Won 0 Oscars / Nominated for 0 more
This is a gorgeous movie from start to finish. Architecture plays a key role not only in its importance to the town of Columbus, Indiana, but also for the composition of the film itself. There are many instances that a unique building structure enhances the framing of a particular shot, and it's difficult to not fall in love with each frame. I also have to commend the young actress, Haley Lu Richardson, who absolutely nails her role with a level of understated acting that is rarely seen by someone her age. It's no wonder this won the "Golden Brick," the award that Filmspotting, a wonderful movie podcast, announces for either directorial debuts or otherwise not well known movie makers. I am so happy that a light has been cast on this piece of art.
Won 1 Oscar (Best Writing [Original]) / Nominated for 3 more (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor)
Although its the lowest ranked Best Picture nominee on my Top Ten list, I was rooting for this to win on Oscar night. Out of the three movies that had a chance of winning (the other two being Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and the eventual winner The Shape of Water), this is the one that holds up as being both extremely entertaining and extremely insightful. It's fitting that this won Best Screenplay because each plot moment serves the compelling story, flush with a jaw dropping moment in the final act of the movie, as well as views on society and race. The commentary is not so on the nose such as 2005's Best Picture winner, Crash. It will truly stand the test of time as an important movie, which goes to show that you can never judge a movie by its release date or genre.
Won 0 Oscars / Nominated for 1 more (Best Animated Feature)
This has to be one of the biggest accomplishments in animation in well, forever. Each scene is based off of a van Gogh painting and every frame is hand-crafted using gorgeous oil painting. The rotoscoped actors give the animation style fluidity, even among the choppy movement of their surroundings. The movie is a true spectacle. Not only is the animation style pretty to look at, but the story is captivating as well. A man is interviewing people in the town that van Gogh died. Conflicting stories, which are brought to screen via black-and-white flashbacks, kept me on edge for the entire narrative. I didn't know who to trust and what was real. I've never enjoyed being deceived this much in my life. I can't recommend this one enough and if not for the wonder of 'Coco,' I would have been rooting for this at the Oscars.
Won 3 Oscars (Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing) / Nominated for 5 more (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design)
Stunning visuals, immersive sound design, and a unique story structure rule the day here. Three separate stories (for lack of a better word) are being told, and all three cover a different amount of time. The way these three are edited together makes the film engaging and forward moving. It is also rewarding to see the characters intersect with each other so we see something occur in different perspectives. The scenes in the air contain the most technical achievement. Both the score and sound play a huge role in creating atmosphere and portraying the claustrophobic conditions of this event. Culminating to Edward Elgar's "Nimrod" is glorious to say the least. I'm not the biggest Hans Zimmer fan, but his music absolutely works in this setting. The score will have you on edge for the duration of the movie. The Sound Oscars are very deserved.
Won 0 Oscars / Nominated for 1 more (Best Supporting Actor)
The biggest shame of this year's Academy Awards was the lack of recognition this movie got. Other than my #1 movie, this has the strongest visuals of any 2017 film. The brightly colored motels and the various techniques used with the camera make every shot a joy to watch. From a cinematic point of view, my favorite moments are when a camera on a tripod captures an extremely wide shot that has the kids walking from one side of the screen to the other. The long takes enables the kids to have the time to be themselves. The movie also goes back and forth between handheld and static and it makes sense why each decision was made. The child actors, especially Brooklynn Prince, are so freaking good. It hardly seems like they are acting. This is a testament to the dialogue being kept simple enough and the charisma each kid has. Willem Dafoe also knocks it out of the park and earns an Oscar nomination for it. His character is likeable for so many different reasons, and Dafoe masterfully pulls off each reason. He demonstrates the empathy the audience feels due to the grim situations these people find themselves in. In a film with not a lot of forward moving plot, the acting and cinematography fully engage the audience. I wasn't fully aware of this situation (that people are living in extended stay motels for long periods of time), so this movie fully succeeds in its message of awareness of the problem.
Won 0 Oscars / Nominated for 0 more
An understandably polarizing movie, Arnofsky's latest mindbender rewards the people that connect the dots and embrace the frustrating events of the plot. I don't want to say anything about the narrative, except that if you go into the movie expecting nothing and keeping an open mind, you will receive a truly satisfying experience. Like 2016's Arrival and 2017's Get Out, it's a movie that will be completely different on a second viewing. As for the cinematic aspects, the camera never leaves Jennifer Lawrence. We are getting essentially a first person perspective of the happening at this house. Whether it's on a close up of her face (see the oddly accurate poster to the left) or behind her shoulder, moviegoers are in the same boat as the lead actress. Once your "WTF" face turns into a face of "ohhhh," you will want to watch this all over again to pick up on all of the breadcrumbs that Aranofsky leaves around the gorgeous old house.
