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CINEMANN A FILM AND TELEVISION MAGAZINE

THE OSCARS ISSUE NO 02

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INSIDE MOVIES

OSCARS

01 The Lobster by Lisa Shi

15 Moonlight by Maggie Brill

03 Doctor Strange by Armand Dang

17 La La Land by Emma Jones

05 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Radhika Poddar

19 Manchester by the Sea by Charlotte Pinney

FEATURED 07 Spotlight on Oscar Nominated Director: Damien Chazelle by Maggie Brill 09 In Memoriam: Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds by Emma Jones

21 Lion by Halley Robbins 23 Hidden Figures by Zarina Iman 25 Fences by Zarina Iman 26 Moana by Alena Underwood

TELEVISION 11 Baby Daddy by Liana Moroshko

27 Hell or High Water by Ben Vahradian 29 Oscars Decision Making Process by Margalit Patry-Martin 31 Diversity at the Oscars by Noah Phillips


STAFF Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Ades Managing Editor Jasper Cox Content Editors Maggie Brill Zarina Iman Sophia Schein Design Editors Benjamin Ades William He Lisa Shi Faculty Advisor Dr. Deborah Kassel


CINEMANN /Winter Issue

MOVIES

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COLIN FARRELL AND RACHEL WEISZ IN THE LOBSTER

THE LOBSTER by Lisa Shi

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he Lobster is certainly unconventional and is quite possibly the strangest film of the year. Yorgos Lanthimos of Dogtooth brings us a dystopia where single people are ostracized from normal society. They are forced to go to isolated facilities where they have 45 days to find a partner, or else they are turned into an animal of their choice. The selection of animal is calculated in terms of compatibility with another person. “A wolf and a penguin could never live together. Neither could a camel and a hippopotamus. That would be absurd,” says the hotel manager (Olivia Colman). We find David (Colin Farrell), newly divorced, arriving at one such facility, set by the sea. He’s accompanied by his brother, who failed to find a partner some years ago and is now a dog. David decides he would like to be a lobster, because they live for over a hundred years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats, and are fertile all their lives. He also likes the sea very much. Absurd policies are established in the hotel. One hand is handcuffed to show how much better life is when there are two instead of one. Skits are acted out showing the benefits of being in a relationship, like having someone to help if the other is choking. Masturbation is not allowed, but stimulation by the maid is required, which allegedly encourages the guests psychologically to find a partner. When Lisping Man (John C. Reilly) succumbs to his urges, the hotel management burns his hand by sticking it in a hot toaster. Residents can also venture into the forest and hunt “loners”, people who have escaped the hotel and remain single. Tranquilizing them and bringing them back to the resort rewards you with one more day in the resort. Thus, single people are


hunted like animals before even becoming one. Each person has a defining characteristic, often a disability, and by the hotel’s rules, must share this criterion with their partner in order to be deemed compatible. Aside from David, all characters are referenced according to this feature. This leads to hilariously desperate attempts to have things in common with others, which is undoubtedly a caricature of our society, showing the measures we will take to attempt to be in a relationship even if it means faking commonalities. Limping Man (Ben Whishaw) periodically smashes his face to produce nosebleeds to share this characteristic with Nosebleed Woman (Jessica Barden). David himself eventually does the same; he fakes being heartless to attract Heartless Woman (Angeliki Papoulia). He succeeds by showing no concern when she feigns choking to death in a bathtub, but when she kicks his dog-brother to death, he finally cracks and begins to cry. Lying about anything is a prime offense at the hotel; as such, David is captured and sent to become an animal, disregarding however many days he had left. David, with the help of one of the hotel’s maids (Ariane Lebed), manages to escape to the forest and joins the ranks of the Loners. The Loner Leader (Léa Seydoux) imposes rules just as harsh as those back at the hotel. Loners are not allowed to engage in any remotely romantic activities. If one is caught kissing someone else, his or her lips are slashed with a razor. Ironically, although he was unable to find a partner at the resort, David falls for Shortsighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) where he is not supposed to. The relationship still follows the hotel’s rules in that they both share a characteristic:

short-sightedness. The film functions as a protest against coupledom, but ironically becomes a tender and original love story. There are both affectionate, sentimental moments and violent, upsetting ones, resulting in a combination of comedy and horror. The consistent deadpan delivery of the lines is as funny as it is disturbing, and of course, the scenario itself is disconcerting. To add to the eerie unsettledness, the sky seems to perpetually be gray, and dark tones are the overwhelming component of the color scheme. Orchestral, classical music runs through the background, and the wistful, gloomy nature of the soundtrack (Johnnie Burn) lends to the apparent hopelessness that the characters feel. Yet, that seems to be the point of it all. At its heart, The Lobster is a satire that examines the value that society places on relationships through its perception of single people in general and the measures people will take to gain emotional leverage.

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DOCTOR STRANGE CINEMANN /Winter Issue

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by Armand Dang

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octor Strange, the most recent installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, proves to be an exciting and action-packed thriller that pushes the MCU in a bold new direction. It is fresh, crackling with energy by moving from one plot point to the next without wasting any time. The movie stars Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a genius neurosurgeon with an ego that rivals that of Tony Stark’s. He goes through his life with little to no regard for the people around him. His arrogance is the ultimate cause of his demise. Believing he could do both at the same time, he views medical documents while driving. The result is an accident that damages the nerves in his hand, preventing him from practicing medicine. Desperate to heal his hands, he drains all his money on numerous surgeries. He becomes crueler as time passes and eventually lashes out at his coworker, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), the one person he could depend on. After receiving a tip from a former paraplegic named Jonathan Pangborn, he seeks out Kamar-Taj, an isolated village in Kathmandu, Nepal. There he meets Karl Modo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a brooding and sincere guide. Strange soon finds himself under the tutelage of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a sorcerer who shows him a different world, one that he never could have imagined. She introduces him to a world of magic, one that goes against everything he has learned as a doctor. He embarks on an extraordinary adventure trying pages from The Book of Cagliostro, a powerful ancient text, with the intent of summoning a malevolent primordial entity named Dormammu who rules the Dark Dimension to Earth. Doctor Strange is unique, deviating just enough from the Marvel norm to become its own thing. Action scenes, like Strange’s crazy encounter with the Dark Dimension or his fight scene in the streets of New York, turn into a kaleidoscope of melting images scary enough to give you nightmares. Through all of this, Strange reinvents himself from being a neurosurgeon to a Sorcerer Supreme, an exciting transition that the audience is fortunate enough to witness. With its awesome soundtrack and the mind-boggling visual effects, Doctor


BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH IN DOCTOR STRANGE

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Strange holds its own among Marvel movies. The soundtrack, while not an iconic theme, manages to permeate each scene to create an appropriate mood. The visuals are electrifying with CGI used to build us a world far different from anything we have ever seen before. The landscape of Strange’s first encounter with the Ancient One is the most daring. A multitude of changing colors collide on screen, as he bounces through different worlds. He travels dimensions that resemble the dark beauty of outer space or look like they came from a nightmare. In one mesmerizing scene hundreds of hands envelop Strange, leaving the audience wondering: How did they do that? The only flaw in the entire movie was how quickly Strange was able to master the magic. At first he briefly struggles to keep up with the other students, but suddenly the audience sees him stealing books from right under Wong (Benedict Wong), the vigilant master who protects the texts in the library of Kamar-Taj. While Strange’s evolution into a sorcerer is a bit unbelievable, it is understandable that the director wanted to keep the story moving. Overall, Doctor Strange is an entertaining movie worth seeing. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to see any of the other movies from the MCU in order to enjoy this one. I highly recommend you go see Doctor Strange, as the visual effects and action-packed scenes will not let you down.


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FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

CINEMANN /Winter Issue

MOVIES

by Armand Dang

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ive years after the last Harry Potter movie, JK Rowling (making her screenwriting debut) and four-time Potter director, David Yates, return to the magical world of witches and wizards with this spin-off. The film follows magizoologist, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who arrives in 1920s New York with a suitcase full of magical creatures. After Newt accidentally switches suitcases with a nomaj (non-wizard) Jacob Kowalski (Dan Folger), several magical creatures are let loose on the streets. In a hunt for the creatures, Newt team up with Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), an employee at MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United Sstates of America), and her mind-reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol). The chase is just one of the many intertwined plots. Tensions are growing in the city between no-majs and wizards. The “Second-Salemers” led by Mary Lou (Samantha Morton), are trying to expose and eradicate the magical society. An evil supernatural force has been running through New York, wreaking havoc on the city and brutally killing many. The hunt for the elusive monster is led by Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), a law enforcer at MACUSA, who seemingly has ulterior motives. As the story progresses, Newt identifies it as an obscurus: a child wizard who unknowingly loses complete control of his magical powers, due to constant repression of them. Graves enlists the help of Mary Lou’s adopted son, Credence, to find it. Later it is revealed that Credence himself is actually the obscurus, unable to tamp down his powers after years of fearing and being abused by his wizard hating mother. The sudden switches between the light-hearted, slap-sticky beast chase and the much darker exploits of the creepy “Second-Salemers,” who run their operation through an equally creepy orphanage full of disturbed, unloved children, can be disconcerting at times. In addition to the main plot lines, the story is crammed with sub-plots that are not related to the main story, but may have greater significance in the sequels of the film. The result is a hectic, somewhat confusing storyline. There is just so much going on in the film, that the characters are flat and under-developed. However, the little insight we do get into the characters, is charming. Eddie Redmayne portrays eccentricity and shyness very well. Colin Farrell exudes power and menace. It is very clear that there is something very sinister lurking behind his slick demeanor. Ezra Miller’s performance is unnerving and chilling and adds to the grimness of the movie. The story is very dark and lacks joy and warmth. Although it can be hard to keep up with Rowling’s frantic imagination, the world she builds

EDDIE REDMAYNE IN FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM


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CINEMANN / Winter Issue

is captivating. Every scene presents something new, and gives the impression that there is yet a lot to be discovered. The movie is pulled together by the true star of the film: its visual brilliance. The special effects are absolutely stunning. The detailed CGI creatures and their interactions with the cast, fit seamlessly into the film. Rowling’s trademark whimsical writing is brought to life when Newt opens his suitcase to an entire new world inside it, completely designed by her. The costumes are perfect: the tail-coats, gowns, and pretty flapper dresses not only fit the time period, but also complement the characters’ personalities. Three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood deserves her twelfth Oscar nomination for this film. The visual effects teams along with the set designers recreate an alluring Prohibition-Era New York. Skyscrapers and brownstone tenements, which line cobbled streets full of Model T Fords, stretch out as far as the eye can see. Smoke curls out from chimneys, and extras dressed in old-fashioned clothes meander about. There is even a seedy Goblin speakeasy, complete with self-pouring drinks. They create all this magic only to ruthlessly shatter the city in a spectacular finale, where the obscurus razes the city to the ground in a matter of minutes. The following scene, in which thousands of wizards repair the buildings and streets with their wands, is equally spectacular. Panoramic shots of rolling hills and lush scenery depict a refuge for Newt and his beasts. The film marks the eleventh Oscar nomination for production design for Stuart Craig and sixth nomination for set designer, Anna Pinnock. Since the film comes from Harry Potter’s world, one might expect to see cunning hints and references to Harry’s story. However, there is none of the sort, making it a film everyone can enjoy, Potter fan or not. Harry Potter was set in the fairly sheltered world of Hogwarts and centered around children. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, however, is firmly set in the real world where dark magic is not the only evil lurking about. The film explores darker themes of xenophobia, child-abuse, and repression. It sends a message about tolerance and being true to oneself. Although it transports viewers to a fantastical world, it holds much relevance to our own world.


