Manchester by the Sea

Nominations

Best Picture: Manchester by the Sea

Actor in a Leading Role: Casey Affleck

Actor in a Supporting Role: Lucas Hedges

Actress in a Supporting Role: Michelle Williams

Achievement in Directing: Kenneth Longergan

Writing (Original Screenplay): Kenneth Longergan

SPOILER ALERT**

This film is a gut-wrenching, honest story of a broken man living in Boston.  Lee Chandler (played by Casey Affleck) is called to raise his nephew (Lucas Hedges) after the passing of his older brother, and struggles with the decision to return to his hometown.

Throughout the film, the audience learns more about Lee’s life and what causes him to move from Manchester by the Sea to Boston.  Told through flashbacks and in snippets of rumours overheard throughout the film, Lee’s story of the accidental death of his three children seems almost too painful to be credible.  In fact, a lesser director may have given us an overwrought film, filled with false emotion and forced tears.  Director Kenneth Longergan, however, avoids any cliches by telling the story without embellishment.  Casey Affleck helps prevent any dryness through his subtle performance.  In a role that would be so easy to overact, Affleck perfectly plays a severely depressed man who has given up, with all the monotony that would include.

Queen B LOVED this film and thinks it deserves almost every Oscar for which it has been nominated (with the exception of Michelle Williams; she was great, but only appeared in three scenes??)

The directing, acting, and writing were all 10/10. Well done.

moonlight

Moonlight

Nominations:

Here is a trailer of the movie:

The movie Moonlight chronicles the story of a man from childhood to adulthood and all the trials and tribulations he finds himself in. “Little,” as he is referred to, grows up in a rough and tough neighborhood of Miami. He is surrounded by drugs, violence, bullies, and a drug-addict single mother. However, even with all of this he is able to find a mentor, Juan, (if we can really call him that considering he is one of Miami’s biggest drug dealers) who is played by Mahershala Ali. Juan and his girlfriend Teresa (played by Janelle Monae) look after “Little” and let him stay over at their house throughout his childhood. It seems that they raise him more than his own mother, who deteriorates more and more throughout the movie due to her various drug addictions.

“Little” is bullied at school throughout his childhood for being “different.” He knows he is “different,” but has trouble placing exactly what that is. He soon finds out that what makes him “different” is that he actually likes boys and not girls (even though he thinks he should like girls). The movie continues and “Little” ends up getting pushed to the breaking point and beats up one of his bullies. He gets arrested and once he moves out he moves far away to Atlanta and ends up becoming a rough and tough drug dealer himself. This, for me, was the worst part of the movie. I felt that “Little” was a good kid and tried to stay out of trouble and then he was finally pushed so far to the breaking point by all of the various bullies in his life that he ended up going down the path that society and his circumstances “tell him” that he is meant to go down. Which is awful. I had hope at the beginning of the movie that he wouldn’t go down this dangerous path and end up as a criminal, but he does. He turns into this (which is an *albeit attractive* drug dealer):

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Overall, I thought this was an OK movie. Nothing more, nothing less. For me, this movie had a very loose plot line. The audience sort of just follows the main character through his life in a sort of random fashion. It doesn’t feel like we, as an audience, are working towards any sort of end goal with this story. It just kinds of ends and I was left feeling very unsatisfied. I still had a lot of questions, but at the same time, I didn’t care to get them answered either because I didn’t develop any sort of relationship with the characters throughout the movie.

Mahershala Ali did an excellent job for the small role he had, but I’m not sure that such an insignificant role was worth an Oscar nod…I’m noticing that trend with a lot of the movies this year (ahem Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea). I thought the scene where Juan took “Little” to the ocean for the first time was especially touching.

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I have to say, I would be upset if this movie took home the big trophy.

lion

Lion, Sharu, Saroo

Nominations:

  • Best Picture: Lion
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Dev Patel
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Nicole Kidman
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Luke Davies
  • Best Cinematography: Greig Fraser
  • Best Original Score: Dustin O’Halloran & Hauschka

I knew this movie was going to emotionally drain me, and sure enough, the tears were freely rolling down my face for 70% of the movie. Never mind the fact that I was sitting in a public theatre; I just hope my sniffles weren’t too distracting.

