A film, food, travel & lifestyle blog by Sophie Elizabeth

26 February 2017

Film Review: Oscar Nominees 2017 - Part II

Oscars 2017
In just a few hours, the film industries finest will be taking their seats inside Hollywood's Dolby Theatre for the 89th Academy Awards. Of course, I will be watching eagerly but thought I'd share my final thoughts and predictions with Part II of my Oscars 2017 rundown...

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Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016) - Nominations (8) - Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing (Denis Villeneuve), Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Production Design.

Plot: Louise Banks (Amy Adams), is a linguistics professor who leads an elite team of investigators when mysterious spaceships settle on Earth. With the United Nations concerned for their safety and on the verge of declaring global war, Louise and her crew must work against the clock to find why the extraterrestrial visitors are here. 

Predictions: Arrival received mixed reviews from movie-goers in 2016 but, personally, I believe it to be an incredibly smart and beautifully directed narrative. A fresh take on the sci-fi genre, the film defies conventions and will leave you guessing throughout. It grips you not with jump scares or CGI, but with the strength of its execution. Whilst I unfortunately cannot see it picking up Best Picture, I do believe it may have a strong chance of winning for Editing and Production Design. Again, however, I do believe this to be another underdog that had it not been up against such films as La La Land or Manchester By The Sea, could have won otherwise.

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Fences (Denzel Washington, 2016) - Nominations (4) - Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Denzel Washington), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Viola Davis), Best Adapted Screenplay (August Wilson).

Plot: Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) is an ageing sanitation worker living in Pittsburgh, who once dreamed of a baseball career. Despite his efforts to be a good husband and father, his lost dream of glory eats at him - causing a bad decision which tears his marriage apart.

Predictions: Adapted for the screen by playwright, August Wilson, you feel very much as if you are watching a performance on a stage. Comprised of a simple set of Troy's home and garden, Fences is an extraordinary film centred purely on character development and script. This makes way for booming performances from both Washington and Viola Davis who are truly outstanding - delivering each line with depth and heart.

Up until seeing Fences, I was convinced that Casey Affleck had Best Actor in the bag but I know believe that there is a tiny chance Denzel could just steal it away. If I know the Academy though, Viola Davis will have the golden statue in the bag although it would be fantastic to see it win Best Adapted Screenplay also.

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Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi, 2016) - Nominations (3) - Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Octavia Spencer), Best Adapted Screenplay.

Plot: Behind one of the greatest operations in history, three African-American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle MonĂ¡e) serve as the brains behind the launch of NASA astronaut, John Glenn (Glen Powell), into orbit.

Predictions: Fighting adversity as both women and African Americans, Hidden Figures is a powerful, and previously untold story, of three extraordinary women who went unrecognised at a time of racial divide. With an all-star cast, this one has Oscars written all over it and so it is surprising to see that it only has three nominations. Though not entirely without flaws (there are some scenes of sketchy editing and inconsistencies), Hidden Figures is undoubtably an emotional and empowering rollercoaster executed brilliantly. Unfortunately, however, the competition this year seems too great for it to take home any awards *sad face*.

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Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross, 2016) - Nominations (1) - Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

Plot: Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) lives with his wife, Leslie (Trin Miller) and their six children outside society, in the wilderness of Washington state. Having devoted their lives to raising their kids, Ben and Leslie teach them to think critically, to be physically fit and to understand the beauty of co-existing with nature. However, when Leslie dies suddenly, Ben must take his sheltered offspring into the outside world for the first time and fight against her family who refuse to accept his life choices.

Predictions: I was genuinely both surprised and super pleased to see Viggo Mortensen nominated since films such as this tend to go completely unrecognised by the Academy. Besides being beautifully shot, Captain Fantastic offers a strikingly original and unpredictable character narrative about a group of colourful outsiders, with a statement about the current society we live in. As such, it's so unfortunate that it is likely to home empty handed though I'm so happy to see it nominated. It's most definitely worth the watch.

