27 Days of Oscar, day 9: Moana, Allied and Life Animated

In case you missed it, yesterday was my final trip to Memphis before the Oscars. With "Moana" and "Allied" out of theaters in Oxford, and unable to get screeners, I did what must be done!

First up, "Moana."

Disney's 56th animated feature film, tells the story of Polynesian non-Princess, "Moana," chosen by the Ocean to deliver a stolen relic to the goddess Te Fiti in order to save her people and the world. She must first find Maui, a legendary demigod who caused the problem in the first place when he stole the relic as a gift for humanity, waking up the lava demon Te Ka in the process.

On the surface "Moana" is pretty standard/predictable in terms of the Disney musical. It has comic bits, good songs, touching scenes...etc. But it didn't completely work for me.  Halfway through the film, Moana and Maui end up at the Realm of Monsters in search for his missing, magical fishook. There is a really cool number, "Shiny," sung by the giant treasure-hoarding coconut crab, Tamatoa (Jermaine Clement). It's a cool number, but jarring in that it seems to belong to another film altogether. That's the problem with much of the movie. The bits are good, but together, they don't quite mesh.

Animated Feature isn't going to go to "Moana," that's for sure. But it is also nominated for Original Song for "How Far I'll Go" written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and sung beautifully in the film by Auli'i Cravalho. Though not as penetrating as "Let It Go," I still found myself humming the tune all the way home.  My instant reaction was that the Academy could certainly award Manuel the Oscar, giving him the precious O in EGOT. But who knows.

I can't help but remember last year when we were all convinced that Lady Gaga had Best Song in the bag, inching her closer to the EGOT. They will award who they want to reward. And more than likely it will be for the film. The composer isn't even on the ballot. There hasn't been a sweep in years, and I'm feeling the "La La Land" train coming.

Uneven tone could have been the theme for yesterday.

"Allied," while beautiful to look at and incredibly entertaining suffered from the same issues as "Moana." Sweeping epic, meets relationship drama, meets spy film, meets, you name it! I can absolutely see why this film wasn't in consideration for any of the major awards, but as a piece of celluloid it is more than fine, even fun.

"Allied" is the two hander of Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, as intelligence office Max Vatan and French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour, who meet on a secret assassination mission in Casablanca, posing as husband and wife, only to eventually become...you can figure it out from here, right?

The opening act of the film is fantastic. I was absolutely riveted up until their first spy mission was complete, but once the couple goes back to daily life, I found myself hanging on mostly by Cotillard's performance. Unfortunately, Brad Pitt simply can't hold his own up against Cotillard which left me feeling very little at the end of the film. In terms of Oscar, the nominated costume design is good, and our leads wear the clothes well. But I can't see it beating "La La Land." Not today, at least.

This morning I watched "Life Animated," which I will discuss in more detail later. But I have the pleasure of interviewing the director on Wednesday, which is quite exciting!  Check out the trailer below:

Also, here is my updated list of films to watch. I plan to rewatch "Toni Erdmann" on Sunday because I'm going to interview director Maren Ade on Monday.  And hope to see "Moonlight" again as well.

The List:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
Jim: James Foley Story
Fire at Sea
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Live Action Shorts
Documentary Shorts
Animated Shorts


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