For the first half of the movie, in Slum Dog Millionaire-esque fashion, we meet a little boy, Saroo, living in rural, destitute India. He accidentally falls asleep on a train and ends up thousands of kilometers away in Calcutta. There we see this adorable 5 year old (Sunny Pawar) struggle to survive in a cruel city. How could you not want to save this cutie?

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Eventually he gets adopted by a couple in Australia. They love him, but 25 years later he’s grown in to a curious young man (Dev Patel) who desperately wants to find the mother and brother he lost so long ago.

Admittedly, Lion hits very close to home for me as I have an adopted younger sister that, after getting lost in a marketplace in India, could never find nor be found by her mother.  Saroo managed to use Google Earth to find his family, and I hope one day my sister has the same luck.

What I definitely appreciated was the choice for Dev Patel as the older Saroo. Not only is Dev an amazing actor, but he’s incredibly good looking. How could you not cry for this man’s struggles?

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The clips at the end of the movie with the real Saroo, his adoptive mother, and his birth mother meeting for the first time were incredibly heartwarming. I don’t think I will ever go through anything so horrifying, terrifying, and emotional as Saroo did. So happy that you could be reunited with your mother and sister, and condolences on the death of Guddu.

Also, HUGE shout out to Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman! Excellent performance from all.

The Queens still have 3 best pictures to watch, but so far this is number one on my list!

-Queen M

hell-or-high-water

Hell or High Water (Or Just Hell)

Nominations

Best Picture, Hell or High Water

Actor in a Supporting Role, Jeff Bridges

Film Editing, Jake Roberts

Writing (Original Screenplay), Taylor Sheridan

Unfortunately, this is going to be one short post because, TBH, I did NOT like this movie AT ALL. Which is sad because I do love Chris Pine, but it really let me down. Pretty sure I was folding laundry during this movie because I got so bored.

Movies like this always seem pointless. Why was this movie made? What story is it really telling? In my opinion, nothing worth telling. Two brothers go around robbing various banks to try and save their family ranch. Then, Jeff Bridges comes around with his partner, says many racist things to him, and they try to catch the robbers. The partner (Gil Birmingham) gets shot, the brother (Ben Foster) also gets shot and basically the movie ends. Other things happen, but they are not worth discussing, or remembering. If this movie wins ANY awards I will be disappointed. There are SO many other films more worthy of that Oscar gold than this one.

I will end this post by saying: I still hope Chris Pine comes to the Oscars and looks dapper as always.

-Queen K

 

lala-land

LaLa Land (City of Stars) Review

Nominations

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Actor in a Leading Role, Ryan Gosling

Actress in a Leading Role, Emma Stone

Best Achievement in Directing, Damien Chazelle

Best Achievement in Cinematography, Linus Sandgren

Best Achievement in Film Editing, Tom Cross

Music (Original Score), Justin Hurwitz

Music (Original Song), ‘Audition; (The Fools Who Dream); Listen to the song here

Music (Original Song), ‘City of Stars’; Listen to the song here

Production Design, David Wasco

Sound Editing, Ai-Ling Lee & Mildred Latrou Morgan

Sound Mixing, Andy NelsonAi-Ling Lee & Steve Morrow

Writing (Original Screenplay), Damien Chazelle

*Warning: Spoilers*

It’s been a few weeks since I saw LaLa Land, so let’s all watch this trailer together as a refresher.

Now, to start off, this musical movie did have two of my favorites: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. I love that both of their careers have developed so much that they are both nominated for two of the highest awards in film. Who else remembers Emma Stone in Easy A and of course we can’t forget Ryan Gosling in The Notebook? (Hopefully everyone has seen these.)

LaLa Land starts out with a wonderfully choreographed dance scene on the crowded Los Angeles freeways, that ultimately ends with the audience meeting the two main characters: Sebastian and Mia. Sebastian is a passionate & struggling jazz musician, while Mia is an equally passionate and equally struggling actress. (How “LA,” right?) They are both trying to find their way in the cutthroat entertainment industry. Mia goes on countless auditions and Sebastian takes musical gigs that he does only to get by.

The two meet again when Mia is out with her friends and after finding out that her car has been towed, she starts to walk home. She passes a restaurant and hears wonderful music, so she decides to pop in. (Not shockingly) it is Sebastian she hears playing the piano and she becomes fixated on his music. After he finishes playing (and gets fired for playing his own music, rather that what he is told to play), she tries to introduce herself to him, but he is not interested (rude!).

