The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

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knives
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#501 Post by knives » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:54 am

It's crazy how many films from this year have a connection to Lionsgate.

2016
Arrival
While this is unquestionably Villeneuve's best film it still has a few elements that leave some dissatisfaction in my mouth. My main issue is how the film conceives of memory and thought as a reflected by editing. Instead of developing a language akin to the process of the aliens with their circle Villeneuve just does a lame Malick imitation. Even though Villeneuve flops on this it is easily the best part of the film with the political element just not working on any level due to being underbaked from someone with less sense of geopolitics than it does of linguistics. The script for the most part and the performances though patch up this and other unsatisfying editing decisions overcoming Villeneuve though not to the degree of being as good as Interstellar or the film version of Slaughterhouse Five.

Fences
I could see this working better with a better director (particularly one who could make Washington give a good performance rather than just ham) and a willingness to cut the speeches so that they work better for cinema. The editing and blocking in particular are so bad it actively makes the film silly even with good performances like Davis'. Basically this is indistinguishable from those television inspired play adaptations from the '50s. There are some fully successful moments such as the conversation after the money is paid back and I can see how with just a little bit of effort this could have become a genuinely great film rather than an occasionally good one carrying some significant flaws.

Hacksaw Ridge
Should have just watched SGT. York instead.

Hell or High Water
The genre stuff works, but the attempts at being taken seriously flop pretty hard. Chris Pine is also just not convincing at all as some scummy Texan.

Hidden Figures
Could have been better; could have been worse. A bit like The Help this probably does better to be seen in the woman's picture genre rather than anything on race. That said occasionally it comes on an interesting idea about race like connecting their potential to upward mobility with the number of holocaust survivors working at NASA. Also some of the casual obstacles are really interesting such as the pee run. That's pretty minor for the film at large though which is a problem in many ways, but given how the relationship of women is under represented as well I'm okay with this as a tradeoff as long as it's well done which it kind of is here. I am annoyed though that mainstream American films seem to only be able mention religion when the main characters are black. It is weirdly overemphasized here, but not in similar films. Also it is just entertaining which immediately after Silence is making me very forgiving.

La La Land
Meh. The people complaining about white people in jazz are just being dumb and I haven't really heard a great argument for the film as anything more than fun either. That said JK Simmons little head nod at the end is enough to make the whole film worth it.

Lion
This is about as good as a Weinstein prestige thing can be expected to be in this day and age. Like others I feel the stuff with the kid is significantly better just because it tells so an interesting story that doesn't feel made up or dramatized from the facts (whether or not that was the case). Even when he gets to Tasmania there are a lot of interesting things going on with the interplay between the family and mentally disturbed brother. I'd have loved to see more of that. Instead we get an appropriately modern altar to the place technology has in our lives which just isn't as interesting as the very tough family dynamic.

Manchester by the Sea
This is the film with a full range of emotions that really understands everything about its protagonist and the world he lives in. It manages to underplay everything in a way that makes the very little movement we see here be very meaningful while understanding that it is largely just a few weeks of the life of some guy. That's really hard to pull off and makes me instantly a fan of Lonergan.

Moonlight
I'm saddened by what a disappointment this was. Every time the film suggested it was going to be as good as I was hoping it thundered down with something incredibly bad. The opening shot is a perfect example of this where we have a pretty simple dialogue scene setting up Ali and the world of the film, but Jenkins has to show he's a real artist with this over the top long shot that is too self interested and distracting. Each segment, fortunately, gets better then the last with the hand job and the last segment's conversation in particular working pretty well. That doesn't stop this from being a weak film from people who will probably become better artists though.

My vote: Manchester by the Sea

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#502 Post by domino harvey » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:57 am

knives wrote:Hacksaw Ridge
Should have just watched SGT. York instead.
This is rarely untrue for any film!

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#503 Post by knives » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:58 am

When you're right you're right.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#504 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:04 pm

2017
Call Me By Your Name
Doing this alphabetically kind of gives the game away right up front, but what the hell. I've written about Guadagnino's latest a little in its thread, but no other movie hit me harder emotionally or did a more thorough job transporting me to another place, time, and set of unfamiliar experiences. The first hour of the film lulled me into a kind of pleasant satisfaction before the cumulative impact of the performances, script, cinematography, and music snuck up on me for the most complete experience I had in a theater this year. I can see where most (definitely not all, but most) of the criticism this has received is coming from, but from its vocal contingent of fans it seems evident that if this film gets under your skin, its hooks sink deep.

Darkest Hour
I've complained elsewhere about the handicap that British historical dramas seem to be given during awards season, and even those I’ve spoken to who really like this film will acknowledge that there are 3-5 other 2017 films that are more deserving of this slot. I think this is clearly the weakest of this year's nominees - for as many problems as I had with Three Billboards, there's enough talent involved to keep it a step above intolerable - and I have yet to hear anyone craft a reasonable defense of the fatally pandering Underground scene. That said, Joe Wright does drop in a handful of remarkable shots that are memorable even six months after seeing the film, and I thought Ben Mendehlson did some of his best work as King George VI (his subtlety and quiet presence is notable in contrast to Oldman's overplayed Churchill). If the worst Best Picture nominee every year was as agreeably mediocre as this film, we’d be doing OK.

Dunkirk
Of the nominees I saw prior to the last month or so, Nolan's film has probably grown on me the most. It's certainly the most ambitious in structure and scope of the nominees, and while jumping to cite ambition or scope is often a way to throw some damningly faint praise at an otherwise mediocre epic, this has the right kind of complexity and technical excellence to make it memorable on those grounds alone. I know Hans Zimmer rubs many the wrong way, but his score meshes so well with the impeccable editing of Nolan's intricately overlapping timelines that I can't think of some of the most memorable scenes without that ticking clock score rushing into my brain (also etched into my brain - the terrifying scream of the dive bombers on their approaches toward the men on the beach). This is the film I most want to try to catch again in theaters while the nominees are still widely playing ahead of Sunday's ceremony. One of Nolan's best, and in many a weaker year a sure-fire favorite in this category.

