All posts tagged: Best Picture

Quest for the Best (Picture): 2020 Edition

An annual feature of More to Come is my take on the movies nominated for the “Best Picture” Oscar. However, it wasn’t until the 2019 Academy Awards show that I saw all of the nominees for the year in question. I was determined to do it again in 2020, and as of late yesterday evening, I’m pleased to say, “Mission Accomplished!” I always remind readers that I make no claims to be a movie critic. These are personal views without any understanding of the nuances of filmmaking and without a deep well of knowledge of the movies of the late 20th and early 21st century. (I’ve come late to the joys of film.) There is usually at least one movie I really loved that didn’t make the cut, and that’s the case again in 2020. I thought filming Aretha Franklin—at the height of her musical powers in 1972—singing 90 minutes of gospel music in a black Baptist church in Los Angeles, was transcendent cinema. As I wrote in my initial review of Amazing Grace, you have that …

Quest for the Best (Picture), Once Again

Has it really been eight years since we decided to try to catch the Best Picture nominees before the Academy Awards show?  Indeed it has. Truth be told, this has been an up-and-down process.  There are years when I’ll see 7 of the 8 or 9 films nominated.  Then, there are times such as last year when we took in four on one weekend…and that was it. This year was really different, in that I’ve seen all 8 of the films nominated, plus a few more that could have been in the running. 100 percent!  That’s a first. As in years past, I’ll provide the caveat that I’m no movie critic, so these are totally personal views without any understanding of the nuances of filmmaking. I’ll also list these in the order I ranked them, which is where I get the most comments. So, my best picture award would go to If Beale Street Could Talk.  Wait, you say, it wasn’t nominated!  Well, that’s not my fault; it should have been.  This was a beautiful …

Our Best Picture Quest Begins Anew

As we have done almost every year since 2012, Candice and I are on a quest to see as many of the “Best Picture” nominees as possible prior to the Academy Awards show on March 4th.  Last year we were on a roll…and then life intervened, and we only saw four of the nine nominees.  This year we’ll have to get them all in this month, as Candice will be otherwise occupied with hip replacement surgery on March 1st.  So to get ahead of the game, we saw four pictures in four nights last weekend (and into Monday). Our wonderful American Film Institute Silver Theatre here in Silver Spring has been showing five of the Best Picture nominees, so it was easy to go two blocks and drop in for a movie.  All four that we’ve seen were excellent, each in its own way.  Here’s our initial take (from two highly unqualified movie critics). We both loved The Post, as much for what it says about the importance of a free press as for the …

Quest for the Best (Picture): The Best-Laid Plans Edition

Well, Candice and I were on a roll to get to all nine Best Picture nominees prior to Sunday night’s Academy Awards show.  But then two sold-out theatres (when we tried to see Fences and Lion), trips to Tennessee (both of us) and Florida (Candice), a board meeting, and a very bad head cold (the last two are mine) intervened. So the four I ranked on February 18th are the only ones we’ll see prior to the awards show.  I’m sorry we did not see the other five nominees, and especially Fences and Arrival.  This was an especially rich year for Best Picture nominees. Of the four that we saw, the odds-on favorite to win the Oscar is La La Land.  It is a delightful movie, but compared to the other three we saw, it is a lightweight.  What most reviewers note is that the voters love nothing better than to award good films about making films. In reflecting on the other three – Hidden Figures, Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight – I think …

Quest for the Best (Picture) – Part 3

Earlier this week Candice and I saw the fourth of this year’s Best Picture nominees.  Manchester by the Sea is both a tragic story and a well-crated, artful movie.  It is very much a deserving nominee for the Oscar for Best Picture of the year. The script is the first star here, in that the movie tells a story full of flashbacks and dreams that let the story unfold at a pace that is never rushed yet seems appropriately paced.  Lee Chandler – played masterfully by Casey Affleck – returns to his hometown after his brother Joe dies of heart failure.  He quickly learns that Joe has made him the guardian of his 16-year-old son, Patrick, played by Lucas Hedges.  The relationship of Lee and Patrick could normally be seen as sharing a common grief – if from different perspectives – but as the movie unfolds it becomes clearer that Lee’s grief is much deeper and longer, and is sparked by a return to a town he had to leave in order to live. There …

