The Oscar 2017 is just a few hours away. Unlike other years, where I watch these after the award ceremony, I tried my best to finish at least the Oscar Nominated movies (Best Film Category).
Each of these movies are good in their own right. I do have my favorite of it all, which I’ll rank at the end of this post.
So, here they are, 8 Oscar nominated Movies, with their short-reviews and in no particular order.
The Hidden Figures:
In the backdrop of a time when USA’s space agencies were fighting the space race, the country had racism embedded in its system. Even the country’s top minds working at NASA were not untouched by it.
The story is about 3 Black Women mathematicians, working at NASA, who are brilliant but the system doesn’t give them the ‘space’ to grow more than what they currently are. Even when they visibly excel in doing what they do. While one woman struggles to complete her work because she has to use the washroom which is a mile away on the other end of the campus and she being black, cannot use the same ones as the other ladies. Another woman who is due promotion based on her work is not able to break the ceiling and similarly another is interested in joining the engineering team but cannot do so with her current degree and the required degree is not available in a college which allows black woman.
The characters played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe are representations of the racism at that time and the portrayal is brilliant.
Even though the struggles vary in their own, the underlying theme is of how these women overcome these issues and make themselves heard.
Ably supported by Kevin Costner and Jim Parson, the movie has some amazing insights into that era. Watch it for the uplifting real-life story.
Hell of High Water:
The movie is about Bonding. Two brothers, played by Ben Foster and Chris Pine, bonding over a series of robberies they carry out to save their ranch they lost to a bank. Two Sheriffs, one half-Red-Indian half-Mexican, played by Gil Birminghim, and the other, a typical cow-boy played by Jeff Bridges, trying to crack these series of robberies.
This movie is like the yesteryear’s’ cowboy confrontation. The battle, between the two, builds up through hell and ends on a calming high. The idea of “hell or high water” or to push to achieve, no matter what it takes, is what drives both the brothers-in-crime and the sheriffs.
The story exposes a lot of things along the way. The ageing sheriff’s push to go with his instincts and inability to see sense in his partner, the varying forces which drive the brothers to go on a robbing-spree and a lot of male-bonding along the way.
Watch this movie for a classy cow-boy feel with a no-nonsense story to accompany it.
I must admit that I’m not a fan of war-movies and yet I found this to be an entertaining watch. Probably this was more about the conviction to stick to one’s value-system than giving in to the demands of the war. Not to mislead you, this movie sure has some of the most gory-war blood-bath scenes like all others before it.
The movie is about a devout Christian Desmond Doss who believes that he does not have the right to kill anyone but joins the US Army to fight the Japanese. The struggle to make his fellow soldiers, his superiors and even the judges at his Court Marshall is what makes the movie stand out.
With a good ensemble cast to go along, Andrew Garfield, brings out a sensitive performance while playing the protagonist who is adamant to not even pick up a Rifle.
Watch it if you’re a war-movie fan. Watch it even if you aren’t one. I’m sure you’ll like it in parts.
Arrival as a plot has a lot of similarities with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, although not too complex like it. It appears to be a cross-section between the sublime Interstellar and a tad-melodramatic Martian. Capturing similar genres of space-cum-time-travel, Arrival is entertaining nevertheless.
Arrival banks heavily on its lead, Amy Adams, to anchor the story. The curiosity build-up, thanks to the interactions between our lead and the “aliens”, retrenches your attention. You’re always on, “what’s more to it, than this?”
The plot centralizes on a world where 12 UFO’s have landed on earth and naturally scared the world powers of the time. There’s a temporary cease-fire agreed upon before attacking the Aliens. Meanwhile, Amy Adams, who happens to be a language expert, becomes part of the team that will try to get a response to the ultimate question, “What is the purpose of your visit?” from the Aliens.
Apart from Amy, we also have, Jeremy Renner, who appears to be just another spoke in the wheel even though he does enjoy ample screen time.
Arrival throws up questions, about empathy, and perhaps that was the purpose of it, however without the investing performance from Amy, this could have easily fallen flat.
Cinematography is particularly interesting and breathtakingly raw, which makes it believable.
Arrival is entertaining, however, it misses out in threading plotlines with casting, which this story definitely deserved.
Watch it for the sheer joy of Amy Adams bring to life the story, all on her own.
There are very few father-son movies which are THIS real and bereft of melodrama than fences. In a never-before-seen avatar of Denzel Washington, this movie hits you in small bouts of realization much after it is over. It is as real as it can get.
In one particular scene, Denzels friend, Jim, playe, say Stephen Henderson, “Some build fences to keep people out, others build it to keep people in”. This right here, sums up the philosophy that the movie tries to project. The entire movie has been shot inside one such fence.
