If this is a goal you have then the biggest piece of advice I can offer is to keep an eye on predictions. See as many of the predicted nominees as you can as they are released to theaters. Theaters don't always keep Oscar buzz movies long and you have to stay on top of it. Sometimes they are released to dvd prior to awards night...but sometimes they are in this weird limbo where the movie isn't out in theaters but also isn't out to rent. The KEY to our success has been to see as many as we can as they come out! We go a lot off the buzz and the Golden Globe nominees. But if you wait for the actual Oscar Nominations to be released to start? You will not have time or the ability to finish 'em all!
This year I was less involved in the process because, well, life has been slightly crazy. I'm SO thankful Katie is my movie partner in crime because she really was the one who made this possible this year. She kept up with all the predictions and we both kept an eye on local movie times. I kinda enjoyed that this year I had NO CLUE what the majority of the films were even about. It allowed me to just see the movie and experience the movie with very few expectations. I really liked it! I felt like I was able to watch the movies as they were intended to be scene rather than have a skewed opinion going into it based on previews or reviews of the film.
Here are all the Best Picture Nominees this year and my thoughts/predictions for each (listed in the order of which I saw them:
1. Manchester By the Sea: This was the year of REALLY sad movies. Like hardcore emotions that lead to some hardcore, ugly tears from me. Casey Affleck was phenomenal. Best Actor, easily. The emotions were real and raw and I love a good realistic film about real life and the struggles we face through it. My issue with this movie was that it had SO many possible ways to allow us to dig deeper and feel more connected to the characters and their lives and struggles. I feel like it barely scratched the service in a lot of ways. I also am a big believer in personal growth and I like to see growth in characters. If everything is just as it was...why make a movie about it? What's the point? Seeing character growth allows us as the viewer to examine our own paths and see areas in which we could also grow. Having characters with so much depth but not a lot of growth bothered me. It left me wanting so, so much more. Being SO sad and so intense it needed something positive, something leaving us hopeful for the characters and their futures. In that area, it fell flat. Still an excellent movie, but not a best picture winner in my book. I won't be mad if it wins, but I won't be jumping up and down about it either ;)
2. Fences: Fences is based on a play. I think if I'd known that going into the movie I would have better understood it. I instantly really, really liked the film. Denzel was amazing (sidenote: his mannerisms totally remind me of my FIL so I always joke that Denzel's name should be Rusy). He had SO much dialogue with no breaks that it was just super impressive that it all flowed so naturally from him. The few opening scenes were great. So often now movies have this huge political agenda and I didn't feel like this one did. It was interesting to see a different perspective of the racism going on in the 1950s. The father figure had the "white man kept me down" mentality and wasn't able to see that times were changing. He didn't allow his son to follow his own dreams because he didn't believe they'd be possible. I did not understand the turn the film took. Denzel's character was very likable and relatable and then it shifted to where he was supposed to be the one we didn't like. But then at the end we were supposed to want everyone to care about him. It was odd the way the film played with the viewers emotions in relation to the characters. I did think Viola Davis was amazing. Truly Denzel could win for best actor but I don't think he will. I also liked that the film had very few characters (again, because it's a play!). By the end of the movie I just wanted it to be over. It dragged on a good bit and wanted you to be emotionally invested when you just weren't anymore at that point. I wish Denzel's character would have been consistent across the film. Not an error on his acting but on the character he played. If we're supposed to like him, let us keep liking him. If we're supposed to hate him, let us hate him from the jump! It's not a movie I'd see again, but I did enjoy it and it's a good one to open up lots of discussions with about different cultures, family dynamics, and racial views from every perspective.
3. Hidden Figures: I was nervous going into Hidden Figures. I am very anti-all this politics in movies business that has now become the norm. It's so aggravating and makes it hard to just ENJOY a movie because you know you're being manipulated. Seeing this movie in previews I assumed it'd be a lot of "girl power" and a lot of racial issues and I just wasn't looking forward to having political agendas stuffed down my throat. BUT I will happily report I was mostly wrong ;) I LOVE that it is a true story and that they stuck as closely as they could to the true story. Who doesn't love a good real life victory movie? It was a feel good film and all the actresses were great. I do wish we'd been able to learn more about the supporting characters and have had it as a three lead movie rather than the lead and the supporting cast. I thought it handled racial issues beautifully. I love that it didn't paint all the white characters in a negative light. It was the 1960's and people were learning to knock down the racial walls that had been in place. It was a learning process and I appreciated how the film showed that the white characters were learning and growing and trying to adapt. I did not, however, like how exaggerated the film was in making all the men look so sexist and the women so superior. They worked at Nasa. How could there only possibly be ONE smart person there? The film made it look like these ladies were the only brains in the whole bunch! It is AWESOME what they did and the role they played in getting America into space, but that doesn't mean they are the ONLY ones who made it happen and I wish it would have been more realistic in showing that side of things. Overall it was great and totally worthy of the nomination. I also love that it's a VERY family friendly film! Rated PG which you just don't see anymore. My kids haven't seen it, but I would feel very comfortable with them watching it. I don't pick it to win, but it is one I'd highly recommend seeing!
