Best Picture frontrunners & movie catch up


A slew of critics awards have come in the past week solidifying what we already knew, which is that we have 3 frontrunners for the Best Picture Oscar, "Manchester by the Sea" (NBR), "La La Land" (NYFC, Washington, Atlanta), and "Moonlight" (LA Film Critics). When I saw "Manchester by the Sea," I was incredibly moved, particularly by the performances, but the first thing I said when I left the theater was that this wasn't going to win Best Picture. Why? It just didn't seem important enough.

Since 2010 (the last time we had a real David/Goliath showdown with "The Hurt Locker" v/s "Avatar" it seems, for the sake of categorization, that Best Picture award goes one of 3 ways.

The important film. ("Spotlight," "12 Years a Slave")
The consensus pick. ("Argo" and "The King's Speech")
The film that makes them forget/pat themselves on the back. ("Birdman" and "The Artist")

"Moonlight"doesn't quite fit any of those categories. It is a piece of art that is undeniable as a great film. Probably better than any of the winners listed above, except for/or at least equal to, "12 Years a Slave." I continue to think about this movie and can't wait to see it again. My heart is srtong with this film, and is currently beating hard for it to win.  That being said, I still remember the sting of the "Brokeback Mountain" loss and don't want to get my hopes up that it is a real contender.  I would like to think that the power of the film will take it to the finish line, but I'm still not convinced yet.

That leaves "La La Land." I haven't seen the film. I probably have no business even talking about it. But I've seen the trailer played a few times in the theater and I've felt an odd reaction from the audience. When I watch the trailer, I swoon. Los Angeles, Musical. RYAN GOSLING! But, I wonder if it will play in the middle of the country. Does it need to be a hit to win the Oscar? Perhaps, perhaps not. If it's taking the consensus slot, it should be a consensus, right?

More will be revealed when it finally hits theaters.

Preparing for the Oscars as well as my inevitable Top 10 lists, I've been compiling a list of films I've missed throughout the year that goes as far back as February with "Hail Ceaser."

When it comes to what goes on the list, there is a criteria. I know I can't see everything I missed, especially with all of the the films still in theaters I need to see ("Loving," "Nocturnal Animals") as well as the upcoming releases ("La La Land," "Silence")

First and foremost, if a film gets nominated for an Oscar, I see it. No matter how small ("Real Steel" anyone?). "Finding Dory" and "Zootopia" seem locks for Animation, but when they were released, I just wasn't in the Oscar zone. And I knew they would make it to dvd before the nominations were even announced, so they went on the backburner. This is a game I can't play with the year's later releases, obviously, otherwise I find myself begging studios for screeners. Which will happen despite my best efforts.

Then we have the films that probably won't be nominated but clearly deserve attention.  The films the critics deem worthy, like "The Witch,"and "American Honey," Films that could certainly end up in my top 10. (Although in my fantasy world, both of these films could get screenplay nominations.)

Next there are the blockbusters. The good ("Deadpool") the bad ("Suicide Squad" and "Batman v/s Superman") and the in between ("X- Men Apocolypse"). Sure...these films are doubtful to make my top 10 or find themselves nominated for anything, but I like to see the entire landscape of the year in cinema, and the only big summer movie I saw this year was "Captain America: Civil War."

As an added plus: these movies serve as great palate cleansers for all the serious seriousness that is coming my way in the next 2 and 1/2 months.

And then we have the independents. The little films that could. "Other People," "Maggie's Plan," "The Hollars," and "Don't Think Twice."  I'll hopefully get to them, but if I don't, maybe some dark and lonely night one summer when I'm avoiding the current blockbuster (see how the cycle begins, people?) I will watch them.

Now, my favorite: the screener pile, specifically foreign film and doc screeners. If a dvd makes its way to little ole me, then someone really wants it to be in the Oscar conversation. I am not going to get a screener for "La La Land," for instance. It doesn't need my voice, But I have a passion for and often write about the Best Foreign Film and Best Documentary categories as well as interview the directors of the nominated films; therefore, certain very kind studios send their films my way. "Toni Erdmann," "Elle," "Land of Mine" and "Julieta" are all screaming my name in the FF pile, while "The Eagle Huntress" is all by itself in the documentary stack.

And finally there are the films that probably won't make anyone's top 10 or get nominated for anything Oscar related. But they are films I feel will speak to me. "Closet Monster" and "Miss You Already," for example.

If you want to check out my full catch up list, see below.  And look for my "12 Days of Christmas Catch Up" series to begin next week where I begin to widdle away at these films as well as sprinkle in more as they find their way into theaters/my piles and tell you all about it.

THE LIST:

Likely Oscar contenders:
The Lobster - screenplay
Land of Mine - FF
The Red Turtle
Elle - Actress and FF
Toni Erdmann - FF
Julieta - FF
Zootopia
The Eagle Huntress - Documentary
Finding Dory - Animated Film
Hell or High Water - Supporting Actor, Picture, Screenplay, Director

"Blockbusters"
X Men Apocalypse
Suicide Squad
Deadpool
Batman v/s Superman

Screener pile:
The Meddler
Miles Ahead
Maggie's Plan
The Hollars
Equity
Knight of Cups

Films I really want to see, just cause!
Miss You Already
Closet Monster

The rest:
Hail Caeser
The Witch
Shallows
Don't Think Twice
Captain Fantastic
American Honey
Other People

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