Snack Break: Congratulations

There are some years where the Best Picture Oscar is clearly a cut above the rest. Sure, lots of the nominees (albeit fewer than in previous years) were pretty good movies, but none were nearly as great as Green Book.

Green Book

Of this year’s nominees, I still need to see Roma and Vice, and I will get to them eventually. There were also other films that I was not aware of that have now piqued my interest as well. But, in the end, I think Green Book is a timeless story that speaks loudly about the journey of life and getting to know others who might be different from us.

If you want to see what I thought about the other nominees this year (that I did see), you can check out the links below:

Snack Break: Congratulations

Once again, I thought I had this Best Picture Oscar pegged and get surprised with a film that traditionally would not have won. I hope this means we’ll see more representation from other genres than “drama” in the years to come.

The Shape of Water

Of the nine contenders for Best Picture this year, there were plenty that I thought were truly great. It’s tough to choose one over the others, especially with some really thought-provoking and well-made films. Personally, my favorite was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, followed by Darkest Hour, Get Out, Dunkirk, and Lady Bird. The Shape of Water was in that list of favorites as well, but that’s because it was directed by one of my favorite directors: Guillermo del Toro. In fact, a number of my favorite directors had showings this year, including Christopher Nolan and Martin McDonagh.

It’s tough when there’s not necessarily a front-runner for the Oscars, as each category presented proves to be a real mystery. Many of them could have gone a number of different ways, but at least the ones that won were certainly well-deserved.

Snack Break: Congratulations

What a twist! While I try my best to see all the Best Picture nominees before the ceremony, this year I failed to see the film that (eventually) won Best Picture. I will see it as soon as I can, so I don’t know if I can give an honest review of it yet. Clearly, it had a number of elements that propelled it to win the 89th Acadamy Awards’ highest honor.

I must be honest to say that I had my hopes set on two films this year: La La Land and Arrival. Both spoke to me in different ways, but they both left an impact with their message. When La La Land was initially named the winner of Best Picture, I was excited. When it was taken away due to the presenter’s mistake, it made me wonder how good Moonlight is to win Best Picture.

I know the Academy is often faulted for giving awards to movies that should have won in years past, so I only hope that Moonlight can stand on its own merits, instead of perhaps being a result of last year’s #OscarsSoWhite fiasco. Still, I have not seen this film yet, but that won’t stop me from buying it and adding it to my (nearly) perfect Best Picture Oscar collection. I only hope I can keep an open mind when I do see it.

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Even with this dramatic turn of events, I was glad to see La La Land end up with plenty of its musical awards and Arrival with the awards it deserved as well. Kind of a mixed bag this year, but the winners certainly earned their respective awards.

Snack Break: Congratulations

For five years now, I have seen all the Best Picture nominees before the Oscar ceremony, thus giving me a chance to gauge the chance that one of them would win the coveted gold statue. This year, after watching all the nominees, I decided that Spotlight was the clear winner, and I want to send out my congratulations.

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The power of the story told in this film was one that hit right in the depth of the soul. While some of the films this year were flashy and fun (The Martian, The Big Short, and Mad Max: Fury Road), others were intense and almost difficult to watch (Room and The Revenant). What really set Spotlight apart for me was the dedication of the reporter team to not stop at exposing the top level of the issue, but to dig deep enough that they could blow open the whole, systemic problem at its source.

Also, a congrats to Alejandro G. Iñárritu for another year of great directing, and Leonardo DiCaprio for finally nabbing that Best Actor Oscar so that we can stop wondering when you will win it.

Snack Break: Congratulations

I apologize for this later post, but with an internet connectivity issue that I had during the Oscars, I only just now had the ability to send out my congratulations to the winner of Best Picture for the 87th Academy Awards: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

Birdman

Unlike some previous years, I had seen all of the nominees before the ceremony this year. With half of the eight nominees being biopics, it was clear which one was the most original of them all. Here was my review of this well-deserved Oscar winner: “If this isn’t the most unique and meta film made in the last decade, then I don’t know what is. Practically shot in one entire cut/take, Birdman is impressive on that front alone. However, its raw and unabashed look at modern Hollywood, theatre, popularity, vitality, and criticism makes me want it to win Best Picture all the more.”

In fact, upon repeat viewings, the depth of the characters and the messages that are hidden right beneath the surface are quite profound. If you haven’t seen this film yet, please do!

