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Moana

MV5BMjI4MzU5NTExNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzY1MTEwMDI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the Demigod to set things right. (IMDb)

Oh man, I loved this one. Did the fact that I watched it after drinking half a bottle of wine affect this? Maybe. I’m probably still going to love it when I watch it after drinking a normal amount of wine. The biggest thing that stands out in this one is the animation. Disney really outdid themselves on this one. It’s strikingly beautiful. Having the source material of the Polynesian islands didn’t hurt either. The family-centered story, and the struggle between doing what you want, but also what is expected, can resonate no matter the age or culture of who is watching it. All of the voice acting is wonderful. Had no idea The Rock could sing, so good on him for that, and I think we have a potential star in newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, who played the title character. As far as the music goes, I think this was one of the more successful Disney modern musical movies. It didn’t forget about the music halfway through (cough Frozen cough) or tease us with amazing singers in the voice cast but not enough music for them to sing (cough Princess and the Frog cough). Also, Lin Manuel-Miranda (of Hamilton fame) was a mainly responsible for the music, so I’m not surprised that “How Far I’ll Go” is currently stuck in my head. Overall, I loved this, can’t wait to watch it again.

8.5/10 

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Florence Foster Jenkins

mv5bmja0mzc4mjmxml5bml5banbnxkftztgwodiwntqxode-_v1_uy268_cr00182268_al_The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice. (IMDb)

Nominations: Leading Actress (Meryl Streep) and Costume Design

So, I love Meryl. But I remember seeing the premise for this movie, seeing that it was a fluff, cute, commercial film, and thinking “this was her 20th Oscar nomination?” But you know what? I get it. She took this fluff piece and really elevated it to something with heart. She hilarious and heartbreaking all at the same time. I don’t know why I doubted her. I should have known better. The rest of the film is pleasant enough. Hugh Grant is charming, the costumes are super fun, the singing scenes are really funny. Nina Arianda is a scene stealer as a socialite’s newest wife. I’ll be honest though, I was not digging whatever Simon Helberg was doing. If that’s how the man really was, ok fine. But I felt he was playing a caricature while every one else was playing characters. Anyway, this is a pleasant enough diversion.

6.5/10

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Hidden Figures

mv5bmjqxotkxoduyn15bml5banbnxkftztgwntu3ntm3ote-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_The story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. (IMDb)

Nominations: Best Picture, Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), and Adapted Screenplay.

So, of all the best picture nominees, this one is definitely the most commercial. But. It is also the most inspirational. Like I’m still smiling thinking about it. These ladies were mostly likely some of the brightest brains they had at NASA at that time, but were shoved into a tiny building crunching numbers all day. The fact that these three women worked inside the system to upheave it is something I am simply in awe of. The movie itself was pretty good too, haha. The power trio of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae cannot be denied. They were fabulous. The script, which got the nomination for Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, is as smart and quick as its leads, and is full of plenty of quotable one liners that had me saying “hell yeah” out loud. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable ride, and a look into a civil rights era story that’s been buried for way too long.

8.5/10

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Fences

mv5botg0nzc1nja0mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwntcyndq0mdi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_A working-class African-American father tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life. (IMDb)

Nominations: Best Picture, Leading Actor (Denzel Washington), Supporting Actress (Viola Davis), and Adapted Screenplay (August Wilson)

To put this simply, I thought this was incredible. One of the biggest complaints I’m hearing is that it’s a “filmed play.” YES! That’s exactly what it is. This is how all play adaptations SHOULD be done. They stayed true to the script (so true that the original playwright is posthumously considered the writer), but expanded/added/used the advantages of film to make the story even richer. Like Moonlight (another one of my Oscar favorites), this movie is very small in scope, focusing on one family in Pittsburgh. And yet, you get a sense of the times, the mindset, the experience, of a culture. That’s how good that script is. It didn’t need to be added to a whole lot. The words did most of the talking. You go Denzel. You did it right. He also did it right acting wise. Shit. I was looking at his IMDb, and I decided I never want him to do another action movie again. And it’s not just him. Viola Davis is a force to be reckoned with. Jesus christ. She played it so close to the chest that when she got to let loose, I immediately started crying. They may as well carve her name into the Oscar statue right now. The cast as a whole was solid and had great chemistry. It didn’t hurt that Denzel did the smart thing and basically reunited the cast of the 2010 revival of this play. They all clicked into it so easily. Jovan Adepo, a relative newcomer, who plays the son, was also quite impressive. I look forward to seeing where he goes in his career. Overall, I thought this was an experience to watch, a master class in acting that I would be glad to watch again.