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Moana (John Musker, Ron Clements, 2016) - Nominations (2) - Best Animated Feature Film of the Year, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)

Plot: A Disney adventure following the story of Moana Waialiki (Auli’i Cravalho) - the teenage daughter of a chief on the small Polynesian island of Motunui. With the island's resources running out, Moana embarks on a seemingly impossible mission across the sea to find demigod, Maui (Dwayne Johnson), and return the heart to the goddess Te Fiti. In doing so, she proves herself a master wayfinder and fulfils the unfinished quest of her ancestors. 

Predictions: Moana is a rare and much needed celebration of Polynesian culture and there are so many factors which make it groundbreaking. Firstly, Moana is not a Disney princess - she is a daughter of a chief and, as such, is expected to lead her people. She does not have a love interest, nor does she need a male role to save her - she is entirely her own person. If you want to dig a little further, you may also find some very interesting feminist theories surrounding the role of the goddess Te Fiti. Throw in some incredibly catchy songs written by Broadway legend Lin Manuel Miranda; stunning visuals, a talented cast of Polynesian/Hawaiian actors, excellent writers (including Taika Waititi) - you've got yourself one incredible Disney classic and a stand out film of 2016.

Personally, I would absolutely love to see Moana take home both awards but unfortunately I do believe these are already taken by Justin Hurwitz for La La Land and Kubo and the Two Strings for animation.

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The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015) - Nominations (1) - Best Original Screenplay

Plot: David (Colin Farrell) finds himself single when he is unexpectedly dumped by his wife. However, the breakup is made all the worse by the fact that he has 45 days to find true love, or else they are turned into the animal. Arriving at a mysterious hotel in the middle of nowhere, David begins his search for a new partner but after several failed romantic encounters, he makes a daring escape. Now on the run from society, David joins rebel group, 'The Loners' - a group founded on a complete rejection of romance and who live in the woods. However, it is here that David meets an enigmatic stranger (Rachel Weiss) with whom he falls in love.

Predictions: Colin Farrell delivers a fantastic performance within this beautiful yet bizarre film. Undoubtably, it is one of the most unique screenplays and narratives I've seen in a longtime. It's fantastic to see The Lobster nominated at this year's Academy Awards as, much like Captain Fantastic, it is outside the usual Oscar conventions. Again, I'm not sure if The Lobster has enough hype surrounding it to encourage a golden statue but it's worth the watch all the while. 

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Loving (Jeff Nichols, 2016) - Nominations (1) - Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Ruth Negga).

Plot: Based on true events, Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga) are an interracial couple who marry in Central Point, Virginia in 1958. Despite living in one of the more integrated areas of the State, the couple are faced with extreme prejudice and are jailed and banished having refused to end their marriage. Once freed, Richard and Mildred are forced to relocate with their children but decide to return to Virginia - leading to a powerful legal battle which would make history within the US Supreme Court. 

Predictions: From the trailer, you might expect Loving to be a civil rights drama much like that of A United Kingdom (Amma Asante, 2016) but in fact, it is actually more of an intimate and hard-hitting portrait of a marriage suffering unimaginable stress. Its phenomenal narrative approach and career-best performances from Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton make this one of the most underrated films at this year's Oscars. I do, however, think this is fantastic opportunity for Ruth Negga who shines in every performance she has given so far (especially if you've seen her in TV series, Preacher). I can't wait to see her career grow off the back of this nomination though sadly, I feel that the Oscar already has Viola Davis written on it. 

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13th (Ava DuVernay, 2016) - Nominations (1) - Best Documentary Feature

Plot: Filmmaker Ava DuVernay (director of Selma, 2014) writes and directs a documentary which explores the history of racial inequality in the United States. Providing a previously unseen look in to the legal system, the film is an in-depth look into why the nation's prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans through a series of footage and interviews. 

Predictions: Personally, I think it's wonderful to see a Netflix Original nominated for an Oscar and so rightfully so with 13th. A few years ago, DuVernay turns heads at the Academy with Selma, a film about Martin Luther King Jr. which had prominent themes which were just as relevant in modern society. It comes at no surprise then that 13th is even more sobering and powerful as it holds up a mirror the current US prison system and it's comparisons to modern slavery. I'm pretty sure it has a firm chance of taking home Best Documentary Feature and have got my fingers and toes crossed for it's success.  