CINEMANN /Winter Issue

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SPOTLIGHT ON OSCAR NOMINATED DIRECTOR: DAMIEN CHAZELLE by Maggie Brill

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amien Sayre Chazelle was born on January 19, 1985 in Providence, Rhode Island. Now at 32 years of age, he is the youngest person to win Best Director in Golden Globes’ history, replacing Francis Ford Coppola, who won for directing the Godfather at the age of 33. Chazelle won for his film La La Land, an original musical, which he also wrote, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The film is loved by critics and audiences alike and after walking away with a total of seven Golden Globes, it is expected to sweep the Oscars. Chazelle grew up in New Jersey and attended Princeton High School, where he pursued becoming a jazz drummer. This is not surprising considering all three of Chazelle’s films center around jazz music. Chazelle’s first hit, Whiplash, a film he wrote and directed, is about an aspiring jazz drummer, played by Miles Teller, faced with an intense and abusive conductor, played by J.K. Simmons. The film’s story was inspired by Chazelle’s own high school experience in a competitive jazz band, which practiced hours each day. After graduating from high school, Chazelle gave up drumming and decided to instead pursue his early passion of filmmaking, which stemmed from his childhood love of Disney animated movies. Chazelle now claims that filmmaking was always his calling and music was more of a detour. “It was a period in my life that left me with a lot of experiences and emotions and stuff to draw from, but it never quite translated into that vocation calling the way that movies had always naturally seemed to me,” Chazelle stated in an interview with Variety magazine. But the influences of his young adulthood and his love of jazz have clearly been incorporated into his work. Studying filmmaking at Harvard University, Chazelle graduated in 2007 with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies. His directorial debut, released in 2009, was an original musical entitled Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench. The film was originally Chazelle’s senior thesis, which he created alongside composer and roommate Justin Hurwitz. The two would go on to collaborate again on Whiplash and La La Land. Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench follows the life of Guy and Madeline, a couple living in Boston, Massachusetts. Guy is a rising jazz trumpeter and Madeline is searching for a sense of direction and a job. As the movie progresses, conflict between the couple grows. Chazelle admitted the film is similar to La La Land, since both were inspired by jazz music, an urban setting, and the French New Wave, an experimental movement led by French filmmakers of

the late 1950’s and 1960’s. After graduating from Harvard, Chazelle moved to Los Angeles, California. He bounced around for a while, working odd jobs as a screenwriter on various films, including The Last Exorcism Part II and Grand Piano in 2013. Then, he ended up writing the screenplay for Whiplash. In order to fund the project, Chazelle filmed a scene from the script and made it into a short film, which he then screened at Sundance Film Festival. Within a few days, the short film caught the attention of investors and Sony Pictures Classics allowed Chazelle to create a feature-length version of the film, which went on to win three Oscars. As he spent more time living in LA, Chazelle became inspired by the contradicting nature of the city: the dreams and success coupled with the rejection and hardship. He started writing La La Land, about the lives of a struggling jazz pianist, played by Ryan Gosling, and an aspiring actress, played by Emma Stone. The movie is a beautifully whimsical entanglement of music and the LA setting. For Chazelle, the film was extremely personal and he fought hard to get it made in a movie industry hesitant to take a risk on an original musical. It took six years to bring his story to the screen, compared to Whiplash, which was filmed in only 19 days. “To put it simplistically, Whiplash is about the pain of making music; [La La Land] is much more about the joy of making music,” Chazelle told Interview magazine. Now that La La Land is out, it is quickly stealing everyone’s heart. The film captures the struggle of aspiring artists and raises questions of artistic integrity and authenticity. In his interview with Variety magazine, Chazelle said the film was a love letter to Los Angeles and to jazz, which is depicted as a dying art form in the film. He also described how unexpected the film’s success has been. This year was the first time Chazelle even attended the Golden Globes and for his film to win 7 awards is unprecedented. Chazelle has already lined up his next project: directing a biopic about Neil Armstrong entitled First Man. The movie is to begin filming in early 2017 and again Chazelle will be collaborating with actor Ryan Gosling, who will star in the film. Since this will be Chazelle’s first film that isn’t centered around music, it will be interesting to see how the young director handles a movie with greater historical significance.


WRITER AND DIRECTOR DAMIEN CHAZELLE

FEATURED

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CINEMANN /Winter Issue

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FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: DEBBIE REYNOLDS AND CARRIE FISHER


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am truly a product of Hollywood inbreeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result,” wrote Carrie Fisher in her memoir Wishful Drinking. In late December, the film community lost one of the most vibrant, iconic people in its history—actress Carrie Fisher. Then, less than a day later Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds of Singing in the Rain fame also passed. Reynolds and Fisher were more than actresses. Carrie Fisher had written four novels and four memoirs, as well as numerous screenplays for adaptations of her work and even a one-woman play. Fisher was an advocate for mental health and drug addiction, speaking publicly about her struggle with bipolar disorder and her addiction to cocaine. Although Fisher’s life was deeply damaged, she managed to remain an icon in a series marketed mainly to young adults as Princess Leia. When asked about her “slave Leia” outfit and how she would explain it to children, Fisher said: “Tell them a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage.” Fisher’s rapier wit and brutal honesty didn’t please everybody, but on the scene of Hollywood, she was a rare beacon of authenticity. In writing this article, it was hard for me not to feel like Debbie Reynolds was being footnoted—people of my generation are vastly more familiar with Carrie Fisher in Star Wars than they are with Debbie Reynolds’ career. Reynolds was the ideal star of a movie musical, charming, beautiful, and bubbly. Yet she was an incredibly smart and passionate person as well. Something that not many know about her career is that Reynolds headlined an AIDS benefit in 1983 when it was taboo to even say the word AIDS. During the Reagan years, Reynolds was a “beard” for gay actors and advocated for AIDS when it was illicit for a public figure to do so. The thing about Debbie Reynolds is that she pervaded so much of popular culture in ways our generation probably was not even aware of. Her voice was featured in Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service–a

movie that defined my childhood—and I had had no idea. Fisher and Reynolds had a complicated relationship. Fisher’s father Eddie Fisher left Reynolds to pursue an affair with Elizabeth Taylor, Reynolds’ best friend, and Reynolds raised Fisher largely on her own. Yet, despite their difficult, non-traditional relationship both women had a profound love for each other. Their relationship was the subject of the recent documentary Bright Lights, which showed how Fisher and Reynolds lived next door to each other and kept in constant contact—now both older, they seemed more like best friends than mother and daughter. Bright Lights showed only a snapshot of a bond that ran deeper than a camera could capture. Fisher and Reynolds both struggled against the treatment of women in Hollywood as they age; being criticized as being ‘too old’ if they choose to remain in the spotlight and being criticized as prudish sellouts if they prefer obscurity. Fisher in particular had something to say about this: “Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately, it hurt all three of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.” Written in her trademark twitter vernacular, this quote exemplifies Fisher’s stark confidence and way with words. Fisher and Reynolds were female icons in Hollywood. They proved that there was no wrong way to be a woman and fought with everything they did to prove that women should be treated like people, who age and live their lives just as men do. In Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher recalled an anecdote where George Lucas told her that there was no underwear in space, because in zero gravity the wearer would be strangled. In her own words, she wrote an obituary: “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” So, rest in peace Debbie Reynolds, an icon of class, beauty and joy immortalized by film, and rest in peace Carrie Fisher, drowned in moonlight and strangled by her own bra.

