Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Moonlight

I am very excited to tell you all that Nathaniel over at the Film Experience is bringing back the Hit Me with Your Best Shot series! This is a really fun series where he picks a film and then any bloggers who want to participate pick one screenshot that he or she feels best captures the film in question. I have really enjoyed participating when I can (content and time leave me out of a few of them) and I would encourage all of you to join in. It’s really neat to see what shots others pick. You can see my entire series so far here.

So, the choice to bring back the series is the recent Academy Award winner Moonlight. I did a mini-review of this film but never did a full blog post. At the time I gave it an A- and now I have seen it 3 times and I stand by that grade.

Moonlight is a tremendous film that allows you to walk around in the life of a gay black boy/man named Chiron. It is divided into 3 acts- Little (child), Chiron (teen) and Black (adult).  Chiron faces many challenges including poverty brought on by a crack-addicted mother. Of course, he also has sexuality that is not welcome in his community and an innate shyness that makes it hard for him to open up to others.

As we walk through the life of Chrion we see joyous moments where he connects with a man named Juan and his girlfriend Teresa. Juan teaches him how to swim and to avoid bitterness and anger at his mother. Then in the teen years Chiron develops a relationship with a schoolmate named Kevin. This is handled with tact, poignancy and devastation when he is eventually betrayed.

The final act has Kevin and Chiron reuniting and this was the only issue I had with the movie. Up until that point everything had been so vivid and realistic and I just didn’t buy these two men would come back together like they do. It honestly felt a little bit cloying when it should have felt empowering after all Chiron has been through. It’s not awful but just what separated an A and an A- for me.

All of the acting is amazing in Moonlight including Oscar winner Mahershala Ali and nominee Naomie Harris. The cinematography is intimate and beautiful and the music is perfect. I might even like the score better than the La La Land score.

For me the second act was the most moving. I guess because I have been bullied I related to it quite strongly and the highs and lows in that segment were very moving. I think Ashton Sanders as Teen Chiron should have gotten more praise for his performance because he is asked to go more places and show a variety of emotions.

So, now to my best shot. Because I loved the second act most I picked this shot of Chiron practically looking at the camera desperate for a way out. It’s like he is calling out to the audience to save him and I wish that I could…

Overall Grade- A- and definitely smile worthy

Your Name in Theaters this Weekend

This weekend the anime film Your Name comes to US theaters. This was my favorite film of 2016 and I saw nearly 150 releases. But don’t take my word for it. I compiled this video of a bunch of youtubers talking about why it is so special.

And here is my original review:

At least by me Your Name is getting a pretty big roll-out and is in 4 theaters, so hopefully that is emblematic of other places across the country. If not ask your local theater to carry it. This actually can make a big difference. I communicate with my local theater all the time about releases I want to see and more often than not they end up getting them if only for one weekend.

Your Name is the kind of film that doesn’t happen very often. It has layers of enjoyment. It’s funny, sweet, tragic, exciting and everything else. The animation is stunning and it’s one that gets better each time I watch it.

If you can please see it and support it.

2017 Animated Oscars: Did the Right Film Win?

Today I continued on my annual web series looking at the animated Oscars and asking- Did the right film win?

In 2017 it is a tricky question because they are all good films. 4 of the films I love and made my top 16 of the year and 1 My Life as a Zucchini I admire greatly. This makes determining what is the correct winner difficult because they all have different strengths.

Kubo and the 2 Strings- This was a stunning film from Liaka about a boy who goes on a journey to find relic from his father’s mysterious past. The stop motion is incredible and I loved Kubo as a character. When he would smile it would make me smile. They should have ended it just a hair sooner and it would have been even better but I still really loved it.

My Life as a Zucchini- An import from Switzerland, this stop motion film I have mixed feelings on. It is impeccably made but I found the cruelty to children hard to stomach. It’s a bold film and I respect that but it was tough to watch and with such cute character designs I found that tough to absorb.

