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The 2017 Best Picture Nominees Ranked

Aww yeah. It’s that time AGAIN! 2016 was a pretty solid year for movies. I found myself going out and seeing a lot of films in the theater this year, and man was I not disappointed. Well, except maybe Zoolander 2…. I also think my renewed interest in the cinema is a direct result of the best weekly game ever; Fantasy Movie League. Check it out at fantasymovieleague.com It’s a blast, I promise. Without further ado, let’s dive into my ranking for all nine of the best picture nominees.

#9 – Fences

Fences is a tough one for me. I really loved the writing, and found the performances to be excellent. I dug the fast paced script, and found myself truly sympathizing with Denzel’s character in this film. At face value it’s about Denzel getting overlooked for baseball due to segregation/racism, but I found it to be so much more than that. I loved watching Denzel’s reaction to being trapped in his current life, and really understand his need to break free. I don’t particularly approve of how he does so, but that’s sort of the point. Viola Davis is also exceptional in this film, and I would be very surprised if she doesn’t get the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The energy in this film is palpable. And yeah, it’s in last place. But these are supposed to be the best films of the year, so….

#8 – Hacksaw Ridge

I certainly misjudged this movie in the beginning. I laughed out loud when I first saw a preview for this thing; Andrew Garfield’s accent made me spit out my soda. However, I ended up enjoying this film quite a bit. The historical accuracy of it is quite impressive, and I found it to be an intensely brutal film. I enjoyed the love story in the film; it felt just as natural as the rest of the film. The cinematography in this is incredible, and the acting is spot on; Andrew Garfield did get nominated for an Oscar, after all.  It reminded me of Saving Private Ryan. Though, Saving Private Ryan didn’t have a scene where Vince Vaughn used a torso as a fucking meat shield. Torso Meat Shield for Best Supporting Actor. You heard it here first! Definitely deserves it’s nomination, and I’m glad to see Mel Gibson directing again.

#7 – Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures is pretty solid. The performances in the film were spot on, and I found the script to flow quite naturally. The handling of segregation and racism in this film seems slightly ham-handed at times, but then again this is the late fifties/early sixties. So who knows… This is certainly the “feel good” nominee of this year, and it satisfied me completely. I ended up seeing this film on the same night I saw Fences; I assumed I would end up liking Fences more, but this list clearly states otherwise. Octavia Spencer is on fire right now, and her performance in this film only adds fuel to that fire. Also Janelle Monáe… nuff said.

#6 – Hell or High Water

Hell or High water is great. It’s the only one from this list that I didn’t see in theaters. I ended up snagging it from Redbox in late December, and man was I impressed. The acting is top notch; Jeff Bridges being on the top of his game. I also really enjoyed the dialogue in this film. There are a lot of really solid lines, and the script really carries what is otherwise a fairly standard, run of the mill heist film. I also enjoyed the idea of “getting revenge on the banks”. The way the characters act is quite believable, and I found the ending to be quite satisfying. I was a little surprised to see this one nominated, to be honest. I absolutely loved it, but for some reason I figured it would be overlooked. Boy it’s good to be wrong. Go see this movie.

#5 – Moonlight

Moonlight. Moonlight is another great film from 2016. I found Chiron’s tale to be exceptionally realistic, and overwhelmingly depressing. Mahershala Ali’s performance in this film is excellent. I figured that Jeff Bridges had his Oscar in the bag until I saw Moonlight. Now, I’m not so sure.. I absolutely loved the inner conflict his character has when he finds out he’s selling drugs to Chiron’s mother. The cinematography in this film is also a thing of beauty, and the direction is great. I don’t think this film will be able to beat out LaLa Land in the Best Picture race, but I can see why it’s a close second. Again though, Janelle Monáe….

#4 – Lion

Talk about a tearjerker! Lion is one of the few films that has ever brought a tear to my eye; that ending is just too good. I really enjoyed the relationships in this film, and found the characters to be exceptionally three dimensional. The story is quite personal, and Dev Patel’s performance as Saroo is excellent, and his determination to find his long lost family is well fleshed out. Nicole Kidman’s performance is easily one of the best of the year, and I loved the interaction beharacter and Saroo. Great film that is certainly deserving of it’s nomination. We’ll just have to see how many Oscars it takes home.

 

#3 – Arrival

 

Oh, Arrival. This is the film that Interstellar should have been. It’s exceptionally thought provoking, and offers hours of post film conversation to be had. The acting was phenomenal, and I really appreciated the dialogue, and the way the film masked itself in obscurity. I generally despise time plots, but this one worked for me. I even declared it the best film of 2016 on an episode of Nude Clan, thought that was before seeing many of the other Best Picture Nominees. It certainly still holds up, and I’m glad I took my girlfriend to see this one.

#2 – LaLa Land

 

 

 

Musicals have always been a bit of a mixed bag for me. LaLa Land, however, is great. The cinematography of this film is very beautiful, and I love the soundtrack. It’s a perfect callback to the musicals of old. Gosling and Stone have excellent chemistry in this film, and their character arcs were excellent. They’re both worthy of the Oscar Nominations they’ve received. The last fifteen or twenty minutes of LaLa Land is cinematic gold. I absolutely loved it, and couldn’t have been more wrong when I thought I was “forcing” myself to see it. Go see it, it’s great, you’ll love it; I promise.

#1 – Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by The Sea is a phenomenal movie. It’s visceral, it’s beautiful, and it’s epic. The script is a masterpiece, and Casey Affleck’s performance is the best I’ve seen all year. He really channeled his inner Marlon Brando, and it paid off big time. The film is funny when it needs to be funny, it’s sad when it needs to be sad, and it’s one hundred percent human. I was completely invested in this film, and really felt for the characters. Their plight is very real, and their actions completely understandable. Michelle Williams’ performance is excellent in the film, and she definitely deserves her Oscar nomination for her role. I will be very surprised if Casey Affleck doesn’t walk away with an Oscar, and I’ll be mortified if Kenneth Lonergan doesn’t get the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Go see this film, as it is of a dying breed.

 

And that’s a wrap! Keep in mind that this is a personal ranking of these films. If I were to guess what film wins big this year, I would say LaLa Land, even though I found Manchester by the Sea more enjoyable. What do you guys think? Who will win big this Sunday? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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