FEATURED

By Emma Jones

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CINEMANN / Winter Issue

IN MEMORIAM: CARRIE FISHER AND DEBBIE REYNOLDS


CINEMANN /Winter Issue

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THE CAST OF BABY DADDY

BABY DADDY by Liana Moroshko

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aby Daddy, an American comedy series, is gearing up for its sixth season premiere, which promises to bring even more ridiculous humor than past seasons. The show centers on two brothers, Danny and Ben Wheeler (Derek Theler & Jean-Luc Bilodeau), and their good friend Tucker Dobbs (Tahj Mowry), who all share an apartment in New York City. While the trio first settles into their new apartment, they find a baby lying in a stroller left on their doorstep. Taking the baby in, Ben realizes that she might be his daughter, the product of a one-night stand many months before. Ben names his daughter Emma, and with no prior experience, all three of the guys try to figure out how to handle a child, making for hilarious and touching moments. Aside from chaos created by Emma, the show explores the relationship between the Wheeler brothers and Riley Perrin (Chelsea Kane), an ambitious lawyer who grew up with the brothers. Now, as she strives to make partner at her new law firm and fulfill her long term goals, she has become acutely aware of her love life and her feelings towards each of the brothers. On the other hand, Ben and Danny remain relatively unaware of Riley’s feelings, leading to dramatic romantic entanglements.

Unlike most shows’ finales, Baby Daddy’s season five ended on a high note. Love blossoms between Riley and Danny, and Ben becomes even closer with Emma. After she gets hurt on a carnival ride, Ben, who thinks he may lose Emma, understands how much she means to him. Ending at the hospital, with everyone waiting for the release of Emma, who seems to be okay, the show reveals that Riley is pregnant. This exciting news coupled with rumors that season six may skip ahead a few years in the story’s plot has assured me that the next seasons will contain even more plot twists, hilarity, and drama. Baby Daddy, provides short fun-filled episodes that present an endless flow of adventure, intrigue, and romance. The humor, while at times a bit inappropriate, is still hilarious, even for teenagers. Each actor brings their own personality and comedic style to the show, resulting in a medley of different comedic styles. Since its creation, the show has been nominated for 18 awards, winning its most recent 2017 People’s Choice Awards nomination for Favorite Cable TV Comedy. The characters, written by Dan Berendsen, the show’s creator, are both entertaining and relatable, drawing audiences in and leaving them wanting more.


TELEVISION

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Cinemann covers the 89th academy awards


CINEMANN /Winter Issue

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NOMINATED FOR 8 OSCARS: BEST PICTURE, BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE, BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY, BEST FILM EDITING

MOONLIGHT by Maggie Brill

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oonlight is one of the nine films nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars. It was also nominated in seven other categories including Best Directing, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Cinematography, and Best Adapted Screenplay. This is no surprise; the film is skillfully executed and breathtakingly refreshing. It draws attention to the intersections of race and sexuality with its story about a black man growing up in the housing projects of Miami, Florida and coming to terms with his own sexuality. The film follows the main character, Chiron, through three stages of his life. The film was written and directed by Barry Jenkins, but based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Both men grew up in Miami, but didn’t cross paths until later in life. When they did, they realized how similar their childhood experiences had been. Both men were born to teenage mothers, who later became


H.I.V. positive at the hands of the crack epidemic of the late 20th century. McCraney actually wrote the story in 2003 shortly after his mother died of AIDS. For McCraney, the screenplay was a way for him to express his grief and his guilt about unreconciled issues with his mother. The screenplay sat for 10 years until a mutual friend sent the script to Jenkins, who already had a first draft of a screenplay in the works for a film about growing up in Miami. The final film ended up being a composite of the two men’s experiences. The three acts of the film are entitled “Little,” “Chiron,” and finally “Black.” The transitions between stages are abrupt and drop the viewer back into Chiron’s life, only this time years later. The film leaves the viewer scrabbling to piece together the missing years. For example, in “Little” young Chiron is taken under the wing of a man named Juan, played by Mahershala Ali. Juan acts as a father figure for the young boy and becomes an escape from his drug-addicted mother, played by Naomie Harris. The relationship between the young boy and Juan is heartwarming as we witness Juan help Chiron understand what it means to be a black man. The viewer develops a strong emotional attachment to Juan only to find out in part two that he dies. This realization is alarming and unexpected and leaves the viewer filling robbed of a proper goodbye or even an explanation, but that’s exactly what death is:

alarming and unexpected. Unlike many films which span long periods of time, Moonlight casts new actors to play Chiron and his lifelong friend Kevin for each act of the film. You’d expect this transition to be jarring since Chiron undergoes a drastic physical transformation from a scrawny boy to a muscular man. However, the actors somehow manage to make the transitions seamlessly with continuous personality and mannerisms. The film, in many ways, is a tribute to Liberty City, where Jenkins and McCraney grew up and where the film is shot. Jenkins even cast the young versions of Chiron and Kevin from a local middle school. The film is also unique in that it beautifully captures the complexity of its characters. Each character is flawed in their own way and Moonlight is careful not to resort to stereotypical depictions. Juan, for example, is generous and gentle with Chiron, but he also makes his living by selling drugs, particularly to Chiron’s mother. The film forces you to sympathize with Juan rather than depicting him as the “bad guy.” Moonlight is definitely a refreshing addition to the Best Picture category with its experimental structure and cinematography. The color scheme is bright and colorful and each shot is skillfully framed. It masterfully captures the human essence and absorbs the viewer in the world of the film.