Moana- A quest movie if I’ve ever seen one. Moana will go down as one of the great Disney princesses. She is bold but still cares for her people, which is what inspires her to sail. I love her. I love the songs. I love the story

Zootopia- Amazing world building, great characters, and a hilarious script make this movie work so well. I loved Judy and Nick as characters and love that we have a new modern-day fable for kids

Red Turtle- Stunning animated film with no dialogue about a man on a deserted island. The story is less important than the amazing visuals and music but it still works well.  The visual and musical experience blew me away.

So did the right film win? Well, if you are judging just based on my personal preference I would say no. Moana is my favorite of the 5. Red Turtle is objectively the best but Zootopia is still a very worthy winner, so I am glad for it.  What a great year for animation 2016 turned out to be!

If you could like and subscribe to the video above that would awesome. Thanks!

Lion Review

lion3Tonight I had the chance to see the Oscar nominated film Lion again and I loved it all over again. After I finished it occurred to me I never actually reviewed the film on my blog or channel. I got sick right around when I saw it and somehow it just never got done. It’s a shame because Lion is absolutely one of my favorite movies of 2016 (made my top 10 of the year) and a film you should check out while it is still in theaters.

lion-sunny-pawarYou can kind of divide Lion into 2 parts. The first part is about a little boy named Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives with his Mother and family (particularly his brother Guddu) in a secluded village in India.

One day while waiting for Guddu to finish work he wanders onto a train and ends up days away from his family with no way to communicate who they are or where he is from. He then becomes one of the many lost children of India and these scenes are the most powerful of the movie.

One scene in particular moved me when he is treated kindly by someone but must realize just in the nick of time they have ulterior motives. When he runs away I wanted to cheer him on! All of these scenes are so well filmed by first time director Garth Davis. You feel the panic of the crowds and the confusion of little Saroo.

lion5Sunny Pawar is also phenomenal as Saroo. If he had gotten nominated over Dev Patel I wouldn’t have complained. He’s that great in the role.

Eventually he gets the opportunity to be adopted by a family in Tasmania played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman. The scenes where he and his brother are assimilated into their new family are handled so beautifully. I think anyone who has experienced adoption will respond to their authenticity and raw emotional power.  Nicole Kidman is especially great as the mother who chose adoption as an opportunity to love more.

lion6Next we get to the second part of the film where Saroo is Dev Patel and he is a grown man starting hospitality training. While there he learns about Google Earth and begins a hunt to find his family in India.

Dev Patel is great as the adult Saroo (and very hunky I must say) and the screenplay does a wonderful job showing the ache a lost child might feel as a grown up. He yearns to reassure his brother and Mother that he is ok. At first his efforts are fruitless and he becomes kind of obsessed with it.

The whole time he is searching he worries his Mother and Father might see this as a betrayal, or that he is ungrateful for all they have done. I thought this was handled with such subtlety- capturing the feelings of many adopted children without sensationalizing or making adoption the enemy (I really believe in adoption advocacy if you didn’t know).

lion2The one part that doesn’t work that well in this section is Saroo’s relationship with Lucy played by Rooney Mara. They just didn’t have great chemistry and she felt extraneous to the core plot. But it is really my only big flaw with the film.

When I first saw Lion I loved it and have been surprised to hear some call it “Oscar bait”. I hate this term as I feel it is a way of criticizing films with ambition.  It’s similar to those who criticize the smart girl in class for studying too hard. Even if you use the term, I don’t think Lion qualifies. It’s just a movie with a great story, performances, cinematography, music and script. It’s the total package. Both times I’ve seen it I was completely absorbed and emotionally moved.

The fact it is a true story makes it even better. Rarely in Hollywood do we get a movie about genuinely good people who aren’t addicts or abusers. This is none of that. Both the family in India and Tasmania are good people that face challenges I could relate and empathize with. I thought it was all handled so beautifully that I can’t wait to own Lion on blu-ray.

Once again, I can’t believe this is Garth Davis’ first movie. What a tremendous accomplishment! I can’t wait to see what else he makes in his career.

If you want to see a movie about the triumph of a family, a beautiful soul and an incredible story watch Lion. It’s so good. I LOVED it!

Overall Grade- A (not A+ just because of the girlfriend part  but I loved this movie).

