Every year I try to make it through as many of the Oscar nominees for best picture as possible. Last year, I did fairly well with seeing 6 out of the 8 films, and I've slowly started working my way through the 2017 nominations. I've seen 3 so far, and would like to see at least 2 more before the Oscars. I'll likely see a few of the others after the Oscars air and once the films are available to rent. Below are my reviews of the 3 I've seen so far!
I have to admit, whenever I first saw the trailer for this movie, I thought that it looked like an interesting story, but didn't think much of it beyond that. Wow, did I ever underestimate this film! Hidden Figures is an incredible story about three African-American women who worked for the NASA space program amidst the Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s. They represent three of the brilliant minds that assisted in getting the first American man into space. The movie follows each of their stories, both independent and interwoven, as they overcome different obstacles and barriers to achieve their personal dreams and contribute something incredible to both their country and history.
Watching this movie, I alternated between laughing, smiling, crying, and having my stomach twisted into knots. It is moving in the best way possible and ended with a round of applause from the audience. It's also one of the only films nominated for best picture that would be a great view for everyone in the family!
Hell or High Water
I tend to veer away from violent movies, so despite my husband constantly asking to watch this film, I put it off as long as possible. Once we did watch it, however, the movie was so interesting and exciting that I didn't find myself shielding my face or looking away as I sometimes do. Set in Texas, the story focuses on two brothers who set out to rob the bank that unfairly possessed their mom's land and the two rangers who are tasked with stopping them. I can't say too much about the plot because the movie does a great job of revealing all the details in due time, but I will say that this story line is so smart and unique. Accompanied by incredible performances by both Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges, it's a rare story where you want both the good guys and the bad guys to come out on top. Highly recommend!
La La Land
This is one of those movies I decided to go see alone, and I sat in the very back of the theater in a row all by myself just so that I could savor it. And boy, was that decision worth it! La La Land is not going to blow your mind with any crazy twists and turns, but it will cause you to smile throughout the entirety. This movie is written as a love letter to LA, and I'm lucky that my husband is from LA and has shared enough little quirks about the city with me that I was able to pick up on some jokes and tongue-in-cheek moments that I may have otherwise missed. If you're from the LA area or have even visited once or twice, then this movie will only be more enjoyable.
Centering around Sebastian, a struggling jazz pianist, and Mia, an aspiring actress, the audience gets to watch their relationship go from standoffish, to friends, to romance all within the span of their greater life. The film itself is beautifully shot, the retro costuming is fantastic, and I can't help but love Ryan Gosling's and Emma Stone's on-camera chemistry. Some critics of the movie have not been happy with the film's "musical" aspect and the fact that Gosling and Stone aren't exactly known for their singing. However, I found it to be a charming nod the Old Hollywood triple threat actors while still keeping things fresh and proving that you don't have to be perfect at everything to make something incredible. After all, as we learn from John Legend's character, jazz is all about the future and you can't hold onto the past, which essentially sums up why I think La La Land is delightful.
Though not nominated for best picture, next up on my list is Jackie! By the way, if you don't have time to make it to the theater or to a Redbox, my favorite ways to watch the nominees throughout the year is on HBOGo (How I saw The Big Short, Brooklyn, and The Danish Girl) or on a plane ride (how I saw Spotlight). Both sources typically have major Oscar nominated films available throughout the year and are worth checking out!