February 2017 Movie Roundup

And here we are folks. The movies have been watched. The red carpets have been walked. Hands have been wrung and junkets have been junked. Ballots have been cast and all awards (but one) have been taken home. We have reached the end of yet another race, and it’s time for the final hurdle.

But before we get into all that, a quick recap of my three February movies:

Golden Goal
Nocturnal Animals
I gotta say, I didn’t expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did. Director Tom Ford proves A Single Man wasn’t a fluke — as much of a titan as he is in fashion, the man undoubtedly has a knack for directing, and he goes even deeer with his second feature. Expertly weaving together three distinct story lines is no easy feat, especially when it is based on a novel about a novel. I’m genuinely surprised the film didn’t get more attention this season — its sole Oscar nom goes to Michael Shannon for Best Supporting Actor (although co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson did nab the Globe). Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal anchor the film, but the story (or stories, really) are captivating enough themselves. From the violently tense highway scene to the quiet suspense of the final moments, the film makes use of its music, cinematography, production design and every other tool at its disposal to clash two distinct worlds and yet accentuate their striking similarities. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s at least worth taking a sip.

Hat Trick
Hell or High Water
Finally got a chance to see one of the highest-rated movies of the year (after like six months). I wish I could have enjoyed it on the big screen (found a shady streaming link online because poor) as I think that would have heightened my appreciation and enjoyment of the dialogue and cinematography. But despite all that, it was easy to see why critics loved this one. It’s a modern Western in the best of ways, led by deliciously gritty performances from Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster, and Chris Pine. The film brings you slowly into the sun-drenched Texas world, taking its time to develop its two parallel stories, fleshing out the chemistry and motivations of the characters, before seamlessly weaving it all together in a climactic ending. Funnily enough, Jeff Bridges is up against the aforementioned Michael Shannon, each playing similarly rugged veteran Texas rangers. Will one of them be able to beat frontrunner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)? Only time will tell.

13th
I think this is the first time I’ve reviewed a documentary, as unfortunately this category always falls on my priority list when I’m playing catch-up. But thanks to Netflix, I was able to easily check out my favorite publicist-turned-director in her element. Ava DuVernay continues to prove her insane talent with this cutting doc about racial inequality in the United States, exploring the history of slavery broadly over the centuries and then acutely through the decades, keenly analyzing the modern prison system and systemic inequalities we see in our country today. As powerful as it is infuriating, DuVernay expertly ties together the strands of injustice that have plagued our country for centuries to leave a searing impression of the state of our nation. I wish I could have seen all the nominated documentaries, as the majority actually deal with race in America, and make better comparison commentary. But as it stands, I absolutely recommend giving this one a watch.

And just like that, it’s over (we tend to our wounded, we count our dead wait no sorry automatic Hamilton reaction). Now all we have left to do is wait and watch and enjoy the industry’s biggest night.

Like always, I won’t post my predictions (my friends and I have a Very Serious Oscar Pool every year and I don’t want them getting any ideas) but I’ll discuss everything in a recap after the show. So far, it seems like the only thing everyone can agree on is that no one can agree on anything — except Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress which is as close to a lock as you can get (even though she SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE LEAD ACTRESS CATEGORY BUT WHATEVER that’s a story/rant for another time).

The big question this year: will we dance under a sunny La La Land or bask in the quiet Moonlight? It’s a tough call. We’re not likely to see a La La sweep but they could still very well take home most of the gold on Sunday night.

My personal preferences have Moonlight winning Best Picture over La La Land and a solid spread of the love between those two and Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, and Lion. But alas (earwax). Until I become a revered member of the Public Relations branch and cast my own votes, I’ll just keep writing long and winding rants about my stubborn picks and preferences right here.

And with that my friends, I bid you adieu — as always, I’ll be live-tweeting throughout the show and will be back with a lot of thoughts and feelings about how they fucked everything up (or got everything right! who knows! but let’s be real, it’ll probably be the former).

Until Sunday night, happy watching!

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