2017 Oscar Previews: Part 1

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There’s always a lot of talk leading up to the big day about who will win what awards. We try to make our predictions based on trends from the past, but we can’t help to be swayed by our own personal opinions. Some movies truly strike a chord with us, while others aren’t interesting at all. Furthermore, Oscar films are usually heavy in the drama department and therefore they aren’t always the easiest or most entertaining movies to watch.

That’s why we’re here. Here is your guide to the nominees of this year’s Academy Awards. We’ve compiled the following brief summaries, interesting facts, and critical reviews for all these films and people. The goal is to give you a solid background even if you haven’t been able to catch up with this year’s nominees. So read on, and then start planning your Oscar-related drinking game.   


 Best Picture Nominees


 Arrival

arrival movie

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Story: Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touchdown in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Production Design

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

What Our Critic Said: 

“Arrival is everything we hoped for from one of the most promising up-and-coming directors of our time. “ (Read the review here)

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic = 81/100

IMDB = 8.2

Rotten Tomatoes = 94%

Cinelinx = 4.8/5.0

Interesting Facts: Octopuses, whales, elephants, and spiders were all sources of inspiration when it came to creating the aliens “Abbott and Costello”. 


Fences 

Fences

Directed by: Denzel Washington

Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis

Story: Fences is the story of Troy Maxson, a mid-century Pittsburgh sanitation worker who once dreamed of a baseball career, but was too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. He tries to be a good husband and father, but his lost dream of glory eats at him, and causes him to make a decision that threatens to tear his family apart.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

Golden Globe – Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

SAG – Best Male Actor in a Leading Role

SAG – Best Female Actress in a Supporting Role

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Adapted Screenplay

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic = 78/100

IMDB = 7.6

Rotten Tomatoes = 95%

Interesting Facts: When Paramount Studios originally acquired the film rights to the play in 1987 with the involvement of Eddie Murphy, it was largely due to Murphy wanting to take on a more serious film role; that of the 17 year old son Corey. In 1987 Murphy was a full decade older than the character, and the many filming delays meant that he quickly aged out of eligibility for filming the role.   


Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw 1 770x470

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn

Story: The extraordinary true story of conscientious objector Desmond T. Doss who saved 75 men in Okinawa, during the bloodiest battle of WWII, without firing a single shot. Believing that the war was just but killing was nevertheless wrong, he was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon. As an army medic Doss single-handedly evacuated the wounded near enemy lines – braving enemy fire and putting his own life on the line. He was the first conscientious objector to ever win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations: 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

What Our Critic Said: 

“After this year’s disappointing blockbuster summer season, Hacksaw Ridge is the big screen experience we wanted, but with Oscar-caliber craftsmanship and performances.” (Read our review here.)

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic = 71/100

IMDB = 8.4

Rotten Tomatoes = 86%

Cinelinx = 4.7/5.0

Interesting Facts: Shot in 59 days, and the battle scenes took 19 of those days.  


Hell or High Water

hell or high water trailer

Directed by: David Mackenzie

Starring: Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges

Story: Two brothers — Toby, a straight-living, divorced father trying to make a better life for his son; and Tanner, a short-tempered ex-con with a loose trigger finger — come together to rob branch after branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land. The hold-ups are part of a last-ditch scheme to take back a future that powerful forces beyond their control have stolen from under their feet. Vengeance seems to be theirs until they find themselves in the crosshairs of a relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger looking for one last triumph on the eve of his retirement. As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their plan, a showdown looms at the crossroads where the last honest law man and a pair of brothers with nothing to live for except family collide.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Film Editing

What Our Critic Said: 

“It’s patient, lean, and makes us care deeply for both of the two parties it pits against each other.” (Read our review here.)

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic = 88/100

IMDB = 7.7

Rotten Tomatoes = 98%

Cinelinx = 4.4 / 5.0

Interesting Facts: Toby offers his son a beer. Texas is one of ten states that allows underage minors to consume alcohol in specific locations such as the privacy of home, or in the presence of consenting and supervising family members.  


Hidden Figures

hidden figures

Directed by: Theodore Melfi

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner

Story: The incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

SAG – Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Adapted Screenplay

What Our Critic Said: 

“Hidden Figures is a fitting title. The film may seem to be the kind of film that you’ve seen before, but it is full of surprises.” (Read our review here.)

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic = 74/100

IMDB = 7.9

Rotten Tomatoes = 92%

Cinelinx = 4.5 / 5.0

Interesting Facts: The set where Dorothy Vaughn’s house was filmed was actually a historic house in Atlanta where civil rights legends Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King Jr. met.  


La La Land

la la land 633x356

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend

Story: The story of Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, struggling to make ends meet while pursuing their dreams in a city known for destroying hopes and breaking hearts. With modern day Los Angeles as the backdrop, this musical about everyday life explores what is more important: a once-in-a-lifetime love or the spotlight.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Golden Globes – Best Actor, Musical or Comedy

Golden Globes – Best Actress, Musical or Comedy

Golden Globes – Best Director

Golden Globes – Best Screenplay

Golden Globes – Best Original Song

Golden Globes – Best Original Score

SAG – Best Female Actor in a Leading Role

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Production Design

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) x2

Best Sound Mixing

Best Sound Editing

What Our Critic Said: 

“While it could be easy to write-off La La Land as nostalgia porn for the good-ole days of MGM musicals and tap dancing to happy endings, Chazelle shows his mastery with the camera making it feel like Scorsese added musical numbers to Goodfellas. Chazelle preferred to work in long uninterrupted takes, some which probably took dozens of times to get the dancing down, and let the camera move like it was one of the dancers. It swings around, dips and bows, speeds up and slows down.“ (Read our review here.)

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic = 93/100

IMDB = 8.6

Rotten Tomatoes = 93%

Cinelinx = 4.8/5.0

Interesting Facts: Ryan Gosling spent 2 hours a day, 6 days a week in piano lessons to learn the music by heart. By the time filming had begun, Gosling was able to play all the piano sequences seen in the film without the use of a hand double or CGI.  


Lion

Lion Movie

Directed by: Garth Davis

Starring: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara

Story: Five year old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

None

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic = 69/100

IMDB = 8.0

Rotten Tomatoes = 86%

Interesting Facts: Google helped the production and gave the crew access to their satellite imagery to use in their film providing them with versions of Google Earth from the correct time period.  


Manchester By the Sea

manchester by the sea casey affleck lucas hedges promo

Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan

Starring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams

Story: Lee Chandler is a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother’s heart has given out suddenly, and he’s been named guardian to his 16-year-old nephew. As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren’t enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

Golden Globe – Best Actor in a Drama

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Original Screenplay

What Our Critic Said: 

“It’s not all Hollywood tradition on rails. Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan injects the film with relatable randomness.” (Read our review here.)

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic = 96/100

IMDB = 8.3

Rotten Tomatoes = 96%

Cinelinx = 4.5/5.0

Interesting Facts: Matt Damon was originally set to direct and star in the film.  


Moonlight

Moonlight

Directed by: Barry Jenkins

Starring: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae

Story: At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, MOONLIGHT is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths. Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Barry Jenkins’s staggering, singular vision is profoundly moving in its portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture, Drama

SAG – Best Supporting Actor

AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Achievement in Directing 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic = 99/100

IMDB = 8.2

Rotten Tomatoes = 98%

Interesting Facts: When Juan teaches Little how to swim, Mahershala Ali is really teaching Alex R. Hibbert how to swim.  


 

Click here for Part 2 of this year’s Oscar Previews. 

For more Oscar-nominees, check out last year’s Oscars Previews here.