Oscar Predictions and New Blog Series Poll

86th Annual Academy Awards - Red CarpetHey guys! So the Oscars are coming up next week and so I thought I would share my predictions and what I would pick if it was left up to just me. I don’t plan on watching this year because I think all of the political speeches will be completely insufferable and I don’t think Jimmy Kimmel is funny. I’ll just find out winners online.

Also, I realized I haven’t done a series on this blog for a long time. I was so overwhelmed with my Disney Canon Project over on my youtube channel last year that aside from the monthly blindspot picks I let that slide. I want to make sure to always provide content for both my channel and blog, so I am interested in doing another series. I have a poll so please vote on what you would like me to write about:

Anyway, here are my predictions/picks. Also I warn you I am notoriously awful at this. I have seen almost everything except for no documentary shorts, Elle and a couple docs/foreign films.

Best Picture- Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Winner- La La Land. My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Best Director- Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Winner- Damien Chazelle (La La Land). My Pick- Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)

Best Actor- Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Denzel Washington (Fences)

Winner- Denzel Washington (Fences), My Pick- Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actress- Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Winner- Isabelle Huppert (Elle), My Pick- Ruth Negga (Loving)  (I have not seen Elle but my gut tells me they will go with the veteran who had 2 critically lauded films this year)

Best Supporting Actor- Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges in (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges ((Manchester by the Sea)), Dev Patel (Lion), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Winner- Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), My Pick- Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)

Best Supporting Actress- Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Winner- Viola Davis (Fences), My Pick- Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Original Screenplay- Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women

I have not seen 20th Century Women.

Winner- Manchester by the Sea (please, please, please. La La Land does not deserve best screenplay!) My Pick- Hell or High Water

Best Adapted Screenplay- Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight,

Winner- Moonlight, My Pick- Moonlight 

Best Animated Film- Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, Zootopia

Winner- Zootopia, My Pick- Moana

Best Foreign Language Film- Land of Mine, A Man Called Ove, The Salesman, Tanna, Toni Erdmann

Winner- Toni Erdmann, My Pick- (Only one I’ve seen) A Man Called Ove

Best Documentary- Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, Life Animated, OJ Made in America, 13th

I haven’t seen Fire at Sea but seen the rest.

Winner- OJ Made in America, My Pick- Life Animated

Documentary Shorts- Extremis, 4.1 Miles, Joe’s Violin, Watani: My Homeland, The White Helmets

I haven’t seen any of these shorts but the one I hear the most buzz about is Joe’s Violin

Live Action Short- Ennemis interieurs, La Femme et le TGV, Silent Nights, Sing, Timecode

Winner- Silent Nights, My Pick- Sing

Animated Short- Blind Vaysha, Borrowed Time, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl, Piper

Winner- Pearl, My Pick- Piper

Best Score- Jackie, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Passengers

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Moonlight

Best Original Song- Audition (La La Land), Can’t Stop the Feeling (Trolls), City of Stars (La La Land), Empty Chair (Jim: The James Foley Story), How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Winner- City of Stars (La La Land), My Pick- How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Best Sound Editing- Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Sully

Winner- Hacksaw Ridge, My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Mixing- Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One, 13 Hours

Winner- Hacksaw Ridge, My Pick- 13 Hours

Production Design- Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail Caesar, La La Land, Passengers

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Cinematography- Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Silence

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Lion

Make Up- A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad

Winner- Star Trek Beyond, My Pick- Star Trek Beyond

Costume Design- Allied, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land

Winner- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, My Pick- Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Film Editing- Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Visual Effects- Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Jungle Book, Kubo and the 2 Strings

Winner- Jungle Book, My Pick- Jungle Book

So there you have it! Hope you enjoy my predictions. What do you think of them? And thanks for voting in the poll

2016 Rachies Awards

Well, my friends, the Oscars are coming up and most likely they will get a few things right but most things wrong. I don’t know if I’m even going to watch this year because the political speeches are going to be so obnoxious. Instead, I would like to point you to a much better annual awards offering- the Rachies. Yes, for the last 3 years I have given my nominations and winners for the best of the year. I include all the categories from the Oscars but then offer a few of my own into the mix. So, sit back and enjoy the 2016 Rachies Awards!

