Alien: Covenant

Sorry for the lack of reviews to those who actually pay attention to this.  Recently had a trip I had to save up for a little bit, but back to the movie theaters regularly soon!

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THE FACE HUGGER RETURNS (and other Xenomorphs).

In the age of sequels to prequels, we have a new entry.  Alien: Covenant is the sequel to the 2012 film Prometheus, which was written as a prequel to the Alien franchise.

However, where its predecessor failed, it succeeded and where it succeeded, one could argue this one failed.

The biggest downfall of Prometheus is that it lacked a constant character development arc.  Throughout, we do not really see the characters grow until well into the film.

David, the antagonist of the first film is perhaps the only one to learn and adapt throughout the film.  Perhaps that’s because as an android, his programming is to learn.  We see him become more and more human as the film progresses.  He even starts to question his creation.

During the opening scene of Covenant we see David with Peter Weyland.  We see his birth.  Weyland is asking him to perform simple tasks, perhaps to assess his capacity to obey, or perhaps to test the extent of his knowledge.  We see David question how he was created to serve a man who will inevitably die, when he will live forever.  Fast forward to the next scene.  It looks very similar to the scene from Prometheus in which an android mans a ship while the crew sleeps.  The Covenant is a colony ship.  Aboard the ship are over 2000 colonists.  Walter, the android aboard the Covenant, is forced to awaken some of the crew of the ship early for emergency purposes.

If you’ve seen Prometheus than you know that we haven’t seen the last of David.  Fans everywhere are hoping we get some answers as to what happens after the events of Prometheus, but we don’t.  Not really, anyways.

Where Prometheus was a “you either love it or hate it” film, Covenant seeks to restore faith in the franchise by…leaving us with as many if not more questions than its predecessor.

However, it makes up for the fact that it leaves the audience questioning a lot with the fact that it is also a “back to basics” Alien film.  That is to say, that it is highly similar to the Alien films of old.

The Covenant is a colony ship with over 2000 colonists.  There is another film in the Alien series that someone goes to rescue around that many settlers.

Of course, with the return of the face-huggers and other xenomorphs, it does open the door to this film straying away from being too similar to Prometheus, and closer to the classic Alien movies.

With this film being set in the same universe as Blade Runner, as confirmed via Prometheus, fans will be looking for more hints as to the connection between the two franchises.

7.4/10

GO GO POWER RANGERS: The Film Review

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As you can see, the first thing to note is that the Suits got a 21st century upgraded look.  Is this an army of Iron (Wo)Men?  It sure looks like it.

All joking aside, this movie hit all the nostalgia.  All of it.  From the second the title appears, to the first time we hear the theme song mentioned in my title.  To the first time they morph.  Every minute of this film is nostalgic as the Iron folk fight off Loki.  Whoops wrong movie.  (But they are fighting a green loving person with an army and a staff and they do look like Iron Man!)

Ignoring the nostalgia of this film however, it is mediocre.  The story seems forced and cliche.  The action scenes are predictable, yet still entertaining.  Oh and the comedy!  The comedic relief that is Alpha 5.  Priceless.

The camerawork is well done and the accompanying score make the film more enjoyable.

This film isn’t as much a retelling of the Rangers of my generations youth, but more of a rebranding.  Thus the super advanced looking suits and Zordon being the guy from Breaking Bad

The ultimate pinnacle of nostalgia though, is probably in the fight against Goldar.  I waited the entire movie to see the Zords in action.  I could not wait to see MEGAZORD.  And it didn’t disappoint.

This team of Rangers is a ragtag bunch of misfits (similar to yet another Marvel Team, the Guardians of the Galaxy.  You have a group of social outcasts, who were put in that position for various reasons.  You have the jock who tries to pull a stupid prank.  You have the former cheerleader who has issues with the other cheerleaders, the autistic genius, the guy taking care of his single mother in a trailer, and the girl who you don’t find out much about until a little over halfway through the film.

However the film has some success because of the fact that it is able to mix the best parts of the TV series with new experiences to the 20-teens.

 

7.9/10

Tale as Old as Time: A Beauty and the Beast Film (2017) Review

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Be Our Guest, be our guest, put our movie to the test, grab your popcorn from concessions, dear, and we’ll provide the rest.

“Is this one going to be a straight remake of the original?”  “What about the music? Are they just going to use the original score?”