Get Out
I rewatched this recently to make sure I wasn't missing some key ingredient that would elevate Peele's debut from an above-average thriller with some excellent social criticism to a Best Picture-worthy critical juggernaut. While I did enjoy it more when I could pay attention to the care that went into the character and commentary elements of the script rather than focusing on the mechanics of the plot, I can't quite get on the same plane as the film's most exuberant supporters. This will almost certainly be the most widely seen of these nominees for the next couple of decades, and may be an important contribution to film culture in getting many new film fans to read more deeply into movies beyond sheer entertainment value, but that doesn't mean it deserves this particular award.

Lady Bird
I found this quite charming on first viewing, and Gerwig's work on the script and structure has only become more impressive in retrospect. I believe it’s this podcast on which she discusses knowing going in how she was going to shoot and edit the film to keep her “overwritten” script down to a reasonable runtime. Very excited to see if she can build on her success here, and I’m still in disbelief that Metcalf isn’t winning the Oscar on Sunday (or that it’s not a tighter race between McDormand and Ronan, who I suspect is going to spend the next 20-40 years being the millennial Meryl Streep).

Phantom Thread
I appreciate the precision and talent involved in this film and the daringly unusual nature of the central relationship, and there are enough bravura scenes (the New Year's Eve party, the maternal hallucination, the “ambush”) to provide the rich and compelling viewing one expects from PTA, but I can't say I connected with this as much as I did the rest of his post-Hard Eight work. I assume it will continue to improve over future viewings like the rest of Anderson's filmography, which should keep it solidly in my top 15 of the year, but it was not nearly as much of a contender in this category as I would have expected, though Krieps absolutely should have Streep’s spot in the Best Actress race.

The Post
I'm definitely one of those people who much prefers spending time with a more problematic and/or challenging film with lower lows and at least some transcendent highs to something like this, which is straight down the middle with some scenes that work more and some less, but with not a single thing that made me sit up in my seat with surprise, wonder, awe, or anything else that Spielberg so used to love to put on his characters' (and audiences') faces. I liked Lincoln and Bridge of Spies as far as they went (and more for Kushner and Day-Lewis in the case of the former), but it's been since Munich (and before that probably only A.I. this century) that it felt like he was stretching himself or working at the height of his abilities. It's a problem that already the only things that immediately come to mind about a movie whose best descriptor is “fine” are the eye-roll-inducing moments, like Streep coming down the Supreme Court steps, the too-heavily underlined reading of part of the Court decision in the newsroom, or Sarah Paulson's painfully on the nose monologue to Hanks.

The Shape of Water
I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I saw this under unusually ideal and stimulating circumstances, and after having had a chance to rewatch it, I’ll acknowledge that its flaws stand out a bit more and its pleasures aren’t quite as striking as they felt on first viewing. That said, the resistance to this among many on this board and in some corners of the broader film culture feels at least partially like a function of its award season success and positioning against films with more passionate followings like Phantom Thread, Get Out, and Lady Bird. Del Toro’s gory fairy tale is still quite successful on its own terms, and Hawkins’ and Shannon’s performances are great for the material (I know Shannon and his character have taken the brunt of the supporting actor criticism, but I liked him better than either of the two Oscar-nominated supporting performances). If you can ride with Del Toro’s earnestness and enjoy the genre-blending and infusion of Del Toro’s influences, this is an enjoyably weird film to have at the center of the Best Picture conversation.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
<exaggerated sigh>

Easily the most frustrating movie I saw in a theater this year. Given the talent and material involved, this could have been an incisive character study, a provocative examination of bigotry and misogyny, and a painfully black comedy. Instead, the in-the-moment behavior and larger arcs of the characters are often baffling or inexplicable, the social commentary is superficial, obvious, confused, or insipid, and most of the attempts at humor (of the type that worked so well in McDonagh's In Bruges) are painfully unfunny. Instead, the best things about it - Woody Harrelson’s character and performance, some nice cinematography, a barrelful of excellent actors - are dragged down by the anchor of the script and McDonagh’s inconsistent-at-best direction. And in a few days, it’ll probably win Best Picture and I’ll be crabbier than usual for a few days.

My vote: Call Me By Your Name

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#505 Post by Shrew » Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:01 pm

the eye-roll-inducing moments, like Streep coming down the Supreme Court steps
...into a portion of the crowd made up entirely of women of many colors. Hoo, jesus, is that an awful shot. It's all the worse, because one of the few legitimately great shots in The Post is Streep passing through a crowd of women outside a door into a Wall Street boardroom filled with men.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#506 Post by DarkImbecile » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:34 pm

Shrew wrote:
the eye-roll-inducing moments, like Streep coming down the Supreme Court steps
...into a portion of the crowd made up entirely of women of many colors. Hoo, jesus, is that an awful shot. It's all the worse, because one of the few legitimately great shots in The Post is Streep passing through a crowd of women outside a door into a Wall Street boardroom filled with men.
That’s a perfect comparison; the difference between those two shots is night and day. The latter is matter-of-fact, draws little attention to itself, and makes sense thematically AND in the context of the time and place of the scene. The Court shot would’ve needed flashing neon arrows pointing at Streep and the women reverentially gazing upon her to be more overstated and brings stagy unreality to a film with largely the opposite sensibility. Playing to the cheap seats like this is so undermining to the rest of the film, and yet Spielberg seemingly can’t help himself at this point.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#507 Post by domino harvey » Sat May 05, 2018 5:27 pm

2017

Call Me By Your Name

Claims of privilege
inflated and bizarre, but
so too is young love

Darkest Hour
Hero worship for
a society that now
feigns indifference

Dunkirk
Bold efficiency
or familiar war tales just
shot into pieces?

