Why you should care

Get in the Oscars conversation.

Seriously, 2016 was a great year in film. It looks like this could be the third straight record-setting year for Hollywood’s box office take. Among blockbusters like Deadpool, Rogue One and Captain America, some smaller box-office winners are likely to see major Oscar play. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce its Oscar nominations on January 24. Here’s what you should know to stay in the conversation — and make your own judgments.

Lalaland

La La Land

Source Lionsgate

La La Land

The Skinny

It’s a huge musical love story, with two beautiful headliners (Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling) and incredible imagery (it was shot during magic hour). La La Land is a front-runner for best picture, a likely winner of a Golden Globe for best comedy/musical and more.

What to Say at a Party to Sound Smart

  1. The same way you leave a Wes Anderson film thinking, “Wow, the world could be so much more beautiful” and “People are weird … ,” Damien Chazelle’s second profesh film — his first was Whiplash — will change your eyes.
  2. The payoff is in the last 10 minutes, just like any musical or good jazz number.
  3. Man, they kind of screwed over the nonwhite characters, right?
  4. It’s hard to decide if RyMa GoStone is cuter in Crazy Stupid Love or La La Land.
  5. Isn’t it interesting that an 8-year age difference (Stone, 28; Gosling, 36) between movie stars reads as normal on screen?

13th

The Skinny

Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary delves into Michelle Alexander’s award-winning book The New Jim Crow. With research and original interviews, DuVernay brings Alexander’s thesis to life: America’s prison policies continue a system of racial discrimination that dates back to slavery. While it might not win for best documentaryO.J.’s Made in America is another front-runner — this is one you don’t want to miss.

What to Say at a Party to Sound Smart

  1. Did you know it’s named after the constitutional amendment that banned slavery?
  2. You should really read “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration” by Ta-Nehisi Coates before or after watching.
  3. It’s so interesting that this came out the same year as Luke Cage (Netflix). Remember, Luke was billed as the superhero we need in 2016: a bulletproof Black man.
  4. Today, the U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prisoners.
Manchester

Manchester by the Sea

Source Roadside Attractions

Manchester by the Sea

The Skinny

Kenneth Lonergan’s film about Massachusetts, a dead father, a fuckup uncle and a guardian dispute sounds kind of terrible on paper. Or like cringe – not in the way Collateral Beauty sounds bad. But it’s immaculately executed. Massachusetts looks beautiful, the young Lucas Hedges delivers a great performance, and the dialogue is tear-jerking. It’s a front-runner for best picture.

What to Say at a Party to Sound Smart

  1. Lucas Hedges, who plays one of the leads … is one of those kids in Moonrise Kingdom that everyone dresses up as for Halloween.
  2. Ever wonder what happened to Miss Rhode Island from Miss Congeniality? She’s Sandy’s mom in Manchester now!
  3. Manchester by the Sea was a huge Sundance hit. But it wasn’t as lauded coming out of Sundance as Birth of a Nation, which is not likely to win best picture.
  4. Seriously, why haven’t sexual assault allegations hurt Casey Affleck’s Oscar bid? He denied the allegations but reportedly settled them for $2 million!
  5. Kenneth Lonergan, the screenwriter, says he wears a watch with the time set 15 minutes fast. I don’t know, either.
  6. Michelle Williams made me cry … again.
Moonlightstrip

Moonlight

Source A24 Films

Moonlight

The Skinny

This coming-of-age tale set in Miami about a young Black gay man is one of the most beautifully shot movies of the year. The story takes place in three time periods of the boy’s life — and each actor carries his section. It’s not like one movie could fix #OscarsSoWhite, of course, but many see Moonlight as a front-runner for best picture.

What to Say at a Party to Sound Smart

  1. Janelle Monáe — yes, the singer — was underratedly fantastic.
  2. Unlike Brokeback Mountain, which lost best picture to Crash (a total upset), Moonlight is going to take it all home in February.
  3. Birth of a Nation’s Nate Parker said he would never take a gay role. Multiple men in Moonlight decided to do just that. No shame.
  4. Subtly, the film is set in the 1980s – aka around the time the AIDS crisis was going on.

Kubo and the Two Strings

The Skinny

Stop-motion animation has never looked better. The beautiful Japanese-inspired kid’s movie (also for adults) scares and thrills. An evil grandfather torments main character Kubo — but luckily, he has a magical instrument to take the old man on. This likely won’t win best animated feature (Zootopia, for sure), but will probably receive a nod.

What to Say at a Party to Sound Smart

  1. It’s not made by Pixar. Founded in 2005 and based in Portland, Oregon, Laika created Kubo — and is gaining major street cred.
  2. Michael O’Sullivan of The Washington Post gave the film 4/4 stars. He wrote that Kubo was “both extraordinarily original and extraordinarily complex, even for a grown-up movie masquerading as a kiddie cartoon (which it kind of is).”
  3. The story is fantastical and magical — from giant talking insects to evil aunts who fly on clouds of smoke.
  4. Travis Knight, Laika’s CEO and the film’s director, is the son of Nike’s founder.
  5. Clear influences are Japanese director Akira Kurosawa and animator Hayao Miyazaki.

OZYGood Sh*t

If you’d want to drink it, eat it, wear it, ride it, drive it; if it’d be cool to see, listen to or do, we’re writing about it.