Usually when the Oscar nominations are announced, the nominated films become available for viewing in bulk the weekend(s) prior to the award night. However, I am very sensitive when it comes to sensations such as fatigue of my eyes from film viewing for long periods of time or the motion sickness felt from motions of the camera (and often made worse from the smell of movie theater popcorn).
So I have never done the bulk viewing at such events. Therefore, this year I had resolved to make a list early on in the season in November of films I decided I was interesting in watching prior to the Oscars. Of course, the nominations were not announced back then so I did not know which films would get the nominations at the time I wrote the list. Behold “the list” (with respective release dates):
Hacksaw Ridge – November 4th
Nocturnal Animals – Nov 18th
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Nov 18th
Lion – Nov 25th
Jackie – Dec 2nd
La La Land – Dec 9th
Collateral Beauty – Dec. 16th
Hidden Figures – Jan 13th
Silence – Jan 2017
(WARNING: Do not read the rest of this blog posting if you do not want any spoiler alerts. )
Like many Oscar-worthy films tend to be, the list is dominated by films that are based on rather serious subject matter. So I did also recently view the film Fifty Shades Darker to indulge on a guilty pleasure moment with a grilled cheese sandwich. And in regards to the Fifty Shades Darker, I did actually enjoy watching this one more than the first one (Fifty Shades of Grey).
Though I applaud Natalie Portman’s transformation into former First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy in Jackie, I was a bit disappointed in the context of the film as it was very much centered around the assassination of her husband which was nothing most of us haven’t heard of (I thought it might go more into her upbringing or other parts of her life).
Nocturnal Animals is the one film I had not been able to cross off my list. However, from watching Collateral Beauty I can see how the films would explore a similar realm in going into someone’s mind in how they see things after a heartbreaking moment. The concept of writing letters to things [in Collateral Beauty] I did find fascinating. And I did think that each “thing” was represented well by the chosen actors – You wouldn’t expect anything less from such an all-star cast.
Andrew Garfield played the main character/protagonist in both Silence and Hackshaw Ridge where he is trying to stand up for his beliefs and they both take place in Japan. But I personally liked Hackshaw Ridge better. It might also be because I’m a sucker for happy endings, but the story of Hackshaw Ridge was also about something I was not familiar with, whereas I had learned about the history of Christianity in Japan in Japanese school (Silence).
Likewise, a lot of people talked about how sad it was that the story of Hidden Figures had not come out until now. But the treatment of black people by NASA and the other characters in the film was something I had become more familiarized with when I binge watched the ABC show Astronaut Wives a few weeks prior to watching the film. Even then, I really did love this film. My girlfriends and I did a lot of cheering for the leading ladies while watching it.
I was also a bit surprised at the ending of La La Land as I thought it was also going to be a happy ending since it seemed like the film was going to be a musical with lots of happy songs (which they still did have a lot of). Prior to watching the film I had heard a few people tell me that they thought the film was overrated but I personally enjoyed the dancing and the artistic color scheme of having everyone wear vibrant solids.
Fantastic Beasts was an adorable film but it might be a bit too adult for a much younger audience as it does also showcase death, abuse, etc. Even if you have never seen a Harry Potter film you should not have any trouble appreciating/understanding the film storyline. I’ve liked a lot of films Eddie Redmayne has starred in and this one seems to also agree with the shy smile-type of personality that he plays well.
With Lion, I liked how you don’t find out what the meaning behind the title is until the very end of the film. I had that experience with the film Arrival back in December (which I also unexpectedly loved). Since Saroo gets lost when he’s only five years old, it did automatically make me think back to my five year old self and what I would be able to recall and piece together had that happened to me. It’s what films do — they make you feel and interpret.
So grab some tissues and get ready to do some crying (and laughing) at the movie theaters if you haven’t already. And to all the Oscar-nominated films — congratulations!