Here are my thoughts on the best picture nominations for the 2016 Oscar. (Links to the trailers are in the titles).
I base my criteria on:
1) Was surprised by the story telling?
2) Was I moved?
3) Was the movie filmic? ie: if it easily could be a stage play or TV show then it has not really exploited it’s art form.
4) Did it take me to a new world or show me new things?
So from least successful to most successful here are my thoughts.
8) The Martian
Although beautiful filmed and acted everything that happened was entirely predictable. We knew he was not going to die and any hardship was going to overcome. Although I was grateful for the nude scene.
The story of an Irish immigrant girl who finds a new life and falls in love in 1950’s Brooklyn is heartbreaking beautiful and the two leads are movingly portrayed and powerfully appealing. The detail to the time period is lovely as is the soundtrack.
But in the end it is just a love story and not revolutionary.
An espionage war movie that was often gripping, Bridge of Spies also boasted powerful visuals and dynamic acting. I remember being really captivated by the film in the theatre but when I saw the title among the nominees I had to really search my memory to recall anything from it.
This is the film that will likely win best picture but I found it fatiguing. All the press about how hard it was to film was grating. It was stunningly shot but as the film continued to torture Mr. DiCaprio in a dozen different ways I just kept think ‘Oscar Bait’. I was moved a couple of times but mostly I found it predictable. Did anyone really think he wasn’t going to get his vengeance after all that?
I know, it was a very ridiculous popcorn movie and it also fails the predictability test. I also was disappointed that both the young women and the older ladies were not better differentiated. It was impossible to tell which ones had been killed and therefore it was hard to care.
But the highly original world it took me into and the action sequences were grand fun so I was otherwise mostly delighted.
An important true story that needs to be told and re-told. A throwback to a time when newspapers were not shills for corporate masters and were able to do things like uncover sexual abuse coverups in the church. Sometimes the acting was so powerful and the stakes so high it brought tears to my eyes.
The final two I debated back and forth on for a long time until finally I settled on this:
This is a devastating beautiful film about a frightfully sad story about abduction and abuse. I avoided it for a long time and did not even watch the trailer so it was the last film on the list I saw and it blew me away. The film is surprisingly gentle and beautiful as it is raw and cruel. That little boy is an absolutely brilliant actor as is the young lady. I went to it blind and was instantly captivated. I highly recommend it and I also suggest DON’T watch the trailer. It’s superior story telling and it takes you into a world you have never seen before.
It’s a harrowing cheeky film about the world we live in. There are no hero’s and everyone is just trying to profit at varying degrees of greed. The acting and film making is captivating and the audacious wit made the prevailing hopelessness about our current economy state has been described as a ‘slapstick tragedy’. It’s stylish and original, giddy making and mortifying.
It takes a complicated and dense subject matter, treats it whimsically and manages to slap you in the face while offering a shoulder to cry on.
Thus making it my pick for the best of the bunch.