Saturday, February 25, 2017

Movies! Prizes! Lists!

Best intentions aside, I have not exactly been burning up the blogging wires this year... February has been a - interesting - month.... More on that later, I imagine. Now, though, since we seem to have arrived at the Academy Awards, this weekend, I shall endeavor to address the Oscars, so far as I am willing, which isn't very far. An excuse to hand out my own awards for various categories, really... and so - generally speaking, I'll look at the nominations, say who I think will win and who should (so far as I have opinions on those things), then offer my own slates. I'm not going through the whole list of awards - just the obvious ones. Off we go:


Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

I've seen 4 of them - Hell or High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight; have wanted to see at least Hidden Figures and Fences, but my filmgoing habits have been abysmal. The others I can live without (not that I'll avoid them, but don't count on it). Of those four: La La Land was all right, but nothing special - wildly overhyped, since people talk about it as though it were an actual good film, a really good film. I don't understand that. Annoying characters, bland, hackneyed story, not real great music - and weird ideas. But this is not a review of it (though that is something I should have done - oh well), and really, I don't even hate it - just that I find that it's apotheosis has started to get under my skin, especially since it seems the favorite to win. Hell or High Water was a lively little heist picture, lots going for it, though the story was absurd - but for what it was and with that cast, it was quite a fine thing. Not worth considering one of the 10 best of the year. The other two, on the other hand, are certainly worthy. Of the two - I hope Moonlight wins, though I doubt it has much chance. But they are both fine films.

As for what I would have picked? 5? This might look different if I were trying to imagine an Oscar ballot - a ballot that represents what Film Is Today, maybe - 9 films? I'd leave Fences and Hidden Figures in, though I didn't see them; leave Moonlight and Manchester By the Sea; might begrudge Other People La La Land; definitely add Certain women, 20th Century Women, Silence - finish up with Loving. Right? as for my favorites? keeping to English fiction narrative films...

1. Paterson
2. Certain Women
3. Silence
4. 20th Century Women
5. Love and Friendship


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

I have seen two of those - I would vote for Affleck, maybe in general - he is fantastic. Gosling? the character is so annoying, I couldn't vote for him for any reason. (He's like Llewyn Davis, if the Coen brothers thought Davis was right about everything - obnoxious self-destructive bully who steals his material from better people, and thinks he's doing them a favor. The Coens know he's a prick - they know he does it to himself - they understand that sympathy is not endorsement of bad people; they used to get trashed for despising all your characters, but I don't buy it - they made me sympathize with Roland Turner for god's sake! ... La La Land isn't in that universe.) Now, if Gosling got nominated for The Nice Guys - I'd like that. As for the rest? Garfield is nominated for the Mel Gibson thing instead of the Scorsese thing? oy. Maybe. The rest might well be deserving. Stil have to see Fences somewhere... As for me?

1. Adam Driver - Paterson
2. Affleck - Manchester by the Sea
3. Joel Edgerton - Loving
4. Ralph Fiennes - A Bigger Splash
5. Tom Hiddlestone - I Saw the Light


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

I saw all but one of these. This was a miraculous year for actresses - everyone of them (that I saw) is deserving (Emma Stone's character is underwritten - boy did that film annoy me - but she's fine in it, does all that's humanly possible to save it), and they might not even make my top five. I'd vote for Huppert - I suspect Stone will win... Negga would be great too. My choices? from a very deep pool:

1. Huppert - Elle
2. Kate Beckinsale - Love & Friendship
3. Anette Bening - 20th Century Women
4. Ruth Negga - Loving
5. Sandra Huller - Toni Erdmann


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

Saw three of these - approve completely of the nominations (Ali, Bridges, Hedges.) Another deep field, though that might be because trying to parse out who's lead and who's supporting is not as obvious as always - in Moonlight say - how do you choose among the 3 leads? Anyway: I hope Ali wins - he really is outstanding... Me?

1. Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
2. Tom Bennett - Love & Friendship
3. Alden Ehrenreich - Hail Caesar
4. Tadanobu Asano - Silence
5. Jeff Bridges - Hell or High Water


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

Saw only two of these - can't gainsay any of the choices, though. This is another category that seems very deep, but the depth is not really here. So - Harris or Williams would be fine choices, so might the others... I would have picked these 5:

1. Lily Gladstone - Certain Women
2. Greta Gerwig - 20th Century Women
3. Naomie Harris - Moonlight
4. Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea
5. Paulina Garcia - Little Men

From here on down, I'll be cherry picking categories, just to give the ones I have opinions on...


Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Saw three of these - no real complaints (except the usual stuff about La La Land), though only Moonlight does anything with the direction that adds to the film. Manchester is a writer's and actor's film - Lonergan does his work, to get the most from his script and his cast, but that's still where the work is. Jenkins adds a great deal with the way he films Moonlight. (Indeed, I found the script its weakest part - it's solid, but it's too on the nose sometimes - especially compared to the subtlety of the performances and direction.) Any chance he can win? I hope so - that would redeem a lot o0f things. Gonna be La La Land, though, isn't it? The poor bastard tries, but in the end, for Hollywood drama/spoofs, I didn't just prefer Hail Caesar - I preferred Cafe Society!

1. Jim Jarmusch - Paterson
2. Scorsese - Silence
3. Maren Ade - Toni Erdmann
4. Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
5. Kelly Reichhart - Certain Women


Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America

Only saw one of these, oddly - did see some decent documentaries, but the only great documentary I saw was I Am Not Your Negro. That is a stone cold masterpiece - though from what I hear, so is the OJ film. From the few I saw, my top 5 (which I ca't pretend competes with the actual pool):

1. I am Not Your Negro
2. Lo and Behold
3. Gimme Danger
4. Tickled
5. Where to Invade Next


La La Land

Saw three of them - they all look good, I can't fault La La Land there. I hope Silence wins, it has to win something - Scorsese's best in decades? though Moonlight is also very good. But me?

1. Paterson [a pattern might be emerging here]
2. Silence
3. Moonlight
4. The Handmaiden
5. Jackie


Hidden Figures

Saw just one of these. Like I said - I liked almost everything about Moonlight, but I did think the script was just adequate. So I can't say if it should win. I would nominate(with some caveats in case I'm mistaking adaptations from originals, somewhere):

1. Love & Friendship
2. Certain Women
3. Silence
4. Elle
5. The Handmaiden


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

The first category I have seen every single nominee in. Nice! 2 of those seem like obvious contenders - the others have enough going for them (except La La Land) that I have no complaints. Still...

1. 20th Century Women
2. Toni Erdmann
3. Paterson
4. Manchester By the Sea
5. The Nice Guys


Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Managed 2 of these - having finally seen Toni Erdmann - it is the best film of the year. It should win this. Salesman might - it is a fine movie, though getting a bit old hat for Farhadi, who has always been something of stretch as a great filmmaker - solid, but not really a master... I didn't see as many foreign films as I would like, but I saw some good ones...

1. Toni Erdmann
2. Elle
3. Salesman
4. Things to Come
5. The Handmaiden