This live action remake of a classic Disney film, like the previous ones, is good.  It isn’t perfect, but it’s good.

There are a lot of things that hit right in the nostalgic feels.  The opening, for example, is directly adapted from the original performance of “Belle” from the animated classic.  Another one is the dance to the titular song.

This one provides a couple additions that were not present in the animated version of 1991. We get a backstory for Belle that shows her inheriting her father’s creative genius.  We also get an explanation for why it’s just her and her father.  We also get to see the Beasts backstory.

In addition to those backstories, we also get a few new songs, such as “How can a Moment Last Forever?,”  a duet sang across the mansion from one another.  All of this among many other changes.  However, these changes aren’t for the worse.  In fact, the changes/additions are a welcome refresher to a wonderful classic.  It makes the film feel just different enough to distinguish itself as a separate film not meant to be compared side by side to the old film.

The scenery is nothing short of beauty.  The snow-covered grounds and forest in particular were captivating.

Emma Watson perfectly portrays the beloved Disney princess right down to her singing voice.  She looks just as beautiful in the classic yellow dress as her voice sounds singing “Belle” at the beginning.  This was good casting to bring the animated “Beauty” into live action.

Dan Stevens is passable as beast (perhaps he isn’t as…aggressively toned), but does fit better as the prince.

With that being said, the good thing about a live action retelling is that we can not just have to feel the emotions being portrayed by the characters, but with human interaction, we can feel, see, and be touched by the fear that Belle initially has and the love that grows between the titular characters.  It progresses more naturally in the live-action version than in the animated version.  One could say that Belle used Alohamora on the Beasts heart and taught him to love.

With the success of this movie, watch for even more live-action remakes of classic Disney films.  (I believe they’ve already started filming the Lion King live action remake.)

8.9/10

 

Kong: Skull Island Film Review

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There’s something satisying about watching a giant ape attack people who are attacking his environment, or as John C. Reilly’s character (Hank Marlow) puts it “You don’t go into someone else’s home and start dropping bombs”  Kong: Skull Island is a beautiful mix of comedy and action.  Especially with John C. Reilly involved.  His character is the comedic relief that is needed when all seems dark and bleak.  We see joy and friendship at the beginning of the film before they get to the island, which is followed up almost immediately by death and destruction at the hands of the King for attacking his home.  As is the norm in a King Kong film, we see the giant befriend a pretty white girl and try to protect her.  I was listening to a podcast and it hit on a pretty interesting idea about this:  The King Kong films are racist.  A big, black ape and a pretty white girl.  On top of that, Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Preston Packard is an antagonist in this film and the camera shows something in his eyes that is a stereotype of black men.  You see anger and hate.  You see the desire to hurt and kill.  He portrays the “angry black man” stereotype to a T.  With him being the antagonist, you could probably guess how that ends.

Sexual tension.  Of course there is, it’s Hollywood.  Tom Hiddleston’s character and Brie Larson’s character (James Conrad and Mason Weaver, respectively) almost immediately have the sparks fly.  COME ON HOLLYWOOD, this is getting to be ridiculous.

This film is riddled with cliche after cliche, but somehow, they work for this film.  The aforementioned are but a few.  To find out about the ones that aren’t in the trailers, you’ll just have to watch the film.

The difference between this Kong film and some of the others:  We HATE him at first.  We see him as a towering monster capable of destruction on a large scale.  We find out more about our beloved “monster.”

The film uses long focus on the staredowns between Packard and Kong often enough that the audience sees the hate and disdain between these two and it also focuses on the respect that Weaver has for Kong and his feelings towards her (as is typical in King Kong fashion)

If nothing else, this film is a visually appealing film both in the environments seen and the use of camera movements to capture emotions and to leave the audience wanting more.  Sometimes wanting to see outcomes, sometimes wanting to just stay paused on the emotions, and sometimes just wanting more, but all in a good way.

If you go in excited, you won’t be disappointed, but you won’t be happy.  You’ll just feel meh.  The entire film was predictable, but still fun.

The thing that I’m excited about for this is King Kong vs Godzilla, as they are in the same universe and it’s been a long time in the making.

8.1/10

SNIKT Film Review (Logan Film Review)

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The newest installment in the X-men Universe repairs fans’ trust in the franchise after the flop that was X-men: Apocalypse.  Logan, directed by James Mangold (who previously directed Walk the Line and the better Wolverine movie, The Wolverine rather than X-men Origins, which was a big critical flop, among others) is a return to the quality action and story we have come to know and love in our X-men films.