9.5/10

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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La La Land

mv5bmzuzndm2nzm2mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwntm3ntg4ote-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. (IMDb)

Nominations: Best Picture, Leading Actor (Ryan Gosling), Leading Actress (Emma Stone), Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing (Damien Chazelle), Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song (2), Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Original Screenplay (Damien Chazelle)

This was the one I was most curious to see. On one hand, I’m hearing rave reviews, it’s sweeping up award nominations, on the other, I’m hearing that it’s completely mediocre and the singing and dancing was not up to par. Granted, the latter mostly came from friends who try to make their living doing the singing and dancing thing. My stance? I am firmly in the middle. As someone who enjoys movies, this was a fun callback to Old Hollywood, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have chemistry for days, and this was visually beautiful to watch. As also a theatre and musical lover, I found the music bland and the dancing underwhelming. The good things first. Damn this was beautiful to watch. The way modern LA was blended with the Old Hollywood look was awesome. Gosling and Stone, while not the strongest singers and dancers, have charm and chemistry for days and they excelled in the acting portion of the movie, which was more important honestly. The singing and dancing were extra. Which is honestly why I found it a little bland possibly. I would be curious to hear this music sung by powerhouse Broadway singers. Everything in this movie sounded a little tinny. The only musical moment that truly forwarded the plot was Stone’s audition song, which was done nicely. She also got the chance to actually sing for the first time in the whole movie, instead of the whispery thing she was doing previously. The tap dance sequence on the hill was cute, but could have been spectacular. In this, it was just cute. So. Did I loathe this movie like some of my industry friends? No. I quite enjoyed it. But, I do think there was room for improvement.

7/10

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Lion

mv5bmja3njkznjg2mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdkymzgzmdi-_v1_uy268_cr00182268_al_A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family. (IMDb)

Nominations: Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Dev Patel), Supporting Actress (Nicole Kidman), Cinematography, Original Score, and Adapted Screenplay.

And, mark this as the first Oscar nominee I’ve seen this year that made me cry. Man, this is an emotional journey that spans 25 years. Sunny Pawar has such presence for being such a young kid. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s adorable as hell. It also really brought to life the issues that face millions of children across the world. Dev Patel was wonderful. He may be my front runner right now for best supporting actor. Nicole Kidman gave a wonderfully understated performance. She wasn’t in a whole lot of the movie, but every moment she was on screen, she commanded it. Rooney Mara, though her character was a tad unnecessary, was lovely. Overall, this was a beautiful movie. Beautifully written, beautifully acted, beautifully shot, just beautiful. Highly recommend.

9/10

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Manchester By The Sea

mv5bmtyxmjk0ndg4ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwodcynja5ote-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_An uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies. (IMDb)

Nominations: Best Picture, Leading Actor (Casey Affleck), Supporting Actor (Lucas Hedges), Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams), Directing (Kenneth Lonergan), and Original Screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan)

There’s a reason that the description was literally one sentence. Because that’s pretty much all this movie is. In an alternate reality, it reads; “Man doesn’t handle grief well for two hours.” Because that’s it. It’s dudes bottling up their grief instead of letting it out. Casey Affleck was fine, but I just didn’t find myself emotionally invested in his character, which you really should, especially once it’s revealed why he doesn’t live in town anymore. Michelle Williams, also good, but I’ll be honest, don’t know if she was in it enough for me for her to be up for a nomination. What I will say is I think Lucas Hedges is one to watch out for. I thought he did a wonderful job. Overall as a move though, to be honest? A little underwhelming.

6/10

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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