Oscars 2017 Recap

2017 Oscar Winners

Although the top four acting categories garnered predictable winners, what no one predicted at the 2017 Oscars were the infamous hashtags known as #Envelopegate and #Oscarfail.

When Warren Beatty and Faye Dunnaway went to present the Oscar to best picture, Beatty had been handed the wrong envelope by the accountants. Confused and apprehensive once he looked at the envelope (which read Best Actress Winner Emma Stone from La La Land), Beatty attempted to show Dunaway the mistake before she immediately blurted out: LA LA LAND!

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What a total F up. It’s one of the most surprising reversals in Oscar history.

As Trevor Dueck writes, Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel steered us through an overall entertaining show with Trump jokes and on ongoing feud with Matt Damon. Don’t forget about the bus-load of tourists who got the surprise of their lives when they were brought into the Dolby Theatre and got to meet some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

Here’s a recap of the 2017 Academy Awards.

Not Today Satan

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Top 10 Movies of 2016

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The 2017 Academy Awards are finally upon us, and this year we can safely praise the industry for not imitating #OscarsSoWhite. The hashtag heard round the world last year explained the lack of diversity in Oscar nominations, but not this year.

The Academy has nominated four Best Picture movies about people of color (Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion and Moonlight), seven acting nods for performances of color as well as nominations in categories such as directing, screenplay and cinematography.

This year it really comes down to two movies. One focuses on black America and personal diversity while the other is about following your dreams. Moonlight and La La Land are undoubtedly the two movies to beat.

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While I’m fearful that the overrated La La Land will sweep the Oscars, Trevor Dueck argues that “two white tarts dancing and singing in Hollywood might have come out a year too late.” I’m not so sure about that though.

As the director of Moonlight Barry Jenkins explains, “They could not be more different films. I don’t think a love for one has to be to the rejection of the other. I can only speak to the film I made, which was made in the service of shining a light on a character who is often marginalized. Where that falls in the context of the awards season, I can’t say. But I love that regardless of where we are right now, a year and a half ago, we sat down to make this thing, and that’s exactly how I felt and it’s how I feel now.”

Everyone knows my stance on the undeserving Goliath that is La La Land (see here), but this feel-good musical has earned a whopping 14 nominations, a record only shared with All About Eve and Titanic. WTF, right? Even the LA Times asks who will survive the onslaught of La La Land? After sweeping the Golden Globes, it’s proven to be an unbeatable force.

But there were more great movies this year than those two. Many of those movies were ignored by the Academy entirely but were some of my favorites of the year.

Here are my top 10 personal favorite movies of 2016!

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5 Things I Learned from Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic cast4star-2“Always tell the truth. Always take the high road. Live each day like it could be your last. Drink it in. Be adventurous, be bold, but savor it. It goes fast.”

If you had the opportunity to be fully present for your children, could you do it?

In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

Writer/director Matt Ross was fully focused on parenthood while penning this script. He took questions that he asks himself as a father and translated them into the character of Ben (played by Viggo Mortensen). “My goal was to create a movie that was intellectually stimulating and emotionally moving.”via First Showing.

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I’m about seven months late to catching one of the most outstanding and underreported indies of last summer, so pardon the delay. Each year brings constant booms in technology and increased distractions for us millennials and non-millennials. Captain Fantastic delves into a territory I’d be most uncomfortable with – an existence void of the toxic influences of society. The horror! Right?

Here’s what I learned from Captain Fantastic…

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Review: Green Room is Year’s Most Horrifying

Green Room Movie Poster5star“It’s funny. You were so scary at night.”

There are some movies that make you question where you stand on Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory – Green Room is one of them, and I don’t think I’d survive.

With white power slogans subtly displayed throughout the film’s central location, a neo-Nazi skinhead bar in the desolate Oregon backwoods (led by Sir Patrick Stewart!?), the timing of the film’s release is a eerily relevant in the era of a Trump America. Green Room creates a raw, gut-wrenching survival experience that had me white-knuckled throughout the entire movie.

Even Sir Patrick Stewart (Darcy) 30 pages deep into reading the script, stopped reading to immediately set his home security alarms and open a bottle of scotch before finishing the script.

“Remember, it’s not a party,” Darcy tells his followers on stage in the microphone. “It’s a movement.” You’re damn right.

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Best Moments of the Golden Globes 2017

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The 74th annual Golden Globes were last night, and they were hosted by a surprisingly nervous Jimmy Fallon.

