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
Here I am, back for Part 2 of Oscar Reviews, Disco Style. I had planned to make this a three-part series, but I’m thinking of turning it into four because there are so many movies. Today we’ll look at Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, and Hidden Figures. Spoilers obviously. (You can find part 1 here).
Manchester by the Sea
Manchester by the Sea might be the most depressing movie I’ve ever seen. I saw Sophie’s Choice, I sat through the Boy in the Striped Pajamas. This movie was so depressing I couldn’t even cry. Just sat there thinking how soul crushingly crappy every single thing about these people’s lives is. I saw a critic review this movie as the funniest drama ever or something like that, and I do agree with that sentiment. Also, how many movies can you realistically make about people in Boston or Massachusetts who struggle with their Rs, and are hardworking, yet angry drunks. I’m getting tired of it. It reminds me of Seth Meyer’s only funny bit – the trailer for a movie aptly called “Boston Accent.”
Casey Affleck’s character has to go back to his hometown from Boston when his brother dies and discovers that he has been named guardian of his nephew, Patrick. He’s immediately and very adamantly like “oh hell no I can’t be in charge of a kid.” You start to wonder why he’s so dead set on the idea that he can’t take care of this kid – who by the way is like 16. He can basically take care of himself. Through flashbacks you start to piece together why this dude’s life is such a crap show. His life seems fairly normal – he likes to drink, fish, he has a family that he loves. Then you start realizing that you never see these kids that he’s fathered in the scenes now – he lives alone in Boston, he’s grumpy. It’s ominous. Cue the revelatory flashback, and it all makes sense. One evening after his friends leave from a night of drinking, he heads to the corner store to get some more beer and has he’s rounding the corner home his house is completely engulfed in flames. He sprints toward the house, but all he sees is his wife outside with the firefighters screaming about the kids as they try to calm her down. All three of his daughters are killed in the fire. In Texas he would have been charged with murder and executed even after arson experts prove he didn’t actually start the fire on purpose; but he lives in Massachusetts so instead, he’s just ostracized from the community. His wife divorces him, his life spirals downward – every second of his day is consumed with the girls and honestly how could it not be. The fire was his fault – he forgot to close the screen on the fireplace and a log rolled out of the fire. In the end, he admits he can’t be the guardian to Patrick even though he loves him and so he gives custody to a family friend – so that was kinda sad but I felt strangely OK with it.
Even though this movie was slow and depressing, there were some really funny parts. Kind of like a laugh through the pain type of movie. Affleck (Lee Chandler), Lucas Hedges (Patrick), and Michelle Williams (Lee’s ex-wife) are all nominated for individual acting awards also. I’m like 90% sure Affleck wins, he WAS Lee Chandler, and I just love his voice. He should do audiobooks, I could listen to him talk for hours. At first I thought Lucas Hedges should win best supporting actor but then I saw Hell or High Water and I think Jeff Bridges was better, but he has a shot. Michelle Williams, though she did an amazing job, has no chance. Every other nominee was better – except Nicole Kidman, but I’m just being biased because her hair in Lion was an outrageous 90’s perm that I laughed out loud at every time she came on screen. Manchester by the Sea could easily win Best Picture. I would give it to Hell or High Water but I can see this movie winning too – it’s a very well told story, it’s sad but also strangely funny, and it’s got the star power.
This movie is VERY different from every other movie nominated. First, there might be like three pages of dialogue in the entire movie. The story is told through first class cinematography and score. I don’t usually pay attention to this category at the Oscars, but if Moonlight doesn’t win Best Cinematography the awards are rigged. Moonlight is really three short films told over the course of a young man’s journey from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. In Act 1: “Little” Chiron is a young boy who is bullied for being small and the other kids perceive him as weak because he never stands up for himself. His mother is a verbally abusive and emotionally neglectful crack addict who frequently leaves him for long stretches of time. He meets a drug dealer (Mahershala Ali – Remi from House of Cards) and his girlfriend and they become the adult figures he needs in his life. In Act 2: “Chiron” his mother has fallen farther into drug addiction and is now a prostitute who also steals from Chiron to fund her habit. He is still bullied and is starting to come to turns with his sexuality. This culminates in a sexual encounter with another boy he is close with and him attacking his bully and being escorted out of the school presumably to juvie. In Act 3: “Black” it is revealed that Chiron is now a drug dealer. He goes to visit Kevin – the kid who he did hand stuff with back in Act 2 and reveals that he’s never been with anyone else. His mom is in treatment and he forgives her for the past.
Moonlight is depressing, and because there’s no dialogue and it relies heavily on cinematography and score, it’s difficult for the average movie goer to get into. I think this movie could take home the prize, it won Best Picture at the Golden Globes, but it’s not my pick. Really great movie, great story, and amazing acting. Naomie Harris knocks it out of the park as Chiron’s mom. Her performance was flat out powerful and engaging. Her character and her portrayal of her elicited intense anger but also pity. Also Mahershala Ali is nominated for Best Supporting Actor – he was good, but I don’t think he wins.
Hell yeah, always love a good girl power movie especially one where there’s smart ladies who give men what for. Oh and these chicks are black and it’s set during the the Civil Rights era? Hell yeah let’s do this!
I also saw this movie on my birthday with my mom and baby biscuit. I’d bought the tickets earlier in the day, but couldn’t reserve seats so we got there early enough for me to go get the seats while my mom and kiddo got the popcorn and drinks. I go to sit down in a prime seat and this lady tells me she’s saving the two middle rows. TWO ENTIRE ROWS. I am totally ok with someone saving 3-4 seats for a movie especially one that just came out. But two rows? That’s crazy. She proceeds to tell me it’s for a girl scout troop. I really don’t care why you’re saving the seats. If the damn girl scouts wanted to see the movie so badly why the hell aren’t they here sitting in their own damn seats. Oh I know why – because they’re out dicking around in the lobby somewhere. I know this because I decide it’s not worth the fight and sit in a seat a few rows back and these sniveling kids come in 2 seconds before the movie starts – they talk and giggle through the entire movie. They should have just waited for it to come out on Redbox and had their Girl Scout adventures then.
Hidden Figures tells the story of Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughn – three African American women who are mathematicians at NASA in the 1960s (even though the actual events took place in the 50s) at the height of the civil rights era. My favorite part of going to this movie was whenever something super racist happened on screen everyone would gasp incredulously and angrily like a) they never studied segregation in school – shoutout Texas public education and/or b) think racism is dead now. At one point Katherine’s boss tears down the colored restroom sign and everyone in the theater cheers him with vigor. It’s like no one realizes that he tore down the sign, not because he’s all of a sudden against segregation, but because he’s upset that Katherine has to spend so much time away from her desk because she’s running back and forth from the restroom. But if that’s how we change history – by showing people that these arbitrary rules on who can use what restroom and when are actually inconvenient for everyone – then so be it. Hidden Figures has a powerful message that our intellect and what we can accomplish is not bound by the color of our skin or what’s between our legs even if people won’t let you forget what that is. Baby Biscuit is learning about segregation and the civil rights era in school right now, after the movie she told me that’d she’d learned about a lot of this stuff in school and how sad it was. I hope she doesn’t forget it. These three women stood up to bigotry and hatred and became pioneers in their fields. I don’t think Hidden Figures wins the award, BUT I think Octavia Spencer could take home the Best Supporting Actress award – her portrayal of Dorothy Vaughn (the first black supervisor at NASA) was both endearing and funny.