Must-watch movies before Oscar season

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will be presenting this year’s picks for the 2017 Academy Awards, or “Oscars”, on Jan. 24, in a segment that will live-streamed on their website and featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America”. Although movie junkies must wait almost a week to see these nominations announced by past winners Jennifer Hudson and Brie Larson, “Oscar buzz” is already swarming around a handful of movies. Here are a few films movie junkies may want to watch before the Oscars premiere on Feb. 26.


‘MOONLIGHT’ SHINES ON SCREEN — Barry Johnson’s drama is expected to be ‘La La
Land’’s biggest competition at this year’s Academy Awards. (Huffington Post)

Directed by Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight” is a strong turn away from the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that surrounded last year’s Academy Awards, as it centers on three chapters of a black-American living in Miami during the “War on Drugs” era. Audiences follow protagonist Chiron through childhood, adolescence and adulthood as he grapples with domestic abuse and his own sexuality. The picture already won “Best Motion Picture – Drama” at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards and boasts a cast of movie newcomers and entertainment veterans, including Trevante Rhodes, Marhershala Ali and Janelle Monáe.

la la land

lead this original movie musical that is a shoo-in for ‘Best Picture’ at this year’s Oscars. (IndieWire)

“La La Land”

Three years ago director Damien Chazelle garnered award nominations and wins with his movie “Whiplash.” This year, he may win the most coveted award in Hollywood for “La La Land.” Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, this original movie musical follows the relationship of a jazz pianist and aspiring actress as they chase their dreams in Los Angeles. Gosling and Stone are excepted to get Oscar nominations, and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul even beat out Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda for Best Song at the Golden Globes. Chances are this may be the year that a movie musical wins big.

“Hacksaw Ridge”

Actor Andrew Garfield takes a break from playing Spider Man to portray a World War II conscientious objector who saved the lives of 75 wounded infantrymen without firing a single bullet in “Hacksaw Ridge.” Based on the true story of Medal of Honor winner Desmond T. Doss, this picture also stars Vince Vaughn and sees Oscar-winning director Mel Gibson at its helm. This movie may also garner Garfield his first Academy Award nomination for “Best Actor.”

Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, “Fences” stars and is directed by Denzel Washington. The story follows a sanitation worker during the 1950’s as he struggles to connect with his son and get over his lost dream of playing professional baseball. This causes tension between him and his wife, played by Viola Davis. Davis also performed the play opposite Washington in 2010, and it garnered numerous awards. She recently won a 2017 Golden Globe award for “Best Supporting Actress”, so critics are expecting an Oscar nomination for her this year.

“Manchester by the Sea”
Actor Ben Affleck’s brother, Casey Affleck, is finally making his way into the spotlight after starring in this drama. In “Manchester by the Sea”, Affleck plays a single Boston janitor who finds himself taking care of his nephew after his brother suddenly passes away. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the picture also boasts a critically acclaimed performance by Michelle Williams, and both she and Affleck are expected to gain Oscar nominations. Critics have also singled out Lucas Hedge.

Eight years after gaining praise for his performance in the Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, actor Dev Patel has achieved success again in 2016’s “Lion”. Adapted from the book “A Long Way Home,” “Lion” centers on a 30-year-old adopted Indian man who sets out to find his true family. Actress Nicole Kidman also appears in this film.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, this historical drama tells the story of real-life couple Richard and Mildred Loving, whose interracial marriage spurred a legal battle that ended up at the Supreme Court. Actor Joel Edgerton and actress Ruth Negga were nominated for Golden Globes and Critics Choice awards, and are expected to snag Oscar nominations. Movie theaters screened “Loving” in November. It will be at the Knickerbocker Theatre this spring at 7:30 p.m., from Jan. 30 – Feb. 4, so Hope College students hoping to gear up before the Academy Awards may view this contender.

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