Tag Archives: Oscars2017

La La Land

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128 minutes

Director: Damien Chazelle

5/5

Have you ever wanted something so bad you’d do anything for it? That’s how Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) feel. To follow her dream, Mia moves to L.A from a small town and gets a job as a coffee barista to support herself. She goes to awful parties with her friends who hope they can meet someone that can help them become actresses. To follow his dream,  Sebastian hops from gig to gig as a pianist playing music he doesn’t like, hoping to scrounge up enough money to open up his dream jazz club. In this stunning Academy Award-nominated musical, we see what dreams are worth sacrificing for.

This movie is so amazing I don’t know where to begin. This film has been nominated for a total of 14 including best motion picture, best original screenplay, best original music score, best director and best motion picture.The original score is fantastic, the cinematography is great, the chemistry between actors is beautiful, the impromptu dance numbers are marvelous and the story is heart-wrenching. In my mind, this film deserves each and every one of its nominations.

First off I’d like to talk about how good it was as a musical. This film was in the style of an old Hollywood musical, like the kind with a singing and dancing Gene Kelly with Kathryn Grayson or Debbie Reynolds. It did a perfect homage to that genre. We don’t see many films like this anymore and the fact that Damien Chazelle took this risk and made this film is astounding. That he executed it perfectly makes it even better. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when the opening number started and they’re singing and dancing along the freeway. That scene alone got my attention for the whole film.

la-la-land2Plus, the soundtrack was fantastic! Every single song from this movie is unbelievable. With the opening number they’re singing on the freeway and at the end of that song, they cadence with car horns! My inner music nerd rejoices every time I hear that part. Since seeing this film I have bought the soundtrack and now know all the words to every song. “City of Stars” has been nominated for best original song, as it should be, but all the songs from the soundtrack are wonderful. My favourite is “Lovely Night”. It beautifully describes how both Mia and Sebastian are feeling while they sing that song. Mia is complaining about how much her heels are hurting her feet and so she takes some dance emergency shoes out of her bag! You know it’s going to be a good musical when there’s dance emergency shoes.

Another thing that was so good about this film was the focus on the protagonist’s dreams. I think the message that nothing is worth giving up your dream for is wonderful. I feel like this message especially will ring true for arts students (like myself), seeing as Mia and Sebastian are supposed to be people on the younger side looking to start their careers in the arts. We see Mia paying all the money she has to put on a one-woman show for a few people to watch. We see Sebastian playing the song “I Ran” in a 1980s jumpsuit, just to get some money to put towards his future club. Sometimes these characters get discouraged or distracted, but with the help of each other they both work to achieve their dreams. One of the songs that Mia sings alone perfectly portrays what the movie is trying to say when it comes to people’s goals. It’s called “The Fools Who Dream”. It talks about how you might be foolish for dreaming and how it might not be easy, but the world needs fools who dream. 

To conclude; I really enjoyed this film. From the score, to the old Hollywood vibe, to the nice message to the general public (but especially arts students). It had me at the edge of my seat from the beginning number to the last shot. I loved every minute of the whole film. I think that this film really deserves it’s many academy awards and I wish it the best of luck at the Oscars.

Hidden Figures

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127 minutes

4.75/5

Director: Theodore Melfi

 

Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer)  are three African American scientists who helped put men into space while struggling for equality in 1960s Virginia. Based on true events, Hidden Figures follows Mary fighting for the right to go to an all white school to get an advanced engineering degree, while Dorothy works to keep her job in the face of technological advancements and Katherine is determined to receive the respect she deserves as one of the biggest brains in all of NASA. This is the compelling story of these three brilliant minds, who happen to be African American women and because of that, are not treated as equals.

This film is absolutely wonderful and deserving of it’s many academy award nominations, including best motion picture. I love how it shows just how hard these women’s lives were, and just how much discrimination they faced. They were three highly intelligent women who were treated like garbage because of their gender and the colour of their skin. Katherine had to walk half a mile because there were no “coloured” washrooms anywhere near her desk. Mary had to persuade a judge to get a court order for her to be allowed into school – for night classes! Dorothy was doing all the work of a supervisor, but because she was African American, did not receive the pay or title. On top of that, all three women were moms! Each one of them had at least two children! After watching this film it really reminds you how far respect and nondiscrimination has come.

e154021_t05Another thing that was amazing about this film is that they talk about all the science that was happening during that time in NASA. Due to the race to space between the USA and Russia, the 1960’s were an exciting time for science and technology. This film shows a lot of the cool math and science and technological advancements (like the development of computers) from that decade. What’s even cooler is that they barely dumb it down for the audience! We get to see everyone’s calculations and hear about fortran, the language of the computers, and even technical things like the problems with the heat shield. I really appreciated being able to learn a little bit while watching the film.

I also particularly enjoyed how not every single black person was nice, and not every single white person was mean. There was Mr. Harrison (Kevin Costner); who was the leader of NASA and didn’t care that Katherine a women or that she was African American, he just wanted her to do her work. If there was something impeding her, he would get rid of it, like giving her complete clearance of information or getting rid of all the “coloured” washrooms and just making them “washrooms” so that she could take less time in the bathroom (because she wouldn’t have to run half a mile in heels). Then there was Colonel Jimmy Johnson (Mahershala Ali) who said something pretty sexist the first time he met Katherine. “They let women in the science program?” Ya. He said that, as if he was trying to woo her. Not the best pick up line. This film wasn’t just black and white (for lack of a better metaphor) when it came to good and bad characters. Everyone was their own person with their own opinions.

One thing that was subtle and yet still absolutely wonderful was the soundtrack. It wasn’t loud or what you were meant to focus on, like in a film such as “La La Land” (another Academy Award nominee) and yet it was just as good. It supported the scenes very well, you didn’t focus on it and yet it filled the spaces where there was no dialogue so you could concentrate on the scenery or the intense math sessions. It was very versatile, from the songs that are playing on the radio, to the songs sung in the church scenes, to the scenes that are supposed to be ‘silent’, but you want something to fill that noise gap so it isn’t jarring. This film did all this perfectly and made it sound effortless.

One thing that I didn’t like about this film, is that they kind of glossed over Mary Jackson’s story. We see that she is smart enough to be an engineer but doesn’t have the credentials due to her lack of an advanced engineering degree. What we never see is what she works on at NASA. We see her home life and her hanging out with Dorothy and Katherine, but we rarely get a chance to see just what she normally does at NASA. I for one, would have loved to see what she did because she worked on the more scientific and less mathematical stuff for NASA and that’s something we don’t really see in the film. I think if we got more insight into Mary’s life we would be able to see the cool science things NASA was doing at the time along with the cool math they were doing.

All in all, this movie was near perfect. It had a wonderful story line, was based on true events, had moments of comedy even though it was a very serious film, and even had an amazing original score. I hope the Oscars treat Hidden Figures very well, because this film deserves each and every award it has been nominated for.