“So… do you stay awake the whole time?”
That’s usually the first question I get when I tell people that one of my favorite past times is the AMC Best Picture Showcase, a 24 hour extravaganza in which AMC Theaters play all of the Oscar Nominated movies back to back. They only have a few places that do the full 24 hour marathon, and I’m lucky enough to live in an area that does it.
For people who really movies, it’s wonderful. It’s a chance to sit with fellow movie lovers and catch up on all the movies we may have missed. And in the case of La La Land, movies we just can’t stop watching, because we can’t get the sight of Ryan Gosling dancing out of our heads, or that song that they kept playing in all of the trailers away from our ears. Or maybe we like the movie and like to count the number of failing websites that invite views by posting an article about how La La Land sucks.
The closest theater to us that actually has the Oscar showcase is in Georgetown. They constantly manage to outdo themselves with trivia, prizes, and literally rolling out the red carpet for us. Not just a movie viewing, it’s a 24 hour party that has us getting food, celebrating movies, complaining about the air temperature (selling out a movie theater and having a bunch of people sitting there all night makes it pretty hot. Who knew?), and overall creating a welcoming experience. I’ve never had a bad experience during one of these. Well… maybe watching Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. But it’s not the wonderful people staying up with us for 24 hours that chose that movie as an Oscar Nominee.
As the Sunday sun rises, you feel a kinship with those around you. Also a vampire-like aversion to the sun, because you’ve spent the better part of the past day in a dark theater, and most of your skin is now popcorn butter. It doesn’t even matter if you had popcorn, it just sort of appears on you.
After witnessing all the movies, I’m going to make a little prediction of which film I think will win, and which film I think should win, which are very different.
But first, let me give a quick review and recap the nominees for Best Picture, since I just had them all drilled into my mind-brain. Also, yes, Hamlet T. Wondercat will let us know what he thinks of each one.
Arrival: Aliens! Aliens have landed all over the world, and we have to come together through the power of… nope, just one American Woman and a quick time-traveling Deus Ex Machina. Never mind.
Fences: Denzel Washington directs Denzel Washington as kind of a jerk/kind of a guy who puts food on the table for his family. Either way, he drinks a lot. It’s based on a play, and the cool thing is, it’s directed sort of like a play. Brilliant piece of film making. The fact that Denzel Washington isn’t nominated for directing is a crime on par with… well, something non-lethal. Grand Larceny? Larceny?
Hacksaw Ridge: Boy, Mel Gibson manages to squeeze a lot of violence, blood, and guts into a movie largely about a pacifist, huh?
Hell or High Water: An throwback to old westerns as two bank robbers played by Ben Foster and Chris Pine are hunted in Texas by a pair of Rangers, one mere days from retirement. Why are they robbing banks, and how many racist jokes will Jeff Bridges get out before the end of the movie?
Hidden Figures: Hey, you know how people are smart, no matter what their skin color? Here’s a story about how three African-American Women helped John Glenn not die through the power of all of us getting along for a few minutes. Almost as if the differences we use to single people out are imaginary.
La La Land: Depending on where you sit, either a lovely throwback to old style filmmaking with an interesting score, or the death of good taste in cinema. If you’re me, you just like the fact that someone took some risks.
Lion: A kid gets lost, then goes to Australia and gets REALLY lost, and then decides to find his way back home.
Manchester by the Sea: Hey you think you have it rough? You don’t know rough until you sit through all two hours of this.
Moonlight: A coming of age story so beautiful, even I don’t have a snarky comment.
Who will win.
La La Land.
Look I get that there a cynical people who say “it’s Hollywood’s love letter to itself! Why wouldn’t it win?” I get that the backlash and think pieces started long before any nominations were announced. But I think people tend to forget just how unique this movie is. It manages to incorporate old Hollywood into a new Hollywood story. It uses music in such a unique way, with songs being lively at the start, then vanishing for most of the second act and returning as Mia finds her true passion in life – and its not Seb. It’s a brilliant piece of filmmaking that incorporates all the important elements: color, sound, acting, direction.. into a visual piece of storytelling that is so far beyond wonderful that it deserves the awards and nominations its received. I even said it was my second favorite movie of last year.
Which is when I did some soul searching. And I changed my mind. And I realized, there was one movie that stood out above the rest by taking real risks. By presenting us with a real world and a plot that blurs the line between right and wrong.
Who should win.
Hell or High Water.
I’m very aware that this movie will not win Best Picture. I’m putting this here because it’s been sort of buried under the La La Lands, the Hacksaw Ridges, and for a while, under the Deadpools of the world. This is a piece of storytelling that manages to show you a piece of America you aren’t used to seeing: poverty and a man driven to the brink. Not so bad that he wants to hurt anyone, but he wants to go up against the banks that drove him to this. Chris Pine gives an amazing sympathetic view of a man who just wants to provide for his family. I stand by my original review where I said the scene where the waitress refuses to give the money to the Ranger for evidence breaks down the movie more than anyone will know. But I realized how much I loved this movie this year when (Spoilers) Parker is shot in the head by Tanner late in the movie. Even though I knew the moment was coming, I was still crushed by it, because I’d been fooled into accepting Toby and Tanner (the robbers) as the wronged good guys, while Hamilton and Parker (The Rangers) were the good guys. It reminded me that this movie was just good at showing us a world where black and white don’t exist. There’s surviving, then there’s not surviving. There’s doing what you must, and then there’s failing.
There you have it. See you all next year when hopefully, we’ll be talking about Oscar Dark Horse Logan.