SNIKT. SNIKT, oh, and more SNIKT.

That’s the sound that his claws make.  Seriously, look at the comics (which I haven’t read myself…)  And this time around there’s multiple sets of claws.  X-23 or Laura (Dafne Keen)-a child mutant- has the claws of the Wolverine, something Logan refuses to believe until he sees her in action.  This is as much her origin story as it is a farewell to the Wolverine that we know.

This is a farewell film for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine after a long 17 years and now TECHNICALLY 9 movies (though in First Class, he just had a cameo role).  And, it is a wonderfully done farewell film that leaves the audience adequately satisfied with his ending.

Don’t let some of the professional reviews fool you.  This is his NINTH appearance.

The film takes place in 2029, after the events of Days of Future Pasts hard reset of the timelines established in the previous films.  (Well everything after 1973 (so basicalllyyyy everything after the events of First Class, including X-men, X2, X-men: Last Stand- you know, the original trilogy and all)

It takes place after the X-men are no more and when Logan is old and his body is fragile- a welcomed relief from what we’ve seen in the past.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that he can heal, but with his fragility comes some humanity (or maybe that’s with the age).  We see the stereotypical “Grumpy Old Man,” we see the sandwich generation, we see the father figure:  “NOT OKAY.”

The action scenes are beautifully choreographed and Laura provides some much needed brutality and spunk.  At first, Logan’s claws won’t properly SNIKT out, as we see the effect of age by one of his claws only coming out halfway.

LOGAN is a welcomed film given that the first Wolverine centered film was a bust, the second one was good-ish, and the most recent X-men film was straight bad.

A very hesitant 9.0/10 (As in, couldn’t decide if it should be higher than that or not).

Before I Fall Film Review

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What would you do if you had to relive the same day over and over again?  This film tries to address that.  I have not read the book, so I can’t speak to that aspect of it.

Samantha Kingston wakes up on “Cupid Day” or the day in which the students at her school get roses from other adoring students.  It’s also the day she is supposed to lose her virginity to her boyfriend.  The school day goes on and we see her in her prime time high school self, with her clique and the people her clique hates and the people they like.  Things continue like normal, yada yada, stereotypical high school party in a high school movie, yada yada other stuff, yada yada, wake up the next  day..except it isn’t the same day, it’s the same day.  Again. and again. and again.  I don’t know about you, but for me, that would have been hell in high school.  It certainly feels like it for Sam.  She tries to change things to see what happens.  Each time, subtly-or not so subtly- changing something else.  It feels different for audiences each time, even in the “and another one” scene because we see different emotional reactions to waking up on the same day at the same time every day.

If she saves herself, someone else gets hurt, if she chooses to take her death as it is, then we are left wondering what happened to the other person.  Sometimes we get a clear answer, and it isn’t a good one, and sometimes we don’t know.

This film tackles one key idea that we as a society should take home and embrace:  What you do matters.  How you choose to live each day matters.  You should cherish those moments and do something that makes an impact.  Watching the pain of others does not make you innocent.  The difference between this and a typical inspirational film?  This one has a lot of darkness to it.

Think Mean Girls meets Groundhog Day.  Haven’t seen those?  WATCH THEM BOTH.  That’s a lot of what you get with this.

At home, Sam is your stereotypical teenager.  She is mean to her little sister, rude to her parents unless she needs something and keeps to herself mostly.

Then of course you have the not-so-secret admirer who has been in love with the main character from the moment they met, the girl everyone loves to hate, the “goth” girl and the hot guy who can’t handle his liquor- you know, the other staples of a high school film.

Even at the end of the film, the audience is left semi-confused as to the question of “Does what we do really make a difference?”

With that,

6.9/10

Get Out Film Review

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Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out, is a must see thriller.  In a film that finally shows a Black-American being attacked and targeted by a white majority, Peele was able to pull off suspense and intrigue.  We’re so used to seeing the black person in the movie as a villain, a savage, and a drug-using/dealing criminal.   In this film, we see it being the exact opposite.  The Black-Americans in this film are honest, law abiding citizens who are respectable, just like they’re-shockingly enough in Hollywood- normal people living normal lives.  This film paints a different picture than the ones we are used to seeing in a Hollywood film.

