Friday, February 24, 2017

The Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures

The Academy Awards will be given out Sunday evening. This will be the first time in history that I've seen all the nominees for Best Picture before the Oscar is awarded. That means my opinion means something. Right? All in all, 2016 had a good crop of movies, better than the choices in 2015. "La La Land" is the heavy favorite for Best Picture, but four or even five of the movies deserve consideration.

My ranking is based on the grades I gave the movies immediately after seeing them. In case of ties, I ordered them by my considered judgment today. Note this is not my prediction of which movie will win, but which I would vote for, had I a vote.

The envelope please. The winner of "The Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures" goes to...
  • Lion: Boy in India gets lost, raised in Australia, yearns for home. Boy, man, India, Australia, both families, all real & moving. A+

Congratulations to the runners-up.
  • Fences: Denzel Washington in a Willy Loman role, raising questions about what it means to be a husband, father, man. Oscar-worthy. A+
  • La La Land: Hollywood can still make feel-good musicals, an art form worth saving. Not Astaire/Rogers, but good. Emma Stone++. A-
  • Moonlight: Growing up gay in broken home in Miami. World apart for me. Strong story. Great acting. Left me mad. What can be done? A-
  • Hidden Figures: Racism, sexism at NASA in '60s. Uplifting, patriotic. Hits all the bases. Laugh, cry, cheer. A little too pretty. A-
  • Hell or High Water: Western. Crime story. Buddy movie (x2). And Jeff Bridges as a curmudgeonly Texas Ranger. What's not to like? B+
  • Manchester by the Sea: Handyman knocked down by life. Long flat narrative arc of quiet desperation. Authentic slice of reality. B-
  • Arrival: Talking to aliens is hard. So is talking to each other. But Amy Adams has a gift. Non-linear thinking is key, somehow. ?? B-
  • Hacksaw Ridge: Every war movie cliché in the genre, including slow-motion combat porn. But Desmond Doss was a real-life hero. B-

I haven't seen all of the acting performances nominated for Oscars, but I've seen most. My picks:

  • Best Actor: Denzel Washington (Fences)
  • Best Actress: Natalie Portman (Jackie)
  • Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences)

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

"Moonlight" won Best Picture and I think enough time has passed that we can safely say that it won't be taken away. #OscarsSoEmbarrassed. I ranked two movies above "Moonlight" but I am happy with the result. "Moonlight" was an excellent movie.

My picks for Best Actor and Best Actress also lost (to Casey Affleck and Emma Stone, respectively). But my picks for supporting roles both won. All in all, my picks went 2 for 5.