2017 Oscars Review

2017 Oscars Review

image from thenewsrecorder.com

It should be no surprise, movie-loving friends, that if there’s anything I enjoy doing with all my heart, it’s sharing my opinions a full month after they’ve lost all relevance.

It’s for this exact reason that I’ve waited until now to share with you all my thoughts about this year’s Oscars Awards, which took place on February 26th. The fact that most of the movies that were nominated are now readily available to stream online or rent from Redbox—or that Cleveland’s only two theaters chose to show most of these movies at unreasonable hours—has nothing to do with it. I just enjoy making you wait.

I’ll be going through the list of what I imagine most people consider the five most prominently discussed awards of the night: Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Picture.

I’ll, of course, let you know who won, just in case you happen to be so horribly out of the loop that you haven’t heard already. I’ll also fill you in on who your humble film columnist believes deserved the award, simply to show you how good of a guesser I am. This second part is just as if not more important than the first, so take note.

Best Supporting Actress

My guess: Viola Davis, “Fences”

Winner: Viola Davis, “Fences”

Yeah. Let’s start with an obvious one. I can’t imagine that anyone else would have beaten Davis for Best Supporting Actress. She has, in my opinion, been a high caliber actress since we first saw her in “The Help” a few years ago. It’s continued throughout her career, melodramatic primetime murder mysteries about corrupt legal aides not withstanding. Her performance as Rose in “Fences” was no exception. Even if you don’t agree, she was definitely robbed of the Leading Actress Oscar in 2012, so this one’s been a long time coming anyway.

I personally think that Nicole Kidman’s performance as the ever-supporting (if not abruptly religious) Sue Brierley in “Lion” and Naomi Harris’s cracked-out Paula in “Moonlight” were noteworthy, but not comparable to Davis. I think I’ll go ahead and give them an Honorable Mention, which I’ve just now decided to include in all of the categories on this list.

Moving right along.

Best Supporting Actor

My guess: Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea” or Dev Patel, “Lion”

Winner: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against Ali’s role in Moonlight. That film was near-perfect, and you’ll get to hear me rant about its greatness in more detail later on. I do not begrudge Ali’s winning Best Supporting Actor at all. I think he deserves it.

I simply didn’t think that Ali had enough screen time for the academy to seriously consider him, so they opted to honor him with a nomination instead. Of course, if Anne Hathaway can literally just cry on screen for ten minutes and win an award (read: 2013), then Ali’s award, which I would say is more deserving, shouldn’t be too shocking.

Honorable Mention here goes to both Hedges and Patel, because I hate being wrong.

Best Actress

My guess: Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Winner: Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Hear me, movie-loving fam: this is the only award that “La La Land” deserved from this Oscars season. The more time that separates me from “La La Land,” the more I think that Stone’s performance is the only noteworthy part of it.

It’s not a bad movie; I understand the hype that surrounded it when it first came out. It’s an incredibly neat, aesthetically pleasing, fun film. What “La La Land” is not, however, is explorative or innovative, and this Oscars season was chock full of movies that were.

Stone, on the other hand, demonstrates her capabilities as an actress. This is, for the record, more than we can say about her co-star Ryan Gosling, whose unearned nomination for Best Actor almost seemed obligatory. The couple may be attractive on screen, but Stone just seems to act at another level altogether.

Honorable mention goes to Ruth Negga for her role as Mildred Loving in “Loving,” because both she and that film were too incredible to go without notice.

Best Actor

My guess: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

Winner: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

Oh man. I don’t even know where to begin with my praise for Affleck’s performance as Lee Chandler in “Manchester by the Sea.” The entire film is just tragic, and Affleck’s role as the sullen, taciturn patriarch of a half-realized nuclear family carries the brunt of the film’s emotional weight. The scene towards the movie’s end between Lee and his ex-wife stands out to me as a testament to Affleck’s talent as an actor. The dude’s come a long way since “Ocean’s Eleven.”

Honorable mention goes to Denzel Washington for his part in “Fences,” a role whose gravitas you can’t deny. If you ask me, though, Washington’s Troy was (forgive me) slightly overrated.

Best Picture

My guess: “Moonlight”

Winner: “Moonlight”

I have never been more enraged over an Oscar decision than I was during the three minutes between the announcement that “La La Land” had won best picture and the terribly awkward, all-too reminiscent of Steve Harvey at Miss Universe, fumbling correction that “Moonlight” had actually won.

Listen. To. Me. “Moonlight” was a brilliant and almost perfect movie. It had beautiful cinematography, excellent writing and an infallible cast and was a thematically timely film. It’s treading new ground. It’s both the first LGBTQ film and the first film with an all-black cast to garner the kind of recognition it’s received. And it flew under the radar for so long. Like its own protagonist, “Moonlight” is an underdog story—a champion of marginalized people groups. It makes the pretty-but-kind-of-shallow “La La Land” look like a self-indulgent giant. At the end of the day, there’s no comparison between the two.

Honorable mention for Best Picture goes to “Manchester by the Sea,” because I found it so riveting, and “Lion,” whose cinematography was absolutely captivating from the very first frame to the last, save for the sappy, unnecessary real life footage slapped on to the film’s end.

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