 

“Do they know I’m Black?”         My dad would vote for Obama a third time if he could, she says, as if to comfort his unease about meeting her white parents.  That about sums up the other characters interactions with him as well.

Imagine going to go meet the parents and being caught up in a culture that seemingly is overly “I’m not racist.”- That is to say, the people who mean well, but still say and do racist things.

However, moving past that, this film manages to do something that many films before it have failed to do.  It manages to actually psych out the audience.  This movie left audiences on the edge of their seats.  The use of camera movements to portray a deeper story and to add to the raw emotions is outstanding.  The use of silence to fill a gap and leave the audience in suspense works perfectly.  The score added into the silent acting and use of camera

Allison Williams is cast perfectly as the loving, adoring girlfriend, Rose, who doesn’t care that her boyfriend is black and who gets along exquisitely with Chris’s (Daniel Kaluuya) best friend, Rod.

From the time we meet Rose’s family, Chris feels uncomfortable, we can see and feel that.  Perhaps that it is the off-handed racism, perhaps it’s a gut feeling.  Every time we see another black character, we see Chris getting more and more uncomfortable everything.  This comes to a tipping point when we see Lakeith Stanford’s character, Andrew, lunge at our protagonist just for taking a picture of him after hearing and seeing the way he was speaking as if he were a cultured person living in a bygone era.

After this, things escalate from thriller to full-blown horror film that can leave audience members shocked if they aren’t ready for it.

Peele manages to pull together so many underlying tones and bring them into the spotlight without the audience even knowing.  Audiences of all racial backgrounds have something to make them shift uncomfortably during this film because of it.  One such tone is the ode to slave auctions.  You’ll have to watch the film to know where this comes from.  The feeling Chris has when he “sink[s] into the floor” is another one.

Overall, this film masterfully addresses the issues of anti-black rhetoric in America and can leave some white audience members uncomfortable and hateful of the film, but other folks deeply in love with the film and its relevance to today’s world.

9.7/10

John Wick Film Review

john-wick-2-posterThe Boogeyman is back.  Forced back into work due to contract, the name John Wick puts fear into people.  If he’s after you, you’re already dead.  That’s how the other characters feel, especially in the first film.  This one sees him combatting other people like him, but, none match his furiosity or ability.  Just look at the poster above.  You see him bloodied up with several guns pointed at him, but he is unflinching.  HEADSHOTS.  MORE HEADSHOTS.  oh, and even more headshots.  That is the film.  “John Wick is a man of focus, commitment and sheer will. The stories you hear about this man, if nothing else, have been watered down.”  That’s the legend.

But really, the action in the film is intense.  The fight scenes are great, partially because Keanu Reeves is actually trained in martial arts.  He didn’t learn it just for his role as Neo.  He’s actually a martial artist.  Guns, guns, and more guns.  A lot of beautiful guns.  Maybe too many guns and not enough hand-to-hand.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the action scenes using guns, but I would have loved to see more hand-to-hand combat.

If you go into this movie excited to see action, you’ll be in heaven.  If you go into it hoping there is a good story to drive said action, you’ll actually be pretty happy, which is a nice relief from most modern action films, which seemingly say “F*** having a story, we need EXPLOSIONS”  (See The Expendables and Michael Bay, among many others)  Don’t get me wrong, just because a film has a lot of explosions does not mean it isn’t a good movie with a great plot (See the Marvel Films).

8.4/10

I Am Not Your Negro

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Sorry this is a bit late, I got caught up in Awards Season

I Am Not Your Negro is a painful documentary about Civil Rights Leaders and the ideas that were around back then.  But it connects beautifully to today’s struggles.  James Baldwin’s words spoken through the voice of Samuel L. Jackson.  The words can dig into us at our core.  The visuals are wonderfully striking.  The emotions run raw.  We see Baldwin’s growth throughout the movie as well as the hurt and pain.  Despite that, this is not a film about Baldwin.

This film is about race relations in America both in the past as well as the present.  Using words written 30 years ago, the audience sees both discourse on the state of race relations in the 60’s as well as today.  The words hit hard because they are both emotionally charged and quite blunt.  There is no beating around the bush about Baldwin’s feelings about race relations during his time.  This makes it easier for the audience to attach themselves to the message.  I looked around the packed theater during this film and I could see some of the white people in the audience shift uncomfortably at the language used and others sitting there like me, mouth agape at the beauty of the feelings expressed in this film.  It was easy to separate the people who think race relations are broken from those who think it is fine.  The great thing about this film is not that it gets the real history out there-that has always been there-but rather that it can get people of all opinions thinking more about the position that society puts black people living in America in.