Get Out
White society
as the zeitgeist poltergeist—
still sheets, but no ghosts

Lady Bird
I’ve seen this movie
too many times to care that
it’s done well (again)

Phantom Thread
To cook and stitch as
prerequisites for love so
the hungry stay stuffed

the Post
Meryl Streep still good,
Spielberg too. What else is news?
Don’t stop the presses…

the Shape of Water
Once upon a time
there was an awards season
where fish sex safe choice

Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Fuck profanity
used in place of cleverness,
and fuck this film too

My Vote (Preferential Ballot, in order):
Call My By Your Name
Phantom Thread / Darkest Hour
(Abstain from the rest)

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#508 Post by knives » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:29 pm

2017
Sorry that some of these came out so wordy, but this has surprisingly been on of the best years in a long while (since '07 at least). It is not yet that any of these carry a deep meaning for me, but I can see a few surpassing even the '07 bunch for me eventually.

Call Me By Your Name
I kind of didn't want to like this, but damnit as soon as Hammer starts dancing and Chalamet slips into view it became clear that the movie had sold me completely even though both leads are kind of annoying. In a weird way there's a lot of overlap with The Florida Project as this one too is about people who aren't likable or even worthwhile protagonists in a traditional sense yet whose emotional reality is designated as completely worthwhile.

With that in mind the two main criticisms I've seen against the film fall to pieces. There's been a lot of talk about the film celebrating the closet implicitly and explicitly out of a sort of nostalgia. While this critique seems to ignore that Ivory's period of nostalgia was well before the '80s and that Chalamet is clearly intended to be bi and discovering that second part of himself on its face that text does seem to have some of that (the much talked about sex scenes). Even then though the film seems to be about Chalamet's sense of what his story is. The above mentioned dance scene is a great example of this. The camera takes his view absorbed in curiosity about who Hammer is before forcing himself into the picture to see if it would work. It does and is beautiful, but he's not sure what that means and so reintroduces his girlfriend. This isn't a moment about the closet, but one about self discovery and realization. For as long as bisexuality or homosexuality is not the default assumption of society some variation of this thought process will occur for most people especially when there is also an attraction for women involved with the person's interior. That, I think, does a good job acquitting Ivory's script, but I must admit Guadagnino's direction of the sex scenes is a bit harder to defend. That is solely due to the fact that this film doesn't exist in a vacuum and has the weight of mainstream depictions of homosexuality on its shoulders. Just in terms of Guadagnino's goals with the direction the choices are much more defensible, again as a reflection of Chalamet's psychology. The straight sex is a bit thrown off and almost played for a joke. It barely fills the screen with a lot of white space in the same manner that it occupies almost no emotional and mental space for Chalamet. The scene with Hammer on the other hand is a very emotional and private moment. What we do see has a certain intensiveness to it focusing in on what Chalamet would remember or consider in the morning. It is a nervous scene, but not due to self doubt, but due to excitement of something new. Showing the act would have made it mundane in the way that the earlier scene was.

That criticism of the film at least seems to be engaging with the text. The utterly stupid rich white men criticism that has also popped up is mind boggling. Not only is this about someone who is already an outsider (their Jewishness already makes them very othered from their place), but one trying to discover emotionally solid ground on being queer in a Catholic country in the '80s (though admittedly it was not a crime in Italy at the time). That right there undermines for me this whole idea that just because they don't encounter homophobia that the pressures of it don't exist. Beyond that though active emotional investment is hard and that's what the film is about. Chalamet doesn't have to work for anything and can uncritically in a passive and accepting way love his parents and friends and all the rest. Hammer is some one new he has to engage with and make an active effort to love and receive love from. That activity is also what makes it such a effecting emotional experience for him well beyond casual sex. That also fits well with his privilege. If Chalamet had to be active in other parts of his life perhaps Hammer wouldn't be so effecting. Chalamet's social strata helps to explain his emotional understanding of himself. This story just wouldn't be the same with a working class character (just see Ivory's own Maurice for what I mean). It also strikes me as a worthwhile drama for how it shows Chalamet coming to a self understanding with that psychological development being enough story to be worthwhile on its own.

Aside from that I really appreciated however superficially how this was a celebration of intelligence and knowledge. These are characters that put a lot of meaning into education and learning with it being its own sexy pursuit. There's so much anti-intellectualism out there right now that to have a film so unabashedly smart in a genuine way is very meaningful in itself. Where else are you going to see the Bach scene in a mainstream movie?

Darkest Hour
What I'm going to say is insane, but this film is stranger than its fiction. In many ways this feels a brother to Wes Anderson. Maybe that's just due to the common inspiration of Lubitsh between Wright and Anderson, but either way the connection is undeniable in a way that makes this feel all the more unique from the prestige sheen it is being sold as. A ton of that is in the aesthetic to the film which is as special as you should expect from Wright by now, but even the narrative style (sectioned like a chapter book) and characterization (Churchill is basically a slightly less malicious Royal) is of a mind with Anderson.

One thing that I found interesting, and makes weird the complaints of the film ignoring Churchill's bad aspects, is that the movie seems less interested in the historical elements as history so much as how they can be used to represent ideas. The movie even makes this rather explicit using Churchill's words like a sledgehammer to convey the sense that differences in ideology are not as important as a respect for life. Now if that was all the film would be quite lamed by its historical setting. Yes, Churchill is presented as quite the Aaron Burr without political ideology himself which aids in that, but putting talks of humanism into the mouth of such a blatant hawk against a group of doves is on its face bizarre given that the film doesn't know the horrors that would be revealed. That's were the film gets interesting though, and where my rhetorical fall short, is that it really does try to explain that humanism instead of needing relativism we need a humanism where certain conditions of life override cultural custom. Manners as the film phrases it. I'm not sure if the film is convincing in all of its points, but they seem extremely applicable to the current moment in way, again, which makes the dismissals to the film seem all the weirder. Though sadly this seems explainable by center and left leaning people being uncomfortable with the type of shade being thrown on them (it is interesting how no real position of the right is presented with them being as absent as the Germans from Nolan's Dunkirk). The film measures all of this in a secondary theme concerning the power of words and language though I imagine that aspect is less in need of defense given that is one solid aspect of Churchill's reputation.

