Understand, when someone says a movie (or whatever) is "powerful" what they usually mean is "preachy." And "important" invariably needs, yet lacks, a "self-" before it. A vast number of films are lauded by people who would claim to hate formulaic features but which are as predictable as a Hallmark Christmas movie from scene to scene. Which, by the way, is why I find Hallmark movies to be easily as enjoyable as a lot of big production pictures: they have no pretension at all, and are simply a pleasant time. Everyone knows romantic comedies, action flicks, and the like have their formulae and no one minds acknowledging it. The dysfunctional family drama (for example) has it no less, but somehow is considered Important or something.
Let's have a look, shall we?
ArrivalThis is highly intelligent, thought-provoking, fascinating, and of a sci-fi nature. Therefore it will not win. Time and language are looked at, brilliantly, and the whole thing is beautiful yet understated. I loved it.
FencesThough the entire cast is excellent, Denzel Washington as (by far) the show's central character is outstanding. He should absolutely get an Oscar. By the 2nd scene or so I realized that it was based on a play: everything about it says so. I don't usually care about stories of mule-headed dopes sliding to oblivion, but it's one of the few nominees that might be remembered after a couple years. Might.
Hacksaw RidgeI know the history; I don't need to put the images in my head. Predictable format applied to a good story. I passed, and will continue to do so.
Hell or High WaterHad no idea this existed until I saw it on the list. Could be good. I'll watch it if it floats by, but won't go looking.
Hidden FiguresAgain, I knew the history - and in fact Timeless ran an episode about it not long before I saw the movie - and the poster itself told you pretty much everything before it was even released. Biggest surprise was reduced preachiness from what you'd expect. Nice movie, if rather pedestrian for this list.
La La LandL.A. Story probably didn't make much sense if you weren't familiar enough with the city to get the in-jokes. This one has a LOT of references and landmarks, but anything unexplained won't even be noticed by the L.A. (or old movie) novice, so no harm no foul. It is by far the most fun of the list.
LionMore history as movie! Big budget pseudo-documentary seems to be the thing. As with some of the other nominees, a well-made movie that I'm not likely to go back to. Nice moral, though: Family is the most beautiful thing.
Manchester By The SeaThey said it was beautiful. It has a minute or two of "this place is purty" shots. They said it was intriguing. Well... They said it was long. On that we are in total agreement. It could have been about 45 minutes shorter, and likely should have been. Fences managed to indicate slowness without actually taking all day to no other effect. I was annoyed about halfway through, and more so by the end.
MoonlightOh look, yet another victimhood wallow. Powerful. Urgent. Important. Pass.
As I mentioned in the last post, I'll be paying more attention to the red carpet interviews than the show, chatting at the party and ticking off the boxes in my score card. Make your guesses cynically and you'll do pretty well.
And remember, when someone asks, "Who are you wearing?" the correct answer is, "It puts the lotion on its skin..."