It’s true that things have gotten better over time, but that is not hard to do when the history of it is riddled with trauma and hatred.  It’s also true that we have seen a fast rise in discrimination and hate towards ALL minorities, but primarily towards black people living in America.

“I can’t be a pessimist because I’m alive,” Baldwin said. “I’m forced to be an optimist.”

9.8/10

Da Oscars

Hello everyone, I’ve been taking a break from the theater to try to make sure I see all of (or at least as many as I can) the Oscars nominees in every category.  Here’s my list of predictions and such.

OSCARS 2017 PREDICTIONS

Best Picture: La La Land

NOMINEES:

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

La La Land is a shoo-in for the Best Picture.  Overall, it has a fantastic blend of all of the other categories that the Oscars awards for.  However, I THINK it should go to Moonlight.  No other film nominated has had such a profound impact on our understanding of our society.  No other film nominated has such a deep meaning behind it.  Other films like Manchester by the Sea and Arrival are fantastic works of art, capable of exuding their intent with ease. Manchester by the Sea is the first movie in a long time that closely represents grief- unlike Collateral Beauty of 2016. Arrival is meant to confuse.  It is meant to be a film that gets us trying to figure it out.  A lot of people walk out still confused.  Then there is Hacksaw Ridge, which left me speechless when I walked out.  You really felt the emotional pull of the characters and the scenes.  But NOTHING nominated for an Oscar this year, in any category, deserves to win as much as Moonlight deserves to win the big one.  Another reason I doubt this is going to happen is that, well the Oscars are a VERY historically white award show, favoring films with white stars and white directors over films with primarily black casts and crews.  In fact, I think this is only the second year with more than one primarily black cast in recent history, despite the strong success of “black” films in the box office over the past decade and a half.

 

Best Lead Actor Casey Affleck for Manchester by The Sea

NOMINEES:

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

Casey Affleck’s performance is understandably a strong contender for the Oscar.  He was amazing.  But, this should go to Andrew Garfield.  Not JUST for his work on Hacksaw Ridge, which, on its own is the rightful Oscar winner.  But his other huge film of 2016, Silence, also saw Garfield performing admirably.

 

Best Lead Actress: Natalie Portman for Jackie

NOMINEES:

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

This one is, in my opinion, the indisputable rightful winner of the Oscar.  The other leading ladies delivered performances that are nothing short of sensational, but for a biopic, Portman delivered a performance that felt like the audience was watching the actual Jackie Kennedy.  I’ve seen a lot of content from both the President and First Lady Kennedy’s .  Her performance was spot on.  In a dangerous role, which saw her portraying one of America’s most beloved first ladies of all time, she hit it home.  HOWEVER:  If she were to go up against Taraji P. Nelson’s performance in Hidden Figures, I would have a lot harder time trying to pick a winner.  Taraji P. got SNUFFED.

 

Best Supporting Actor: Mahersala Ali for Moonlight

NOMINEES:

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

Again, this was an easy choice.  If he doesn’t win, heads will roll. Moonlight was a fantastic movie on its own, worthy and deserving of the Big Award.  A LARGE part of that is thanks to Mahersala Ali.  (I do think it is hilarious that Dev Patel is listed as a Supporting actor, as he portrayed the main character of his film for nearly half the film, though, I guess in modern culture, each gender can only have one lead….whatever, I guess.)

 

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis for Fences

NOMINEES:

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

This was a tough choice.  Honestly.  This could go to Naomi Harris or Nicole Kidman and I would be more than okay with it.  I honestly don’t know why Michelle Williams is nominated, but I digress.

 

Animated Feature Film: Moana

NOMINEES:

Kubo and the Two Strings                                                                                                                                   Moana                                                                                                                                                                            My Life as a Zucchini                                                                                                                                               The Red Turtle                                                                                                                                                   Zootopia

Disney has done little wrong in its history in animated feature films.  Especially when you consider Pixar as a subsidiary of Disney (which operates mostly independent of Disney).  The Academy loves Disney, and so does the audience.

Of the Disney movies nominated, this is the better (though I AM BIASED).  In my opinion, the only real competitor for it is The Red Turtle.