Dunkirk
This is totally a meat and potatoes film that is presented in just odd enough a fashion to be completely memorable. It is in a certain sense Nolan getting back to basics and showing that he still can make a film which is just fun.

Get Out
I already wrote about this, but if there will be a better defining artifact to the current moment I will be shocked. That it is also a great genre piece makes its status all the more earned.

Lady Bird
What Domino said.

Phantom Thread
DDL's accent here is enough to lull you into a pleasant sort of fugue state which is good as this is essentially a '50s Fox woman's picture as a half remembered dream. Anderson seems to have taken the plot framework of so many of these films, told in flashback I mean, and heightened his reality to imitate what those characters must have been thinking. It often makes the film hilarious in a deadpan sort of way not unlike Lanthimos though without the caustic edge. The best thing here, and a real improvement on Inherent Vice which tried and failed on some similar stuff, is the use of time. Some moments occur so quickly it is hard to believe they ever happened while others are languished in well beyond what they must actually take up. Anderson presents the best version of the idea he has been toying with in this last decade: a movie completely inside the mind of its characters. This and other artistic decisions make this film excellent, but the humour really is what makes it one of the best of the year. Without presenting any clear comedic conceits (another thing making this better than his previous) nearly every moment has intense belly laughs. Even the little quotation of Psycho (there's actually a surprising amount of Hitchcock in this Negulesco film) is pretty hilarious thanks to that interplay. That's not to say the horrors of the film aren't also effective, but they are tied together in a rather inseparable way.

The Post
This is well told, but isn't exactly a movie where anyone is stretching their muscles. The shade thrown against the news industry is a lot more interesting than the faux All the President's Men stuff. That's not helped by Hanks' accent being ACTING which grates against otherwise excellent points. That I went to the word points rather than scenes also is probably too telling about the film's narrative style which gets caught up in its importance in a way I thought Spielberg had left behind in the '90s.

To make things a bit more kind to the film, the Hawksian touches that Spielberg has been building on have never been better with the dialogue playing against itself in a way that is just a delight. Also the actual mechanics of the storytelling are just such a delight. For example after getting the papers in home the way the living room turns into a smoke filled newsroom with Jesse Plemons whole thing just being effective old school story telling. So what if this feels a bit redundant and beneath the talent involved. They are good enough to make even a weaker effort good.

The Shape of Water
It took me too long to realize that Stuhlbarg and the balding crew cut guy were two different people. Beyond that I really enjoyed this film. It's easily del Toro's best in a long time with how it plays with genre being fun. There's a lot of overlap between this and Hail, Ceasar with the comparison making this all the better. del Toro is making a very 2017 film with the cultural sympathies that entails. That means that rather than expanding prejudice in a short sighted way that seems to mock the era del Toro offers a sympathetic view of the potential for growth from the pain. It's a film that believe in the ability for the improvement of society and that all the prejudices present will seem small through hindsight. That also makes the Koster film seem less a random choice as well as it is also a story of a violent era in which the belief of romance can make things tolerable. It's pretty telling that early on they see news footage of a protest being hosed which makes Jenkins too uncomfortable so he changes it to some pop romance. That seems like the film in miniature. It openly admits to the pains of the era while offering a view of how it could have islands of comfort and escape. Even the cold war offers love and sympathy for the Russians in a way only a Mexican working in America could offer.

Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri
This is where I run out of nice things to say. Right from the beginning with McDormand saying cunt it is pretty clear that this is a film actually set in Ireland rather than America. Really the whole film feels false for its setting mixing all sorts of Americana (and Irish) into a false feeling version of rural MO. Theoretically that's okay. To be as big a fan of Cassandra's Dream as I am and then to criticize this just for being inauthentic would be the height of hypocrisy. The difference though is that whereas Allen made England into a fantasy world McDonagh seems to be trying to genuinely talk about American topics which just doesn't work. For example he doesn't seem to understand how weird it is to have a Catholic priest here. Catholicism in rural America has a great deal of potential for the sort of themes the film is trying for. Just read Flannery O'Connor's The Displaced Person for a great look at how Catholicism is looked at in this sort of community. McDonagh treats it as ordinary and everyday though which makes the film just seem ignorant about its subject. This is especially true of how the film deals with race. The torturing persons of color conversation is funny, but doesn't seem to understand how communal racism works. It's almost like Rockwell is the only racist here which is just silly.

Of course if thematic failings were the only ones here I'd be forgiving, but the editing here is just plain awful. Most of the time it just provides humour (the close up on the same billboard as they move past three different ones), but sometimes it creates genuine confusion in the film as what the story is telling becomes unclear and forced me to have to back guess what is going on regularly leading to a lot of information being not noticed. It's not helped either by a story told with such heavy exposition, plot convenience, and awful dialogue. Now those are some of the biggest problems with Rockwell's character. No one could play him well, but Rockwell doesn't seem up to the task either giving the film's worst performance. He alternates between different characters, for lack of a better phrase, in a way that does not make him seem like a unified person. Also the film gets rid of the only interesting character halfway through the film making the subsequent hour just DOA. Definitely the low point (as far as I can see) from last year's oscars.

