I’ll be watching a few dozen movies in the next few weeks (more or less as time permits). To keep things manageable I’ll be doing small reviews in bulk! This installment comes just on the heels of the Academy Awards nominations, and has quite a few heavy hitters!
This based on a true story movie (with condensation and adaptation of course) intertwines the actions of three black women working for NASA during the early 1960s. One programmer, one mathematician, and one engineer break barriers in the quest to launch John Glenn into orbit. The movie was well acted all around, to the point where I’m a bit surprised a few other nominations didn’t sneak in. Overall, the movie was a better than average period piece about a story we haven’t really seen before, and was interesting as well as entertaining.
For Fans Of: Badass ladies, history, and SCIENCE
Award Potential: It received 3 Oscar nominations- picture, adapted screenplay, and supporting actress for Octavia Spencer. It’s probably a long shot for all three.
I’m still experiencing a loss of words over Moonlight. It was a beautiful, haunting film about societal expectations and the pressure to be yourself in a world that wants otherwise. Chiron’s story was powerful and heartbreaking, a character study of torment, tragedy, and finding who you are. It’s an important movie for its viewpoints alone, which are seldom found in mainstream films. The gorgeous cinematography and score only added to this phenomenal work of art.
For Fans Of: Creative stories that are nothing like you’ve ever seen, beautiful camerawork.
Award Potential: It landed 8 nominations. Mahershala Ali is a heavy frontrunner for supporting actor, and it’s running neck and neck with La La Land on several other categories, including Director and Picture.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the plot- Hacksaw Ridge is the story of a soldier who refuses to even hold a weapon for religious purposes. He enters the army as a medic instead and is sent to Okinawa. Gibson has always been a deft director when it comes to wartime cinema, and he doesn’t disappoint here. The movie is powerful, gruesome, and inspiring as it navigates the actions of one conscientious objector who literally goes through hell. Andrew Garfield does excellent work as the brave medic holding his comrades together. Literally. There is a lot of blood.
For Fans Of: Intestines. Vince Vaughn being a jerk. British people talking in American Southern accents.
Award Potential: 6 nominations for this one, with Director for Mel Gibson surprising a lot of people. It has a change at some of the technical categories, like sound mixing and editing.
I watched this because we got the DVD at work and because it received a nomination. Check it off the list, right? While it’s better than most Michael Bay films, it didn’t really set itself apart from any other “modern” war story. Everything about it- the acting, the dialog, the editing- was just… fine. Check it out if you’re a completionist, but otherwise you aren’t missing much.
For Fans Of: Non-stop explosions.
Award Potential: I received one nomination for sound mixing. It won’t win.
As a one-time linguistics major in college, this was the sci-fi movie of my dreams. A linguistics professor decyphering an alien language? Yes. Please. And the best part is that it didn’t disappoint. Denis Villeneuve’s haunting drama about life, time, science, and global conflict is truely unique and thought provoking. The fact that it is beautifully shot and features Amy Adams at her best is just icing on the cake. A must see, even if alien sentence structure isn’t your thing.
For Fans Of: Innovative science-fiction, mind-blowing plotlines.
Award Potential: 8 nominations, including picture, director, and screenplay. Amy Adams was robbed, but that’s a rant for another day. I don’t think it can compete with the La La Land / Moonlight juggernauts on the major categories, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see wins for production design, editing, or cinematography.