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Choosing the Best Picture of the year is always a good source for great debates and while the Academy might have the last word in who gets the Oscar, for many fans, winners are personal and often veer far from the titles even on the nomination list. This year though is something different as the movies on the ballots are some of the best in recent memory and selecting only one to come out on top is proving especially difficult. Here are all 9 Best Picture nominees and our reviews (in random order). See below for our winner and thoughts on others.
While the growing near viral hype for this film is reaching its tipping point, there is still no denying the pure joy the film produces when watching, especially for that first time, when it looks to shake the very core of the industry and both recall a time when magic seemed to fill screens while revitalizing creativity when many so big-budget movies have become stale reproductions of themselves. La La Land is not just a musical but rather an experience that blends the power of song and emotional investment in a stunning tour de force by all involved, something that has affected its audience in ways few can describe. It’s a reminder that movies are more than visual effects and standard tropes but of participation. Those who watch La La Land are often left with a loss of words for a few moments, letting the impact of the film settle and find its place within them, and it has profound meaning to different people of all ages. Few films have had this much sweeping adoration from all corners of critics and viewers and there is reason for it: it is breathlessly new while somehow able to recall or rather inspire imaginations from a time when movies let the fantasy of the romance of life feel freeing on screen. La La Land is the Best Picture of the Year.
But if there was no La La Land …
Of the nominations, second choice would go to Manchester By The Sea, a film that might seem like Oscar bait but is a truly authentic piece of work from writer/director Kenneth Lonergan that is raw, heartbreaking and filled with genuine performances that are never once manipulative. Lonergan manages once again to capture a slice of life from characters that feel as real as you or I with problems and conflicts that are natural and organic, delivering it all in an engaging way, both visually and with great intelligence. From Casey Affleck’s subdued and intense portrayal of a self-loathing and deeply troubled man to the setting itself, which comes alive in haunting imagery, Manchester By The Sea is an often shockingly affecting experience that lingers about the viewer long after it is over.
There hasn’t really been a really smart alien film since Steven Spielberg‘s 1977 epic Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, a story that elevated the genre with its intelligence and scientific approach. With Denis Villeneuve‘s Arrival, it is a return to that style with a story that challenges and raises the right questions while at the same time spurring imaginations. It’s the kind of story you want to be real and that says a lot about the work of the screenplay, the performances, and the low-key but stunning visual effects that brought a powerful sense of authenticity to it all. While the end seems to reach for an emotional peak that isn’t quite earned, the overall experience is rich with awe in a science fiction film that avoids every single cliché of the genre and keeps it centered on its premise. Plus, it’s about language and that is just very cool.
Which is your pick for Best Picture?