My Vote: Call Me by Your Name

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#509 Post by knives » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:17 pm

2004
the Aviator
Howard Hughes has been a major interest to me since I was a really small kid so I basically have no fair ability to judge this. That said I would still argue this as one of Scorsese's best films and the second best film nominated this year. It has a great aesthetic and unlike the other big biopic from this year it is really curious about the interior of Hughes having him reflected in all of the supporting characters in various ways. Hepburn is given a particular weight in the film in part I think because of how different she is from Hughes. Blanchett and Scorsese use this WASP playing fun as a way to personify Hughes desire for that reality all the while being a permanent outsider. That's probably why the filmic narrative tract is so useful. He's more a filmmaker than anyone else we see and yet he's defined as a bussinessman. You'd be a neurotic twist of contradictions as well.

Finding Neverland
An elevated television movie, but one so without offense I can't really hold anything against it.

Million Dollar Baby
I can't go as far as some here with Ozu comparison's and the like. Still, if this turns out to be remembered as Eastwood's masterpiece it will be a remembrance well deserved as everything about this movie works perfectly. Even the things like Jay Baruchel's sad sack which seem extra and in lesser hands would feel maudlin have a song to them that just works. That's what we need more of really, films that work.

Ray
It's a good thing that Taylor Hackford makes terrible movies, because that hacky pun is good work for the critics. This movie itself is so stupid and whitewashed that it's more than a little hilarious. I thought Dewey Cox was mainly going after the Cash biopic, but every joke from it applies to this with such force that it is impossible not to laugh at the overly obvious set up to the brother's death or the memory of having a memory of having a memory of an event he wasn't present for. Honestly though I don't blame the film which isn't creative enough to realize what it is doing. I'll place this on the head of Oliver Stone and the rules his turgid Jim Morrison film gave us to suffer by. Also how is this nearly three hours long without a single idea in its head?

Sideways
I like it. It's mostly funny and I enjoy seeing people who probably don't deserve sympathy. So while I wouldn't argue it as a great film and have a reservation of my own, the penis scene, I like it.
My Vote Million Dollar Baby

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#510 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:01 pm

I mean, Million Dollar Baby is a better film than any Ozu I've seen, but I don't think they have much in common. Do you remember who made that comparison?

And amen on Ray. One of the worst films ever nominated for Best Picture, period

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#511 Post by knives » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:54 pm

Matt did in its dedicated thread.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#512 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:51 pm

knives wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:17 pm
Million Dollar Baby
I can't go as far as some here with Ozu comparison's and the like. Still, if this turns out to be remembered as Eastwood's masterpiece it will be a remembrance well deserved as everything about this movie works perfectly. Even the things like Jay Baruchel's sad sack which seem extra and in lesser hands would feel maudlin have a song to them that just works. That's what we need more of really, films that work.
There was a topic on /r/AskReddit that was "You have to pick an Oscar-winning film from the past 20 years and replace the lead with Adam Sandler AND still make it an Oscar-winning film. What film do you pick and why?". My answer was put him in the Baruchel role and have a romantic subplot with the Swank character. I almost kind of wish that was the movie that was made now.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#513 Post by knives » Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:56 pm

That would make it so much worse to my mind. Part of the film's beauty to mind is the suggestion of a larger world it has and the shaggy dog nature of his story works so well to that point.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#514 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:01 pm

In another director's hands, that is probably what would have happened.

Hillary Swank's absence from major Hollywood movies is perhaps one of the biggest instances of what-the-fuck-happened I can think of. I was in a waiting room last week and saw her guest-hosting the afternoon version of Good Morning America, when it dawned on me.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#515 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:09 pm

2018
BlacKkKlansman
Watched this for the third time the other night with my wife, and its three key sequences — Kwame Ture's speech exhorting the appreciation of black beauty transitioning into a beautifully shot dance club scene exemplifying that appreciation; the crosscutting between the Klan initiation ceremony/"Birth of a Nation" screening and an eyewitness account of a lynching; and the finale's cross-burning transitioning to Charlottesville 2017 — remain strong enough to make this a worthy candidate for this award.

Black Panther
It's been a year since I was thoroughly underwhelmed by this, and it hasn't improved in my memory; I considered re-watching it and just couldn't justify the time commitment. I'm glad it may have spurred some of those whose movie-going diet is dominated by superhero films to expect something more than utterly forgettable humor and action from this genre, but that's not enough for it to be elevated into the pantheon of popular films.

Bohemian Rhapsody
I didn't know much of anything about Queen beyond their hits before seeing this, and I can't say with any confidence that I do now either. Rami Malek gives a good lead performance, but pretty much everything else about the film is the antithesis of the way the titular album is described when they're selling it to a producer: familiar instead of experimental; slickly manipulative instead of emotionally raw; risk-averse instead of daring. Very much not looking forward to the wave of musical biopics this film's success has spawned.

The Favourite
I've seen this twice now, and there isn't a more well-written ensemble of characters or better set of performances this year; there are plenty of other reasons to appreciate Lanthimos' film, but getting three stellar lead performances from three great actresses inhabiting three complex characters is a rare enough treat that I'd remember it for that alone. After griping about British costume dramas getting a handicap when it comes to awards consideration for years, it's fitting that I finally get one that I can fully support and it's widely regarded as too weird and off-putting to actually win anything.

Green Book
<exaggerated sigh>

I thought I would have been deeply disappointed by Three Billboards winning last year, but I'd trade that right now to ensure this doesn't prevail over far superior competition.

Roma
I'm intending on catching this again this week theatrically before giving it a full write up in its dedicated thread, but I'll say that I don't know that I've ever seen something that so immediately struck me as a canonical work, a realization of authorial vision so complete, precise, and technically exacting that it demanded examination and study alongside the epics of Kurosawa and Fellini. That may seem like totally unsupportable hyperbole, but it's been nearly six months since I've seen it and that opinion hasn't faded in the slightest, which is the reason I haven't felt capable of writing it up despite having it sitting atop my 2018 list since that screening. I haven't wanted to spend days watching and re-watching a film to try to write something that comes close to articulating its value in many years, and that feeling is almost paralyzing when faced with the prospect of trying to sum up my reactions in a ~500-word post. Anyway, whether I ever put something down about it that I feel good about, there is no question in my mind that this is the best film of the nearly 100 releases I've seen in 2018, and the Academy would be lending itself a major dose of credibility as an institution to recognize it as such.

