I watched every film nominated for Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, and Actress in a Supporting Role. I appreciated something about every single one of those films. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about film as a medium, but these were my thoughts on the nominations.
One brief observation: all but one actor nominated for lead actor is in a film nominated for best film; only one actress nominated for lead actress is in a film nominated for best film. I feel the Academy is saying this year that the stories about men are fundamentally more compelling than the stories about women.
- Win Prediction: La La Land
- The Academy consistently favors movies about movies, which makes sense because they all work in movies. It would be shocking to me if this doesn’t win. I continue to find musicals largely irrational.
- My Favorite Nominated Film: Lion
- I’m really not able to articulate why I feel better about this film than any of the others. This true story is unlike any I’ve seen before–man looks for mother using Google Earth. But I think the film does a beautiful job of telling a story about trying to figure out who you are and what that means to you.
- Film I Will Rewatch the Most: Hidden Figures
- Although it wasn’t the best film, I anticipate watching this movie many times more. My only complaint was the film felt a bit too Disney: “people overcome adversity through perseverence.” At the end of the movie I felt I knew no more about the stories of these women than from the two sentence plot summary I read beforehand, but I will shamelessly promote this film to any student or child that will cross my path because it’s so important to highlight these true stories that are often ignored by the powerful majority.
- Would Love to See as a Play: Fences, Moonlight
- These two were both amazing, but I think that the transition from stage to screen is difficult to accomplish. Moonlight had outstanding cinematography and was beautiful to watch. Fences presented a compelling lead character and some amazing questions about morality. I have nothing negative to say about either film and both should be watched. Fences could have easily been my pick for favorite film this year, and Moonlight could be the film that deserves the Oscar most. But in both cases I’d love to see them on stage to see if that pushes them to the peak of their mediums.
- Would Also Highly Recommend:Hacksaw Ridge, Manchester by the Sea
- Both these movies were very strong. Hacksaw Ridge was one of the best war movies I’ve ever seen, and as a religious person and as a pacifist I found the true story moving. I doubt I would watch it again though. Manchester by the Sea initially seemed very unpleasant to me, but the more I reflect on it, the more I realize that I did appreciate it. Perhaps in a few years this will be the film I enjoyed most from 2016.
- Should Have Been Nominated: Silence
- This movie was amazing. I would recommend that any Christian watch this movie and reflect on the questions that this very dark film raises. Not a film for the feint of heart though.
- Favorite Film from the Year: Rogue One
- Look, I get the movie has some things about it that keep it from being an Oscar-worthy film, but this was definitely my favorite Star Wars film. This powerful story about friendship and fighting for what is right (and figuring out what is right) in the face of true evil and oppression was by far the film I enjoyed most this year.
Actress in a Leading Role
- Natalie Portman, in Jackie
- My age makes the death of JFK something that lacks the emotional tension that would have made the film one of my favorites from the year, but Natlaie Portman’s performance in it was stellar.
Actor in a Leading Role
- Denzel Washington, in Fences
- As I said above, the story was built around the lead role and Denzel Washington did a magnificent job of showing the complex nature of this aging man.
Actor in a Supporting Role
- Mahershala Ali, in Moonlight
- I think that Mahershala Ali plays one of the most interesting characters in the story. A thought-provoking role indeed.
Actress in a Supporting Role
- Viola Davis, in Fences
- Viola Davis is clearly a top notch actress and she did an amazing job in Fences of presenting many sides of a complex character.