Moonlight is one of the best-reviewed movies of 2016 and it is plain to see why. It is eloquent and gorgeous and mesmerizing. It is the story of a young African-American man told in three stages of his life – as a youth, an adolescent and an adult, – struggling with growing up gay and black in Miami. Chiron’s mother is a drug-addict and he is being bullied by the other boys in the neighbourhood, who seemed to know that he is gay, when he doesn’t know himself. It is a heartbreaking film that makes you want to just reach into the screen and take him in your arms and comfort him. This is poetry on film.
4 stars out of 5 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Hacksaw Ridge is the true story of Desmond Doss, a young Seventh Day Adventist who volunteers for World War II but, because of religious beliefs and violence in his own home, refuses to carry a gun. He enlisted to be a medic to save people, not kill them. After some initial resistance to such an “insane” idea, he was granted his wish and went on to save innumerable lives at the Battle at Hacksaw Ridge. He is the only conscientious objector ever to receive the Medal of Honor. Mel Gibson, true to form, has made a horrifically violent movie (hands over the eyes for a lot of the battle scenes) but also an inspiring movie with Andrew Garfield perfectly cast as the protagonist.
3.5 stars out of 5 86% on Rotten Tomatoes
Manchester by the Sea
If Casey Affleck does not win Best Actor Oscar for Manchester by the Sea, there is something wrong with that whole system. Affleck plays a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman in a Boston apartment block. He gets a call that his brother has collapsed and is in hospital. Through flashbacks, his past life in Manchester comes back to him, the good and the bad, including an unspeakable tragedy. Affleck is so wonderful in this film, as is Lucas Hedges who portrays his nephew. In fact, the entire cast is superb – which includes Michelle Williams as Affleck’s ex-wife and Kyle Chandler (the handsomest man in the world, so says I) as his brother. There is also a cameo by Kenneth Lonergan, the writer and director. This movie is a contender for my favourite film of the year, but still being edged out by La La Land.
4.7 stars out of 5 96% on Rotten Tomatoes
Note: All three of these movies are up for Best Picture at the Academy Awards this Sunday, February 26. Thanks to On Demand (Bell), I have been able to see four of those Best Picture nominees this week. The only one I am missing is Fences. Hopefully it will be shown this weekend.
This is how I rank the 9 nominees:
- La La Land
- Manchester by the Sea
- Hidden Figures
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Hell or High Water
- Fences (only because I have not been able to see it and cannot rank it otherwise)
Note: This is the first time in recent memory that I have liked, really liked, all the movies from 1 to 8 so, while it would be disappointing if my favourite did not win, it would not be as bad as, say, when Birdman won a couple years ago. I really did not like this movie and could not understand why it would win Best Picture. While I am rooting for La La Land to win, I will be happy for any of the others to win . . . well, perhaps not Hell or High Water.