4. La La Land: I went in with VERY high expectations. Katie and I saw the first three movies just us but made La La Land a girl's night and Casey, Robyn and Lindsay joined us for it. I assumed guys wouldn't want to see it because it's a musical. But my husband later informed me that he DOES want to see it b/c he enjoys musicals :) Love my cultured husband! Right away I was SUPER underwhelmed about it. So much buzz and this is it? The beginning was a song and it was extremely hard to understand what anyone was even singing and it just didn't seem to make sense at all as the start of a movie. Where Fences started strong then let me down, La La started weak then made me love it. Which is def the better way to be! It was fantastic. Once it got rolling it got GOOD and then once it got GOOD it got AMAZING. The ending was spot on perfection and I cried a good bit through it. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have amazing chemistry and realizing he was the one actually playing the piano the whole time made him even more amazing. It is different than the normal movies out now. I loved the musical element. I loved the story it told. I loved the way it made me feel and left me feeling at the end. It was well written, well acted, well directed, and just straight up well done. Lindsay is obsessed with the soundtrack but honestly I was underwhelmed with the songs. The story was enough to make me love it...but I didn't have any of the music lingering in my ears. It was my pic for best picture for a LONG time. I do think it'll probably win. But I don't think it should. I also don't think Ryan Gosling should win Best Actor. He was good. But he was VERY Ryan Gosling. I also adore Emma Stone...but she was Emma Stone. They were great in the roles because they were basically playing similar characters that they always play! See it if you haven't...and take your husband because it may turn out he likes musicals too ;)
5. Hell or High Water: Every year there are a few randoms tossed into the mix and this one felt like the random for 2017. It's about brothers who are bank robbers. And it's nominated for Best Picture? I didn't even think Jeff Bridges was that fabulous and he's nominated for Best Supporting Actor? Chris Pine was too pretty for the role and Ben Foster was just not funny but was supposed to be? It seemed oddly cast to me. It was one I will tell Zach to watch once it's on Netflix but is one I literally keep forgetting I even saw. NOTHING can be as bad as last year's random nominee Fury Road...Hell or High Water WAS a decent movie. Great ending. Could have had a lot more meat to the story throughout. But a good movie. Just not Best Picture worthy. I think it's one MOST people would enjoy seeing through and a good one to watch with the hubby :)
6. Moonlight: This is my second least favorite of the nominees. I will give a shout out to my boy Remy from House of Cards...being in TWO Best Picture Nominees is pretty epic and be nominated for Best Supporting Actor is awesome (he may even win it for his role in this film)! This is one that I had NO CLUE what it was about going into it. It is clearly more of a "indie" movie and had that gritty feel to it throughout. I thought it touched on a lot of interesting topics. I liked how it showed us what life is like for kids who live in tough urban areas and whose parents are involved in drugs. It's something that is happening all around us and ached my heart to see the child in such a tough spot. I felt like that storyline could have been enough for the movie. It was the more interesting storyline for me personally and I was less interested in the boy's sexual orientation and how that played out. I thought that portion of it was kinda odd. WAY too many long sexual tension scenes. It was uncomfortable and I kept wondering how the older woman who was in the theater solo was feeling about those scenes. I felt like they were just too long, too drawn out, and too much forced tension for the viewer. It made it all less authentic and made it seem more of a political push of agenda than a natural love. I would have liked to see more of the supporting characters in the movie as both Mahershala Ali (Remy!) and Janelle Monae (also in Hidden Figures and SO GORGEOUS right?) were incredible and I don't feel like had a strong enough film presence. I see why it was nominated, but I will be upset if it wins. I know it won the Globe for Best Drama Film so I know it's a front runner for the Oscars.
7. Lion: I knew it had to do with adoption. And I was nervous to see if because of that. I didn't know how it'd make me feel and WHEW I could have NEVER anticipated the amount of emotion. Katie and Casey saw it with me (our last in-theater movie and I'm SO glad we got to see it in theaters!) and all three of us were a hot mess of tears. SEVERAL times. And all agreed we felt like we needed further, harder, crying once we got home. Katie said this is one of the best films she's ever seen her entire life. And I agree. Every single character is so well done and so fully explored. You feel emotionally connected to every one of them and cry true tears for each as well. The film was SO beautifully done. From start to finish. There were a few times it dragged a bit, but overall it couldn't have been done more beautifully. Acting was spot on. Nicole Kidman was phenomenal and I'd love to see her win for Best Supporting Actress and Dev Patel also is deserving as Best Supporting Actor. Y'all he has some swag too and we all found ourselves attracted to him! When I left this film I immediately thought of all the people I wanted to sit and watch it with. I want EVERYONE to see this movie. I can't say enough how amazing it is. And it's a true story which only makes it that much more incredible. In today's culture movies have become less about story telling and entertaining and touching our souls and more about politics. This movie takes it back to what movies SHOULD be. It left us all feeling changed in some way and stuck with us long after it ended. I know it probably won't win Best Picture, but it really SHOULD win it.
