I know what a lot of you have been thinking, “Ciaran the Oscars are Sunday where are all your Best picture reviews?” Well, I’ve been slowly compiling my thoughts on all 9 films for this monster post, so enjoy my eager friend. I purposefully didn’t review the Oscar contenders bar 1, so I could break it down for you all at once, now that I’ve seen all 9 I can let you know who I think is the front runner for Sunday’s most prestigious award.
La La Land is the only Oscar Nominee I reviewed prior to this post, so instead of repeating myself check out my review. What I will say is that La La Land is one of the three films I think will realistically win Best Picture Sunday, it is so innovative and perfectly symbolizes what an Oscar film should be without rehashing the same old Oscar best picture formula. Possibility Of Winning – Very High
Denis Villeneuve is making quite the name for himself with films like Prisoners, Sicario and most recently Arrival, which is easily one of my favourite films of last year. Villeneuve viscerally brings to life an incredible idea with such grace and delicacy that after seeing all 9 of the best picture nominees it still stands out to me. Arrival tells the story of Loise Banks, a professor of linguistics who must communicate with alien space crafts before our world goes to war. This film like most films on this list divides people Villeneuve’s filmmaking style is slow and progressive leading to a huge payoff, which it delivered. Looking at the best actress nominees, it is clear to me that Amy Adams deserved the nominee more than at least 3 of them, I don’t now what she did to the Oscar committee but her performance was leagues ahead of some of the nominees, not naming names. Amy Adams character was so well thought out and in a film with and intricate sci-fi plot it is very easy to go over the top and bring me out the film but her performance could not have pulled me in any further. This science fiction thriller did something that none of the other best picture films did, leave me speechless, my head was so busy processing what I’d just witnessed I couldn’t make a sound for a good 30 minutes after seeing the film. Sadly due to the incredible film-making and acting in 3 other films on this list Arrival’s innovation is left in the dust, it is a very dark horse for Sunday’s award but if it did win I would 100% agree that it deserved it. Possibility Of Winning – Low-ish
Hell Or High Water-
This film will not win, it just won’t it’s really sad to say it because it did something brave, instead of attempting to create a hugely elaborate art piece like most of the films on this list, Hell or high water stripped back the concept of an oscar movie to its bare bones. The film is a straightforward modern day western where two brothers played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster attempt to pay off the mortgage on their range by robbing banks, washing the money in a casino and giving the money straight back to the bank in their name, oh and Jeff Bridges is a Texas ranger nearing retirement chasing them down. Doesn’t sound like an Oscar film to me, yet it’s nominated and standing next to these other films, I believe it belongs, a stripped back simple western sadly not best picture worthy but I still thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Hell or High Water’s nominations don’t stop there with Bridges picking up a best-supporting-actor nod which I think is a huge misjustice. Jeff Bridges brings nothing new to the table in this film, his dry humour still oozes through the screen but Ben Foster as the loose cannon brother steals the show letting me and everyone else know that he is one to watch. Possibility Of Winning – Very Low
Lion is one of three nominees that are based on true stories and this one is easily the most heartfelt. Lion tells the story of Saroo Brierley who loses his family in Calcutta at the age 5 and must fend for himself before he is adopted by an Australia couple, 25 years later he begins the search for the family he lost. The story is beautiful and really shows the power of the human spirit but sadly Dev Patel playing Saroo didn’t add an awful lot to the film he was completely overshadowed by Sunny Pawar who played a young Saroo. I don’t quite understand what the academy saw in Dev Patel’s performance it just didn’t wash with me, I guess it’s because I’ve seen him do better in Oscar worthy films, I’m of course talking about Slumdog Millionaire. The businessmen behind Lion didn’t even believe in Dev Patel as they submitted him for the supporting actor award and not the lead actor award as they know he wasn’t on the same level. As I previously mentioned Sunny Pawar is easily the star of this film. Possibility Of Winning – Low-ish
Manchester By The Sea-