Best Animated Film-

your-name-2Moana

Your Name

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Live Action Film-

sing-streetHacksaw Ridge

Sing Street

Love and Friendship

Lion

Things to Come

Best Directing-

lion-sunny-pawar

Mel Gibson- Hacksaw Ridge

Barry Jenkins- Moonlight

Ron Clements and John Musker- Moana

David Mackenzie- Hell or High Water

Garth Davis- Lion

Makoto Shinkai- Your Name

Most Underrated/Underseen

april2

Presenting Princess Shaw

Tower

April and the Extraordinary World

Ethel and Ernest

London Road

Best Animated Short

piper disney pixar finalFoxed

Piper

Inner Workings

Borrowed Time

Pearl

Best Actress in Leading Role

fences-movie35

Isabelle Huppert- Things to Come

Kate Beckinsale- Love and Friendship

Viola Davis- Fences

Ruth Negga- Loving

Rebecca Hall- Christine

Best Actor in Leading Role

sullyCasey Affleck- Manchester By the Sea

Tom Hanks- Sully

Denzel Washington- Fences

Taron Egerton- Eddie the Eagle

Rolf Lassgard- A Man Called Ove

Best Supporting Actress-queen-of-katwe-scene

Chloe Sevigny- Love and Friendship

Nicole Kidman- Lion

Taraji P Henson- Hidden Figures

Lupita Nyong’o- Queen of Katwe

Michelle Williams- Manchester by the Sea

Best Supporting Actorjack-reynor

Ashton Sanders- Moonlight

Jack Reynor- Sing Street

Tom Bennett- Love and Friendship

John Goodman- 10 Cloverfield Lane

Chris Pine- Hell or High Water

Best Ensemble Filmhacksaw-ridge-ensemble

Hidden Figures

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Captain America: Civil War

Everybody Wants Some

Best Voice Actingzootopia100

Auli’i Cravalho and The Rock- Moana

Jim Broadbent and Blenda Blethyn- Ethel and Ernest

Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman- Zootopia

Ellen Degeneres- Finding Dory

Art Parkinson- Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Production Designallied2

Rogue One

Allied

Passengers

La La Land

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Visual EffectsTHE JUNGLE BOOK

A Monster Calls

Pete’s Dragon

Jungle Book

Doctor Strange

The BFG

Best Documentary

tower2

Presenting Princess Shaw

Tower

Life, Animated

OJ Made in America

The Eagle Huntress

Best Costumesdressmaker6

Florence Foster Jenkins

Love and Friendship

The Dressmaker

Cafe Society

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Best Makeup and Hairjackie2

Star Trek Beyond

The Dressmaker

Jackie

Nocturnal Animals

Allied

Best Editinghacksaw-ridge-poster-part

13 Hours

The Shallows

Hacksaw Ridge

Nocturnal Animals

Hell or High Water

Best Cinematographyhunt-for-wilderpeople

Lion

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Knight of Cups

La La Land

Pete’s Dragon

Best Original Score

La La Land

Moana

The Red Turtle

Your Name

Moonlight

Best Original Song

How Far I’ll Go- Moana

You’re Welcome- Moana

Drive it Like You Stole It- Sing Street

Up- Sing Street

Sparkle- Your Name

Best Original Screenplayhell-or-highwater

Things to Come

Sing Street

Hell or High Water

Everybody Wants Some

Manchester By the Sea

Your Name

Best Adapted Screenplaylove and friendship2

Lion

Fences

Moonlight

Love and Friendship

Queen of Katwe

Best Sound Design and Mixing

13-hoursRogue One

Hacksaw Ridge

13 Hours

Patriot’s Day

Allied

Biggest Surprise

10_cloverfield_lane_paramount_winstead-0-0Hell or High Water

10 Cloverfield Lane

Pete’s Dragon

Hidden Figures

Bridget Jones Baby

So that is my Rachies Awards!  I hope you enjoyed them. Please let me know what you think in the comments section and check out some of these movies if you haven’t had a chance!

