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Academy Awards

The 92nd Academy Awards: Film is a Universal Medium

Twas the night of the Academy Awards, another celebration for the latest achievements in the world of cinema at the iconic Dolby Theatre. What was fascinating about this year was the variety we were treated to in terms of the nominees. Despite the lack of female directors on the list like Greta Gerwig, the disregard for The Farewell and the absence of Taron Egerton (Rocketman) in the Best Actor categorythe 2020 Oscars still turned out to be a fine awards show thanks to the love for favorites like Little Women, Marriage Story, 1917 and the Korean masterpiece Parasite.

Great surprises were bound to happen with Parasite making history as the only non-English language film to have won Best Picture in the history of the Oscars with a Best Screenplay and Best Directing win for Bong Joon-Ho plus an extra treat: Best International Feature Film. Laura Dern has always been captivating in all her roles, and her Best Supporting Actress win for Marriage Story was very well-deserved. The fact that Adam Driver also received a nomination for Best Actor was truly wonderful. Florence Pugh, who played Dern’s daughter in Little Women, the scene-stealing Amy March, was another favorite as she made the Best Supporting Actress nominee list. Although Saoirse Ronan was very commanding as Jo March and Cynthia Erivo also got nominated for her portrayal of Harriet – in addition to giving us a powerful performance of “Stand Up”Renee Zellweger deserved the Best Actress win as Judy Garland in the Judy biopic. Also deserving a mention was Billie Eilish’s stunning rendition of “Yesterday” to remember the filmmaking greats who have recently passed away. How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World being considered for Best Animated Feature really thrilled me, and Toy Story 4 representing the category was a marvel. 

Overall, the biggest takeaway of the night is that film is a universal medium and that we can learn a lot about life, acceptance and compassion from worldwide narratives and languages other than our own. 

“Moonlight” and “La La Land” at the 2017 Academy Awards

Film has always been a medium where dreams, ideas and stories can be visually expressed, and the annual Academy Awards is the one night that celebrates the magic of cinema and the large number of creative talents involved in Hollywood and international filmmaking – directors, actors, screenwriters, cinematographers, musicians, costume designers, animators and other professionals within the industry. The 2017 Oscars have finally brought back diversity, which was lacking in recent years. Jimmy Kimmel as the host provided entertainment as well as encouraged filmmakers from all over the world to continue to shape the films of tomorrow. Moonlight and La La Land – two wonderful films with equally inspiring messages – managed to pull a few wins out of all the nominations they got.

Moonlight, with its lyrical pace and compelling script that highlights the life of Chiron as he goes on an identity search, is an underrated hit with a huge likeability factor. Excellent performances by all the cast, especially Naomi Harris as Chiron’s unstable, crack addict mother! Mahershala Ali, who provided a much-needed warmth and a sense of belonging for young Chiron in the short scenes he had, managed to pull a win for Best Supporting Actor – very well-deserved. His charisma and gentlemanly quality showed throughout the Oscars ceremony. Winning Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture gave this film the credibility it deserves. A must-watch for audiences looking for life inspiration.

Fan-favorite La La Land seemed like a sure bet for the Oscars, and having Emma Stone win Best Lead Actress, Damien Chazelle as the youngest director to have won his category, Justin Herwitz for the charming music he created, and the award that was given for the film’s cinematography meant this film has what it takes to stand among the classics with its colorful visuals, dreamy leads (Emma as wannabe actress Mia and Ryan Gosling as aspiring jazz artist Sebastian) and the portrayal of dreams. John Legend, who played Gosling’s musician friend in the film delivered a smooth, cinematic mash-up of “City of Stars” and “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” at the Oscars. “City of Stars” ended up winning Best Original Song, and rightfully so, even though all contenders were equally powerful.

Despite the announcement mix-up that created a lot of controversy at the end of the night, both Moonlight and La La Land are Oscar-worthy, and the inspirational messages they convey should be welcomed by all film audiences. The compelling and diverse storytelling in Moonlight and the pursuit of dreams that La La Land represents are gold.

As a bonus, I present you a list of my other favorite #Oscars2017 moments:

  • Piper winning Best Animated Short. Cute little birdy!
  • Viola Davis’s amazing win for Fences and her remarkable speech about being an artist – “It’s the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life”.
  • Alicia Vikander and Kate McKinnon got to present.
  • The Hidden Figures ladies – Taraji Henson, Olivia Spencer and Janelle Monae – looked out-of-this world fantastic.
  • All the cookies and donuts falling out of the sky toward the guests. Very innovative!
  • The random tourists’ surprise and Jimmy Kimmel’s hilarious line about all the Oscars guests looking like a wax museum had they remain still.
  • Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) and her fierce performance of “How Far I’ll Go” (despite getting hit by the wave behind her at some point) with an introduction by co-star Dwayne Johnson and Lin-Manuel Miranda rapping out the intro.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio handing Emma Stone her award.
  • Meryl Streep!!!

Natalie Portman in “Jackie”: A Portrait of a First Lady

“Don’t let it be forgot that for one brief shining moment there was a Camelot. There won’t be another Camelot. Not another Camelot.”

Natalie Portman was at her finest in her portrayal of Mrs. Kennedy, making director Pablo Larrain’s Jackie a superior film that deserves all the attention at the 2017 Academy Awards.

With the prime focus being the First Lady’s attempt at piecing her life – and ‘Camelot’ – back together in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a strong, impactful acting was needed to accurately play this iconic woman, and Natalie’s effortless performance showed how much research went into her preparation. Her mannerims, way of speaking and elegance definitely reflected the real Jackie. She had that ability to show extreme devastation about her husband’s loss but also remain composed, strong and hopeful in the face of the public.

Jackie was my favorite Natalie role after Black Swan, and I genuinely think she deserves that Best Actress win this year, even though the other choices are equally great. The same can be said of costume designer Madeline Fontaine whose work on this film was of stylish, regal quality and also Mica Levi who composed a dark yet emotive score that fit in with the grim atmosphere that Jackie’s struggle is associated with.

If you missed Jackie at the cinema, you can now pre-order the movie on DVD and Blu-Ray. Witness Natalie’s brilliant transformation into Mrs. Kennedy.

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