Oscars 2017 – What a Night

The winners for the Oscars have finally be revealed and what a show it has been. In this post I want to talk about the winners, the losers and off course THAT mistake.

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First of all, let’s start with this mistake. For the first time, correct me if I’m wrong but to my knowledge there has never been anything like that in the past, the wrong name has been called out as the winner. When the time came to announce the winner for Best Film, presenter Warren Beatty looked over to Faye Dunaway because of what he read. He then told the entire world that La La Land had won. The entire group came up on stage and when the producers were making their speech, somebody ran on stage to say they made a mistake. Jordan Horowitz (one of the producers) immediately understood what was happening and called the makers of Moonlight (the actual winners) on stage and congratulated them with their win. Huge respect though, to the makers of La La Land, they were really classy about their loss and praising Moonlight for their win. If you think about how big the Oscars are, you’d think they would have made all possible measures to ensure that such mistakes can’t be made. But mistakes are human, and makes us what we are. I’m sure that this is a moment that we’ll never forget and that’ll go in history as the first big blunder the Oscars made.

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Now the winners. You can find the entire list right here and I must say that I’m quite happy with how it turned out. Off course I would have liked to see La La Land win a bit more, but all the nominated movies are great as well and overall I think the right people won. So let’s start.

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by Barry Jenkins

Moonlight by Barry Jenkins was the winner of the biggest award of them all: Best Motion Picture of the Year. The story about a young black man growing up gay in a rough neighbourhood in Miami took the world by storm and it finally payed of by taking home the biggest award of all. It competed in this category with other great films like La La Land; Fences; Arrival; Hidden Figures; Lion; Manchester by the Sea; Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water.

Though the best movie went to Moonlight, Damien Chazelle did win his Oscar for Best Achievement in Directing this year, becoming the youngest director to ever receive that recognition. Competing next to other directors such as Barry Jenkins, Dennis Villeneuve, Kenneth Lonergan and off course Mel Gibson, I would say that Damien Chazelle really stood out here. These are all names, I’m afraid to tell you, I didn’t hear of before except for Damien Chazelle (because of Whiplash, my favourite film I saw in 2016) and Mel Gibson (Braveheart, my favourite film of all time). I’m excited to see what they all bring us in the future.  

 

On the side of the actors I do believe the rightful actors won. Emma Stone was marvelous as Lead Actress in La La Land and finally got rewarded for it. Nathalie Portman, Meryl Streep, Isabelle Huppert and Ruth Negga were great as well, but Emma Stone just shone that little much brighter this year. The same could be said from the other side. Casey Affleck (winner of Lead Actor) pulled a performance of a lifetime and you can feel the roughness and the deepness with which he portrayed his character that no other actor could equal. Big respect to Ryan Gosling, Denzel Washington, Andrew Garfield and Viggo Mortensen for all their performances. They all are great performers being rewarded for their work.

 

Viola Davis walked away with pride over her win as Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her part in Fences and Mahershala Ali took the same award home for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Both put down unmistakably brilliant performances and were rewarded for it. Octavia Spencer, Naomie Harris, Michelle Williams and Nicole Kidman should all feel proud for the work they put down. This is another category where there’s just one actress shining just a little bit brighter. The same can be said for Dev Patel, Jeff Bridges, Michael Shannon and Lucas Hedges.  

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by Kenneth Lonergan

It was also a great year for interesting and powerful stories. So it didn’t come as a surprise that Moonlight ran away with the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Adapted by Barry Jenkins from a story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, it is indeed the story of a lifetime. Other screenplays nominated were Hidden Figures (based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly); Arrival (based on the story ‘Story of your Life’ by Ted Chiang); Lion (adapted from the book ‘A Long Way Home’ by Saroo Brierley) and Fences (based upon the play by August Wilson). Best Original Screenplay went to Manchester by the Sea (written by Kenneth Lonergan), beating out The Lobster; Hell or High Water; 20th Century Women and La La Land.