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LA LA LAND

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OSCARS

by Emma Jones

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eing female and being between the ages of thirteen and seventy, I am supposed to love Ryan Gosling. And all La La Land seemed to me when I originally heard about it was another thing with Ryan Gosling’s face and six-pack of dubious integrity slapped on it. But La La Land has more in common with Damien Chazelle’s earlier hit, Whiplash, than it does with Crazy Stupid Love—although the tone of La La Land is certainly more positive than Whiplash. La La Land is a movie that is emotionally provocative without being sappy or disingenuous. The strangest thing about La La Land is that it’s a lavish Hollywood musical about the reality of being an artist. Emma Stone’s Mia is an aspiring actress and Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian is a struggling jazz musician. Mia jumps through hoops at humiliating auditions for small parts and is still rejected, while Sebastian plays lifeless Christmas jingles at yuppie restaurants and makes virtually no money. La La Land is a love story, but it is also a movie about passion. As Mia and Sebastian are drawn towards each other they find inspiration in their respective passions. But by the end of the movie the audience knows that if there was anything Whiplash taught us, it’s that passion for an art and passion for another person are two very different things. La La Land’s very conception is like a merging of the two characters’ passions: the movie musical. It uses films like Singin’ in the Rain or Top Hat as its muse, and is full of cinematic references to classics in its style. Justin Hurwitz’s soundtrack is absolutely perfect, both in its vocal numbers and its instrumental backing. Damien Chazelle has an intimate understanding of the nature of jazz and uses it to its full potential in La La Land. The film opens with the chipper “Another Day Of Sun,” a number sung by a group of young hopefuls on the highway into Los Angeles with lyrics that mirror La La Land’s themes about following your dreams. A fan favorite is “A Lovely Night,” a song framed by a scene wherein a disgruntled Mia and Sebastian are standing over a beautiful sunset and are not sure what to do about the romantic implication when they claim not to be attracted to each other. It’s cheeky and upbeat but has a sensuality and honesty to it partially brought on by Gosling and Stone’s onscreen chemistry. “You


NOMINATED FOR 12 OSCARS: BEST PICTURE, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTOR, BEST ACTRESS, BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE, BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY, BEST COSTUME DESIGN, BEST FILM EDITING, BEST SOUND EDITING, BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

say there’s nothing here, well, let’s make something clear, I think I’ll be the one to make that call,” Mia remarks, to which Sebastian counters “But--You’ll call?” The number, which is shot all in one take, shows off everything that makes La La Land work as a movie, which is not always necessarily Stone and Gosling’s mediocre singing and dancing but how the music and the filmmaking work together. One has to take a moment to just appreciate how beautiful everything about it is, from the bright pastel costumes to the soft, romantic lighting the characters are bathed in. La La Land, looked at through the harder lens of film narrative and film theory, is an incredible example of visual storytelling. Its tear-jerking end is a ten minute or so sequence accompanied only by jazz music that is a full-on stage rendition of Mia and Sebastian’s romance, with all its ups and downs. The characters’ silhouettes dance behind a screen, waltz through a sea of light, open and close doors, and ultimately fade back into reality with a tiny piano riff. In the end, five years after Mia and Sebastian split, Mia’s career has taken off and she has married another man. The couple wanders into a jazz club with a familiar logo and sits down as Mia realizes this is Sebastian’s club and his dream has finally come to fruition. As Sebastian plays a familiar song, Mia’s mind wanders into what could have been and the audience is swirled through Justin Hurwitz’s gorgeous jazz-infused

dream sequence. Then, we are back in the jazz club and Mia and Sebastian share one last knowing look, realizing the truth: In life, you make good decisions and you make bad decisions and don’t always end up at the place you thought you would, but how you got there is always a story worth telling. Sometimes you don’t end up with the love of your life, but that fact doesn’t stop the connection from going away. La La Land is not a perfect movie. It is not revolutionary or gutsy and does not really surpass something like Singin’ in the Rain. But at a time when so much of the film landscape is gritty melodrama, it was nice to have a feel-good, dreamy movie musical at the top of the box office. Being dragged out to see it on a rainy day in Queens, I came out of the theatre feeling like I was walking on air. For just awhile, the Q17 bus route seemed like a wonderland. This much, I think, makes La La Land stand out. And that’s arguably what Damien Chazelle intended. Whether you cried at the end or not, La La Land is a movie designed for an emotional response. Chazelle understands art and reactions to art, because that’s part of what La La Land is about: people who love art and who love each other. By the end of La La Land, you find yourself full of love: whether it’s love for improvisational jazz numbers or love for Ryan Gosling, La La Land has something for everyone.

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NOMINATED FOR 6 OSCARS: BEST PICTURE, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTOR, BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA by Charlotte Pinney

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anchester by the Sea is a beautiful drama starring Casey Affleck and directed by Kenneth Lonergan. This film depicts one man’s journey and his profound loss honestly and elegantly without feeling pretentious or preachy. And I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this was truly Casey Affleck’s performance of a lifetime. I haven’t seen a single other performance that came close to Affleck’s this year and I will be genuinely surprised if he doesn’t win the Academy Award for Best Actor. The movie itself is also beautiful; the cinematography is astounding and perfectly depicts the mundanity of the small town life. This film can only be described as aggressively New England. The gray skies and fishing boats all topped off with thick Boston

MATTHEW MODINE (DR. MARTIN BRENNER) IN STRANGER THINGS


accents makes this movie feel incredibly authentic. The cinematography grounds this movie in the real world and contributes to its immersive quality. You can tell that the director was really trying to make the audience feel like they were watching a real man living life and experiencing tragedy and it worked. If you were to pair such heavy themes with any sort of the technicolor of Hollywood it wouldn’t work, so the gloom of the environment only adds to the experience. And Casey Affleck’s performance only helps, although I doubt it’s too difficult for him to play an average guy from Boston, a character that him and his brother, Ben Affleck, can’t seem to stop falling into. Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a despondent character trapped in the repetitiveness of his life who finds out that his brother died and that he has to go take care of his teenage nephew. When we first meet Lee Chandler, he is a generic angry and unhappy person and that feeling continues for most of the movie until one very clear turning point puts the movie into incredible perspective and adds layers to the character. I keep hearing people say that this is the most depressing movie ever made and I thought that was an exaggeration, but after seeing it I can confidently say that it really kind of is. The filming style makes you feel like you’re actually in the lives of these characters watching real conversations happen which subsequently makes every single moment feel heavy and like it’s dripping with emotion. Affleck cannot catch a break and

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neither can the audience; you don’t have any moment to breath or relax, even scenes when little is happening feel weighed down with emotional undertones. This movie deals a lot with grief and tragedy and it does it generally pretty well. It isn’t manipulative or superficial; it presents the tragedy and tries to show the rawest and most genuine reactions of the actors without telling the audience how to feel. Overall, Manchester by the Sea is a good film, I would be surprised to see this film win Best Picture especially over something like La La Land which everybody seems to be really excited about even though in my opinion because of the better writing and the emotional depth it reaches Manchester by the Sea was much better than La La Land. My only reservation with Manchester by the Sea is that it didn’t raise any questions or really do anything new. This film tells a story and it does that really well, but for a movie to truly ascend into greatness it has to do something new. Manchester by the Sea, although good, is just another story about a man with a hard life who has to make some hard decisions, and that’s what’s going to keep this movie from the Academy Award for Best Picture.