Well, that's it for Part II of my Oscars rundown and predictions. Will you be watching this evening? Who are you rooting for to win? As always, I love reading your comments so please do leave me lots of lovely ones down below. You can also check out Part I here. 

Until next time film fans,



  1. I would love The Lobster to win! I am definitely going to watch the other couple of films i haven't yet seen! Great post, as always :)

    1. Thanks so much hun :) Yeah it was an excellent film. 13th is an amazing one as well and it's on Netflix :) xx

  2. I really enjoyed Moana and Hidden Figures as both were so empowering to women. I'm so glad to see these nominated this year. Hope you enjoy the awards tonight Sophie and manage to stay awake! xx


    1. I totally agree :) Haha I'm surprised I actually had no problems at all staying up. It did feel a bit uneventful this year though sadly but always fun to watch xx

  3. Great run down, can't wait to see what happens this eve!!


    1. Thank you - what did you think of the evening? I actually thought last year was better but enjoyable all the same xx

  4. The most off-the-wall movies on your list are The Lobster and Captain Fantastic, both of which I enjoyed. Captain Fantastic reminded me of Harrison Ford in the Mosquito Coast where Ford takes his family (including his son played by River Phoenix) away from the corrupting influence of America. I think we should celebrate Noam Chomsky Day in America and I thought that scene was hysterically funny.

    I like my science-fiction to have provocative thought in it so I liked The Arrival with the non-humanoid aliens. It's the same reason I enjoyed The Lobster with its commentary on romantic relationships and if they are possible. Hidden Figures was a great crowd-pleaser that showed something about NASA I had never heard of. I'm glad that it topped the movie market for a time. Some of my fave movies are documentaries on HBO and Netflix and 13th really does a good job of illustrating the problem of mass incarceration. It was because of Selma that we first came in contact with one another and I'm glad that happened. You were my second tumblr mutual. I know you don't use tumblr now but if you have some free time, take a look at my blog: http://greek-arete.tumblr.com/ As a cat fan, I think you might like a Russian cat cartoon link I put up on a reblog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nVixZYHf8s I hope Rosie is well! Moana was nice and I had to check on youtube that the Rock was indeed singing that song.

    I missed Fences and Loving so I'll have to see those soon.

    1. I was able to see Fences and Loving. Wow, Viola Davis really deserved her Oscar! And an excellent performance from Denzel, too. I have a book that discusses major Supreme Court decisions like Loving v Virginia but this film really brought the struggle the Loving family had to go through to life. What a fine performance from Ruth Negga but the big surprise for me was Joel Edgerton who was amazing in this film! I've seen him in The Gift and the Terminator and Exodus movies but I've never seen him give so strong a performance! He really conveyed the fear of living in a racist and unjust place in 1950s-60s America.

    2. Lol, I got Joel Edgerton and Sam Worthington mixed up for Terminator Salvation.

    3. Yeah after I watched that I knew Viola Davis had it in the bag - she's outstanding. I really loved Fences even though I couldn't shake the feeling I was watching a play. Haha it is indeed the Rock singing. I don't think there's anything that man can't do.

      Loving is beautifully done I think - huge shame for Ruth Negga as she was amazing but such competition this year. Haha I was going to say, I don't remember him in Terminator - easy mistake I'm sure! He's very creepy in The Gift though. He's very diverse I think :)

      Rosie is very well thank you - approaching her 20th birthday this April! She's very clearly getting old and scraggy now but she's a happy cat and still very chatty and cuddly so that's the main thing I think :) Any news on getting your own cat yet?

    4. I am so glad Rosie is in good spirits :) Oh, I really want to get a cat. I take it very seriously though because it is a long-term commitment and relationship. I've had two cats in my life; the first one was very attached to me. I think it was because he was a stray that decided to live in our garden and I saved him from another cat that was chasing him. The second one was okay but really wasn't as affectionate as the first cat. She was also a stray and eventually she went to live with a friend of my mom's. I had to give the first cat up to someone else because we had to move to another country.

    5. Well that's the best way to look at it really. I do think every cat is very different but they do tend to pick a favourite human haha. Would be lovely to have one :)


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