Well I did it!  I have seen all nine Best Picture nominees!
So here are my encapsulated reviews of each of them with my rankings of them from “How the Hell did that get nominated” to “How the Hell will that not win”!
Everybody who is anybody loves this film!  With one exception…..ME!  I seriously want my $9.68 back for this one.  I’m not requesting my money back on my popcorn and water because I enjoyed that.  I did not enjoy the movie.  It was slow.  It was full of itself.  It was nothing new.  It had a time twist in it, that I found to be far-fetched and too full of itself.  I love Amy Adams, and she is good in it but not great. I love Jeremy Renner, but the script wastes his talent.  I love Denis Villeneuve, but this movie isn’t his type of movie.  I loved the cinematography, it’s a truly beautiful film.  I hated the script!  And by hate I mean if you asked me if I wanted to read the script or an issue of Oprah’s magazine, I’d probably select the Oprah magazine as long as I didn’t have to pay for it.  ANd you know how full of herself I think Oprah is. It’s slow and stupid.  What the Hell were they thinking when they nominated this film?
Hacksaw Ridge
I think this movie got nominated for couple of reason.  It’s good.  It’s actually really good. but it’s nomination came because the Academy hasn’t recognized a true war film in a while, and what better way to recognize a war film than to also recognize a film that is about peace and is anti-gun.  Andrew Garfield is amazing in the film, and actually deserves his nomination for his performance on the screen and not just on the Oscar campaign trail.  It’s a wonderful story and is well told, however Gibson got his nomination because nobody tells directors what they can do, so they refused to ignore the shunned.  It’s a trend of theirs.
Okay this one actually deserves the nomination, just not the win.  And it deserves the nomination in spite of the director.  Because the only problem with this one is that the director and the screenwriter forgot the cardinal rule of adapting a play to the screen.  The screen is not the stage and thus the script needs to be changed for the screen and it’s been a long time since I saw the play but it felt like it was the same script.  Certainly the main character’s dialogue and soliloquies were the same.  I wonder why the director did that.  I mean I could understand it if the director was also the lead actor that was really doing this film as a vanity project.  Oh wait……never mind, now I understand.  That said Viola Davis is superb, as are the other actors that return from their Broadway run.  And I won’t say anything bad about the story, because come on it’s August Wilson!
Hidden Figures
I love this story and I love the performances in this movie.  I really wish it were higher on my list.  I was so happy it won Best Ensemble at the SAG awards, because it really is some wonderful acting, almost flawless.  That said my issue with this one is that the directing and cinematography of the film almost made it feel like a Hallmark TV Special and not an Oscar worthy film.  Oddly enough neither the cinematography or directing were nominated,  If a film is going to win Best Picture it needs more than great acting.  That said, Taraji Henson, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Costner, and Sheldon Cooper all are perfectly cast and are astounding.  And yes I meant to type Sheldon Cooper.  That is my other flaw in the film.  I think that was the only miscast part.  I need Jim Parsons to not play a scientists, when he plays a scientist there is a tendency to see Sheldon Cooper.
La La Land
Yes I know I’m supposed t love this movie.  It’s a musical with an underlying theme that basically says that you can either be happy in love or happy in your career but not both.  What’s not to love!  And I do love it, I just don’t “OSCAR WIN” love it.  Although I suspect it will win. The two leads who are really the only actors in the movie are wonderful.  Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are wonderful and I can’t imagine anyone else in the roles and that is always a statement.  The script is fun, simple, new and yet traditional.  The songs are catchy and serve a purpose. It’s visually appealing and is so full of so many tributes to the classics.  I highly encourage seeing it because I love it.  But like I said, I just don’t “Oscar Win” love it.
For the first 90 minutes of this film I thought I had found my Oscar winner.  It’s hard to love because it’s depressing story, shot in such a stark manner that you just feel caught up with the life of Little/Chiron .  The two young actors playing this boy are amazing finds.  as is the young man who plays 16 year old Kevin.  Janelle Monae is wonderful, Mahershali Ali is amazing and there aren’t enough words to talk about how riveting Naomie Harris is.  I was so brought into this depressing world by director Barry Jenkins and just wanted to find out more.  Than the screen goes black, some red lights flash and we are in the third act. And the movie starts to fall apart.  First of all, as amazed as I was with how well cast the actor playing 16 yr. old Chiron could have been the same actor playing him as Little, there were no similarities between adult “Black” and Little or Chiron.  SO I’m not for sure how we were supposed to know it was the same character. and by this point I expected more.  Than we have a faulty dream sequence, at least I think it was supposed to be a dream sequence based on the fact that “Black” wakes up with the obvious signs of a wet dream.  Yeah that happened.  The faulty part is that he dreams of Kevin, who he has not seen in 10 years, but he knows what he looks like?  I know that sounds picky but that annoys me when movies that have been so strongly based on stark, cruel realism do that crap.  And then all of a sudden a wonderful depressing movie that is making a profound statement about the vicious circle that the under-privileged in this country are faced with, turns into a love story?  Sorry, but that’s just not what I expected or was ready for.
Hell or High Water
It’s been a few months since I saw this one, but it has stuck with me since then.  It’s a  throw back story beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted, and so simple in it’s execution.  My guess is that this is one that most people won’t see, and that’s a shame.  It’s a story that while not true could be true.  The story of two Texas brothers whose family were screwed over by big banking and their desire to get what they have coming to them, and the law enforcement officer who chases after them.  It’s so well done that it will have you torn cheering for both sides. I was so excited to see it get some Oscar attention. Jeff Bridges is wonderful.  Ben Foster is great.  Katy Mixon, from Mike and Molly fame, has a quick but charming appearance and Chris Pine is a revelation in this film.  No Captain Kirk this time around.  I encourage everyone to check this one out.  It’s a hidden gem.
Manchester by the Sea
I saw this one with a group of friends and they didn’t love it as much as I did.  They felt the ending wasn’t there.  I thought it was wonderful and real and left me fulfilled.  There’s not a flawed performance in the film.  It’s a depressing film with a wicked sense of humor and it just moved me.  Casey Affleck is wonderful and haunted.  Lucas Hedges is a rare find and Michelle Williams will have you in tears with her final scene.  There is not a false moment in the movie. It’s a harsh and humorous look at how one tragedy can tear one’s life apart and another tragedy can help reluctantly bring it back to life.
This was the movie of the year for me.  I did a quick review of it after I saw it earlier, so I won’t belabor the point, but it just has it all.  The story, the acting, the directing, the cinematography, the music, the feels.  The young actor that plays young Saroo is amazing and makes you just feel his terror, his fear, his loneliness, his desperation, his pain.  Dev Patel is amazing as Saroo as a young man struggling with being happy while also knowing something is wrong and missing.  His struggle to come to terms and find his birth family is heartbreaking.  The direction is on point and the cinematography will take your breath away.  The only reason it’s not going to win is because it’s not an “important” film with a hidden message or socially relevant true story.  But it should win,  What the hell is wrong with the Academy?  How the Hell will that not win?

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