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Oscar nominees hit highs and lows

Winged Post's Copy editor comments on Best Picture Nominees

by Anjay Saklecha, Winged Post Copy Editor

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The 90th Academy Awards presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will honor the best films, actors, actresses, directors and film songs of 2017 and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California at 5:00 p.m. on Mar. 4, 2018.

“Get Out”

4.5/5 Stars

Thumbs UP

Nina Gee

Mixing dark comedy and sharp social satire with mainstream horror elements, “Get Out” effectively merges into the strange and smartly written first feature by filmmaker Jordan Peele, who drives his critique of cultural appropriation into a clever, statement about racism. The movie follows Chris Washington, portrayed by Daniel Kaluuya, and his girlfriend Rose Armitage, played by Allison Williams, as they visit her parents for the weekend. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship with his TSA Agent buddy, played by the hysterical Lil Rel Howery, warning him to leave. Yet, as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined. For the first half of the movie, Peele piles up the clues that something is wrong, acting as a slow-burn. Your mind races as you start to piece together the puzzle of this mysterious, horror film. Then, the final act of “Get Out” is an unpredictable thrill ride. Proving to be a strong visual artist as a director, Peele finds a way to take the movie off the rails, keeping the audience on the edge.

 

“Lady Bird”

4.5/5 Stars

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Nina Gee

“Lady Bird” is a heartfelt coming-of-age story that perfectly captures the bittersweet transition from adolescence to dawning adulthood. Lady Bird McPherson, portrayed by Saoirse Ronan, is a high-school senior who longs for adventure and opportunity. The film follows the titular character as she progresses through her final year of high school through her first romance, her first participation in a school play, and her attempts at applying to college. While the film is on the predictable side, as it’s a coming-of-age tale, where teenagers make wrong decisions and make-up for it by the end of the movie, “Lady Bird” is still an interesting one, that takes a life of its own.

 

“The Post”

4/5 Stars

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Nina Gee

Legendary director Steven Spielberg, with an all-star cast including actors Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, depicts a historical dramatization detailing the governmental deception regarding the Vietnam war. Kay Graham, portrayed by Streep, a recent widow, who is thrusted into power as the first female owner of the Washington Post and her editor-in-chief, Ben Bradlee, played by Hanks, work brilliantly together capturing the zest for journalism as they race to expose the political cover up by four presidential administrations (Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson) by publishing the classified Pentagon Papers. The film is a fast-paced drama that packs in a lot of information without allowing for boredom. It is a well-made film that validates the importance of protecting the Free Press right, by depicting how much we risk losing when journalistic freedom is threatened, a theme that is as relevant today as back then.

 

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

5/5 Stars

Thumbs UP

Nina Gee

An intense, sharply-written crime-related drama, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” delivers an effective controversy on a mother fighting to find her daughter’s killer. After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes, played by Frances McDormand paints three signs leading into her town in Missouri with a controversial message directed at the town’s chief of police, William Willough, played by Woody Harrelson. Things begin to get out of hand, when Willough’s second-in-command officer grows violent forcing a battle between Mildred and the law enforcement. While this film is on the violent spectrum, it still depicts the energy anger brings to the screen with a mother frantically fighting for revenge against her daughter’s murderer. The film is grounded, feeling even inspirational at times causing you to laugh and cry in the very same scenes. There’s never a right answer when watching “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” because at some points in the movie, you may agree with Mildred, the mother, and other times, with the police, and start to question Mildred and her actions.

 

“The Shape of Water”

4/5 Stars

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Mahika Halepete

In “The Shape of Water,” director, Guillermo Del Toro, uniquely fuses a modern day “Beauty and the Beast” fairytale with an adult sci-fi story. The tale of a mute woman who falls in love with a male sea creature is carefully depicted and brilliantly performed by a talented cast consisting of Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon and Doug Jones. The story, set in Baltimore in 1962 during the Cold War-era, brings together a tale of a mute high-security government lab janitor, Elisa Esposito (Hawkins) and a secret amphibian creature, the “Asset” (Jones). When Elisa discovers this classified creature, captured by colonel Richard Stone (Shannon) and stored in a laboratory facility, she befriends him and develops a special bond through gestures and music. When she learns of an insidious plan of torturing the creature in the name of science research and national security, she plans an escape with the help of her friends and co-conspirators, Giles (Jenkins) and Zelda (Spencer). Once freed,  Elisa falls in love with the creature, a fellow outcast, while making rescue plans to release him back to the sea. While a relationship between a woman and creature is bizarre and a bit disturbing at times, the imaginative fantasy portrays great performances by the cast and captivating cinematography and design. Hawkins and Jones are passionate, delivering moving performance based on expression, movement, and music; Shannon is pure evil, Jenkins is compassionate, and Spencer is hilarious. In this outrageous tale, Del Toro presents realistic elements by bringing in the political undertones of the Cold War era paranoia, showing us a paradoxical tale of the monster, who is innocent, versus humans, who can be frighteningly villainous. Del Toro‘s transforms a  preposterous offbeat plot into a touching yet gripping story of acceptance and loneliness that the ‘outcast’ in all of us can identify with.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on March 6, 2018.

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Oscar nominees hit highs and lows