Denzel plays a father working hard to make ends meet, week-after-week, bringing-in his paycheck to support his wife and kid, and a son from his previous marriage. He is a typical dad who is trying to push others to not make the same mistakes he did and the lessons he gained as a black man in a white-dominated-world where they live. As expected, this becomes a cause of conflict with his son who wants to play football. Going by this, you’d assume it’ll be like the hundred-odd-movies that talk about dreams, reconciliation and how to take inspiration out of it. Fences is different. Not in its story, but the treatment and the layers it touches and unearths with each scene. One conflict at a time.
The question of whether it is love that binds families together or a sense of duty is the central theme that Denzel, the director tries to help us ask!
The ensemble is brilliant. From Viola Davis putting in a wonderful performance to Denzel Washington acing it in the shoes of a tough father, the movie is filled with heartfelt performance.
It brings in a sense of reality and talks about racism and issues concerning the Black community at a family-level.
There is a sense of nostalgic addiction we have with certain places, time and the people we spend it with. They stay with us over time and shapes who we are. Moonlight captures the journey of a child with troubled childhood, finding solace in the company of a friend, being betrayed and how it shapes up his life.
Moonlight works in parts, part disconnected, part getting its story heard without shouting, and mostly in the silent stares. It talks about the difficulty of coming out as Gay and how without the support of a family, it gets even difficult. It also talks about troubled childhood, drug addictions and seeking an identity for yourself in a world of unknowns.
The plot takes shape on how a young Chiron lives with a drug-addict mother who cannot take care of him, and is visibly bad at it. He meets a father-figure in Mahersha Ali , who tries to help him get through difficult childhood before the struggling teenage years begin. The movie is about the three phases of Chiron’s life and his coming-of-age to become a man.
The best parts of the movie lies in its silences where the characters speak more. Special mention for Trevante Rhodes, playing the older Chiron, for an amazing performance.
Watch this to feel the struggles of a child confused about his sexual identity in a difficult neighborhood and the how it makes us feel.
Lion, based on a real story, hauntingly captures the emotions of a young man’s life who yearns to get back to his mother and brother. Evoking this on the screen, with a solid performance by Dev Patel, has been done brilliantly by director Garth Davis.
The longing and emotional outreach of a kid who got lost and adopted by an Australian couple is a story that will work for any audience. Lion takes you to the start of the story, on how the kid got lost, and doesn’t add up any surprises on its way. What it does well is, brings out the thought-processes of each of its cast.
The young Saroo, played by Sunny Pawar, puts you in his shoes all along the journey and the able photography depicting the sad reality will scare you.
You come to know of why the adopted parents of Saroo (Dev patel), played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham, decided to adopt and even at the expense of difficulties associated with raising adopted kids, they were ready for it.
The journey of Saroo’s life is filled with people who try to exploit him and the people who support him, including his on-screen girlfriend played by Rooney Mara, and each of these characters project and represent ideas in themselves that vary with great length.
Watch it for the amazing performances and a real-life story capturing the struggle of a kid who lost his way home.
La La Land:
A musical from Hollywood? Well, yes, there aren’t many in recent years and probably makes La La Land stand out.
The plot is about a girl-meets-boy, both struggling to make it big. One is trying to make as a jazz player and the other as an actress. One gets a break and things get weird, expected? How this affects their relationship and how they come together to change it, is what La La Land is all about. However, this being a musical, there’s of course more to it. It is about the moments in-between. The songs, the cinematography, the costume and all-of-together in a story that flows like music.
The chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma stone is like a hot knife on a butter. Smooth.
It isn’t something you’ve not seen before but it is the treatment and the ability to connect with the audience is what makes La La Land special.
Watch it if you’re a hopeless romantic who lives by collating small moments in life.
Manchester by the Sea:
This is easily the Best movie at the Oscars this year. Tragic and Sad, and yet so real. Casey Afleck makes you connect with the distraught and tragic protagonist of this story, liking no one else could.
The movie is about a family. A family that was. Two brothers, one diagnosed with cancer and his wife leave him and his son. Another brothers’ wife leave him too. Why? Since it comes in the later part of the movie, I’ll not spoil it for you.
The movie doesn’t centralize itself on this, but on the emotional state of its characters, who are trying to deal with these emotions, in their own way. How death changes people and how people deal with these emotions, is what the movie is all about.
The movie touches a wide range of emotions without putting an extra effort. It is very real and believable.
It is that kind of sad movie which you’ll love to watch, drain out your emotions and connect with your own family. Watch it!
Now, that you’ve read all the reviews, my favorite of them all is, Manchester by the Sea. Although, I do have a feeling La La Land might win.
Which ones did you like ?