Hey friends. I swear we’ll get back to books soon. It’s just… this time of year I’ve got to give the movies some love. And I absolutely must win every Oscar pool I enter. So to paraphrase that 1990s video game staple of my childhood- “Gotta Watch ’em All!”
This will be the fifth and final Roundup, I hope… It’s been a screening whirlwind and a half. Seriously.
Yeah yeah yeah. I just saw Moana. I waited until the dang thing hit DVD. I feel like the worst Disney fan alive, and should probably hand over my Lin-Manuel Fan Club card. But I saw it! I liked it! The story was fun and refreshing, and a great addition to the Disney Princess pantheon. She doesn’t need a love interest! She doesn’t need to be a queen! She needs to be awesome and go on adventures with a chicken and The Rock! And my boy Lin is singing about family traditions! Awesome. I should’ve seen it sooner. I’m sorry.
For Fans Of: Disney, Adventures, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Award Potential: Nominated for best song (which would give LMM that EGOT), but La La Land will probably take that. Also nominated for Animated Feature, but Zootopia is just juggernauting through the lead up awards.
A Man Called Ove
I loved this movie. I went in 100% blind. No plot synopsis, no knowledge of anything other than it’s from Sweden and has a Makeup nomination. Not much to go on. But it was wonderful. The story was just the right balance of funny and dramatic, and I’m a sucker for films about cranky old men. The story was touching but not melodramatic, and the saga of Ove’s interesting life unfolded at the perfect pace. It was, in short, delightful.
For Fans Of: Delightful things, cranky old dudes, cute kids.
Award Potential: I really want it to win that Makeup award, just so it takes home something. It’s up for foreign film as well but the Toni Erdmann/The Salesman showdown will likely outshadow it.
“Alright, a German comedy. This will be interesting. Woah. It’s almost three hours long???” Such was my thought process going into Toni Erdmann. Going out it was something like “Holy cow that was a really good movie. That actress was awesome, why didn’t anyone give her a nomination? Her dad was like… the kind of total weirdos. That wig is so The Room. I bet someone will remake this in America. Yup. Jack Nicholson and Kristin Wiig. Makes sense. I should watch more German comedies.”
For Fans Of: 3 Hour German Comedies. Uncomfortable nudity. Weird dads.
Award Potential: It’s nominated for Best Foreign Film, and was quite the front runner until that good old Oscar political context bat hit. The Salesman isn’t available anywhere around me, so I doubt I’ll be able to see it in the next few days, but it’s been picking up steam ever since the news broke out that the director is boycotting the ceremony due to the American political climate. I’m sure it’s a deserving film (the Director won an Oscar for A Separation, which was outstanding), but Erdmann is great too, so we’ll see.
20th Century Women
An older, working mother seeks the aid of friends and tenants to raise her teenage son in 1970s southern California. It’s part coming of age story, part family drama, and part time capsule on a time and place with deep roots in pop culture and Americana. The writing is exceptional, giving deep personal connections to the men in women at the story’s core through voiceovers, flash backs, and even flash forwards. The acting by Annette Benning, Elle Fanning, and Greta Gerwig was excellent, and any one of them was deserving of awards recognition.
For Fans Of: Snappy dialog. Free spirits. Feminism.
Award Potential: Sorry, I’ll never be done crabbing about that Meryl Streep Best Actress nomination apparently. Amy Adams wasn’t the only person screwed on that- poor Annette Benning. It did get an Original Screenplay nomination, which is deserving, though the odds are quite long.
The Red Turtle
The Best Animated Feature category has some heavy hitters. Two Disney goliaths. A Laika stop-motion masterpiece. A…. Dutch film distributed by Studi Ghibli that has zero dialogue about a man stranded on a remote island? Meet The Red Turtle. It’s the only 2D film of the nominated bunch, giving it a really quaint simplicity. The story, too, is quiet rather than grandiose, a tale about finding your own happiness. The score is lovely and deserving of a nomination in its own right, and the visuals are fluid and charming. It’s 80 minutes that fans of animation should not miss.
For Fans Of: Gorgeous visuals, traditional animation, peaceful music.
Award Potential: It was nominated for Best Animated feature, and while Zootopia looks to be the likely recipient of that crown, this beautiful minimalist work should not be missed.