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LION

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by Halley Robbins

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ion is the true yet seemingly impossible story of a young, Indian boy’s experience being lost from home. Lion, released in November 2016, was created after the success of “A Long Way Home,” a book written by Saroo Brierley in 2013 and a #1 International Bestseller because of its powerful story. Being one of four kids, with a single mother who worked as a laborer, Saroo grew up extremely poor. His family of five lived in a small shack in a very poor village in Khandwa, India. At the age of five, Saroo was often left in charge of babysitting his younger sister, would help his mother collect rocks, and venture out with his older brother, Guddu, to find food for his family. Many nights, the family would not have food to eat, so coming home with milk or fruit was a big deal. The beginning of the movie was extremely emotional, because it was clear how each family member tried to make their lives and the lives of each other more comfortable. Even though Saroo would often travel with Guddu to find food for their family, one particular night left the family in an unimaginable situation. Knowing that it was late at night and that Saroo was five years old at the time, Guddu was about to leave home for a few nights in search for food and money without inviting Saroo. However, after much protesting and begging on Saroo’s part, Saroo left home with his big brother. The two of them took a train together, but after arriving at their stop Saroo was too tired to continue. His brother told him to sleep at the station and wait for him to arrive back. Upon waking up, Saroo could not find his brother and wandered onto a different train whose destination was unknown to him at the time. Saroo was lost in Calcutta, a city over 100 miles from the train station, for a few weeks and barely survived in the overcrowded and foreign city. He struggled to find people to talk to him, because he spoke Hindi as opposed to Bengali like most people in Calcutta. People were aggressive towards him and some tried to take advantage of his vulnerable stature and age. In addition, he did not know the name of his mother or the area where he lived. Luckily, what Saroo lacked in proper education he made up for with self-awareness and good instincts, which allowed him to eventually make his way to an orphanage in Calcutta. At the orphanage, Saroo was adopted by a loving family in Australia that was prepared to raise him in an upper class and educated world. This transition was painful to watch, because at five years old Saroo was forced to leave behind his


NOMINATED FOR 6 OSCARS: BEST PICTURE, BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE, BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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story. Being that the book was autobiographical, Brierly had the most information of anyone to express in full detail the agony, scaredom, and joy that he faced in his years in both India and Australia. The book covered more details than the movie, which is clearly why it became a bestseller. Its writing, however, was not extremely poetic. As a movie, the book came to life through the phenomenal acting. While it did lack some details which enriched the book’s plot, it captured all of the emotions and characters that were presented in the book well. The film is nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Original Score, and Writing, as an adapted screenplay for the 2017 Oscars. The acting of Dev Patel as older Saroo and his younger counterpart, Sunny Pawar were both amazing. The ultimate success of this movie came from the constant emotional switches between heartbreaking and uplifting from scene to scene.

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family and home. Twenty years after being adopted by his Australian family, Saroo began an official search to find his original home and family, which was an ocean apart in a huge country he barely remembered. All Saroo remembered were a few distinct images near his hometown, but apparently that is all he needed with the help of Google Earth. Google Earth allowed Saroo to navigate the endless streets of India and give him access to the train routes and stations across India. Eventually Saroo found his home, which he visited soon after. While Saroo no longer spoke Hindi, and therefore could not directly communicate with his original family, the sense of love, confusion, and hope was palpable as Saroo first saw his Indian mother after twenty plus years apart. Unlike some books which are later turned into movies, both “A Long Way From Home,” the book, and Lion, the movie, beautifully captured Saroo Brierley’s


NOMINATED FOR 3 OSCARS: BEST PICTURE, BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

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HIDDEN FIGURES by Zarina Iman

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hese past two months, Hidden Figures has proven to be a force of nature. With audiences packing theaters to witness a little piece of American history, the film has outperformed all box office expectations, even grossing more than the newest Star Wars installment, Rogue One. Unlike previous movies about scientists, such as The Theory of Everything or The Imitation Game, the lives of the main characters, three black women, are relatable despite their genius. Set during the Cold War of the 1960s in the Jim Crow South, Hidden Figures tells the true stories of three women whose hard work at NASA became a major element in multiple space missions, including John Glen’s orbit around the earth and the Apollo 11 mission that placed America at the forefront of the space race. Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), and Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) are all human “computers” at NASA, women tasked with calculating anything and everything the NASA engineers need for their various missions. As a part of the “colored” computer troupe, the women are sidelined and placed in their own building at the Langley Research Center, separate from the white computers and


everyone else at the center. Nevertheless, the beginning of the space race and America’s desperation to beat Russia drives NASA scientists to look for talent anywhere. As a result, Johnson is assigned to the Space Task Group, whose director Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) is attempting to get a man into space. At her new job, Johnson, the only black woman on the team, must grapple with the prejudice of her coworkers and continually work to prove herself, despite being one of the smartest members of the task group. Though Johnson is at the forefront of the movie, her story is intertwined with that of Jackson and Vaughn, who too must overcome various hurdles. Jackson, an aspiring engineer, must jump through arbitrary hoops to fulfill her dream, and Vaughn fights to protect her and her team’s jobs, when NASA receives an IBM machine that generates calculations faster than any human computer. In spite of various setbacks, the women forge on, gaining the admiration of the audience with each scene. However, what truly makes the characters relatable is their humanity. Aside from accomplished scientists, we see them as daughters, mothers, and wives, the pride of their community, attending church, cookouts, and birthday parties. Each struggles to find their place in society, wondering if they should pipe down or speak up; thankfully, they often choose the latter. Johnson, Jackson, and Vaugnn are more than just their work, they are strong, ambitious, and emotional. Every actress holds their

own, delivering some of the most genuine performances I have ever seen. Taraji P. Henson’s performance will make you wish she had been nominated for an Oscar. Within the first scene, the audience will become endeared to them and will continue to root for their success. Overall, Hidden Figures is a bright and warm movie, contrasting the serious feel of other movies set in the same time period. With vibrant scenes, like rockets launching into clear skies and colorful picnics, the tone of the movie remains hopeful. The script is flawless, combining humor and intense moments. That coupled with a soundtrack featuring pop, gospel, and 60s music forms an engrossing experience that you hope never ends. At a time when, according to Forbes, 100% of women of color in STEM have felt discriminated against, with Asian women feeling that they have to act passively, and black and Latina women reporting being mistaken for a janitor by their coworkers, a scene that actually unfolds in the movie, Hidden Figures feels more relevant than ever. This untold story makes for an uplifting and unique movie that will captivate you and leave you wanting more. Hidden Figures is available for viewing at most theaters nationwide. For those who may not be able to see the film for financial reasons, multiple organizations and people are sponsoring free viewings.

