Academy Awards 2017

“The idea was to redefine a 467-minute documentary as a cinematic experience and to be eligible for the end-of-year awards circuit.”

When the Academy Awards nominations were announced on January 24, I noted what I’d seen, and what I liked the most, and also who/what I thought would win. Link (only the first time) to any movie I saw and reviewed.


*“Arrival” – I thought it was a nice meditation. It may have peaked too soon, and with no acting nominations, I don’t expect it to win.
*“Fences” – I liked it a lot, with bravado performances. But perhaps it was too stagy.
“Hacksaw Ridge” – I had no real interest in seeing this. It was, per the R rating, “for intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence including grisly bloody images.”
“Hell or High Water” – I had considered seeing it, but reviews such as “The violence has speed, impact and follow-through — it’s a magnificent rebuke to all the hundreds of cute killings on screen in summer movies” made me wary
*“Hidden Figures” -it is my favorite film of the ones nominated. Maybe not the best, but the one that made me the happiest when I left the theater
*“La La Land” – I do like this movie too, and have defended it
*“Lion” – great first part, OK second part
*“Manchester by the Sea” – fine film, depressing as hell
*“Moonlight” – the best picture nominated
All the Best Picture noms in the first half of the alphabet!
Continue reading “Academy Awards 2017”

Movie Review: Arrival

When the movie was over, I got into some banter with two total strangers about its meaning and message.

arrival_movie_posterI went to see the movie Arrival at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany alone; I’ve discovered that there are lots of people who won’t do that. A few days later, the Wife did the same thing.

Going in, I knew it was some sort of science fiction drama. Odd-looking spacecraft show up at 12 different locations around the globe, including in, or more correctly, over Montana. The military guy (Forest Whitaker) calls on an expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to try to figure out what they want. Louise works with theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and their teams to try to communicate with these alien beings.

But this takes time. People around the world are nervous. In a nod to the know-nothing media, we see some yahoo on the TV bashing the “do-nothing” government for failing to act promptly against this potential threat, yammering, though he has no idea what he’s talking about.

I liked this film enough to try to be relatively vague about it, lest I spoil it. Interesting that on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics like it a bit more (93%) than the fans (83%). It is generally a cerebral film. And when the movie was over, I got into some banter with two total strangers about its meaning and message, and whether the Louise character should have taken a certain actions, a conversation that I really enjoyed.

As a teacher of English as a New Language, the Wife really enjoyed the struggle to try to understand the language – if it IS a language – of the visitors. I was disappointed in not hearing why Portuguese is so different from other Romance languages.

The director of the film is Denis Villeneuve, who has a well-regarded body of work, but this the first film of his I have seen. I suspect Amy Adams will be nominated for an Oscar this season, if not for Arrival, then for the gritty-looking Nocturnal Animals.