FINAL DAY: COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST PICTURE”

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WE ARE HERE!!! The final day of my Oscar Countdown and I’ve saved the biggest and best for last. While this is a very good slate of films, and most of them deserve to be here, for the first time ever, I don’t have a picture that I truly ‘LOVED’ this year in this category as Nocturnal Animals wasn’t nominated. I liked them all, again, some more than others, and while I still have a pick – there is no one clear choice for me. That and my pick has no chance of winning whatsoever. So with that being said…I always hope for a few fun upsets!

BEST PICTURE

Arrival
While I really enjoyed this film, one of the best Sci-Fi movies I’ve seen, but can I roll with it for best picture? nah, but it is worth a watch, especially if you like this genre. It also has a very relevent message for this day and age of politics that we now live in. It shows that hate for something or someone different, really doesn’t need to be. Truthfully right now, I would trust an alien more than the circus clown act we have in charge at the moment.

Fences
While I liked this film at points, on other points it just lagged or went to fast as they literally took every single word from the play and put it into the film. I get it, you don’t want to mess with the original sometimes, but in this case, trimming it down some would have been beneficial and the movie suffered as a result of not doing so.

Hacksaw Ridge
Let’s face it, the first 45 minutes of this was an absolute cheese-fest. The remainder – sort of a gore-fest. And while it did good at the points of making you flip-flop on what you wanted that main character to do, it also gave us some Brits & Aussies doing terrible attempts at southern accents.

Hell or High Water
While it’s good to see a film be remembered from earlier in the year, and I liked the film, it just really never struck a chord with me as award material when watching.

Hidden Figures
I enjoyed this film a lot and it was about time something was done and made about these three fantastic women and what they contributed to our NASA space program in the 60’s. It had some big ups and a few downs with the tone of it all.

La La LandWINNER
With an opening scene that I just loved and so well done, you would think the rest of the film was going to be just as good. It’s not. Mind you it’s a good watch, but far from a great one and just a little to far-fetched, cutsey perfect for me. But hey, WHIPLASH was so damn good and was what a jazz story could be, that well, I guess I’ll give a groan when this wins, but I can’t hate on it completely.

LionMY PICK
While far far from a perfect film, the first half delivers big and is terrific, but it’s second half drags a lot until you get to the last 10 minutes or so. Again, I’m not in love with it. Having a great post Q & A with Dev Patel and first time director Garth Davis probably helped me some, but it did move me as a wonderful story of hope. And with that, I picked it even though I know it has absolutely no chance of winning.

Manchester by the Sea
For me, the film isn’t terrible – but honestly, I had no idea what as happening in the first 20-30 minutes. You just knew the guy was angry, but no clue as to why. It took 2 hrs. to get to the point and those 2 hrs. seemed like many more at times.

Moonlight
While watching this film, I couldn’t help thinking I’ve seen this story before..and I have – noting the fact it was done much better on the ‘The Wire’ and I think I would have liked to see three episodes of that again vs. this film. It was more than a tad inconsistent, with the first two thirds much better than the last third, and I was distracted by having characters played by multiple actors who looked nothing alike. That being said, it’s a good film considering the shoe-string budget it was made on.

@pegsatthemovies
Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

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REVIEW: “HIDDEN FIGURES” (2016) 20th Century Fox

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Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), are more intelligent as children than most. But sadly, they have the wrong skin color for America of the 1960s, so educational opportunities aren’t as readily available to them as to most. And luckily for all of us, they don’t let it stop them.

“HIDDEN FIGURES” – written & directed by Theodore Melfi, is based on the true events of these three women’s accomplishments of beating the odds in a time when those odds were almost insurmountable. Although all three are working at NASA, they are widely under-ultilized, stuck in a mundane employee-temp circle with other African-American women. It is only when the ‘space-race’ heats up and NASA is concerned with the fact that Russia might beat us to manned space travel that they even get considered and their abilities are brought to light. But it is still a long journey to get from the temp pool to the point of where now-famed astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) had her double-check the numbers against a ‘new’ computer machine before his now-legendary orbit around the earth.
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The film does do well in summarizing the story and making the period of the early 60’s space-race look exciting. Melfi succeeds in revealing the perspective of the people who made it possible for a human being to be brought into an orbit were chiefly physicists and, above all, mathematicians. Making it truly special is the fact that three of these essential figures were not only women, but African-American women. In a time where different races were still strictly separated in everything from the bathrooms, to yes, even the coffee pot and how they had to fight not only to assert themselves into the circles of white, male-dominated NASA, but also with the colour of their skin.
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In addition, we have a decent supporting cast with Kirsten Dunst as Vivian Mitchell, head of the white secretarial pool and chief scientist, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), who while blind to all the bias at first, gradually begins to notice Johnson’s intelligence and how she is being treated by her white, male co-workers and steps up to the plate. Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Olek Krupa just to name a few, are great additions to the supporting cast.
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Performances are all above par here and not being Costner’s biggest fan, he comes off very well here in one of what is surely one of his more likeable performances. Hands down winner for me though is Octavia Spencer, who not only steals the show, along with hopefully not only a nomination, but a win from this performance.

Finally, do I think some liberties might have been taken here with the story-line or some of the characters, most likely, and it’s in these spots that the film lags, but it is also very simple to just look up history and see this is accurate in the frame of what these women did at/for NASA and what they went on to do in leading the way for so many to follow is even more impressive.

HIDDEN FIGURES is emotionally stirring cinema and should leave a lasting impression on viewers.

Grade: B
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Media Review Screening: Monday, November 21, 2016 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
In Limited Release: Sunday, December 25, 2016
NATIONWIDE RELEASE: Friday, January 6, 2017