Oscar Bait – Moonlight / La La Land

moonlightTitle: Moonlight
Director: Barry Jenkins
Year: 2016
Country: USA

Dear Fencesthis is how you make an essential film out of a play. This is one of the highest rated films in Metacritic history and, alongside Hidden Figurestells a story that hasn’t been told before. As such, Moonlight is one of the films I have been looking forward to seeing the most and why it’s late release in the UK has been so vexing.

Overall, Moonlight is the story of a queer black boy growing up and dealing with the discrimination that can be found in the predominantly black communities of America. He is ostracised and physically beaten by his peers, has a crack addict for a mother and the only people who are nice to him are a drug dealer and his girlfriend.

Over the course of three acts (child, adolescent and adult respectively) we witness what such a set of circumstances can do to a queer person. It’s just… really so well done and the more I think about this film the more I want to see it again.

Going into Moonlight I did not expect such an arty film. It really does make it stand out from the other films that have been nominated. So much of what makes this film special is down to the work of the director and the cinematographer. The use of colour is gorgeous and really harks back to the title of the original play: Moonlight Makes Black Boys Look Blue. 

Together the director and cinematographer also manage to give each of the chapters a distinct look due to their choice to film each one using a different type of film. The differences are subtle, but it’s enough to make it look like the film quality is growing up as Chiron grows up.

As much as I would love a film like Moonlight to take home the Best Picture nod I can’t see the academy that refused a win to Brokeback Mountain or even a Best Actor not to David Oyelowo for his incredible Selma will give a major award to this film.

Title: La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Year: 2016
Country: USA

I know that this is a very snobby thing to say, but I went into this film wanting to dislike it. Well, dislike is a bit strong. When I saw a trailer for it back in the summer I was desperate to see it. Then everyone started going to see it and loving it… so out came my inner hipster.

Within the first 1-2 minutes I had goosebumps. So that’s how long that lasted. By the end of the first song I knew I was watching something special and soon-to-be iconic.  Now that it’s a day later and I think back all I want to do is re-watch this film.

I think I have mentioned before that whilst I do like some musicals (like Moulin Rouge) there are many I have seen that bored me (Across The Universe) or did not get at all (Singin’ In The Rain). However, I am much more receptive to musicals than the average person, so there was always going to be a chance that I would love it… and love it I did.

There is the magnificent chemistry between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, the songs, the fact that so many details serve as an homage to classic Hollywood cinema, the fantastic direction and one shots, the dream ballet at the end, some proper goosebumps moments, one weepy moment and a sharp dose of honesty.

Yes, I know that when compared to Moonlight this film is a bit frothy. The thing is, it’s a fantastically well done piece of froth. Also, if you watch the film and get to the moment where Emma Stone sings her heart out in her audition and still think this is froth… then I don’t know what to say. I was genuinely moved by this film.

1) La La Land
2) Manchester by the Sea
3) Arrival
4) Moonlight
5) Hell or High Water
6) Hacksaw Ridge
7) Hidden Figures
8) Lion

9) Fences

List Item: Watch all Best Picture Winners (to date)

So unless there is a write in candidate that wins the day I am able to keep this part of my list well and truly crossed off. It’s been a stunner of a year for nominees where I can say that I have 6-7 films that I would be okay winning.

Obviously I am Team La La Land, but if that wins remains to be seen. I have a fear that, considering the times we appear to be entering, these will end up being a political Oscars. Whilst I am okay with Moonlight winning because it is the best film of the bunch according to Metacritic… it is the Best Actor race I am more worried about.

Progress: 90/90


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