Oscars Special: Lion (2017), Hacksaw Ridge (2017) & Hidden Figures (2017)

I’ve done it, guys. More than 2 weeks to go until Oscars night and I’ve seen all of the Best Picture nominees. Mostly thanks to advanced screenings at my local cinemas considering the fact some of these movies aren’t on a wide release yet. Help us out, Academy! The UK loves movies too. This is a super positive Oscars Special post today, because I absolutely adored all three of these movies.

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I’m still thinking that La La Land will take the win, but after watching each of these movies I’ve changed my mind on what my personal favourite is. My other Oscars Special featured Moonlight, Loving and Hell or High Water. I’m yet to write down my thoughts on Manchester by the Sea, because I still don’t know how I actually feel about it.

Also – this Sunday is the BAFTAs! The only award show I get to watch at a decent time of day. I’ll pop together a predictions/wishes post for that later this week, and I suppose I should watch I, Daniel Blake, after all the love it’s been given. Has anyone even watched it?

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I wanted my last Best Picture movie to be something I was really looking forward to seeing so that it didn’t feel like a chore, but part of me wishes I’d seen Lion first now. It’s the story of a young boy named Saroo (Sunny Pawar) who gets separated from his brother and ends up on a train to Calcutta, thousands of miles away from his home. Saroo faces many devastating hardships before he is adopted by a loving Australian couple, and when he grows up, he uses his memories of home and Google Earth to find his family again.

Firstly, little Sunny Pawar is absolutely incredible, and could have handled this entire movie if needed. Equally, this was the best I’ve seen Dev Patel. The story of Saroo is heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure, and the only negatives I can give are some pacing issues around the mid-way point, and the fact I didn’t like Rooney Mara’s character at all. It’s sometimes hard to imagine this is a true story, and when I finally learnt why the movie is called Lion, I ugly-cried everywhere.

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One of the few Oscar movies I could convince my husband to see with me, and maybe the only one I wasn’t looking forward to much. Only because I just don’t do war movies. I can tolerate one for Andrew Garfield though, especially in our local cinema’s special screen with enhanced sound. Hacksaw Ridge is the story of WWII Army Medic Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield, who serves during the Battle of Okinawa without brandishing a weapon.

This is the movie to change my mind about the genre. It was amazing. Gripping from start to finish despite it’s lengthy run-time, and scared the absolute crap out of me in several parts. If you want to know why I don’t watch horror, it’s because I lost my sh*t during the nightmare sequence and the green flare. Our row was laughing at me. Speaking of laughter, how nice was it to see Vince Vaughn giving his funniest performance since the early 00’s? He killed that role!

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It took far too long for me to see a trailer for Hidden Figures. I’d read reviews from other bloggers and that was enough to get me excited, but I didn’t realise it would be such an entertaining movie! Hidden Figures is another true story, this time about three incredibly talented African-American female mathematicians working for NASA during the race to put a man in space, and their struggles with racism. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe play the lead roles, and they are fantastic.

As I said, on the back of a serious and shocking story of racism in the workplace, Hidden Figures is a highly entertaining movie. From the opening scene, these three ladies are so likeable, you just want them succeed, no matter what. Watching the rest of the workforce’s attitudes change is a delight. Although the plot is entirely predictable, it’s forgiven for being so darn fun.

Going off Topic (#1) Thank You, Oscars Thoughts & Looking Forward

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Welcome to the start of a series of posts where I diverge even further off topic than I normally do! On my old blog Flick Chicks I got into the habit of putting together a monthly round-up post of general goings on, but it was also a great chance to share some link love for the bloggers I spoke to regularly, and that’s kind of how this series came to be.

Firstly though, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who follows Often Off Topic, to everyone who leaves me a comment, and to everyone who reads my posts. This blog has just passed it’s 1 month birthday, and it’s been a wild ride! Some of you might have followed me here from Flick Chicks, a blog a ran with a close friend of mine for nearly 3 years! Whilst I’m forever optimistic that Flick Chicks will make it’s return, my efforts are here for now.

It’s been a nerve-wracking experience, starting over again. I was prepared for a beginning just like before, spending a good couple of months before anyone really noticed I was here, but so many of you have stuck with me, which has been incredible. It’s hard sometimes, checking in on my stats and seeing my latest post has 20 views rather than the 200 it would have pulled on my old blog, but it takes time to build that up again, and I’m 100% ready for that. I’m just overwhelmed to be honest that this little corner of the internet is as active as it is! So thank you, from the bottom of my heart 🙂

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Moving swiftly on…to the Oscars! Whilst I only really got into Awards Season in 2013, I’ve tried every year to make an effort to watch at least all of the Best Picture nominated movies. So far, I haven’t done it, there’s always been 1 movie that I just couldn’t bring myself to sit through. 2017 is my year though! Here’s how I’m doing:

Arrival: Reviewed on Flick Chicks here
Fences: Reviewed here
Hacksaw Ridge: Hoping to see this week!
Hell or High Water: Reviewed here
Hidden Figures: Watched on the weekend, review coming soon
La La Land: Reviewed here
Lion: Hoping to watch soon
Manchester by the Sea:Watched on the weekend, review coming soon
Moonlight: Reviewed here

That’s right, I have just 2 left to see! Who knows, I might even be able to tick off the Best Actress and Actor movies too.