8. Arrival: I had low expectations of this film because it's about aliens. I just kinda assume that there will always be an space movie and a war movie nominated haha I love Amy Adams (hello, Enchanted!) and it was one we were able to rent on Redbox so Zach watched it with us. That all def worked out great this year as Zach only watched this and one other movie and both of the ones he watched were ones he had the chance of liking. Several of the others would have left him annoyed (he's picky about his endings haha). I thought this was great! It was interesting and told a different story than the typical "aliens are coming to Earth" tale. I did think it was some odd choices of time periods the film focused on. It was slow to get rolling then BAM! skipped a bunch of stuff. I also thought the ending was too neat and spelled out for us (it's the kind of ending Zach prefers though haha) Zach said the more he thought on it in the days after seeing it, the less he liked it. I thought it was good. I don't like Jeremy Renner at all and this didn't change that opinion for me either. I grew up LOVING X-Files and this was a VERY X-Files movie so a lot of my enjoyment of it is probably nostalgia but I did really enjoy it! Again, not win worthy but I'm okay with it being nominated (and agree in the lack of nominations for either Jeremy nor Amy). I think MOST people would at least enjoy seeing this movie! Even if you're not really "into" movies, it's a good watch!
9. Hacksaw Ridge: This is the only one I didn't see with Katie this year! It just came out on Redbox Tuesday and the Oscars are this Sunday. Our schedules didn't sync up so Zach and I watched it last night. Again, low expectations. Actually my expectation was to fall asleep. I don't like long, epic war films. Boringggggg. But yall this was NOT that. At ALL. It was perfectly balanced with back story, character building, and war scenes. It never dragged. Never felt boring. Never had a moment where I struggled to stay awake. Another true story and another film done so beautifully. It is my favorite along with Lion. It stuck with me and actually caused me more tears after it ended than during it. While I may not agree with the stance the main character took for his beliefs, I love that he stood so strongly by them. As a parent I watch this film and think about my son (and son-to-be). THIS is the type of man I want to raise. The type that stands firm on his convictions, doesn't swim like like a salmon downstream. The type that stands up in times of adversity and prays to God through it all and trusts Him to guide all of his decisions. Zach went into the movie knowing more what it was about and had thought he'd hate it. A dude goes to war and won't touch a gun? He expected to be annoyed by the plot the entire film, but he agreed with me and also loved it. I thought Vince Vaughn was a PERFECT cast (just the right amount of laughter which was needed in the movie at that time!). I am not an Andrew Garfield fan (zero percent cute, right?) but he was also extremely perfect. And I didn't realize the whole thing was done by Mel Gibson either. I actually didn't know about the Christian elements of it prior to seeing it and I'm glad I didn't because it allowed me to really feel so deeply when those elements came about. It's SO awesome to see a film give GOD the glory and be honored by the Academy. I know it won't win. But man it's be AWESOME if it did! I'd LOVE to see Mel Gibson take home Best Director as it'd be well deserved as well. This is a movie I believe everyone should see. It allows us to take a deeper look at ourselves, our faith, and the legacy we leave behind.
Best Picture: Gah I loved Lion and Hacksaw Ridge so, so much that either to me is deserving. Lion would be my #1 choice though!
What Will Win: La-La Land. No way would the Academy pick an adoption movie or a faith based movie as Best Picture (still rooting for it to happen though!).
Ideally I'd like see all of the Best Actor/Actress/Director films too but simply wasn't able to tackle that this year. I hate to predict any winners or even say who I'd choose since I haven't seen all the films nominated in those categories. Of the ones I have seen though I'd personally choose Casey Affleck or Denzel for Best Actor (I think Casey will win it). Emma Stone is the only performance I've seen for Best Actress and I don't know if she's deserving and it's also hard to say without being able to compare. I do REALLY want to see Natalie Portman in Jackie. Of course we never got it in Valdosta though (insert eye roll here). Dev from Lion totes deserves Best Actor in Supporting but I'd be equally happy to see Remy win :) I actually saw all the Supporting Actress films...I'd choose Nicole Kidman but know Viola will take it home and I'm not bitter ;) It was a great directing year too...I really am interested to see who wins that one! Manchester or Hacksaw are my choices for that but La La will prob win it too. Usually Best Picture and Best Director are one in the same!
I will also toss in that I'd prefer to see Moana win over Zootopia. I loved Zootopia as a cartoon and as a storyline taken only from the actual storyline. All the political undertones though? So. Annoying. Moana was awesome! We've only seen it once and we are all super obsessed with it and Zach and I wake up every morning with songs from the soundtrack already stuck in our heads ;)
I can't wait to see the winners this Sunday! Which are your top picks?