The last twelve months have been tremendous accomplishment for independent films, and they dominated the Globes. Sadly, some of my favorites got snubbed, and La La Land swept through the awards winning all seven it was nominated for (the most wins for one film in Globes history).

Outside of the glaring losses, there were also a handful of hilarious flubs, awkward cuts and tremendous speeches.

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Check out my favorite moments of the 2017 Golden Globes.

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La La Land is Overrated

la la land movie poster3star“This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!”

La La Land’s ode to old Hollywood has re-ignited our love affair with musicals and the magic seldom seen on screen, but while this movie reminds me why I love classics of yesteryear, it’s respectful homage is also a reminder that it will never match those classics it honors.

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Bogart and Bacall. Tracy and Hepburn. Stone and Gosling? I can’t quite stomach the idea of the latter couple on the same pedestal as the power couples of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, but La La Land desperately wants you to believe that Stone and Gosling are the 21st century golden couple.

With a massive 12 nominations from the Critics Choice Awards, La La Land is proving to be the movie to beat this year as critics hail it “the years best” and “an instant classic,” but Ryan Gosling tap dancing around a light pole at dusk doesn’t make him Gene Kelly.

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My Favorite Things About Scrooged

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Robin over at Write Out of LA is hosting a Christmas Movie Advent Calendar series throughout December highlighting one holiday film per day. My contribution to the series is the 80s-inspired modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, Scrooged.

Scrooged is undoubtedly my favorite Christmas movie of all time – it’s a tale as old as time without the gimmicks or seriousness. It’s got one hell of a cast with the most memorable Scrooge himself, Frank Cross, played by the legendary Bill Murray. The film was actually a resurgence for Murray who had taken an imposed four-year exile from Hollywood and what a joyous return!

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Murray was an A-list movie star by the time Scrooged hit theaters, but up until that point he had always been part of an ensemble cast (Caddyshack, StripesGhostbusters). This was his first opportunity to shine solo on screen. Director Richard Donner admit this little gem about shooting the final scene of the movie: “On the last take I saw something happen to Billy. I saw Billy Murray become an actor.”

Here are my five favorite things about the movie.

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Coming of Age: The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen movie poster3star“And I say to myself, ‘Everyone is as miserable as I am. They’re just better at pretending.'”

The Edge of Seventeen is being called a “teen-angst masterpiece,” but this darkly comical coming-of-age portrait of youth is a walk in the park in comparison to my teenage years.

What immediately captured my attention was this movie’s masterful marketing: “In the tradition of classics like Clueless, Mean Girls and Juno…” and “This film captures the essence of what made John Hughes movies so special.”

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Classic and timeless are being tossed around by many critics describing this movie. I don’t want to start this review on the wrong foot, because I enjoyed the film, but I missed the masterpiece that everyone else is experiencing. This glimpse into a suburban teenager’s world is as average as it is predictable. If you want to see something you haven’t seen before, you won’t find it here.

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Review: Arrival is Year’s Best Sci-Fi

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“If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?”
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If E.T.’s landed on Earth tomorrow, what would you do? If you had the option to change the course of your life, would you do it?

Arrival is the most cerebral experience of 2016, and the intimate nature of the film has everything to do with that.

The film is not entirely original; it takes the age-old science fiction premise of aliens landing on Earth with the panicked world asking: “Why are they here?” But this sci-fi addition has all the right ingredients from it’s cast to director to score to script that produces some serious thought-provoking material. The exploration of this archaic, hypothetical reality leaves me wondering when this inevitable future will occur off-screen. I’m. Not. Ready.

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Review: Moonlight is the Best Movie of 2016

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“At some point you’ve got to decide for yourself who you gonna be. And let nobody make that decision.”

Moonlight brings the internal struggle of being a gay black man in America out of the shadows by shining a light on the concept of masculinity within the context of personal identity.

“What’s a faggot?” asks young Chiron, mercilessly bullied by classmates each day, because they consider him different.

Moonlight unfolds in three chapters of one man’s life, from childhood to young adulthood, as he discovers who he is as a black, homosexual man in the Miami projects. With themes including race, homophobia, identity and black masculinity, it’s a miracle that a film of this nature was made. It’s going to be the answer to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite.

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The film is based on the unproduced play by gay black playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. “Black men loving each other is a radical idea,” McCraney admit. It certainly isn’t a conventional story, but it’s one that desperately needs to be told.

Being poor, black and struggling with sexual identity are things I know absolutely nothing about. What I can relate to in Moonlight is identity and how society can negatively affect personal development in crucial stages of life. It’s bold exploration of personal adversity is exactly what the world needs to see right now.

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