(SIDE NOTE, I HAVE NOT seen My Life as a ZucchiniCourgette” and cannot find it anywhere to try to watch it.)

 

Cinematography: Silence

NOMINEES:

Arrival                                                                                                                                                                              La La Land                                                                                                                                                                 Lion                                                                                                                                                                     Moonlight                                                                                                                                                               Silence

This could also go to Arrival or Moonlight and I would be okay with it.

 

Costume Design: Allied

NOMINEES:

Allied                                                                                                                                                                         Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them                                                                                                 Florence Foster Jenkins                                                                                                                                         Jackie                                                                                                                                                                                 La La Land

Between this film and Florence Foster Jenkins, it was a hard choice to think of which one I thought the Academy would pick.  Ultimately I went with Allied because a well done war-time outfit is better off in the Academy’s eyes than a well done outfit from any other type of film.  (My bias, however, goes to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them because…Harry Potter.)

 

Directing: Arrival

NOMINEES:

Arrival                                                                                                                                                                   Hacksaw Ridge                                                                                                                                                               La La Land                                                                                                                                                                 Manchester by the Sea                                                                                                                                   Moonlight

First off.  DENZEL GOT SNUBBED from this one.  THIS SHOULD go to him.  But, falling short of that, Villeneuve is the next best option.  Though, Barry Jenkins directorial skills are on display once again in Moonlight, Arrival is the best directed movie of the year, even if it isn’t the best film of the year.

 

Feature Documentary: OJ Made in America

NOMINEES:

Fire at Sea                                                                                                                                                                           I Am Not Your Negro                                                                                                                                                 Life, Animated                                                                                                                                                             O.J.: Made in America                                                                                                                                               13th

Here is the update:  AMERICA (especially white america) us obsessed with OJ.  Another reason this is going to win (unfortunately)  is because White America does not want to face the facts behind 13th and I am Not Your Negro.  They are too scared to admit that this is the reality.  I’m sorry to my white friends reading this, not all white folk are this way, but the ones in powerful situations are.  America loves its athletes and has ALWAYS been obsessed with OJ.  “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit”  It turns into “If the glove don’t fit…” used to justify just about anything.

ORGINAL:  I consider a documentary a success if it really sheds a light on the topic it is talking about.  13th not only sheds a light on the American (in)Justice system, but it does so in perhaps one of the best ways imaginable by being able to get perspectives from both sides of the issue without seeming biased.  This film INFORMS without attacking.  It argues without demeaning.

HOWEVER, this should have been between I am Not Your Negro, 13th, and Jim: The James Foley Story.

 

Short Subject Documentary:  White Helmets*

NOMINEES:

Extremis                                                                                                                                                                         4.1 Miles                                                                                                                                                                         Joe’s Violin                                                                                                                                                                         Watani: My Homeland                                                                                                                                                   The White Helmets

I honestly flipped a coin here between this and 4.1 miles.  Both are heart-wrenching stories told in less than an hour.  Both hurt to watch, but also were very encouraging to watch at the same time.

*Unable to watch Watani: My Homeland

 

Film Editing: La La Land

NOMINEES:

Arrival                                                                                                                                                                     Hacksaw Ridge                                                                                                                                                                 Hell or High Water                                                                                                                                                            La La Land                                                                                                                                                                     Moonlight

There is a reason this film is nominated for 14 awards.  While I don’t see it as the best film of the year, it could be considered as such.  It does, however, exceed any other film nominated for this category.

 

Foreign Language Film* Only category that I haven’t seen even most of them.

NOMINEES:

Land of Mine                                                                                                                                                                     A Man Called Ove                                                                                                                                                           The Salesman                                                                                                                                                                   Tanna                                                                                                                                                                             Toni Erdmann

(Might update this by Friday, as I intend to watch most/all of the films in this category by then.

 

Make Up/Hairstyling: Star Trek

NOMINEES:

A Man Called Ove                                                                                                                                                           Star Trek Beyond                                                                                                                                                             Suicide Squad

Hard to argue against a movie with a bunch of alien species.  Suicide Squad could come close, but ultimately, most of the make-up is the same.  Mr. Lizard Man and the creepy clown lover and the creepy clown man himself  are the three most unique make-up designs.