It is in the music-categories where La La Land took home most of its awards. Best song (for City of Stars) and Best Score both went to La La Land. The soundtrack, written mainly by Justin Hurwitz, is full of catchy songs, powerful ballads and overall feel-good music. Other nominees for Best Song were ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from Moana; ‘The Empty Chair’ from Jim: The James Foley Story; ‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’ from La La Land and ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ from Trollz. In the category for Best Score we can also find the scores for Moonlight (by Nicholas Britell); Jackie (by Mica Levi); Passengers (by Thomas Newman) and Lion (by Dustin O’Halloran and Volker Bertelmann).

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La La Land, by Damien Chazelle

Best Animated Feature of the Year went to Zootopia. Here I must say, it was a surprise for me. I honestly thought Kubo and the Two Strings would win or My Life as a Zucchini. These three, together with Moana and The Red Turtle, are all great stories and deserving to win. But I do like to see Disney win, so I’m glad with the turnout and it was a great film so that explains it as well.

The more technical categories are always the least known, the ones where we don’t know the names of the nominees, or at least I don’t know them. Which is unfortunate because they are as much a part of the film and the film experience as the directors, actors and screenwriters. Here I’m unfortunately only going to speak about the movie, as I mentioned before, I just don’t know their names. Best Cinematography went to La La Land, beating out Moonlight; Silence; Arrival and Lion. All 5 films are marvelous, beautiful and just breathtaking. They all could have won in my opinion. Best Achievement in Film Editing went rightfully so to Hacksaw Ridge. I just saw this film the other day and was blown away by how they told the story and how it was put together. Beating out La La Land; Moonlight; Arrival and Hell or High Water, this editor (John Gilbert) is one to watch.

Hacksaw Ridge also took home the award for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, beating out Rogue One; Arrival; 13 Hours and La La Land. Best Achievement in Sound Editing went to Arrival. Other nominees in this category are Hacksaw Ridge; La La Land; Sully and Deepwater Horizon. Rogue One; Kubo and the Two Strings; Deepwater Horizon and Doctor Strange got beaten by The Jungle Book in the category for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. Best Production Design went to La La Land, beating out Hail, Ceasar!; Arrival; Passengers and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This last movie, another story set in the world of Harry Potter, took home the Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design, beating out Jackie; Allied; La La Land and Florence Foster Jenkins. The biggest surprise here was Suicide Squad’s win in the category for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling. Star Trek Beyond and A Man Called Ove were also nominated in this category.

Best Live Action Short Film went to Mindenki by Kristóf Deák and Anna Udvardy. Best Documentary Short Subject went to The White Helmets by Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara. Piper went to win the Best Animated Short Film, beating out Pear Cider and Cigarettes; Blind Vaysha; Pearl and Borrowed Time. Best Foreign Language Film of the Year went to The Salesman, making this the second win for director Asghar Farhadi after A Separation. Toni Erdmann; A Man Called Ove; Land of Mine and Tanna drew just a bit too short to walk away with this award. Best Documentary Feature went to O.J.:Made in America. Other nominees here were Life; Animated; Fire at Sea; 13th and I Am Not Your Negro

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If we take all these together we can say that we had a beautiful year in films. Some strong stories, feel-good movies, some new talent and also finally recognition of actors who have been around for a long time. With it’s six wins, La La Land took home most of the awards, but after missing Best Motion Picture of the Year to Moonlight, it can be seen as the loser of the night. I wouldn’t go so far. Moonlight is definitely a story of a lifetime and one we shouldn’t and (after these Oscars) definitely won’t, but we need La La Land as well to make us dream, as so many other films did before and will in the future. 

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Movie Review – La La Land

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by Damien Chazelle

Charming and colourful…

‘A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.’ (IMDb) (by Damien Chazelle, 128 min.)

This is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. I may not have seen a lot of them until now (start of february), but I can say with certainty, that this film will stay with me. Just as ‘Whiplash’ stayed with me and gives me chills everytime I watch it again or think about it… ‘La La Land’ makes me smile and tingly when I think about it. I left the theatre with a smile and with a little jump in my step, like I could take the world.

This film is a love letter. A love letter to the old musicals like ‘Singing in the Rain’, … A love letter to Hollywood, to the way they made movies back in the day. (Straight lines, camera use…) A love letter to dreamers, to Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling… A love letter to the world.

