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. On Saturday I attended day #2 of this event, and watched five out of the nine nominated films. Here is a short review of each film, and be sure to check out my reviews of the other four films.
Director: Barry Jenkins
Writers: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Stars: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson
Moonlight is the story about Chiron, a young black man growing up in a rough Miami neighborhood. The film follows him at three stages of his life: a child, a teen, and a man. Viewers watch Chiron as a bullied child of a crack addicted mother who struggles to survive, to a teen ridiculed for his perceived sexual orientation, and a man living with the consequences of a bad childhood decision. In essence, Moonlight is the story of a life.
I really enjoyed this film. The actors offered up strong portrayals. Naomie Harris did a fantastic job playing Chiron’s addict mother. She brought lots of truth to her character, and made me hate her many times over. I could definitely see why she was nominated for Actress in a Supporting Role. Now that the Academy Awards have aired, we all know that Moonlight won for best film. While I found it to be moving, heartfelt, and real it wasn’t my pick for best picture, but I can see why others thought it should be. Overall, a great film everyone should see at least once.
Director: Garth Davis
Writers: Saroo Brierley (adapted from the book “A Long Way Home”), Luke Davies(screenplay)
Stars: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara
One of my favorite films during the showcase was Lion. This is the true story of Saroo Brierley. A five-year old boy living in India that gets lost at a train station. He winds up thousands of miles away, and gets put into a Kolkata orphanage, where he’s adopted by an Australian couple. Though Saroo is loved, and raised in an environment he could have only dreamt of, part of him has always felt missing. Using a new technology called Google Earth, Saroo uses the site and his memories to track down his lost family.
I loved this film! The acting was superb, and both Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel deserved their Oscar nods. Watching this film really made me more aware of how many orphaned or lost children end up in Indian orphanages, and how people tend to turn a blind eye to a lost child. It also showed the various dangers Saroo could have found if he hadn’t been lucky enough to get adopted by a nice, loving couple.
3.) Hacksaw Ridge
Director: Mel Gibson
Writers: Robert Schenkkan, Andrew Knight
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey
This was not a film I really had any interest in seeing, but I’m glad I did. Hacksaw Ridge was an inspiring war film, and true story of Desmond Doss, a WWII medic who joined the army to save lives, not take them. Without ever firing a gun, Doss saved 75 men in Okinawa during one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Andrew Garfield did an amazing job playing Doss. He was very believable as a conscientious objector who desired to fight for his country. Action packed, dramatic, and at times humorous. A definite add to your movie list.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Ted Chiang (based on the story “Story of Your Life”)
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
I first saw Arrival over the Thanksgiving holiday. This film is strange, but thought-provoking. It is definitely a film one must view more than one time. Both Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner were captivating in their roles as scientists working to discover what Aliens want with us humans. Though a science fiction story, at its heart it’s about the choices we make, and whether we would still make them if we already knew the consequences of our choices. See this one before heading out to dinner so you can gab about it over a good meal.
5.) Hidden Figures
Director: Theodore Melfi
Writers: Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
Stars: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe
Hidden Figures is a film I’ve been wanting to watch for months. Like many of the films nominated this year, it tells the true story of how young African-American women worked at Nasa during the 1960’s for the space program. These young women, though forced to work under the conditions of segregation, worked as human computers to calculate the math required to send a man to space.
I loved this film! Taraji P. Henson shone in her portrayal of Katherine Johnson, renowned physicist and mathematician who helped launch astronaut John Glenn into space. Alongside her, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe were equally captivating in their portrayals of Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson. Hidden Figures is a wonderful film that should be required in schools. In it, millions can learn about a period in history that was swept aside, and the women who helped the United States be the first country to have a man orbit the Earth. What wowed me the most was they type of calculations these women did by hand, and with only the aid of an adding machine. Math that today is done on very sophisticated graphing calculators. Amazing!