Why I Hated Silence

silence2One of the myths I hear from time to time is that only a certain kind of movie can be a terrible film. That only the Norm of the Norths or Nut Jobs of the world can be awful. No, my friends. Glossy, well made movies can still be garbage. And at least for me Martin Scorsese’s passion project Silence was that kind of film. I hated Silence more than almost any film in recent memory. I was so close to walking out and I probably should have. Let me try and explain why…Spoilers ahead.

missionIt is perhaps helpful to give a little bit of my personal life experience in giving this review. After all, we can not completely separate our experiences from how we interpret a film. I served a mission for my church from 2003-2005 in Indianapolis, Indiana. While certainly nothing like what the fathers face in Silence it was intense in its own way. Separation of family and friends was challenging but what carried me through it was a love of the people I was serving and the message.

This is the biggest problem with Silence. Never once did I get a feeling from the priests that they loved the people or even the message that much. The Adam Driver character gives us a little bit of that and he dies for the people but this is such a small part of the movie. The scene that really made me the most angry was when Christian Japanese are tortured and even crucified the two priests literally watch from a distance and do nothing for 4 days!!! There is no way anyone of that kind of religious mission would do that. It felt totally cold and inauthentic to me. Even if staring is the wiser thing to do they wouldn’t do it. There’s just no way.

I never felt that Andrew Garfield’s character loved the people he was serving and that brings me to my next biggest problem. The main point of the film seemed to be that missionary work and faith is mostly ego. This is helped by the fact that no love is shown for the people and so the reason he doesn’t apostatize is all about him. His pride is more important than anything else. This is not like A Man for All Seasons where a man of faith refuses to deny what he knows is right.  We understood a communion between God and Thomas Moore in that film. He was doing that for the people. I never felt that here. Silence seemed like a real condemnation of those who have the ego to share their witness with others.

silenceAnd maybe that was what Scorsese was going for? As an active Catholic I don’t understand why he would want to send that message but whatever (I am completely baffled at why he would make this movie as his passion project). A cynical message is fine but does he have to ram it into our heads with a sledge hammer? This brings me to my next complaint. In my eyes the film is torture porn. We get scene after scene of brutal extended torture of Christians and for what? The priest doesn’t love these people so why do we need to see this repeatedly? Each time we see these scenes it only added to the condemnation of the priest for his selfish choices and ego.

If you look at a movie like The Mission they feel similar on its surface but that film was full of hope. The priests in that story loved and suffered with the people. This was just unending torture of Christians because a Western visitor wouldn’t let go of his pride. There was no hope. No sense of a communion with God to give strength or peace.  As the title would suggest, God is in fact silent throughout the film. Even if you don’t believe in God it defies credulity to accept that such a man would not hear God’s message and be strengthened by Him. There are moments where he talks to God but the silence is all the more damning.

Again if Scorsese was trying to make a film condemning religion and God that is one thing but he doesn’t even do that well. It’s just a repetitive slog that gets some kind of pleasure out of the torture of innocent people. This movie is almost 3 hours and for the life of me I will never understand what we are supposed to gain from these torture scenes. Exhaustion doesn’t begin to describe how I felt at them. I wanted to scream out at the screen- WHAT IS THIS ALL FOR!!!!

Who are these people? We don’t even know them.  All we know is they believed but why and what does it matter if our lead character doesn’t have a relationship with them? It’s literally just torture porn and where is the enlightenment there?

Did I mention the movie is almost 3 hours long? I LOVE long movies. I recently saw Lawrence of Arabia and was completely engrossed with the amazing characters and story. I love Ben Hur, Boyhood, 10 Commandments and many other long films. But there is long and there are movies that feel long. Like I said this is just a repetitive slog that wallows in the worst of human nature.

The movie does  look nice but the whole time I kept feeling like saying ‘we get it. You like Kurosawa. Move on…” It was so obviously aping the films of the Japanese master that it became annoying. Kurosawa made long films but his characters were deep with a clear focus to why they needed to be in the film. For example, Katsushirō in Seven Samurai has layers to his character we never see in Father Rodrigues. Not even close.