This film is depressing, a beautiful piece of cinema combining a perfectly sculpted atmosphere with some phenomenally raw acting, but boy did I weep buckets. This film is nothing new in all honesty, but the acting is so human and the narrative is so harrowing that you can’t help be emotionally absorbed. Lonergan expertly directs a collection of passionate and touching scenes exploring the what the heart can truly take. The film’s brutally honest and heart-wrenching story is brought to life by two people both of which are nominated on Sunday, Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, the main difference is that Casey Affleck’s award nod is for great acting throughout the film, Williams is nominated for one scene. The scene where Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams meet on a peer is possibly the finest piece of acting I’ve seen all oscar season and is the reason I believe Manchester By The Sea has a huge chance of taking away the ultimate prize. Possibility Of Winning – High
Mel Gibson can make one hell of a war film, I mean wow. I am very lucky and have never had the honour to defend my country but damn did I feel like I’d been through one after this film. Gibson’s heavy handed gore fest genuinely makes war look horrific but I can’t figure out whether the gratuitous violence took away from the narrative or made the film, making the story of Private Doss a heart-wrenching statement on war and faith. This is Garfield’s second oscar worthy performance of the year, kicking off the year as a Jesuit monk in Silence and following it up by playing the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot, correct me if I’m wrong but I feel like Garfield really wanted an Oscar nomination. He got his nomination for this film and couldn’t deserve it more but the best actor field is so huge this year I don’t think he’s got a shot. Anyway moving on to Hacksaw’s chances at winning the big prize Sunday let me set it straight, a returning director and a true story about an American hero I would not count it out. Possibility Of Winning – Low/High
This is an acting masterclass, both lead actors 100% deserve their oscar nominations but I don’t agree with it being on this list or nominated for best picture if Fences really was a phenomenal film Denzel would’ve been nominated for his direction. Fences is not a film it’s a play on the big screen which is breathtaking and magnetizing but I kinda feel like it was a missed opportunity to use more cinematic conventions, the only portion of the film that can’t be easily displayed on stage is the opening with the garbage truck. I just really wanted them to take the original play and rethink how to display this on screen anyway let’s talk about how it’s got a very low chance of winning best picture but the film could genuinely walk away with the Best Actor Oscar and the Best Supporting Actress award. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington have won Tony’s for their performance on stage, so it should be no surprise to see them both nominated, the performances are really something else keeping me interested in a fairly simple plot which is made complicated by their well thought out nuances. Possibility Of Winning – Low
The final biopic on this list is the unbelievable true story of the three African American women who played a huge role in the early years of Nasa’s space program. Hidden Figures is a moving and beautifully compelling picture. But I’ll be frank it’s the only film on this list that I can think of a better replacement for, the main reason I feel it’s on the list is due to the heat the Oscar’s received last year. The one thing that deserves to be nominated from this film is Octavia Spencer, the powerhouse of the film who really ties it all together. There’s another huge issue with the nominations around this film, why isn’t Taraji P. Henson nominated for best lead actress, watch the scene where Henson’s character yells in the middle of the Space Task Group room then you will understand. Of the three biopics on this list, this film is easily the most rewatchable and enjoyable. Probability of Winning – High/Low
Watch this film now! Out of this year’s nominees, Moonlight is the one I can see being considered a classic 20 years from now the film’s message combined with all three of the lead actors thought provoking performances makes for a huge contender to take down La La Land on Sunday. The film chronicles the life of a young man from childhood to adulthood and is full to the brim with phenomenal performances two of which could be winning awards this weekend. Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris delivered visceral and human performances adding to a timeless story. What really blows me away in this film is Barry Jenkin’s direction, the film is split into three different parts and each part feels like a completely different director completely enthralling me in this simple yet moving journey. Probability of Winning Very High
There we go that’s my breakdown, hope you enjoyed it I will be following it up with my predictions later this weekend. Have a great Oscar weekend, thank you for giving this a read.