The Best Picture Reviews: La La Land & Lion

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I wrote my thoughts yesterday on the two first nominees, read them here!  Now it’s time for the next two.

LA LA LAND (2016)

Directed by Damien Chazelle
Written by Damien Chazelle
Starring Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling

Synopsis (IMDb): “A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.”

I’ve been waiting to see Chazelle’s next move since seeing Whiplash about exactly two years ago. Whiplash blew me away, I couldn’t move after seeing it for the first time, that strong was the impact. And then I heard he is going to do a musical with the best on-screen couple of today. OMG! I only saw La La Land 10 days ago, so you can imagine how my expectations have been rising and rising. The film just couldn’t be THAT good. How unbelievably happy I’m to say it so was. This movie was made for me. Once a dreamer, always a dreamer.

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La La Land is up to record-tying 14 Oscars and is loved by the cinema-going audience (IMDb Top-57 of all-time) as well as critics (Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%), so it would be silly to bet against it. There’s a chance that the Academy will spread the love but I still would predict that La La Land will be the big winner of the night. As I wrote yesterday, I haven’t seen all nominees yet but I hope that Emma Stone will get her Oscar, she’s dazzling. I love her anyway, so I might be a bit biased but to me she was perfect. And I’m not complaining about Ryan Gosling either but his characters in other movies are similar to Sebastian, so it is a fact he can do those roles. I did love Sebastian’s passion. Passion is the key to living, in my mind. Whatever it is, you need to have passion.

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When it comes to technical categories, I would predict that La La Land will take home at least editing as Chazelle knows how to use editing when intensifying the story (see Whiplash right now if you haven’t seen it yet!). It has a great chance with costume design (Jackie is, though, a real competitor), cinematography (the first scene!), production design (that is, of course, over-the-top) and sound mixing as it is a musical. There shouldn’t be competition in music categories, Justin Hurwitz should be shoo-in for the score (although I have to say, we have had great music in films this Oscar season) and I bet “City of Stars”
will win the best song, I hope it’ll be “Audition” because I like it more but I’m putting my money on “City of Stars”. Also they should stage a pier on the stage at thedamien_chazelle_a_p
Oscars where Gosling starts to sing “City of Stars”, Stone joins him and after his part he leaves and Stone performs “Audition”. I’d love that.

Like I wrote yesterday, I absolutely worshipped Arrival and its director Villeneuve. And I think I’m in love with Damien Chazelle. He is SO talented. I wish they would share the best director Oscar. As it’s not likely to happen, I bet Chazelle will win this time. His work is so purely a work of passion. And as it seems, everyone is in love with La La Land and chasing your dreams, especially in Hollywood, so I also predict that La La Land will win the best picture Oscar.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

lionposterLION (2016)

Directed by Garth Davis
Written by Luke Davies
Starring Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham & Abhishek Bharate

Synopsis (IMDb): “A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.”

Before going to see Lion, I was told I should take a towel with me because tissues wouldn’t be enough. True enough, Lion makes you cry. You have to be one hard boiled egg, if it doesn’t. And what is the coolest point here, it’s a true story. And it’s told well.

Sunny Pawar stars in LION
Photo: Mark Rogers

To me Lion is a bit like The Imitation Game of two years ago. Very well-made, with everything working but there’s nothing spectacular. The Imitation Game was up for 10 Oscars, Lion is up for six and I agree, there is that much difference in quality. I did enjoy Lion a lot but not as much as I thought I would. I absolutely loved the music, if Oscar goes that way, I’m not complaining. I did like the cinematography a lot too, so they could win that too. It’s a hard category to predict this year. Overall Lion is beautiful to look at and listen, it breaks your heart a bit and is tremendous accomplishment for a first time director.

devpatel_hotWhich I don’t like with the Academy again is that, that Dev Patel is in the lead role. Yes, Sunny Pawar, who was robbed by the way, might have more screen-time but the story is about how the adult Saroo found his family. And still they placed Patel in supporting actor category. I like that he is recognised but those category breaches still annoy me.

Lion should be watched as it’s a good story of never giving up (although that obsession was getting to my nerves a bit). I have a lot of friends who liked it much more than I did. Maybe I just don’t get the importance of your roots or something. Anyhow, good film and even though I think it’ll go home empty handed on Sunday, I wouldn’t mind giving it a statue or two.

Rating: **** 

P.S. Dev Patel has gotten so hot!

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