When he does finally apostatize he immediately becomes an agent against the Christians, which is not surprising since he never seemed to love them to begin with. Again, it was all about his pride not his faith, which with the torture shown makes him a completely awful person. He is told apostatizing is just a formality but clearly it is not because I never got the sense that he got much hope or peace from God to begin with. Yes, I understand he is buried with a cross but that doesn’t mean he was a believer or someone who showed his belief by LOVING THE PEOPLE! Faith should be love. Faith should be hope.

You could make the claim that Father Rodrigues is a martyr for the faith but like I said with the Thomas Moore example I never felt he had an conviction or testimony beyond the mere reciting of scripture from time to time. If he believes through the end of his life than show some degree of hope or peace or something from that belief. It’s not enough to just have a cross in your hand. FAITH WITHOUT HOPE IS NOTHING!!!  How can Scorsese fail to realize this? If faith can’t give you light in dark times than what good is it?

It was at best about a man abandoned by God, which could be a compelling narrative but not one I need to see combined with the torture of Christians for 3 hours…

As I watched the movie my anger grew bit by bit but I kept hoping there would be some kind of redemption for the characters and movie. Alas, it never did and I was just left having a miserable experience. I just can’t overstate how much I hated it. It was manipulative, unfeeling, exploitative junk.

If you liked it than more power to you. This is my blog and I did not.

Overall Grade- F

Also it has some of the worst bald caps I’ve ever seen. The cinematography is nice but very repetitive and derivative of other films. Nothing too spectacular. Ugh..this movie!

Oscar Nomination Reactions

86th Annual Academy Awards - Red CarpetSo the Oscar nominations are in and for the most part I am pleased. Here is my quick response to the various categories:

Best Picture-Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

I’ve seen all of the nominees and think they are all deserving of recognition. Probably biggest surprise is Fences as it doesn’t have the feel of a typical Oscar movie. I’m very happy to see Hidden Figures and Lion get recognized. I thought they might get snubbed. I guess in my dream world an animated film would sneak in there for best picture. It was such a strong animation year. Oh well!

Best Director- Damien Chazelle for La La Land, Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge, Barry Jenkins for Moonlight, Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea and Denis Villeneuve for Arrival

No real problem with any of these nominees. All good films. I am surprised that Hollywood nominated Mel Gibson. I mean I loved the Hacksaw Ridge but didn’t think the Academy was ready to embrace Mel again

Actor- Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea, Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge, Ryan Gosling in La La Land, Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic, Denzel Washington in Fences

Haven’t seen Captain Fantastic but no problem with these nominees.

Actress- Isabelle Huppert in Elle, Ruth Negga in Loving, Natalie Portman in Jackie, Emma Stone in La La Land and Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins

I haven’t seen Elle but I loved Isabelle Huppert so much in Things to Come that I am happy she was nominated. I hope she wins. I do think Meryl got nominated because of her golden globe speech but she is fantastic in Florence Foster Jenkins. A lot of people criticizing that nomination probably haven’t seen the movie. I do think Amy Adams deserved to be nominated for her fine work in 2016

Supporting Actor- Mahershala Ali in Moonlight, Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water, Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea, Dev Patel in Lion, Michael Shannon in Nocturnal Animals.

I kind of wish Kyle Chandler had been nominated for Manchester over Lucas Hedges but he is good (Frozen chicken scene alone deserved that nom). I’m thrilled to see Dev Patel for Lion even though the kid actor was probably better. He was great in Lion. Jeff Bridges was fantastic in Hell or High Water. Mahershala Ali great in Moonlight and Michael Shannon was best thing in Nocturnal Animals.

Supporting Actress- Viola Davis in Fences, Naomie Harris in Moonlight, Nicole Kidman in Lion, Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures, Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea

A very strong category. I loved all of these performances. Viola for the win!

Original Screenplay- 20th Century Women, Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea

I liked La La Land but I can probably think of 30 movies that had better screenplays than it in 2016. I have not seen 20th Century Women and don’t plan to until I can rent it because of their planned parenthood donation marketing. No thank you!

