Oscars Sunday 2017: The Best Pictures
Friends, we have made it to Oscar Sunday – the Super Bowl of the Berglund household and the event we love and love to hate and hate to love. We will be rooting for our favorites and will inevitably be crushed by the choices of the Academy, but it will be a fun ride no matter what. Get ready for Jimmy Kimmel’s dry humor, overpriced dresses, awkward interviews, anti-Trump acceptance speeches (yaaaas!), and La La Land winning pretty much everything.
As for our favorites, if you don’t see a performance or film you loved on our lists, it is entirely possible we didn’t get around to seeing it. (We have day jobs, after all.) We know we have some key blind spots in our viewing log (13th, The Fits, The Birth of a Nation, American Honey, I Am Not Your Negro, and The Salesman come to mind), so to cover our bases, David has put together a full list of all the films we did see here, listed by his personal rankings.
But enough talk, our top tens await below – and per tradition, we kept our personal comments to a curt, Twitter-length 140 characters!
Oscar Nominee - Lion
With six Oscar nominations and $85 million in global box office vs. a $12 million dollar budget, this heartfelt tearjerker struck a nerve - quite an accomplishment for a first-time feature film director.
Oscar Nominee - Hidden Figures
Earning $150 million domestically to-date, this is the year's most prosperous best picture nominee. And with multiple industry awards for best ensemble cast, including the coveted SAG, it also showed it has considerable good-will from the filmmaking community.
Oscar Nominee - Hacksaw Ridge
Another big box-office draw that drew an impressive six nominations, this intense war film heralds the return of Mel Gibson to the Hollywood fold after a ten year break from working behind the camera.
Oscar Nominee - Fences
A labor of love for director/star Denzel Washington, this film brings one of America's foremost playwrights to a wider audience and garnered well-earned nominations for both its central performances.
Oscar Nominee - Hell of High Water
An indie darling that succeeded primarily by strong word of mouth, this gripping crime western is a pointed and timely exploration of socioeconomic tensions.
Oscar Nominee - Arrival
A smart and involving sci-fi thinker, this film was immediately praised by critics and the public alike, earning $100 million in domestic box-office returns and a hefty eight Oscar nominations.
Oscar Nominee - Manchester by the Sea
Universally praised for its performances and writing, and earning a solid six nominations, this film marked the humble virtuoso Kenneth Lonergan's return to the director's chair, bringing his own masterful and mournful script to the screen.
Oscar Dark Horse - Moonlight
The most awarded film of the year, and as an impassioned plea for empathy and understanding, likely the most important despite being the lowest grosser of all nominees. An upset here would be something to cherish and would certainly draw more viewers to consider its message - let's all hope it happens.
Oscar Front Runner - La La Land
A love letter to Hollywood filmmaking and artistic idealism that is also a striking and enjoyable filmic adventure? While being clever, it is also easily the most traditionally romantic. The Academy won't resist - expect to hear its name called many, many times from the Oscar stage.
Chelsea's #10 - Nocturnal Animals
A twisty, stylish thriller that's ultimately an examination of broken hearts, young love, and loneliness. Well made with singular vision.
David's #10 - La La Land
An ode to the melodrama and escapism that made film a paramount artistic medium, this enchanting musical swells with nostalgia and romance.
Chelsea's #9 - Certain Women
Quiet, careful film about three different women in a solitary area of Montana--Reichardt explores loneliness and connection in many forms.
David's #9 - Toni Erdmann
A true original - quirky, oddball, new realism that is at once skillfully awkward and profoundly sad. Deeply moving and genuinely hilarious.
Chelsea's #8 - Elle
This challenging film by a master provocateur subverts expectations with a bold protagonist spurning sympathy. Huppert is perfection.
David's #8 - Hell or High Water
A neo-western with a bleeding heart, this film finds a human center in a violent crime story while never sacrificing dramatic tension.
Chelsea's #7 - Silence
Scorsese allows doubt to creep into every corner and the gorgeous frames portray an honest grappling with compassion and faithfulness.
David's #7 - Jackie
An elegiac look at America's high royal tragedy, this film finds fresh ways to comment on and inject new insight into well-worn territory.
Chelsea's #6 - Toni Erdmann
A father-daughter relationship drama, a hysterical comedy, and a comment on the economy of outsourcing all at once. It should not be missed.
David's #6 - Elle
Stylish, provocative, and never predictable, this film is at once funny, thrilling, insightful, and divisive. And it is never cheap.
Chelsea's #5 - Arrival
Arrival is sci-fi without horror or action, boasting a deeply emotional core. Explores choice, communication, and humanity. An instant classic.
David's #5 - O.J.: Made in America
An astute and impressively compiled expose of race through the prism of the trial of the century, this is an instant documentary classic.
Chelsea's #4 - 20th Century Women
An ode to the strength of women as well as an examination of memory and parenting. Full of detail and astoundingly lived in.
David's #4 - Arrival
Using a recognizable premise to carefully explore ideas of time, memory, purpose, and connection, this is engrossing sci-fi for grown-ups.
Chelsea's #3 - Moonlight
A devastating tone poem examining masculinity, poverty, and identity. Everyone is human, down to a drug dealer. An important work of art.
David's #3 - Certain Women
A quiet and delicate triumph, this film gently draws viewers to feel everyday longings and deftly paints fully fleshed character portraits.
Chelsea's #2 - Jackie
Like its titular character, this film is perfectly put together. Jackie deals with grief and building a legacy while maintaining humanity.
David's #2 - Moonlight
Gently ambitious, this important plea for understanding and empathy is never self-serving and introduces an auteur of the highest order.
Chelsea's #1 - Manchester by the Sea
Staggeringly tragic and crushingly emotional, the experience knocked me out. So many tears and much laughter. The most human film in years.
David's #1 - Manchester by the Sea
An overwhelming, deeply felt, and carefully observed study of grief and family commitment - the year's most flawless filmmaking.
Thanks to all who read our posts – have fun watching the show tonight!