A Star is Born
The more distance I have from this, the more clearly the structural problems that weaken the second half stand out, but this is still clearly the dividing line between the deserving (or at least acceptable) nominees and the rest. I am glad that its presumed front-runner status has cooled off to the point where a Best Picture win for the film would be an interesting and inoffensive (though clearly undeserved) upset rather than a frustrating inevitability.

Vice
A month after catching this — while it's certainly better than Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Black Panther — I'm more baffled than ever that this is nominated for Best Picture. Even if it were less muddled and filled with tangents, the story of a committed ideologue deftly manipulating the system for his benefit doesn't feel nearly as relevant to the moment as it might have if we weren't living through a wholly different kind of political nightmare; even if it were as well-fitted to the material as with his previous film, McKay's choice of structure and tone never feels appropriate to the story he's telling, especially when lacking in the novelty it had in The Big Short. I'm pulling for the always-great Bale to win Best Actor and would be fine with Adams finally winning a statuette, but that it has had so much awards attention beyond them is inexplicable.

My vote: Roma

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#516 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:25 pm

2019
1917
I didn't love every nominated film this year, but I didn't hate any of them either; even the two worst (hint: they start with "Jo") still have just enough going for them that I just can't muster a Bohemian Rhapsody/Green Book level of distaste, and while I wouldn't be happy if either of them won against much more worthy competition, I wouldn't be suppressing a gag reflex in response either. And so, for all the complaining about 1917 here and elsewhere, while it wouldn't make my top five of these nominees for Best Picture, it wouldn't be a historical embarrassment either: Deakins' work is up to his typically excellent standards, the performances are solid enough (give or take a laughable line delivery from Cumberbatch), and Mendes — for all his faults — has throughout his career shown an eye for striking imagery and has surrounded himself with the below-the-line talent to pull off those images. The script could have been better, and the film may be a technical exercise posing as a meaningful historical drama, but ultimately succeeds enough as suspenseful eye candy that there need be no rending of garments if it wins the big prize, as expected.

Ford v. Ferrari
This is the biggest throwback among the nominees — a perfectly fine mid-to-large budget historical feature with big movie stars and executed with workmanlike proficiency — and while I wouldn't say it's necessarily deserving of being named one of the best films of the year, I am glad to see that it's been as successful as it has been. Damon and Bale do what they do well, Mangold delivers the right notes at the right time, and the script ably gets across a message regarding the place of hard-earned skill, innate talent, and old-fashioned hard work in an uncaring corporate structure. Glad I saw it in a theater, and glad movies like this still get made occassionally.

The Irishman
The first of the three major contenders for me, this hits more than enough sweet spots to make up for its occasional rough patches, and I've come around to thinking that even more than Scorsese and the extraordinary cast, the success of this film rests with Steven Zaillian's script. It expertly balances the epic with the personal, constructs so many all-time scenes (as large and complex as Sheeran's awards dinner and as intimate and quiet as the empty hotel dining room discussion between Bufalino and Sheeran), and provides lines seemingly artisanally crafted for these specific actors ("Now is not the time to not say" is the one of many that's been stuck in my head for two-plus months now), and ultimately delivers an excellent thesis on what these historical figures and archetypes meant then and mean now to America. Disappointed that this seemed to fall away from the top tier of contenders so quickly, but just so glad that it exists at all.

Jojo Rabbit
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't laughing at some of the humor or jolted for a moment by
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the final appearance of Johansson's shoes,
but even Joker has aged better for me since I saw it than this has. It might have worked better as a more straightforward fantastical drama (as the book is reputed to be) or if Waititi had committed even harder to playing Nazi Germany for laughs, but it ends up in a basically fatal middle ground of making jokes about idiotic Jewish stereotypes while regularly reminding viewers "We know how serious this is... Just a satire, folks!" Pulling off a film like this was always going to be a long-shot, and Waititi does about as well as one could reasonably expect, but not well enough to have made it a worthwhile endeavor in the first place.

Joker
On the one hand, the decent-to-impressive score, cinematography, and performances contribute to making this an immersive, cohesive experience (unlike the previous film in this list), but the utter lack of coherence in the script's effort to assign finger-wagging blame for psychopathy make this hollow enough that it can't help but collapse upon scrutiny. The most impressive thing about it is that Phoenix and Phillips managed to make a piece of comic book entertainment that ultimately doesn't really go anywhere unexplored in terms of theme or style, but that in the moment actually feels somewhat unpredictable and something adjacent to dangerous. That the film steadily deflates like a punctured whoopee cushion upon leaving the theater doesn't totally negate the initial experience of watching it, but one wishes there had been perhaps one more creative influence present to help make at least one of the stabs at thematic depth strike home or the stylistic hijacking of 1970s and 1980s Scorsese seem more meaningful and less merely convenient.

Little Women
I mentioned in the film's thread that I hadn't read Alcott's novel or seen any prior adaptation, and the more I read and hear about Gerwig's contributions to this version, the more impressed I am with her work with this film. The general consensus seemed to be hopeful wariness at best when word dropped that she was following up Lady Bird by covering such well-trod ground, but I think she acquitted herself well enough here that her next project — whether original, adaptation, franchise sequel, or non-narrative experimentation — should earn unqualified excitement and anticipation. I especially can't wait until she inevitably directs Saoirse Ronan to a much deserved Best Actress Oscar win.