Adapted Screenplay- Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight

Only real loss to me is Love and Friendship. It actually improved upon a Jane Austen novel. How many movies can say that? I mean of all the things to praise Arrival for the screenplay wouldn’t be one of them…

Animated Film- Kubo and the 2 Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, Red Turtle, Zootopia.

This is of course the big one for this blog! If I had it my way I would take out Zucchini and put in Your Name but these are all good films deserving of recognition.

Sound Editing- Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Sully.

All deserving but I think I would swap out La La Land and put in Patriot’s Day or Rogue One.

Visual Effects- Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, Jungle Book, Kubo and the 2 Strings, Rogue One

A little surprised Deepwater Horizon got a nomination as I don’t remember the visual effects being that great. I think they were better in Arrival or even Batman v Superman (yes I know but visually it was cool).  But Kubo and the 2 Strings getting visual effects nomination is huge!!!

Film Editing- Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight.

This one should go to Hacksaw Ridge if there is any justice but they are all worthy nominees and were edited well.

Short Film Animated- Blind Vaysha, Borrowed Time, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl and Piper

I’ve only seen Borrowed Time and Piper but excited to see the rest! I love this category. I sort of wish Inner Workings had been nominated as I loved that short and its message.

Original Score- Jackie, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Passengers

Surprised to see Passengers get in there but I enjoyed that score (but is it better than Moana?). I did not like the score in Jackie. In fact, I found it overbearing and annoying, so I don’t get that one…

Original Song- Audition from La La Land, Can’t Stop the Feeling from Trolls, City of Stars from La La Land, The Empty Chair from Jim: the James Foley Story, How Far I’ll Go from Moana

This is the category of heartbreak. No nomination for Drive it Like You Stole it from Sing Street. 😦  That Empty Chairs song better be amazing…I hope the La La Land songs divide the vote and Lin Manuel wins for Moana giving him the EGOT. Plus, How Far I’ll Go is by far best song out of these nominees.

Production Design- Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail, Caesar!, La La Land, Passengers

No problem with any of these nominees. All fantastic production design.

Cinematography- Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Silence

Happy to see Lion included with its amazing cinematography. I haven’t seen Silence yet but it looks like great cinematography.

Costumes- Allied, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land.

The real crime here is no nomination for The Dressmaker, which had costumes that were works of art. Literally they had a traveling museum exhibit of the costumes they were so beautiful.  These were all good but nowhere near The Dressmaker. Also Love and Friendship had fantastic costumes.

Makeup- A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad

This category is always very weird. Haven’t seen Ove but I can think of a ton of movies that had better makeup than Suicide Squad. I mean I hated it but Miss Peregrine’s was better than Suicide Squad in that department…Could Star Trek Beyond win an Oscar? Seems clear choice

Documentary- 13th, Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, Life, Animated, OJ: Made in America

I think it is a stretch that the 8 hour OJ series is deemed as a movie but whatever. It’s good and so is 13th. I haven’t seen two of the nominees but am thrilled Life, Animated got nominated. Well deserved! I’m a little surprised Weiner didn’t get nominated.

Sound Mixing- La La Land, Hacksaw Ridge, Rogue One, Arrival, 13 Hours

I’m actually happy to see 13 Hours get nominated for this category. I think that was an underrated film in 2016 and glad to see it get nominated for something. These are all good sound mixing films. No problem here.

So there you have it. Biggest snubs for me are Love and Friendship and Sing Street getting nothing and The Dressmaker not getting best costumes. Biggest surprise is Kubo and the Two Strings for visual effects and all the love for Lion. Yay!

La La Land is now tied with All About Eve and Titanic for Oscar nominations which it’s a fun film but nowhere near All About Eve in my opinion. Oh well. It’s good film so whatever.

What did you think of the Oscar nominations? What did you think was snubbed? What surprised you?

Ranking Animation 2016

Hey guys! So on Saturday I finally got to see My Life as a Zucchini which means I have seen pretty much every animated film of 2016 except for Sausage Party (couldn’t stomach content on that one). This means it is time for me to do my ranking of these animated films. I made the video above which is long but I hope you all enjoy it. This was such a strong year for animation that nearly 30 films got a B grade or higher. Pretty great!