Snack Break: Congratulations

Another year, another Best Picture! I’d just like to send out my congratulations to the winners of the 86th Academy Awards. While it’s getting tougher to watch all the Nominees before the big event, I do my best to watch as many as I can so I can make my own decision on what I think is the best of the year.

Even though this is the first year in a while that I haven’t seen the winner before the Oscars, I’ve definitely heard much praise for this film. If you ask me, a lot of the nominees “split the vote” because they were too similar to each other. American Hustle was about excess like The Wolf of Wall Street. Nebraska was about parent-child relationships like Philomena. Her was about unlikely relationships like Dallas Buyers Club. Captain Phillips was about survival in harsh conditions like Gravity. Therefore, the only film that didn’t cross over into any others was 12 Years a Slave.

12 Years a Slave

Since I own all the Best Picture winners, it looks like I’ll be stopping by Best Buy sometime soon to pick up this year’s victor. Then I’ll finally get to see it!

#102. Best Picture Musicals

While not impossible, it is somewhat rare for a musical to win the Oscar for Best Picture. In fact, in the 85 years that the statuette has been given out, only ten films have won the distinction of being the best of the year. That’s a mere 11%. Of course, if we look back to the “golden age” of the Hollywood musical, we’ll find that half of these ten musical Best Pictures were made in a single decade spanning from 1958 (and Gigi) to 1968 (with Oliver!), which includes a back-to-back win with My Fair Lady (1964) and The Sound of Music (1965). Needless to say, since the end of this decade of musicals, we have rarely seen them take the top award, despite the fact that musicals are occasionally nominated. This week’s two films look at the most recent winner and one of the winners in the “decade of musicals”.

ChicagoChicago
Year: 2002
Rating: PG-13
Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours

Even though there seem to be more and more categories each year, the fact that a single film can garner 13 nominations is still somewhat of an impressive feat. Now, whether or not the film can win all of these nominations and sweep the Oscars is the more impressive bit, but six wins, including Best Picture, is still very good. And yet, what’s more impressive about Chicago is that it had been 34 years since a musical had won Best Picture, a distinction that marked the end of the Hollywood musical era in 1968. Of course, as was the case with many of its musical predecessors, Chicago was based off of a theatrical musical that did well on Broadway before heading to the big screen. Perhaps the fact that the musical has been tried on the stage first is what allows it to do well as a movie.

What’s nice about film over the stage is that there are certain limitations to live theatre. While I have seen many impressive set changes, it is still much easier to film two separate scenes and splice them together in post production. In Chicago, the musical numbers are often offset from the reality of the actors in order to show a sharp distinction between the two. After all, life in prison isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially if you’re a woman. While Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) and Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are trying to get out of prison for murder, they’re also trying to get in and stay in the limelight, respectively. Media attention is high for these two until Kitty Baxter (Lucy Liu) enters the prison system with a triple homicide on her record. What will they do to direct the attention back to themselves?

West Side StoryWest Side Story
Year: 1961
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 152 minutes / 2.53 hours

Even though Chicago holds the most nominations for a musical at the Academy Awards, West Side Story holds the record for most wins with ten (it was nominated for 11 awards). Only three other films have earned more Oscars than West Side Story, albeit they were not musicals. This is perhaps why this film has been placed as high as #41 on the American Film Institute’s top 100 lists. Of course, as is the case with many musicals, the settings of the film version feel much more realistic than their Broadway counterparts. Now, whether or not gangs would sing and dance in the streets of New York City is up to interpretation; but needless to say, there’s a level of realism attained through the scale of such a production that cannot be reproduced on the stage. After all, in the era of Hollywood musicals, they really knew what they were doing.

Racial gang warfare in Manhattan is the backdrop for this adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. While Tony (Richard Beymer) helped found the gang known as the Jets, he has since removed himself from the gang and now works in a local store. The main rival of the Jets is the Sharks; a group of Puerto Rican immigrants headed by Bernardo (George Chakiris), whose sister Maria (Natalie Wood) runs into Tony at a dance. When the two meet, it’s love at first sight and soon they’re going against the social norms and the resistance of their respective gangs in order to keep their love alive. Even though they get married in secret, the animosity between the two gangs grows until a full-on brawl is called in order to settle the score. Tony gets entangled in the fight and in an attempt to stop the violence just makes things worse. Can Tony and Maria ever be together happily ever after?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 musical masterpieces