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Naturally, that is not where out love-story ends. The two get to know each other and exchange their lofty goals and ambitions. Mia wants to become a famous actress and Sebastian wants to open his own jazz club. Sebastian ends up joining a band that starts to tour and this put a lot of stress on their relationship because Mia feels he is abandoning his dream, something she would never do. Eventually the couple realizes that their relationship is no longer working out. They end things, go their separate ways, and my heart breaks. In two.

La La Land (2016) Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone)

In the end it turns out that Mia does in fact become a famous actress and all of her dreams have come true. She is married to a great guy and has a beautiful daughter. She lives in a posh LA estate, what more could she want? But Mia isn’t the only one who has all of her dreams come true. Sebastian eventually opened his own jazz club and it’s a very successful one at that.

Sometime later (it’s not exactly clear how long, but at least a few years), Mia and her husband are out on a date and decide to randomly pull off the freeway and they end up at Sebastian’s jazz bar. Mia and her husband sit down in the crowd and just as Sebastian sits down to play the piano, he notices Mia in the crowd. He begins to play “their song” (Mia & Sebastian’s Theme) and a montage of the life they could have had starts playing.

While both of their lives turned out even better than either of them could have imagined, I’m still sad that they didn’t end up together. I thought they were good as a couple, they challenged one another, but also believed deeply in their own dreams, as well as each other’s.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic film. Do I think Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are going to have singing or dancing careers? No. But do I think they did an excellent job and made a great movie? YES. I absolutely loved all of the singing and dancing. I think because they weren’t trained specifically in singing or dancing made the film even better for me, more realistic. If Mia had a drop-dead amazing singing voice, it would have made it harder to believe that she was a struggling actress. I also loved all of the choreography. That opening scene JUST WOW.

lala-land-opening

I don’t think there was any ONE thing that made this film fantastic for me, but it was a combination of the acting, music, cinematography, scenery, and the storyline. I’m not sure if I think LaLa Land is my favorite Oscar Nominee—I have yet to see them all, but it is definitely a contender and I would not be at all upset if it won Best Picture.

-Queen K

The Sting- BMP 1974

The 1974 Academy Award for Best Picture was by no means an easy win, against nominees American Graffiti, The Exorcist, A Touch of Glass, and Cries and Whispers.

The Sting, however, blew them all out of the water in this adventure comedy about a pair of 1930s con-men trying to find revenge and fortune in a bigwig card player.  If nothing else, the film stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford (arguably two of the greatest actors since the invention of the camera).  This duo portray Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker, respectively: two drifters who design a faux horse race and entrap Doyle Lonergen (Robert Shaw) into a handsome payout.  Director George Roy Hill uses film effects from the Depression Decade, incorporates anecdotal scenes from real-life gangsters, and flawlessly utilizes 1930s era decor, costumes, and music.  The effect is a 1970s film that brings you straight back to a Nickelodeon rooting for the ‘bad guys.’

The Sting overwhelmed the 46th Oscars, securing 10 nominations and 7 wins.  The movie won awards for best score, editing, costume design, set decoration, writing, directing, and Best Picture.

Queen B loved this film and thinks it deserves a spot in the Top 10 Best Picture Winners of all time.

No Country for Old Men- BMP 2008

No Country for Old Men, the Best Motion Picture choice for 2007, showed impressive acting, costumes, cinematography, and music.  While the nominees for this year provided great competition, Queen B understands why this film won Best Motion Picture over all the rest.

This movie follows the path of Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) as he discovers the abandoned scene of a drug deal gone wrong and the 2 million dollars seemingly forgotten near the corpses.  Moss takes the millions for himself, securing a spot on the top of Anton Chighur’s (Javier Bardem) kill list.  We watch as Moss stays one step ahead of Chighur throughout Texas and Mexico, and attempt to devise a way out of his self-conflicted predicament.

Directors Ethan and Joel Cohen deliver a well-crafted drug film built not on suspense or action, but rather on strategy and emotion.  While the film drags at some parts, the reliance on dialogue and plot rather than edge-of-your-seat showdowns and violence makes this an interesting outlier in a long list formulaic action films.

In 2007, No Country for Old Men beat out Juno, Atonement, Michael Clayton, and There Will Be Blood to secure its position as the Best Motion Picture of that year

Ethan and Joel Cohen additionally won awards for both directing and writing, and Javier Bardem won the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Overall, Queen B gives the film a 7.5/10.