Quest for the Best (Picture) Returns

After skipping a year, Candice and I are back and enthusiastic about choosing this year’s Best Picture winner for the Oscars. We started this annual review of the top picture nominees from two highly unqualified movie critics around 2012, and did our last round in 2015.  Sometimes in year’s past, we weren’t interested in seeing up to a third of the nominees due to violence or other graphic content (I’m looking at you Quentin Tarantino).  But in reviewing the trailers for this year’s class, we’re excited about all of them.  We have a month…so let’s go! Today, we walked up to AFI Silver to see Hidden Figures – a marvelous movie that we both highly recommend.  A colleague at work told me she had seen it three times already!  The story is compelling (especially since it is true) and the ensemble acting is superb.  Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan was especially compelling, but all three female leads were terrific from my perspective. Get yourself to see this movie.  Oh, and bring your hanky.  Even though …

Quest for the Best (2015 Edition, Round 2)

Since our last report on our quest to see the Best Picture, Candice and I have seen three more of this year’s nominees.  So let’s get to it. We walked to our “commercial” theatre (the Regal) in downtown Silver Spring earlier this week to see Selma. This movie has had its share of controversy, from the treatment of Lyndon Johnson in the film, to the snub from the Academy in terms of award nominations. David Oyelowo was excellent as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a performance certainly deserving of a Best Actor nomination. But the film was stilted at times, and uneven. Selma is not the year’s Best Picture, but it is the most important film of the year.  We forget too quickly how difficult it was to attain rights for all, and how much pressure there is, even today, to restrict or even take away those rights.  I have members of my extended family who love to wave the Confederate flag, without any understanding of what that really means. I grew up in …

A Quest for the Best Picture (2015 Edition)

As we entered our empty nesting period, Candice and I took the plunge in 2012 and made a pledge to try and see all of the year’s films nominated in the Academy Awards’ “Best Picture” category.  We (almost) succeeded – seeing eight of the nine 2012  nominees – and every year since we’ve taken on the same challenge.  While we seldom get to all the films (we generally avoid the gratuitously violent ones such as 2013’s Django Unchained), we’ve seen the vast majority and have really enjoyed talking and – in my case  – writing about them. This year there are eight nominees, and as we enter the final month we now have three under our belt.  The Grand Budapest Hotel is a wonderful, lush, and very funny film by Wes Anderson, which we saw in March when it was first released. The acting by Ralph Fiennes as the concierge, along with that of the rest of the ensemble, is delicious while the plot is convoluted and crazed.  This is a very good film…but not …

Quest for the Best (Picture) Final Edition

In this final installment of thoughts from our unqualified but enthusiastic movie reviewer about the 2014 Best Picture nominees, I’ll provide thoughts about why each of the six pictures I saw could, should, or won’t win the Best Picture award. In alphabetical order… American Hustle – Great ensemble acting.  Any of the four principals would deserve an award.  And yes, I love anything that Jennifer Lawrence is in. Amy Adams is pretty amazing as well. But the story line doesn’t hang together for me. (When I read this NY Times article on David O. Howard’s filmmaking style, I realized why.) While American Hustle is one of the favorites, I think there are several better movies in the running this year. Gravity – After seeing this movie on the plane earlier this week, the Tina Fey line at the Golden Globes about the lengths George Clooney will go in order not to date any female his own age finally made sense!  Seriously, this is a terrific movie.  Clooney is Clooney. (These days, he appears to just …

And the Winner Is…

Wow! What a great year for movies. On the eve of the Academy Awards, I’ve seen eight of the nine nominees for Best Picture.  (You can read my earlier posts here, here, and here.)  The only missing nominee?  That would be Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. I saw Tarantino’s Inglourious Bastards with its similar fantasy-laden subject area and over-the-top, almost cartoonish violence a few years back, and I simply decided that Django wasn’t Best Picture quality in my book.  The fact that it is never mentioned in the top five contenders just confirms my decision. But this afternoon, I saw another controversial – but much more substantive – movie, Zero Dark Thirty.   Despite the controversy surrounding the movie, I’m here to say that it works on many levels and deserves the consideration for Best Picture.  Jessica Chastain is a real force, carrying the movie forward with her fine acting. In the end, however, I have to agree with Timothy Egan of the New York Times, who writes about the problems of  Zero Dark Thirty.  The lack …