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NOMINATED FOR 4 OSCARS: BEST PICTURE, BEST ACTOR, BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

FENCES by Zarina Iman

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dapted from the 1983 August Wilson play by the same name, Fences centers on the story of Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington), the patriarch of the Maxson family. Troy, a garbage collector, lives with his wife, Rose (Viola Davis), his disabled war veteran brother, Gabe (Jovan Adepo), and his youngest son, Cory (Mykelti Williamson), in 1950s Pittsburgh. The film, directed by Washington who starred alongside Davis in the 2010 Broadway production, is not afraid to define itself as a play. As a result much of the film takes place in the Maxsons’ backyard in a monologue like format. The story unfolds as Troy begins to build a fence around his yard, which he continues to build throughout the film. With each passing scene, the audience finds that the Maxson family is not as happy as they seem. The main conflict occurs between father and son. Sweet talking seemingly all confident Troy becomes jealous of his son and his potential to be recruited to the NFL.

A former member of the “Negro League” of baseball, Troy resents his son for having the opportunity to play on a national level, an opportunity Troy is positive he was denied because of his race, one of many “fences” surrounding him. Accompanying this overarching feud is a cluster of other drama that reveals both the cracks that exist within the family and the emotional barriers Troy has constructed around himself. The movie, though slow at times, manages to tell a dynamic story. The artful cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen transforms the Maxson backyard into multiple spaces fitting each scene’s mood. Viola Davis’ performance is, as always, enthralling. She takes command of the screen with her soulful monologues. Washington’s acting is equally gripping, as he makes visible each facet of Troy’s complex personality. While Fences shows the simple story of one family in a time period that seems farremoved, it is, as Viola Davis said, “an everyman story,” a story that demands to be told.


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oana (meaning ocean in a Hawaiian dialect called Maori) is one of Disney’s newest animated movie musicals under the direction of John Musker and Ron Clements working alongside composers Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina. The film follows a daring teenage girl, Moana, (voiced by Auli’i Carvalho) and her adventure with the exuberant demi-god deuteragonist, Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Together, they travel the uncharted depths of the ocean, overcome several powerful monsters, and restore the forces of good that are being taken over by a not-so-metaphorical darkness. During her travels, Moana fulfills an ancient ancestral prophecy, that leads her to changing not only herself, but everyone on the islands, including the one where she and her family live. The plot of the movie is powerful and intricate, leaving everyone in the theater astonished and on the edge of their seats. This movie, unlike a lot of other animated movies, was genuinely fun for all ages to watch. The general storyline was understandable for children, making it enjoyable for them. Along with that, young adults as well as older moviegoers could easily be entertained by the plot and complex details that cannot necessarily be understood by younger audiences. Additionally, the music added a layer of depth to an already rich story. Regardless of whether the song was a slow ballad or an up-tempo rap, the audience was left with a humongous

NOMINATED FOR 2 OSCARS: BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM, BEST ORIGINAL SONG

smile on their faces and a desire to sing and possibly even dance along. At least one song in the musical resonated with each person in the theater, intensifying the warm and lighthearted feeling one experienced towards the end of the movie. Furthermore, this movie showcased an aspect of Hawaiian culture rare to the Disney franchise. There were many incorporations of Hawaiian culture besides the more obvious fact that Moana is Disney’s first Polynesian Princess. The movie also includes a focus on the natural world (making it different from most Disney Films). There were many instances in which the viewers would be looking at the vast ocean with its extensive marine life or several of the tropical islands inhabited by the local tribes. It was an intended exposure and lesson of nature’s beautiful landscape. The scenery was magnificent. At the end of the movie, I found myself in complete awe of what I had just experienced. A couple of weeks after seeing the film, I found it no surprise that the movie was nominated for Best Original Song as well as Best Animated Feature at the 2017 Oscars. I will be watching attentively on February 26th as the 89th Academy Awards are presented. Moana has an elegant balance of an incorporation of Hawaiian culture, a thorough plot, and a memorable soundtrack, leaving me asking when I might return to see the next screening of Moana.

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by Alena Underwood

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NOMINATED FOR 4 OSCARS: BEST PICTURE, BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, BEST FILM EDITING

HELL OR HIGH WATER by Ben Vahradian

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ell or High Water follows the story of two brothers, Toby and Tanner Howard, as they are in the midst of conducting a series of armed bank robberies, in an attempt to save their family ranch from being foreclosed by Texas Midlands Bank. While Toby (played by Chris Pine) and his ex-con older brother Tanner (played by Ben Foster) have different personal motivations for robbing the banks, they both agree to use the money that they stole to pay the mortgage for their ranch, which the bank intends to seize. Tanner, who we learn has spent over ten years of his life in prison and shot his father in what he said was a hunting accident, is conducting these heists for what he perceived as the thrill of doing so. Toby, who has no previous criminal record and had to take care of their mother while Tanner was in prison, is partaking in these robberies because they discovered oil on their ranch, and he needs to keep the property in order to make a profit on the oil. Toby’s motives aren’t selfish however, as he intends to put the money that he makes from the oil into a trust fund for his son, whom he had with his now divorced wife. The story also follows two Texas rangers, Marcus Hamilton (played by Jeff Bridges) and