So here is my ranking of the animated films from 2016-

  1. Your Name- stunning anime film that starts out being light and funny but then turns into a powerful scifi story
  2. Moana- classic Disney magic with an Odyssey story and a wonderful lead character with great songs
  3. The Red Turtle- dialogue free but beautiful film about a man who shipwrecks and finds that nature has plans for him.  Amazing music
  4. Zootopia- a return of Disney fables with a wonderful lead character, world building and stirring message
  5. Tower- amazing animated documentary about a sniper attack in 1966. Relevant, moving and different than I’ve seen before
  6. Kubo and the Two Strings- stunning animation and a wonderful lead character that made me smile whenever I saw him
  7. Only Yesterday- this 1991 film finally got released in US. Beautiful animation and I love the kid parts so much to make up for the preachy adult parts
  8. Kung fu Panda 3- my favorite of the series. Beautiful animation and loved adoption message and Po learning to become a teacher
  9. April and the Extraordinary World- stunning steampunk film with a new and surprising story
  10. Ethel and Ernest- lovely portrait of a couple and their marriage and life. Great vocal performances and sweet animation.
  11. Finding Dory- tons of heart as we see Dory find her parents. They did some unique things and it made me laugh more than most Pixar films
  12. My Life as a Zucchini- one I am still pondering. A very unusual film but great animation with powerful moments
  13. Phantom Boy- a refreshingly small superhero story with beautiful cubist inspired animation
  14. Jungle Book- amazing realistic visuals and an improved ending/Mowgli character over original. The songs didn’t really work for me and Louie was too mean but still enjoyed it
  15. Miss Hokusai- beautiful film about a painter in ancient Japan. Enjoyed all the vignettes and stunning animation. A few things, however, I needed more cultural context on
  16. Long Way North- loved the animation without lines and simple color blocking. Great lead character in somewhat predictable story
  17. The Boy and the Beast- charming Karate Kid like story with stunning animation but some of plot points don’t really work especially ending
  18. Harmony- very smart dystopian set up where we are all judging each other for our kindness. Hurt by weak melodramatic ending
  19. Sing- very predictable story helped by good songs and characters I liked
  20. Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders- a refreshing comedic take on Batman
  21. Storks- fairly forgettable but entertaining animated film. Loved message and comedy mostly worked
  22. Trolls- very uneven yet enjoyable film. Message on conformity a little unnerving but overall pleasant to watch
  23. Secret Life of Pets- story has problems and Kevin Hart bunny gets old fast but great animation and I liked Gidget and Chloe. A harmless animated film.
  24. Snowtime- some will find elements a little traumatic but they handle it well. I like the animation and big heart to it if a little bit manipulative at times
  25. The Angry Birds Movie- a decent animated film for kids with pretty good animation but some stretches bored me and the messaging of embracing anger was weird
  26. Ratchet and Clank- a fun Saturday morning space cartoon. Pretty good animation and overall was entertained by it
  27. Little Prince- I didn’t like this film. I felt it was boring and preachy. It got interesting at the end when it went all weird and dystopian but didn’t engage me. Pretty animation.
  28. The Wild Life- not as bad as most are saying. Some good animation and I was entertained except for the cats. The cats are so awful.
  29. Ice Age: Collision Course- most of the jokes are characters complaining. Decent animation but also has strange message about youth and beauty
  30. Blinky Bill: the Movie- a harmless animated adventure for kids but animation is bad and I was pretty bored by it
  31. Space Dogs 2- a horribly dubbed and animated film I didn’t hate watching. It’s very weird and makes weird choices but it is not good
  32. Bling- animation isn’t that bad but the message of consumerism and buying love and affection are off putting. Plus a horrible minions copycat.
  33. Batman: the Killing Joke- offensive, poorly animated morally repugnant film that doesn’t do the graphic novel justice at all
  34. Norm of the North- terrible animation, writing, characters, story, humor and everything else. Just awful.

So there you have it!  What do you think of my ranking?