Another Perspective On the Oscars: What Species of Film Should Win This Year?

Another Perspective On the Oscars: What Species of Film Should Win This Year?

Post-election are we looking for movies that make us feel good – or good movies that make us think more deeply about our world? Or both? Is the choice between heart and mind a fair and reasonable debate? Writing for the Huff Post, Maddie Crum appeals to The Industry (Hollywood-speak for itself) to “Stop Trying To Make Great Movies Again.” Her blog focuses on two films, “La La Land,” which racked up seven Golden Globes nominations and “Moonlight,” which garnered six. Both were among the buzziest movies at this year’s Telluride Film Festival. Crum also loved “Arrival,” another Film Fest release, which she describes as a “much-needed meditation on empathy.” Cinephiles, read on and weigh in…


Once, not so long ago, movies were Great. Leading men could sing, dance and caddishly charm. Leading women were knockouts. Moviemakers borrowed from the tried and true conventions of theater. Earnest, affecting emotion shone through in each dazzling scene.

And today?

Today, leading men can sing, dance and caddishly charm. Leading women are knockouts. Moviemakers borrow from the tried and true conventions of theater.Sometimes, in the case of the rarest gems, earnest, affecting emotion shines through in each dazzling scene.

Why, then, do we uphold movies about nostalgia for simpler, better times as among the best and most important films of the year? Surely, in 2016 especially, there are more urgent and powerful stories being told. And yet, “La La Land,” an ode to the Hollywood of yore, racked up seven Golden Globe nominations ― more than any other film, some of them more deserving based on cinematic and storytelling merits alone, relevancy aside.

“Jackie” is a postmodern sendup of historical narratives, a patchwork portrait of a woman that’s as brainy as it is enveloping. “Moonlight” is a quiet drama that never treads into saccharine territory, in spite of its heartbreaking subject matter. “Arrival” is a visually stunning, much-needed meditation on empathy. “La La Land” is a movie about how great movies used to be, back in the day.

Its fellow might-be Oscar contenders disprove its very premise. And still, “La La Land,” which opened in limited release last weekend after months on festival slates, is the front-runner for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Of its prospects, Vulture writes, “a warm, embraceable contender […] feels exactly like what the Academy will respond to right now.”

Indeed, the warmth of “La La Land” is its strength, and its charm. Leads Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling dance around true connection, before they finally come together for a cheery summer of art-making and bar-going. Stone plays Mia, a downtrodden, aspiring actress who keeps narrowly missing parts while moonlighting at a coffee shop. Gosling plays Sebastian, a man whose consuming passion for old school jazz gets in the way of his social skills. They pull each other up by their bootstraps, encouraging one another to pursue their dreams ― to follow in the footsteps of Charlie Parker and Ingrid Bergman, respectively…

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