In the Mix

February 27, 2017

And the Academy Award for Best Picture goes to…

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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La La Light/MoonLand… 🙂

A few years ago, I decided to write about the Oscars in hindsight instead of making predictions. We’re gonna make this our standard at Communicado – it just feels better.

Jimmy Kimmel was the host this year and he did a pretty decent job. His jokes were timely and there wasn’t too much awkwardness. Opening with a musical performance was a nice change and the montages with actors talking about the persons who inspired them, then presenting an award with that person was a stand out. More of that…

BUT, they do need to stop the ploy of bringing food into the ceremony in an attempt to be funny. It was an original idea when Ellen did it – Now its just a carbon copy… Let’s move on…

SO, the following is an outline of the most contested categories… and remember, this is an analysis based on PERFORMANCE FIRST! The hype/buzz and the subject matter are not paramount in this recap. Please indicate your position as YEA or NAY:

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Viola Davis – Fences
Nominees: Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures, Naomi Harris – Moonlight, Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea, Nicole Kidman – Lion

Yea: Though I’m not a fan of the movie, this is what I call the Academy’s past due notices. That’s when a nominee should have gotten an Oscar previous years and didn’t because they owed someone else. It just becomes a vicious cycle and they never catch up.

Viola Davis was due. And while all of the performances were great, Viola Davis was due…

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Nominees: Dev Patel – Lion, Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals, Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea, Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

Nay: This should have gone to Lucas Hedges for Manchester by the Sea. I think Mahershala Ali is awesome, but, I’ve seen him put forth more substantial performances – like House of Cards… Outstanding! This performance was a subject matter win.

Best Actress: Emma Stone – La La Land
Nominees: Isabelle Huppert – Elle, Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins, Natalie Portman – Jackie, Ruth Negga – Loving

Nay: The only other performance I felt was NOT better than Emma Stone was Ruth Negga in Loving. If any of the other three had won, it would have been the right choice. She was good in La La Land, but, the other performances really embodied the characters and called for a test of their range.

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

Yea: The other two performances that I thought could have been the right choice would have been Andrew Garfield or Viggo Mortensen. The buzz was with Denzel Washington, but, that would’ve be a subject matter win. This performance belongs on the stage as written in my review of Fences.

Best Director: Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Nominees: Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge, Barry Jenkins – Moonlight, Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea, Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Yea: I think this is valid. To see La La Land, you can see the care and quality he put into it’s making. It’s hard to make a musical that has just the right balance on the big screen and Damien Chazelle somehow found that place. Overall, it’s a well made film.

Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea/Kenneth Lonergan
Nominees: The Lobster, 20th Century Women, La La Land, Hell or High Water

Yea: I will agree with this as well, but, if Hell or High Water would’ve won, I would have supported that too. As I wrote in my review, it took such a depth of emotions and experience to create Manchester by the Sea and for that, kudos to Kenneth Lonergan. I don’t know how many people could survive a purge of emotions so severe…

Best Writing/Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight/Barry Jenkins/Tarell Alvin McCraney
Nominees: Lion, Arrival, Hidden Figures, Fences

Nay: I will continue to defend Moonlight as a subject matter winner, but, this is about writing and I just don’t feel this story was told to its fullest potential. This award belongs to Hidden Figures or Lion for the way those stories were told.

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

Nay: With or without the mix-up in the card, once Moonlight was announced as the winner instead of La La Land, I wasn’t moved for either. My choice for best picture stands as Hell or High Water. I didn’t like the beginning or the end of La La Land and continue to call Moonlight as my subject matter winner. But, Hell or High Water checks off all of my boxes. Well told story… Interesting characters, well acted… A story with depth and purpose – I felt satisfied with the story when it was over. Most of the others left me feeling like something was missing. And the ending was the best of them all…

Special mention: Best Foreign Language Film – The Salesman/Asghar Farhadi. He didn’t attend the event in protest for his fellow Middle Easterners subject to the U.S. travel ban. One has to wonder if his ability to get in and out of the country might have been a consideration as well.

Last year was #OscarSoWhite… This year it was #OscarIsBlack. I’m not mad about it – the Academy needed to right-a-wrong. They’re always behind the eight ball – Let’s see what next year’s problem to solve ends up being…