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.

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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 (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 (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.

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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

Deadpool: Comedy, Action, Romance, and Gore

WARNING: This movie is not for the faint of heart. Now I’m all for horror movies, gore, and everything in between, but for some reason any time something is mutating it gives me the shivers. Maybe because I can imagine it happening to me and it makes my skin crawl. So if you’re like me, then be prepared to turn away a couple times during this movie.

Other than that, I loved Deadpool! It had a little bit of everything…dark humor, dysfunctional romance, unrealistic action, and disgusting brain matter.

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Ryan Reynolds, who plays Wade Wilson, is a former special forces operative who works as a mercenary. His life is forever changed when he agrees to an experiment during which he is tortured and transformed into Deadpool. Wade now has extraordinary healing powers that help him track down and kill the man who destroyed his life. Add in a little bit of twisted romance and comedy and you have a (non)classic superhero story.

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And, I gotta say, the hype about Ryan Reynold’s ass in that red suit was not exaggerated. Seriously, hot damn.

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A+

–Queen M

Mad Max: Fury Road

Nominations

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Best Achievement in Production Design

*Warning: Spoilers*

Well, what can I even begin to say about Mad Max? – Tbh, not much.

This film was universally acknowledged to be a bit of an Academy outlier by the Queens.  The nomination of an action film is unusual, and we approached this viewing with high expectations.

Mad Max starts with a promising exposition: the world is set in a post-apocalyptic nightmare, water is an elitist luxury, and people are barely maintaining their humanity.  Except Max, of course, played by Tom Hardy.  We learn barely anything about Max from a voice over at the beginning, detailing his past as a cop and a road warrior  (all aspects explained by the first film) and the fact that he is now in captivity as a blood donor for this dsytopia’s tyrannical ruler.

After a bit of hustle and bustle, which I still don’t fully understand, Max finds himself aiding Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in a high speed chase from the warlord in what seems to be the two hour climax of the entire film.  Furiosa, desperately searching for her childhood home, travels with five of the former brides of the aforementioned warlord.  As a side note, this plot line has been met with both acclaim and disgust for its feminist implications.

As Max and Furiosa sort of find a bond and sort of come to accept their realities, the audience ultimately feels unsatisfied by the roll of credits.  Max is still mad, from what I can tell, water is still one step from nonexistent and though Furiosa and her gang of bad ass brides now lead the post-apocalyptic nightmare, the conclusion seems far from ideal.  I’m all for a sad ending, but after sitting through 120 minutes of dessert scenery and bad music, I would have liked to have felt that the plot moved somewhat.

To give credit where its due, I have to say, the plethora of nominations received by this film were more than well-deserved.  The makeup was amazing, turning each character into their own reflection of horror, the visual effects seemed unreal in the most believable way, and the cinematography blows some of the other films out of the water.  Many loved Mad Max, and this is just one Queens opinion, but this film deserves the Oscar for Best Picture about as much as the first one did.

-Queen B

Spotlight

WOW.

That is my 100% honest and complete reaction to this film.  This director, the cast, the writers, every component of this film satisfied the extremely tall order of delivering the true story of the sex abuse scandal in the Boston Archdiocese.

Reminiscent of All the President’s Men, Spotlight follows the year-long investigation into the Catholic Church and the protection of almost a hundred priests.  The film offers an objective view of the investigators, the victims, and even of those who tried for so long to protect the Church.  The report by the Boston Globe opened up further investigations across the world and started a tidal wave of suspicion within and against established religion.

Heavy stuff, right?  But, Spotlight doesn’t play out like a documentary.  On the contrary, I found myself gripping the edge of my seat, desperate for the next twist of the story.  The flawless acting of Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, and Mark Ruffalo often made me forget that I was actually sitting in my small apartment watching on a forty-inch screen, not in the room exposing scandals with the rest of the team.

This was a universally loved film by the Queens and the nomination was well-deserved.  Queen B would not be the least bit shocked or disappointed if Spotlight takes home the Oscar for Best Picture.

Nominations

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Writing, Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Film Editing