 

Score: Moonlight

NOMINEES:

 Jackie                                                                                                                                                                                  La La Land                                                                                                                                                                        Lion                                                                                                                                                                        Moonlight                                                                                                                                                                        Passengers

THIS was a tough choice.  I am basing this on one criteria.  Which score fits in best with the film and elevates the film the most.  So, I pictured the movies without the score. Moonlight is made infinitesimally better with the score.  It brings the movie from greatness to near perfection.

 

Original Song: “City of Stars”

NOMINEES:

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land                                                                                       “Can’t Stop The Feeling,” Trolls                                                                                                                         “City Of Stars,” La La Land                                                                                                                                       “The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story                                                                                           “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

If you have seen La La Land, you know why this will win.  This one SHOULD be no question.  I still have this song stuck in my head and I watched La La Land a while back.

 

Production Design: Arrival

NOMINEES:

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

What does the film Look like?  The sets and backdrops of this film by far surpass the other films in this category with MAYBE the exception of La La Land, which uses the city as a set.

 

Short Animated: Borrowed Time

NOMINEES:

Blind Vaysha                                                                                                                                                                   Borrowed Time                                                                                                                                                                Pear Cider and Cigarettes                                                                                                                                             Pearl                                                                                                                                                                             Piper

This and Pear Cider and Cigarettes are the two best films in this category.  This one is my pick for winner because of its dark tone and message in a simplistic manner.

 

Live Short: Sing

NOMINEES:

Ennemis Intérieurs                                                                                                                                                         La Femme et le TGV                                                                                                                                                       Silent Nights                                                                                                                                                                     Sing                                                                                                                                                                     Timecode

The ultimate story of friendship.  This film is an uplifting, yet also heart breaking story of friendship and joy.  Ultimately, this is my pick because of its ability to get the audience engulfed in its message and emotions from the get-go and never letting go until after the film ends.

 

Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge

NOMINEES:

Arrival                                                                                                                                                                         Deepwater Horizon                                                                                                                                                       Hacksaw Ridge                                                                                                                                                                 La La Land                                                                                                                                                                     Sully

Gunplay, EXPLOSIONS, and gore.  The sounds/audio/dialogue/etc. chosen to be used in this film fall nothing short of perfection.  Another reason:  War films (usually) do VERY well in this category.  While La La Land is a STRONG possibility for the award in this category, I’m basing this prediction on history as well as the sheer perfection of Hacksaw Ridge‘s edits.

 

Sound Mixing: La La Land

NOMINEES:

Arrival                                                                                                                                                                     Hacksaw Ridge                                                                                                                                                                 La La Land                                                                                                                                                                   Rogue One: A Star Wars Story                                                                                                                                     13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Usually, I believe Editing and Mixing go hand in hand.  This year, it is honestly a toss-up between the two favorites in each category (Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land).  My prediction for Mixing going toLa La Land is based one ONE criteria:  It’s a musical that is not only HIGHLY POPULAR, but is also, by all accounts, a fantastic film in EVERY aspect.

THOUGH, I WANT ARRIVAL TO WIN BOTH SOUND AWARDS

 

Visual Effects: Kubo and the Two Strings

NOMINEES:

Deepwater Horizon                                                                                                                                                       Doctor Strange                                                                                                                                                                 The Jungle Book                                                                                                                                                               Kubo and the Two Strings                                                                                                                                           Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

In my opinion, this is a two horse race between Kubo and the Two Strings, the film that relies pretty heavily (and successfully) on stop-motion to tell a thrilling tale and a heartwarming story of family and The Jungle Book, perhaps the best CGI’d film of all time.  It’ll be interesting to see which walks away with the award

 

Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight

NOMINEES:

Arrival                                                                                                                                                                       Fences                                                                                                                                                                     Hidden Figures                                                                                                                                                                 Lion                                                                                                                                                                     Moonlight

If you’ve seen this, or listened to interviews with the playwright or director of the film, you’ll understand why this SHOULD be the film that wins it.  However, both Hidden Figures and Arrival should NOT be counted out of this category

 

Original Screenplay: 20th Century Women*

NOMINEES:

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

THIS IS AN UNDERDOG.  Theoretically, it falls between Manchester by the Sea and La La Land, and  I do want Manchester by the Sea to take this award if it is down to those two (MY ACTUAL PREFERENCE is The Lobster), but for some reason, this film is calling out as the winner.  I honestly don’t know why, but I think it will win.