Marriage Story
I still think this is a strong film combining a heartfelt script and uniformly excellent performances, but not only have its stronger qualities been fading (more than a bit) in my memory over the last six months, I also haven't felt particularly compelled to rewatch it since it's been available on Netflix. Well-executed and carefully observed in many ways, it's so straightforwardly presented that it also didn't lay out much if any lingering mystery or unique texture on first viewing that compels me to see it multiple times the way my top three nominees did. Still, there's no denying that this is engaging, funny, and sharp in a way not many mainstream dramas manage to be, and — despite a fair amount of talk about the script and/or Baumbach's direction favoring Driver's character — I thought it very admirably avoided taking sides or caricaturing either side, revealing the main characters to each be flawed and relatable in their own ways.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
One of Tarantino's best scripts, some of his most assured and controlled direction, and a trio of full-bore movie star performances. I definitely side with those who find the ending to strike a nearly perfect note of melancholy, both soothing and affirmatively recognizing the tragedy it co-opts, and I think the use of over-the-top violence works in the context of Tarantino's career, the movie's commentary on American film and culture, and a subversion of audience expectations such that it ultimately elicits more of an odd sense of relief rather than gleeful catharsis. While I love Pitt's almost absurd levels of cool (and I hope Tarantino makes ample room for him in however many feet of film he has left to shoot), I think this is DiCaprio's best performance, and I find myself turning over different moments of his from this film my mind more often than nearly any other this year — if it were up to me it'd be a neck-and-neck race for Best Actor between him and Banderas. As many have pointed out, if this actually is Tarantino's penultimate film, it's a fantastic culmination of multiple threads of his work, and a worthy Best Picture winner.

Parasite
If Tarantino welcomes you into a warm, pleasurable ramble of a film, packed with contradictions and ambiguities, Bong builds the most meticulous and lethally precise piece of clockwork among this year's nominees, and somehow still manages to close it out with an emotional illustration of the false hopes offered by the socio-economic structure sucking the marrow from these characters while simultaneously demanding they leech the life from someone else or die. There's basically nothing I could identify as "wrong" with this film, only a question of how right each moment of it happens to be; if it ends up not coming out ahead of The Irishman or Once Upon a Time In Hollywood in my final absurdly precise accounting, that's only a function of how personally meaningful I found those films, because Bong's masterpiece works beautifully on just about every technical and artistic level. If this is my third-favorite Best Picture nominee, it's been a really good fucking year, and if it upsets 1917 tonight, I'll be thrilled to see it.

My vote: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but just barely

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#517 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:02 pm

knives wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:17 pm
Sideways
I like it. It's mostly funny and I enjoy seeing people who probably don't deserve sympathy. So while I wouldn't argue it as a great film and have a reservation of my own, the penis scene, I like it.
I love Sideways, which would easily be my pick for the year (I can't share this board's enthusiasm for Million Dollar Baby, which I remember as emotionally manipulative and problematically ableist, but perhaps I should give it another shot). I agree that it's amusing to see people who are challenging to sympathize with, but only as a challenge to force a way into seeing their dignity and worth. I'm scratching my head over how at least Giamatti doesn't "deserve" sympathy. I think Sideways is one of the best films about the destructive disease of self-obsession, manifesting as manipulative narcissism in Church's character, and as ego-preoccupied low self-esteem in Giamatti. One is outwardly destructive and one is self-destructive but it breaks that false definition of selfishness as synonymous with confident grandiosity, as even Church's character is really sad and empty when you dig passed the cold front. I'll acknowledge that he's difficult to join with here, but he serves as a wonderful counterpart to Giamatti's incredibly empathetic protagonist while showing how they fall under the same umbrella. The edge of desperate superiority as defense, the overwhelming romantic ideation that is so out of reach of the skills he has it just hurts to watch, and the alcoholism as self-medication are all displayed so well to draw a complex character who we cannot love but absolutely earns our compassion, under any shred of humanist lens. I pity Church for living a life devoid of meaningful emotional connection due to his own egocentric barriers, which is a form of sympathy I suppose, and is both the same and the polar opposite of why I empathize with Giamatti in that he will struggle to have those connections not through a "me-first" attitude of egocentrism but a "why me" one.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#518 Post by knives » Tue Apr 14, 2020 1:17 pm

You should definitely take that shot as long as there's no stool nearby. I couldn't formulate it as ableist whatsoever.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#519 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 14, 2020 1:58 pm

knives wrote:
Tue Apr 14, 2020 1:17 pm
You should definitely take that shot as long as there's no stool nearby. I couldn't formulate it as ableist whatsoever.
I took a class on macro advocacy for people living with disabilities where my prof singled it out as the worst offender for
SpoilerShow
insinuating death as the best option for someone living with a disability, in a decision made by an able-bodied person.
Some of those examples in films she showed felt questionable to me, especially Sayles' Passion Fish, but it made it challenging to ignore that angle of muting the power of agency in rehabilitation once at a baseline state. However, I can't recall the specifics about the movie to defend that stance, and since many of the examples of that class were taken angrily out of context it's probable that one was too. I do remember being put-off by it, but it's also telling a story that forces such a feeling so I look forward to revisiting it with impartial eyes and a decade or so of maturity behind me that has helped not to judge films quite as harshly from skewed subjective space.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#520 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 14, 2020 2:07 pm

2015

The Big Short: I'll never understand the rave acclaim or how this actually almost stole the gold here. There are some interesting ideas but the execution is so self-gratifying and simultaneously detached me from any investment to the events this was trying to tell. The Finn Wittrock and John Magaro storyline was pretty good though.

Bridge of Spies: I'm hot and cold on Spielberg but this felt like the best exploration of his Hollywood Movie talents in telling a stirring tale of history filtered into passionate and warm dramatics, heavy content with a light touch like only he can do. The script had moments of genius and the Coens' influence was felt strongly in certain instances particularly some of the early meetings in the film. Rylance repeating his lines twice for dramatic effect at the end triggered an eye-roll but that's a small sacrifice to be expected in this framework in comparison to the strengths of this great studio film.

