Ah, the Oscars. It’s the proverbial mixed bag that I’ve finally figured out how to approach in the way that works best for me. It’s great that people pay attention to film and maybe some movies that otherwise wouldn’t get attention do (thank the lord they nominated Avatar in 2010), but I am not sitting through another three and a half hour snooze fest. Look how bored James Franco was, AND HE WAS HOSTING! AND THIS IS JUST THE FIRST FOUR MINUTES!
So I would say to use the nominees as a watch list rather than worrying about who wins, because you never know – you could wind up sitting there for 200 minutes and they give Best Picture to Return of the King instead of Mystic River. Anyway, the 89th Academy Awards is nearly upon us and while I didn’t get to see everything, here’s my take on what I did see.
Hacksaw Ridge – Bill Mechanic and David Permut
Uhm… this is a difficult movie to talk about. It’s cliche, it’s kind of three movies in one, the tone kind of waves around… but I still found it really compelling. Depending on how you feel about Mel Gibson, you may not want to give this movie your money, but all things being equal, I’d say it’s worth seeing.
Hell or High Water – Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn
I think this is the most well rounded movie on the list: acting, directing, editing, cinematography, etc… very impressive. I find this to be the best movie on this list.
Lion – Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, and Angie Fielder
This movie has some pacing problems, and I think some of it is intentional, but there’s also some editing issues in the sense that they left stuff in they didn’t need, there’s a seriously underdeveloped character in there… but man, that kid is MAGIC. There’s a lot of compelling stuff in here – I managed not to cry in the theater.
Moonlight – Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner
I think everybody should see this flick as there’s a lot of life experience in here that may be beyond a lot of people’s experience. Great acting, but I think this movie suffers a little from its desire to be stylistic… it’s a great movie, but there are definitely things could be trimmed and choices they made that are a bit pretentious for my taste.
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
This movie looks like it was a monster to direct, and whatever my issues are with Gibson or the movie in general, I can’t deny that he’s doing good work here.
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
I think Jenkins might have gotten carried away here and there, but his directing voice is strong and this movie is great.
David Mackenzie wasn’t nominated for Hell or High Water, so I’ll go with Jenkins here. Gibson did a fine job, but he’s only turning up the volume rather than reinventing the wheel.
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge as Desmond T. Doss
I really like Garfield and this is his finest performance.
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins as Florence Foster Jenkins
I’d say she’s a victim of her own success this time – she’s great, the control she shows as a singer here is amazing and I haven’t see the other actresses in those flicks, but she doesn’t need to win for this one.
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight as Juan
Ali turns in a great performance, but his role is small and probably not award worthy.
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water as Marcus Hamilton
Hey look, it’s Rooster Cogburn! Again, great performance, but I’d pass.
Dev Patel – Lion as Saroo Brierley
THey should have nominated Patel’s counterpart, Sunny Pawar – he was amazing. Pawar is my pick. FU, Academy!
Best Supporting Actress
Naomie Harris – Moonlight as Paula
She was great.
Nicole Kidman – Lion as Sue Brierley
This is a tough one. I refuse to pick. I reminded of a scene from In and Out where Matt Dillon says that performers are artists and they shouldn’t have to compete like dogs.
“Then why are you here?”
“In case I win!”
I couldn’t find that scene, so enjoy this clip instead:
Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
I really appreciated the writing here, especially the ending.
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
“A lobster is an excellent choice.” I think I have to pick this one – there’s some great, totally unexpected stuff happening here. This movie deserves more attention than it got.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Lion – Luke Davies from A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose
This movie has some pacing problems and I don’t know who to blame – but the first hour is so good, who cares?
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney from In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney
I think the screenplay pushed this movie in the right direction. I guess I’d pick Moonlight over Lion, but I’m splitting hairs.
Best Animated Feature Film
Kubo and the Two Strings – Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Clark Spencer
This is tough, I loved both of these movies and they’re SO different. I’d say share it.
Best Original Score
Lion – Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
The score from both of these movies made no impression on me, so I guess I don’t have a pick.
Best Sound Editing
Hacksaw Ridge – Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
These guys had a ton to do for that last hour or so and they did a great job.
Best Sound Mixing
Hacksaw Ridge – Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter Grace
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio, and Stuart Wilson
I’m going Hacksaw Ridge again – Rogue one is fine, but I don’t think it’s on the Hacksaw Ridge level.
Best Production Design
Hail, Caesar! – Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh
Man, this movie was disappointing. Not bad, I was just expecting more. Good production design, though.
Lion – Greig Fraser
Moonlight – James Laxton
I’ve got to go Lion on this one – I felt like the cinematography got in Moonlight’s way at times.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Star Trek Beyond – Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo
Suicide Squad – Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Nelson
Star Trek. No question.
Best Costume Design
Florence Foster Jenkins – Consolata Boyle
Best Film Editing
Hacksaw Ridge – John Gilbert
Hell or High Water – Jake Roberts
Moonlight – Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon
Hell or High Water – no question. One of the tightest movies I’ve seen in a long time.
Best Visual Effects
Doctor Strange – Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould
Kubo and the Two Strings – Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean, and Brad Schiff
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel, and Neil Corbould
I’ve got to go Kubo on this one. I’m looking for something new and Doctor Strange looked a bit too much like Inception and Rogue One, while a step forward for ILM, is basically just ILM dialing it up to eleven. The stuff they did in Kubo… wow.