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Let’s start with the story. The movie begins with a dance number and there we get a first taste of the style of the movie. It’s full of colour, of fun camera moves, but still a stylised way of filming. At the end of it we’re introduced to the two main characters: Emma Stone’s Mia and Ryan Gosling as Sebastian. Two dreamers, wishing for a career in the old city of Dreams.

Mia tries to break through as an actress, but has to juggle working as a barista while going to auditions (where she keeps being rejected). Sebastian is stuck in the world of Jazz and dreams of opening his own bar where everybody is free to play the more pure jazz he is so in love with. They meet and start to fall in love. And here I will stop, well, because of spoilers.

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If you watch the movie, yes, the story is kind of straightforward. Boy and girl meet, they are both dreamers, they fall in love and story continues from there. But the way it was brought felt old and new at the same time. It felt retro because you could see and feel all kinds of references to other movies. But it also feels new and refreshing because of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. And the music! The music was fabulous, uplifting and it sticks. I’ve been singing ‘City of Stars’ and ‘Another Day of Sun’ for days and I’m a terrible singer. My colleagues hate me a little right now. ^^

if there is one thing I would say about this little gem is that I did feel that the third part of the movie dragged on for a little bit. The story kind of got stuck in a certain point a bit less colorful. And that’s the only ‘negative’ thing I can think of and it’s a part of the story we have to get through to get to the end and feel the full impact of the story, if you really think about it. So in the end it didn’t really take away from the enjoyment I had from the movie. It was a minor thing.

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It’s a perfect mixture of colour, uplifting music, beautiful performances of two brilliant actors and you feel the love Damien Chazelle has for movies, musicals, Hollywood and this story.

9 out of 10 stars !!

Movie Review – Silence by Master Scorsese

A masterpiece of cinematography

Martin Scorsese did it again. Silence is a masterpiece, a historical epos about one of the more interesting stories of Christianism. It has been a passion project for Scorsese and you feel it. It took him more than 40 years to get it to our screens, to get enough funding, but I do think it helped him tell the story and tell it the way he wanted us to experience it.

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And experience it you do. It is not an uplifting story or a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It is a story about suffering, about how far a human being can go before he cracks under pressure, how much one single being can and will endure for his faith and that of others. It is something you experience, that washes over you, that takes a grip on you and just doesn’t let go.  

Though the story at some moments seems very long, tedious and drags a little bit, it is necessary I feel to have this sense of loneliness and of the duration of everything Father Rodrigues goes through. I don’t think that we have any idea how long they have lived there in hiding, trying to pass Christianism to the Japanese. Trying to help them find the faith and believe in it. I don’t think we know how much they suffered in Japan, a country which doesn’t care for this new and strange religion and at that moment sees it as a burden. It is long. It is gripping. It is one of a kind.

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This entire movie is being carried by Andrew Garfield. The different movie posters and trailers make it seem as if Liam Neeson is the central actor of this movie, but we don’t see him that much. It does revolve around finding him in Japan, but it’s in the end not his story. We follow Father Rodrigues (played by Andrew Garfield) in his journey through the harsh country. Andrew did his best performance in this film. He shows his entire range of acting here, going from happiness to sadness. You feel with him and I do think that without him this film would have had less of an impact on me.

I also greatly admire the Japanese actors. I don’t know much of them, but they are an important part of the story. Issei Ogata is exquisite as the Inquisitor Inoue who pursues the fathers through the country and tries to keep Christianity out of his country. Mokichi is another important character in Silence. Played by Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Mokichi gives us some of the more light moments of the movie. Even making us laugh now and then.

silence-03I could go on and on. This is a masterpiece and Martin Scorsese at his best. Don’t go in expecting to see a movie. You’ll go watch a film. One that will stay with you and make you think and make you feel all the misery that those Fathers and the Christians went through in Japan. I can only admire Martin Scorsese and his perseverance going through with this movie and giving us this tale, that I think no other director would or could give us this epic tale.

8,5 / 10 stars.