Brooklyn: This is a nice period picture that draws from the wells of curiosity from the unknowable experience of a bygone era, as well as the universal passion of early love most can relate to. I admired the aesthetic choices a lot, and Saoirse Ronan deserves love for her perf, though the film didn't leave a lasting impression on me for whatever reason.

Mad Max: Fury Road: The Greatest Movie of the millennium, the decade, the year? Nope, and not even the month depending on if you can compare drug-addiction realism of Heaven Knows What with unapologetic action fantasy, which I cannot. It is, however, a ton of fun, with inventive setpieces and an unstoppable flood of ideas and I can't say a bad word about it within the context of what it's trying to achieve. Miller's capacity to communicate how Mad Max's world should operate to all involved in making this so perfectly could have won him the Oscar and I wouldn't have minded.

The Martian: There's some fun here, including some notable lines in finding the balance between humor and drama. In particular, there is something to be said for adopting a comical attitude as a coping mechanism when fight/flight would normally kick in and infest the mind with unhelpful information. Overall this played more like a Hollywoodized tonal dance that plays it safe enough not to care much about its strengths or weaknesses.

The Revenant: Not a huge Iñárritu fan but I'll be damned if he didn't deserve this back-to-back win. The choreography in the unbroken take of the initial ambush at the start of the film could be a one-minute short film and it would earn him the gold, as perhaps the most impressive direction I've seen in any movie. Aside from this, I fall into the camp who saw this film as an empty attempts at a Tarkovsky/Malick hybrid with an edge to the brutality, sucking out any spirituality in favor of the gritty nihilistic diffusion of higher functioning into survival. There are a few other strong setpieces and some daring performances but I found myself polarized between being incredibly impressed with how the ambitions were realised and shrugging at the rest.

Room: Larson and Tremblay are good, and shooting the portion in the small room should be credited in and of itself because of how Abrahamson transforms that space into its own world, and the presence of the captor not being shied away from is crucial to the film's success as disturbing as it is. It's a conscientious story about trauma but felt muddled about where or who the focus was on and when, and I have to admit to coming away feeling like it pulled itself into a few different directions in half-measures in the second part, which killed a lot of the power.

Spotlight: McCarthy, and his actors, taking a backseat to let the story tell itself is a humble move and a welcome one. Lines like Ruffalo and McAdams on the porch failing to find the words and coming up with only "it just.. sucks" "yeah, it sucks" or something like that, may not be the Hollywood fare we're used to, but had me paralyzed with the authenticity of not being able to find words to describe the intangible horrors of mass trauma. Nobody gets a Big Speech, not even Keaton in his confrontations with BC High folks gets that moment. I admit that I have a very personal connection to this film, having grown up in the area when the Spotlight case broke, my mother and father, and my sister and I, personally knowing many survivors coming out like waves. My first experiences doing social work were getting up to podiums with broken adults three or four times my age and holding up signs outside of Cardinal Law and in Boston Commons in 7th grade, and when I left the theatre in 2015 (in a rare moment where I saw a movie at Boston Commons) I found myself walking in the very spot of one rally and was struck with deep nostalgia and sadness. Find me a more powerful ending than that cold list of names that goes on forever. There was not better way to tell this story, and it took a reserved approach to show how in some cases implementing independent variables to influence emotion is the wrong move, even if it's more 'Cinematic.'

My pick: Spotlight

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#521 Post by knives » Tue Apr 14, 2020 2:07 pm

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I figured that was what you meant, but the film makes it clear that it is giving her the right to choose. It's not that being disabled is equivalent to death, but rather what she values would be hard to experience and she would rather die then deal with her family. The film is very careful to make it her decision and make clear why she chose that way.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#522 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Apr 14, 2020 2:09 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Apr 14, 2020 1:58 pm
I took a class on macro advocacy for people living with disabilities where my prof singled it out as the worst offender for
SpoilerShow
insinuating death as the best option for someone living with a disability, in a decision made by an able-bodied person.
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But Eastwood doesn't make the choice, does he? It's been 15 years since I've seen, but doesn't she have to convince him to carry it out?
ETA: What knives said

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#523 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 14, 2020 2:20 pm

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Yeah again a hazy memory, but the disabled advocacy groups (not trying to lump everyone together, but don't recall specific names) tend to promote that values can shift and resilience is possible for people to cope under their circumstances. In general I get the point that this would be detrimental to her outlets for quality of life, but their counterpoint would be that since she's still in crisis she cannot make an impartial choice that may occur once she gets used to life on life's terms, and that the film indirectly promotes this idea. Now, I think a very fair counterpoint to that is that she should have agency regardless of her state, who is to say what her mental state is and what is 'normal' and what is the source of this drive of the contrarians in the advocacy groups: to validate her experience or project one's own experience "overcoming" trauma and being resilient onto others to validate the self or further the movement? I think all points are fair, and maybe the film is strong as a thinkpiece for initiating these conversations, but this short back and forth is the most I've gotten out of the movie so far. I am looking forward to another viewing though, especially with all of this perspective-absorbing and ethical considerations on assisted suicide laws, etc. occurring in the interim.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#524 Post by knives » Tue Apr 14, 2020 2:48 pm

The simplest answer seems to me is that she's not an advocate or someone super knowledgeable about stuff. The film is a realistic rendering of what these characters would do and doesn't need to fulfill any proscribed ideology to be good. People make uninformed major decisions all the time.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1969-Present)

#525 Post by domino harvey » Tue Apr 14, 2020 2:58 pm

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Literally all Swank cares about is boxing. When that's taken from her and a terrible physical burden replaces it, she has nothing to live for. I found nothing troubling or problematic about this because the film earns where it goes by staying true to its characters in this scenario.

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