I only saw 3 of the 5 nominees, but my favorite was Piper (the winner) about a baby sandpiper. It's adorable and fun, which I needed because I watched these immediately following...
Good God, these were devastating, but so worth it. I recommend watching all of them.
- Joe's Violin - a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor donates his violin to a New York City instrument drive and forms a lovely friendship with the 12-year-old girl who ends up playing it.
- Extremis - deals with end-of-life decisions by focusing primarily on two families and their doctors.
- 4.1 Miles - a Greek coast guard captain pulls desperate refugees crossing from Turkey.
- Watani: My Homeland - follows a family living in Aleppo who migrate to Germany after the father is taken by ISIS. Watching the kids acclimate to their new surroundings is fascinating.
- The White Helmets - are volunteer rescue workers in Syria who, after bombings, rush to save people trapped in the rubble. This group has saved more than 80,000 people.
I was pretty sure The White Helmets would win (and it did) but my heart was with Joe's Violin.
LIVE ACTION SHORTS
These were all foreign with subtitles. I enjoyed all of them. My favorite was Sing, which takes place in a Hungarian elementary school in which a new girl joins the choir but is then told to just mouth the words because the director wants only to win a national prize. The students eventually perform an act of rebellion that I didn't see coming, and it's brilliant.
I thought, however, that the winner would be Ennemis Interieurs, an interrogation between a French official and an Algerian man who has lived in France his whole life and finally wants to become a citizen. I should have gone with my heart on this one because Sing was the winner.
AND THE REST
I was certain Mahershala Ali would win, but if Dev Patel had pulled off the upset I wouldn't have minded.
All of these actresses were superb, but this was Viola's time and damn, can that woman give an acceptance speech.
I voted for Denzel but Casey Affleck's performance was definitely worthy. I struggle with the off-camera controversy surrounding Affleck's win. I mean, I'm probably not going to have a beer with the guy, but he acted his face off in Manchester.
Viola Davis easily could have been in this category. I'm sad that Taraji P. Henson was not nominated, and I absolutely think that Amy Adams should have been nominated for Arrival, but Emma Stone's movie was the only one in this group that I saw, so I can't really say who should have been left off the list.
In our Oscar pool, I chose Moonlight for both Director and Best Picture, but I really thought that director might go to Moonlight and picture would go to La La Land. It went the other way, but I'm thrilled for Moonlight. It's such an amazing story and apparently it was made in 4 days and cost about $12. (Yes, I'm exaggerating.)
Having said that, and having seen all nine Best Picture nominees, and recognizing that giving an award called Best Picture is pretty ridiculous, here's how I would personally rank them if someone kidnapped my cats and the ransom was my list:
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water (I'm honestly not sure why this was nominated, but Jeff Bridges was great)
For what it's worth, I predicted 14 of the 24 awards correctly (and won the pool at our party).
As for the show itself, other than being too long as always, I really enjoyed it. I thought Jimmy Kimmel did a great job. The Matt Damon stuff was hilarious ("2-time Academy Award winner Ben Affleck and guest"), and the winners gave some fantastic speeches, mostly without notes. Fashion-wise, I thought there were very few clunkers (but Dakota Johnson, WTF?).
After watching the show to the end, we rewound it to the start of Best Picture. How freaking crazy was that?! Something tells me that Pricewaterhouse Coopers might lose the Oscars gig.