Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

05 February 2017

Oscar Noms 2017: 5 of 13

Part 1 - La La Land, Moonlight, Arrival
Part 2 - Manchester by the Sea, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion
Part 3 - Fences, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Jackie
Part 4 - Florence Foster Jenkins, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Passengers, Rogue One

Part 5:

Deepwater Horizon
2 Nominations
  • Visual Effects
  • Sound Effects Editing
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, Kate Hudson, Dylan O'Brien, Ethan Suplee, John Malkovich, Brad Leland, Dave Maldonado

This movie is so good. I honestly was expecting a bunch of nonsense, but I completely enjoyed it. It's plotted beautifully, it's exciting from start to finish, the effects are awesome, and even the script is pretty great (there's this awesome sequence in act two when Malkovich thinks he's calling a bluff and tells Wahlberg that if there's so much wrong with the rig, then he just *name one* thing wrong. Wahlberg rattles off a list of at least twenty things at breakneck speed. It's just great). Deepwater Horizon is a disaster movie in the tradition of The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and The Hindenburg. So it is structurally generic – first we meet all the players, then things all go to hell, and then people try save lives – and we also know what is going hsppen from the very beginning, but it handles all this perfectly. This is also a Peter Berg movie (one of three collaborations with Wahlberg) so it is, like all of his movies, invested in a kind of American patriotism/nationalism that I don't really understand, but Deepwater Horizon is made palatable by its investment in a critique of the corporate greed that caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the first place. It would have been easy, too, to make the villains a bunch of big bad cyncical foreigners (they do, after all, work for British Petroleum), but they're all American assholes in Berg's film, corporate suits who discard safety, the lives of the laborers working on the rig, and the health of the planet so that they can line their already well-lined pockets. This  movie is very high on my list for 2016 (higher than a lot of awards bait like La La Land, Hidden Figures, Lion, and Jackie). It's a great watch. I wish I had seen it in theatres so I could have experienced the effects on a big screen. 
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #22 out of 90

Kubo and the Two Strings
2 Nominations
  • Visual Effects
  • Animated Feature
Director: Travis Knight
Cast: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, Brenda Vaccaro, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, George Takei, Meyrick Murphy

A delightful animated film and pretty much a total surprise. Like The Book of Life from 2014, Kubo and the Two Strings takes the look of its characters from its subject matter, in this case origami. Kubo is a film about storytelling, but it is also a story of dealing with death. This is an odd topic, perhaps, for a stop-motion animated children's film, but Kubo manages to treat its topic beautifully, and little Kubo, at the film's center is himself a kid who must learn how to cope with the death of his mother and father. That this movie got a Visual Effects nomination is really special. This has never happened for an animated movie before, as far as I know, and is indicative of just how much the Academy loved this movie. You will like it too.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #34 out of 90

Moana
2 Nominations
  • Animated Feature
  • Song: "How Far I'll Go"
Cast: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Jermaine Clement, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Temuera Morrison, Chris Jackson, Alan Tudyk, Nicole Scherzinger

So cute! The central song to Moana, "How Far I'll Go" recurs about fifteen times in the movie, so its nomination here was mostly inevitable. In addition, the songwriter is Lin-Manuel Miranda, current darling of Broadway and most everywhere else. Miranda's charms are lost on me (also, he can't sing), but I really liked Moana, and Miranda's songs are catchy and fun (my favorite in the movie is Dwayne Johnson's song "You're Welcome", which I actually can't stop singing in my head). Moana, too, is a story about a girl's bravery and a kind of interior belief in what she knows even though it contravenes everything her parents tell her to do. In other words, the film is about marching (rafting?) to the beat of your own drum rather than doing what you're supposed to do. This is an enjoyable message to be sure, but the film also looks gorgeous. Its rippling water effects, its  Polynesian islandscapes and flora, its villainous volcano god, are all beautifully imagined.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Animated Feature, Song
My Rating: #31 out of 90

En Man Som Heter Ove (A Man Called Ove)
2 Nominations
  • Foreign Language Film
  • Makeup & Hairstyling
Director: Hannes Holm
Cast: Rolf Lassgård, Bahar Pars, Filip Berg, Ida Engvoll, Tobias Almborg, Börje Lundberg, Chatarina Larsson, Klas Wiljergård, Poyan Karimi, Simon Edenroth, Anna-Lena Bergelin, Johan Widerberg

To be fair to this movie, it isn't quite terrible, but I'll just tell you that in the first twenty minutes the main character tries to commit suicide about 4 times and each time I wished he would succeed. I legitimately have no idea why this is nominated for Makeup and Hairstyling. Every year there is at least one old-age makeup nominee in this category, but the old version of the protagonist and his younger counterpart are played by two different actors, so I don't really get it. I suppose the actress playing his wife does play both the elderly version and the young one, but the makeup is barely even notable, much less Oscar-worthy. And as for the film? This is a little fairytale about an awful, old, rule-obsessed curmudgeon who learns, after being a jerk for a really long time, not to be such an asshole to the people in his life. This is mostly due to his friendship with a new neighbor that he meets, a pregnant immigrant from Iran who is, as far as I can tell, the most generous woman in the world. I suppose A Man Called Ove is better than a movie like the Walter Matthau vehicle Kotch, where the old curmudgeon doesn't learn how to be a better person, and where the film just decides that he was right all along, but I was not really that interested in this old man's conversion to friendliness. Why should I take any interest in this jerk? The fact that this was nominated in the Foreign Language category is also a puzzle. You're telling me the Academy thought this was better than Almodóvar's new movie Julieta or Paul Verhoeven's Elle or Jonás Cuarón's Desierto or Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World? I don't get it.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Makeup & Hairstyling