For the past five years I’ve attended AMC’s Best Picture Showcase, which is a movie marathon of all the Academy Award nominated films for the year. Usually I attend the 24 hour marathon held the Saturday before Oscar Sunday, but occasionally I attend the 2-day marathon event that takes place over the two Saturdays prior to the awards ceremony. Last Saturday I attended day #1 of this event, and watched four out of the nine nominated films. Here is a short review of each film, and be sure to tune in next week for my review of the last five films.
1.) Manchester By the Sea
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Stars: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler
This film was very well acted, and directed, but the story was extremely depressing. The film is about a man who is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after his father dies. Viewers watch as the man struggles with his ability to be a father to his nephew years after suffering a great tragedy that wrecked his life. This story gives viewers a glimpse into the life of one man whose past is still influencing his future, and how this affects those he loves. While I was entertained by this film, I didn’t like how the film ended, and was left feeling unsatisfied.
Director: Denzel Washington
Writers: August Wilson (screenplay), August Wilson (based upon his play “Fences”)
Stars: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson
This powerful drama centers around an African-American family during the 1950’s, and how they cope with their domineering patriarch. Denzel Washington stars and directed this film, and did a phenomenal job. The story is moving, and very reminiscent of real-life today, despite being set in the past. Viewers watch a working class man struggle with his life, and how he hasn’t lived up to what he dreamed he’d be. This sense of failure causes him to live his life in a way that is often destructive to those he loves, and has repercussions that reverberate through time. This was my favorite film of the day, and I believe that both Denzel and Viola Davis should take home the statue.
3.) Hell or High Water
Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Stars: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges
4.) La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt