27 Days of Oscar, Day 1: La La Land backlash, Passengers, and my first stumbling block
Apparently my reserve on Presidential politics does not filter into the politics of Oscar. I woke up in the middle of the night to get on Twitter and see that "La La Land" is taking a beating from various publications. "Think" pieces. Every year, this happens. The frontrunner gets attacked. It is being positioned against "Moonlight" in the broadest strokes.
I cannot believe I even have to consider defending "La La Land" for what it is not. It is a romantic, musical masterpiece that explores what it is like to fall in love and how that affects your dreams, set against the spectacular Los Angeles. City of stars, decisions, heartbreak and success. It is not "Moonlight." And to criticize it for that is the most absurd thing I have seen in the Oscar race in quite some time. Journalists creating stories, cultivating a backlash to take down a film in order for another film to win, under the veil of film analysis. I call bullshit.
I said this on Twitter, and I mean it. "Moonlight" is one of the best films I have seen in years. I think "La La Land" is better.
That is the last I will say about this. Every year I get to the point that I dig into what brought me to Oscar in the first place. Movies. The LOVE of movies. I'm going to stay in my lane and tell you the story I see. Period.
Day 1 = cleansed!
Yesterday I reached out to every publicist, studio, etc to see the nominated films I have yet to see as well as set up interviews with the people behind the foreign films for a piece I'm writing for Awards Daily. Everything is going quite well. I already received "A Man Called Ove," "I Am Not Your Negro," "The Salesman" and a response in regard to "Tanna." I haven't heard from Disney yet, but if worse comes to worse I can pay to go see "Moana" in the theater and get "Zootopia" from Redbox. I'm somewhat stuck when it comes to "Fire at Sea." When I go to wikipedia it says that the film is begin distributed by 01 Distribution. When I go to the that website, all I can find is a phone number to the studio. In Italy. I asked my friend at Hollywood Reporter and he had nothing, so I have reached out to another big gun. Worse comes to worse, I'll call. I will see that film.
I also saw "Passengers" yesterday. I'm not going to go into a long review of the film, but I will say this. My expectations were so low that I actually enjoyed it to some extent. Especially the first 45 minutes or so. I though both Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt did a great job. But then something happened. The tone shifted. Just when the film should have felt darker, it went oddly generic. SPOILER ALERT, when Aurora discovers what actually happened to her, both actors acted that asses off at exploring the implications of Jim's actions, but there was no weight to it. The score didn't help matters. It's a typical Thomas Newman score. Nothing profound. Ad to be honest it matches the tone of the 2nd half of the film. Bland and light. Not to mention the worst credit song I have heard in quite some time.
The visuals are a different situation. For the majority of the film, there is nothing groundbreaking here, but there is a scene where gravity fails while Aurora is swimming in the ship's pool that not only has the best scored section of the film, but also the best effects. But they, of course, weren't nominated.
The Production Design team was. And there are some pretty nifty elements on the ship. But absolutely nothing we haven't seen before or seen better.