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So, what else is going on? I’ve finished another book, The Fireman by Joe Hill. It was a looooong read, but worth it in the end. I think it just had some pacing issues. I should have a proper review of it posted sometime this week. I’ve now started Bloodline by Claudia Gray. It’s a Star Wars novel set in the years before The Force Awakens. I wasn’t expecting it to be so political (I should have known better) but it’s picking up a bit now.

In my personal life, my husband and I are going through the process of buying a home together! We’ve been renting our current home for 3 years now and are finally in a position to buy. It’s exciting of course, but stressful. I’m hoping the move won’t impact the blog too much, but we’ll be without internet for a few weeks, so I may have to type up my posts at home and use my work’s WiFi to get them posted!

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Finally, I wanted to share some of my favourite posts by other bloggers. Give them a read, and if you aren’t following them already, you should be!

I can always rely on Brittani at Rambling Film to cover the Awards Ceremonies I don’t get to watch. Here’s her post on the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Winners.

For weekly Ed Harris appreciation, look no further than Sati’s Rambling Friday series. I hope she reviews The Handmaiden soon, I can’t wait to watch it for myself.

Natasha at Life of This City Girl posts 10 things she loves about 10 Things I Hate About You, a 90’s classic I haven’t seen in YEARS.

As if any of us need an excuse to talk about Disney songs, Drew at Drew’s Movie Reviews together with Bex at Film Music Central have put together their own Disney Mix Tapes. Drew has been kind enough to let me tag along, so look out for my mix tape this week!

M.Brown at Two Dollar Cinema appreciates a good car honking by Ryan Gosling just as much as I do in his review of La La Land.

The amazingly talented Ruth at FlixChatter has held her first script writing session!

Oscars Special: Moonlight (2017), Loving (2017) & Hell or High Water (2016)

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How are we all feeling today, after yesterday’s Oscar Nominations? I was lucky enough to have them fall into my lunch break at work, so I had my tablet set up in the kitchen with my headphones. Sadly I’m in the only movie nut in the office so I got a few odd looks as I made faces as the nominations were coming in. I’m gutted for Amy Adams, but I’m not on the war path like I was when The Lego Movie got snubbed. Still don’t like the sound of ‘Oscar Nominated Suicide Squad’ though.

Perhaps it was a mercy that Silence only picked up 1 nomination, because as much as I know I should see it, I just can’t bring myself to do it. Still, we’re living in a world where Passengers has more Oscar nominations than Silence. Just let that sink in for a while, and tell me this isn’t the beginning of another 2016.

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Anyway, now the lists are out I can put my regular watch list on hold and try as hard as I can to see as many of the movies as possible! Annoyingly, 7 out of the 9 Best Picture nominees are 2017 releases in the UK, so I’m going to be pushing my luck. I’ve only been able to see Loving and Moonlight thanks to advance screenings my local cinema put on. My point is, I’m not going to have time to write full reviews for them all, so this is the first of perhaps a few mini review posts to cover what I’ve seen.

There’s a theme within a theme here, as all 3 of these movies made me sad as hell afterwards! Thank goodness for La La Land which lifted my spirits. Let’s do this, shall we?

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Moonlight (2017)

I was apprehensive about watching Moonlight, I’ll admit. I watched the trailer and read a brief synopsis, but couldn’t see much of a plot. That’s not really what Moonlight is all about though, it’s a 3 part movie that tells the story of Chiron, AKA Little, AKA Black (played by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) and his struggle in life growing up with his troubled Mother in a crime riddled neighborhood in Miami. Chiron is a quiet, shy boy and doesn’t fit in at school, often being bullied for being a wimp.

Moonlight is the kind of movie that breaks your heart into a million pieces. I didn’t cry, but that’s because by the third segment I felt pretty numb. I don’t know how I expected it to end, because I don’t think I wanted it to. It’s a beautiful movie in every sense.

Moonlight has been nominated for 8 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing & Best Original Score.

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Loving (2017)

Despite it not being my usual kind of movie, I was looking forward to seeing Loving, mainly because I was completely unaware about the story of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial couple who are arrested for their marriage in Virginia, and the legal battle that ensued. I guess the saying ignorance is bliss holds a lot of merit, because it took me so long to even wrap my head around the fact that interracial marriage was illegal.

The movie was just a little too slow for me to really get immersed, and I could never get used to seeing Nick Kroll in such a serious role as a lawyer, because I’m too used to picturing him as The Douche in Parks and Recreation!

Loving has been nominated for  1 Oscar: Best Leading Actress (Ruth Negga).

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Hell or High Water (2016)

It feels like I entered 2016 having never watched a Western, and ended it having watched more Westerns that Rom Coms (I watch a lot of Rom Coms) without even realising, or trying! Hell or High Water is the best of the bunch, though. Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) are brothers robbing banks across Texas to try and pay off the mortgage on their late Mother’s ranch. Rather than hit 1 bank for the entire sum, they rob multiple banks for smaller amounts so as not to be caught. However, Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) soon picks up the chase.

This is another fairly slow movie, but the tension gets ramped up as it goes along, ending in an adrenaline-fueled final act. I wasn’t even sure who I was rooting for in the end, but it was all quite emotional. I really wish Ben Foster was given more attention for his role, I thought he was fantastic.

Hell or High Water has been nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges), Best Original Screenplay & Best Film Editing.