Editor’s note: Disco Biscuit is a frequent contributor to the site. She is reviewing all the Oscar nominated pictures. Follow her on Twitter @discobiscuit127
By DISCO BISCUIT
I love to go to the movies. There’s nothing better than taking your insulated lunch bag that looks like a purse, filling it with beer, candy, and chips from the corner store and going to a Thursday matinee. I’m also aware that with nine movies nominated a lot of people probably haven’t had a chance to see them all. That’s why I have taken the liberty of breaking down the Best Picture nominees and I will be writing about a few of them every day until the awards. Today we’ll look at Lion and Hell or High Water.
**SPOILERS ABOUND, OBVIOUSLY!**
We’re gonna start with Lion. On my birthday I wanted to see Hell or High Water, but it was the day after the nominations came out and it was sold out because apparently one of the best movies of the year was only playing one time a day at the crappy AMC in Gulfgate. More about Hell or High Water later. So we went to see Lion at River Oaks theater. I like the River Oaks theater – there’s usually never too many people there. My only gripe is, because it is an arthouse theater, some of the other patrons are stuck up A holes. These ladies kept turning around and glaring at us because I guess people eating popcorn at the movies is distracting.
In Lion – which was based on a real story – Dev Patel plays Saroo, a young man who, separated from his family for over 20 years, uses Google Earth and memories from his past to piece his way back to them. OK, let’s stop right there – you’re telling me that he never remembered anything about his childhood until he was in his mid 20’s and one of his friends is like “oh there’s new thing called Google Earth?” Sure. When Saroo is separated from his brother at a crowded train station, he climbs onto another train and falls asleep. When he wakes up the train is moving. He doesn’t know for how long and he doesn’t know how far away from his village he’s traveled. When the train finally stops, Saroo is completely alone in Calcutta (1,500 miles from where he started) that’s like falling asleep in Houston and waking up in Canada. He’s eventually picked up and goes to an orphanage where he’s adopted.
All I could think about was his mom. Like we learn at the end that she couldn’t read or write – which is one of the reasons why the authorities couldn’t ever find where to send him back to. One time while Baby Biscuit and I were at Discovery Green. BB was playing on the playground equipment and I was reading. She ran off to play with some other kids and when I couldn’t find her I thought I was going to just die right there. So imagine that for 20 years you aren’t sure if your child is alive or dead and you don’t even know how to go about finding him. Also, another thing you learn at the end is that his brother had actually been hit and killed by a train the same night he disappeared, so she essentially lost two children that night.
In Lion, Saroo is determined to find his family, even though they are complete strangers to him. His obsession causes great strife in his personal life. But through it all, he has one singular focus – who am I? Where do I come from? When he finally is reunited with this mother and little sister, the immense weight is lifted off of his shoulders.
I loved this movie and I cried at the end. I only had 2 drinks so I know it was the acting and probably the music that did it. Whoever scored this film did a magnificent job. Also shout out Dev Patel for growing up into a certified hottie. With the field this year, I don’t think Lion wins the award, but it has a shot. The Academy is always looking for a powerful story – and this one, based on a true story, certainly fits the bill. I’ll be interested to see how it turns out.
Hell or High Water was the best movie I saw all year. It should win Best Picture. I hit up Wikipedia and it mentioned that Hell or High Water was on the Black List back in 2012. The Black List is a list of most liked screenplays that haven’t been produced yet and four of the last eight Best Picture winners were on previous Black Lists, including the 2016 winner Spotlight. Knowing that, I think this movie has a real chance to win. It’s just a classic old fashioned western with a contemporary twist. The acting is out of this world good, especially Jeff Bridges. who’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor; and the cinematography, including some beautiful shots of west Texas. was breathtaking. Two brothers (Toby the calm and level headed one, and Tanner a complete lunatic who killed their abusive dad and has recently been released from prison) team up to rob the banks that are threatening to foreclose on their family farm. Two Texas Rangers – Jeff Bridges, a ranger a week from retirement and his partner the werewolf’s dad from Twilight are hot on their trail.
Even though Toby and Tanner are obviously the “bad guys”. (especially Tanner who would for sure murder everyone if he thought he had to) I was rooting for them the entire time, the bank is the real villain – making a big business out of keeping poor people poor. These characters have grown up in a region (small town West Texas) hit hard by recession where the community is struggling with poverty and filled with the sense of hopelessness that’s difficult to imagine. All they’ve ever had is this crappy ranch and with oil recently discovered, a steady income from drilling can provide for Toby’s children and give them life that he never even dreamed of. Threatening Toby’s dream is the bank, who loans desolate people just enough to keep them poor and turn a profit. Even the people in the town, though they think the robbers are in the wrong, display a sort of unspoken but subtle approval. A guy in a diner says he doesn’t really care if the bank got robbed. “They’ve been robbing me for 30 years” and a waitress flatly refuses to hand over the substantial tip Toby gives her. The ending shootout scene had me on the edge of my seat without being too over the top and even though it deals with some heavy stuff, the movie has some really funny parts, like this exchange:
*Toby and Tanner are robbing a tiny one teller branch with a single old man in the bank*
Toby: “you have a gun on you old man?”
Old man: “You’re damn right I have a gun on me.”