it then and we don’t joke about it now.  I don’t care what you think of the President.

Where did we go wrong?  Why is this a national debate?  The way I see it there is no right or wrong to this debate, just wrong.  If you find this type of behavior acceptable, there is nothing I can say to change your mind.

We have found ourselves comparing people we don’t agree with to the most vicious people that have walked the face of the earth.  Not because they have committed an atrocious act, but because they prefer Chocolate Chip cookies to Oreo’s.

I am not a fan of President Trump, I didn’t vote for him.  But there is a respect to the office that needs to be accepted. 

Luckily, the mainstream media has condemned Griffin’s act and she has since apologized.  She now waits the verdict in the court of public opinion.

Several months back I wrote a blog about how the country has lost their mind over politics.  Something tells me that I will be revisiting that topic again over the next several years.  C’Mon people we are so much better than this.

P.S. – Kathy Griffin, I hope you desire for attention and another 15 minutes were well worth it


2017 Oscars Preview

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 unlikelyoscars_2012_predictions

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.