Won 2 Oscars (Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song ["Remember Me"]) / Nomimated for 0 more
This movie is an absolute gem. It emphasizes the importance of music and family in so many touching moments. Music plays such an important role throughout the movie so its fitting that each song is excellent and memorable. The Oscar-winning song, "Remember Me," plays out three different times with three different performers throughout the movie. Each time it plays, the meaning changes and it complements the story in such a creative way. It's the highlight of a strong stable of songs like "Un Poco Loco" and "The World Es Mi Familia." Not only is the music superb, but the visuals are breathtaking. The spirit realm of the Dia de los Muertos just looks impossible to animate. The detail and scale involved makes this the most visually impressive Pixar movie to date, which is saying a lot. The only thing I didn't like is that ugly dog.
Won 1 Oscar (Best Costume Design) / Nominated for 5 more (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score)
There's a lot to digest here, but the feats of each individual element of this film cannot be overstated. Daniel Day-Lewis is a master, being able to play tender, snobby, loving, and spiteful within minutes of each other. His character is so interesting and his performance is so good, that each interaction he has gave me so much anticipation (not only with the lead actress but with anyone for that matter). Every line of dialogue uttered by anybody but DDL had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear his reply or see his reaction. The music is perfectly utilized. The beginning of the film is piano-heavy, which sets up the relationship between DDL and Vicky Krieps. When events heat up, more layers are added. When the movie has to be quiet, a small string ensemble is used. Rarely are there scenes with no music (which means the few sequences that don't have that much weight to them). Jonny Greenwood crafts an exemplary score, and the way it's used is flawless. The cinematography is also pitch perfect. Paul Thomas Anderson knows exactly where to place the camera to evoke emotion from his audience. Each scene is a marvel to look at and each cinematic technique is used at precise moments. All of these elements together create such a wonderful experience. I didn't touch upon the subverted humor, Krieps' and Lesley Manville's performances, and the wonderful dresses, which earned it an Oscar.
Won 0 Oscars / Nominated for 5 more (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Writing [Original], Best Supporting Actress)
If I had to use one word to describe this movie, it is "real." Everything is so genuine, from the specificity of the characters to the dialogue of the script. It's so easy to be whisked away into the world of Lady Bird and relate to so many things, even though I was never a high school girl. There isn't an emphasis on plot as we travel through the senior year of "Lady Bird," played by the always magnificent Saoirse Ronan. The self-discovery of the character is so natural via pretending she is something she's not while simultaneously showing who her true self is. Each scene is important to the character, even if it isn't to the overall plot. And each character is also important. From the best friend to the mom to the first boyfriend, each relationship challenges the audience and provides so many discussion points for after the movie. No seemingly minor character goes unnoticed and each has so much weight on Lady Bird as a person. She is defined by her interactions with everyone in her life. All of this is achieved by director Greta Gerwig who, along with her editor Nick Houy, have created such a marvel. Each hard cut and montage are simply brilliant. I hardly ever like montages, but this movie pulls it off every step of the way. The music choices are fitting and the pacing is nearly perfect. They are never too long and add to the narrative in ways montages never do. The filmmakers here respect the audience with its editing and it pays off admirably. I haven't even gone into the humor of the film, the superb acting of Laurie Metcalf, and the emotional final ten minutes. So many things just blew my mind and I cannot wait to revisit Lady Bird to come to terms with them.
Won 2 Oscars (Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects) / Nominated for 3 more (Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing)
Each and every scene takes my breath away. From the beautiful cinematography, both the camera-work and the inclusion of gritty colors and tints (who will ever forget that mustard-yellow color of the Vegas set?), to the unraveling slow burn of the narrative, this movie is one of the greatest science fiction features in quite some time. The oddly paced narrative works so well in this universe. There are so many things to see and hear that I don't mind it for one moment that the story isn't zooming along like a flying car. I can't recall another movie where I made sure to scan each inch of the screen to see every detail. The director and cinematographer submerses you into this world whether you like it or not. Everything is thought out and nothing is thrown in as an afterthought. The film presents so many questions, such as "what's the difference between human life and replicant life?" It gives the audience time to contemplate while taking in the grim universe of Blade Runner. It's this juxtaposition of being comfortably numb while fully immersed while also racking your mind and pondering what is taking place in the story that provides a truly unique movie-going experience. Ryan Gosling is superb. This role is made for his quirky, offbeat acting style. Harrison Ford is also fantastic. The acting in this only adds to the excellent visuals and narrative. The visual effects are particularly impressive due to the use of practical effects. Very little CGI was used in the making of this, and hardcore cinephiles will always appreciate this (see: Mad Max: Fury Road). Each set was crafted in the real world, including the yellow waterfall rooms of the Wallace Corp. building. And a congratulations are in order to cinematographer Roger Deakins on finally winning an Oscar! To his credit, this is not a "career" win. This is truly the best cinematography of 2017. A perfect mix of visuals, story, acting, and sound, the sequel to the beloved Blade Runner pays homage to the original while surpassing it in all aspects of filmmaking.