Your Guide to the 89th Oscars: Best Picture

Folks, it’s that time of year again. The greatest and most sacred of annual events is upon us, the ultimate expression of ostentatious refinement. More hyperbole.

THE OSCARS. 

This morning the Oscar nominations for 2016 films was released, and there is a whole lot of good, a little bad, and La La Land, to no one’s surprise. But who has time to sort through it all?! You’re busy, you don’t have time to form opinions on films you haven’t even seen!  Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here.

So please enjoy Part 1 of the One Ticket Please Official Guide to the 89th Oscars: Best Picture. Reviews linked in red, with more to come!

Arrival

What we said: One of only a handful of sci-fi films to ever get the nomination, Arrival is unique, providing a peaceful and science-focused alternative to the alien invasion films of the past, while also exploring complex themes of geopolitics, language, time, and loss.

Does it deserve to win: Absolutely, it’s one of the most innovative films in the sci-fi genre. Everything comes together near-perfectly, with Amy Adam’s incredible performance carrying the film, accented by gorgeous visuals and an enhancing score.

Fences

What we said: An adaptation of the Tony-award winning play, Fences crafts a family’s entire history and America’s race relations, all in a backyard. It’s that small kind of story that hits home because it’s relatable, it has a lived-in feel, that both scares you and brings out tears of loss and joy.

Does it deserve to win: Yep, if for nothing else than the fantastic performances by Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Washington is charismatic and terrifying and the same time, flipping so quickly that it was easy to forget he was acting. Davis plays her part both quiet and meek at times, and powerfully emotional and protective at others. They won Tonys for their portrayals on stage, and that experience and chemistry shows here. Beyond their portrayals, it’s a great adaption, and one of the most theatrical movies in living memory. It seizes your emotions early on and never lets go.

Hacksaw Ridge

What we said: A gritty adaptation of the true story of WWII Congressional Medal of Honor winner Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, Hacksaw relies heavily on Christian imagery and parables to convince you of the protagonist’s faith, without ever convincing you that he was a real person. Not a poor film by any stretch, it has some gorgeous combat cinematography and tells an interesting story, but in the end, it is stifled by an overbearing message.

Does it deserve to win: Not really. Not because it’s a bad film, but because it just isn’t the best, especially in a year as tight as this one.

Hell or High Water

What we said: We didn’t! Because we haven’t seen it yet. But the review is coming!

Hidden Figures

What we said: The true story of three African-American women at NASA who played a large part in launching John Glenn into orbit, Hidden Figures is one of the most heartfelt and honest films of the year. It has a host of strong performances, some great music, tells one of the most important stories of the year, and has Mahershala freaking Ali.

Does it deserve to win: Yep. It’s not an artistic think piece like Birdman, or a sweeping cinematic masterpiece like The Revenant. It’s formulaic and predictable, and it absolutely should be. Because it’s meant to be inspiring and uplifting, to showcase those who have been silenced and marginalized, despite their amazing achievements. And it does it’s job better than any film like it. 

La La Land

What we said: This a perfectly good, fun, beautifully made film. EmGoss™ has some of the best chemistry in the business today, and they play great cynical-yet-hopeful millennials in a film that is, and is about, an illusion of the glory of acting, the golden age of Hollywood, and jazz. The coordination between camera, music, and color is something that can really only be appreciated on the big screen.

Does it deserve to win: No. WHAT? What a twist, amirite? But it honestly doesn’t. It’s a good movie, one of the best of the year, without a doubt, as far as filmmaking goes. But where it really shines is in the direction, which is superb. And that’s the award it deserves to win, not Best Picture. 

Lion

What we said: Didn’t see this one yet either, woopsie.

Manchester by the Sea

What we said: This is the last one we’re missing, we swear.

Moonlight

What we said: Easily the most powerful movie of 2016, Moonlight explores the coming-of-age of a Black, gay young man in War on Drugs era Miami. It uses color and music to guide the audience through the thematic arcs of the film and the main character, played by three different actors at three different ages. It’s also meta-text, challenging the audience to question their own preconceptions and prejudices of the protagonist. Also. Mahershala Ali.

Does it deserve to win?: Yes. This movie, above all else this year, deserves the win. It is by far the most courageous of the 2016 nominees, telling a story that has frankly never been told on film (at this level anyway). It’s experimental and new and has some truly heartbreaking performances. It’s not a stand-up and clap kind of film. Rather, it’s a sit-down and think about your conceptions of the character you just saw, kind of film. And of course, Mahershala Ali.

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