Alberto Parker (played by Gil Birmingham), as they attempt to find and arrest the people who were conducting the bank heists. Marcus Hamilton is facing retirement and has been a cop for a large portion of his life, and is dedicated to catching the assailants responsible for the bank robberies. Hamilton and Parker’s plot at the beginning of the movie moves slowly as they are in the midst of tracking down the bank robbers, despite the robberies being wellplanned and hard to trace. However, before their characters get involved in the action aspects of the movie, their motives and character, especially for Hamilton, are illustrated to the audience. This is most notably so in Marcus Hamilton’s embodiment of the western Texas setting of the movie through his personality and actions. Revitalizing the American Western heist genre, the film Hell or High Water not only brings its western Texas setting to life, but also captures the personality and struggles of each of its characters. Instead of including pointless gunplay that is often present in crime movies, the film focuses on developing its narrative and complex characters. Also, another aspect of the movie that makes it unique is that it exhibits each character’s positive attributes as well as their flaws, which isn’t common in many movies that instead only show the good traits of the protagonist and bad traits of the antagonist. This is

best exemplified by two of the main characters in the movie, Toby Howard, who is heisting banks, but has a justification for doing so, and Jeff Hamilton, a foul mouthed yet honest ranger who wants to help make a difference before his imminent retirement. Another aspect of Hell or High Water is its ability to capture life in the Midwest as well as the people in the region’s opinion of banks. The majority of the movie takes place in rural regions of western Texas that for the most part were poor areas. Many people outside of these areas, especially people in cities, most likely aren’t familiar with life and culture in the deep rural Midwest which this film depicts. A quote that is most representative of a common opinion exhibited by people throughout the movie is by a man who is questioned by Hamilton in a diner that was close to one of the robberies and says, “[I’ve been here] long enough to watch the bank getting robbed that’s been robbing me for thirty years.” Hell or High Water has received several nominations for Academy Awards, such as Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. Jeff Bridges’ portrayal of Hamilton and display of his flawed yet still honorable character and relatability helped to add significance to Hamilton’s character. Bridges played a significant part in developing the character and conflicts of Ranger Marcus Hamilton.

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by Margalit Patry-Martin

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n February 26, 2017, the winners of the 89th Oscars, or Academy Awards, will be announced in a ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. In past years, most notably 2016, the Oscars have been embroiled in controversy over the lack of diversity in their nominees and winners. Only members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, colloquially known as “the Academy,� are allowed to vote for the Oscars. Consequently, many blamed this hemogeny on the Academy itself, leading them to ask the questions: who is in the Academy and how do they make their decisions? The Academy is composed of people who fit into 24 categories, including acting, directing, producing, costume designing, writing, and music composing. In order to even consider applying to the Academy, one needs to work in film production, and have two current members of the category they wish to join sponsor them. Those who meet the requirements are then reviewed by the committee of the branch they are applying to. If applicants pass that round, they are considered by the Board of Governors, a select group of members who decide the overall policies and vision of the Academy. Those who the Board of Governors approve of will then get an invitation to join the Academy. All Oscar nominees are automatically reviewed for membership and do not need a sponsor; they are basically guaranteed an invitation. Similar to the membership process, the nomination process is long and arduous. In order to be nominated, a film must reach certain requirements, such as being over 40 minutes long and publicly screened in Los Angeles County for at least seven straight days. Then, voters in each section of the Academy will nominate


five movies or people for the categories that correspond to their field. For example, cinematographers choose the nominees for the “Best Cinematography� category. The Academy uses a preferential system, in which members are asked to rank their nominations from one to five, to determine their nominees. Collecting the ballots, PricewaterhouseCoopers, an outside auditing company, counts them by hand. If a potential nominee receives one hundred votes, they become one of five official nominees. During this time, the potential nominee with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated, and the vote counters turn to the actors listed as people’s second choice. Potential nominees who remain carry over the votes they gained in first round. Votes are counted until another movie or person reaches 100 votes. This process, the standard procedure at the Academy, repeats until all five nominees are chosen. However, this process varies slightly for the Best Picture nominations, which all 6,000 members of

the Academy may vote for. Since there can be anywhere from five to ten nominees in this category, voters are asked to rank the eight nominees, not five. The vote counters then make eight piles, based on the first-choice films on the ballots. If one film gets more than half of the vote, then it wins, though this is a rare occurrence. When no film garners over half the votes, the film with the fewest amount of votes is eliminated and the ballots that listed the eliminated film as their first choice are added to the pile of the second-choice film. This goes on until a film has reached over half of the vote. Following, all the nominations, every member of the Academy is allowed to vote for the winners of each section. Diversity in the Oscars has been a problem for decades. With knowledge of how the system works, we can help to understand why it happens and hopefully correct it.

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DIVERSITY AT THE OSCARS by Noah Phillips

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he Academy Awards have long been known as the most coveted and prestigious awards for an actor or filmmaker to receive. Each ceremony features emotional award recipients, in shock that they have accomplished one of the ultimate goals of an actor: win an Oscar. However in recent years, the Academy has been discredited for its lack of diversity in its nominations, despite the abundance of great roles played by actors of minorities in Hollywood. The Oscars, which have long been a night of celebration of artistic achievement, have now become a forefront in the battle for civil rights for racial, ethnic, and gender equality. The controversy over discriminatory practices at the Oscars came to light when Jada Pinkett Smith, actress and wife of Will Smith, announced on her social media that she would be boycotting the Oscars to denounce the racial bias present in the ceremonies. Soon, other people of color in the industry followed suit, including director Spike Lee. Jada’s self-proclaimed boycott took place following the

second consecutive year in which no African-American actors had been selected as nominees for the award. While it was only at this moment that the Academy began to react to its internal racism, discriminatory nominations for ceremonies has been in practice for nearly a century and since the founding of the Academy Awards. In 1929, the Academy Awards were founded in Hollywood. Theatre and television had long been known as a safe haven, a place where political implications had no meaning. For example, while there had been several nominations for women of color for Best Actress in a Leading Role starting in 1954, it was not until 2001 that a woman of color, Halle Berry in the film, Monster’s Ball, won an Oscar for the first time since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded. But even beyond this initial bias present in the awards, a mere 6.2% of all nominations have been a member of a minority group. As Will Smith stated in response to his wife’s Jada’s boycott: “It’s a systematic bias.”


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IN MEMORIAM LATE ACTOR JOHN HURT

COME WRITE FOR CINEMANN! Contact our Editor-in-Chief, Benjamin Ades, through the email below. BENJAMIN_ADES@HORACEMANN.ORG

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