Crunching Numbers, “Hidden Figures”

Hidden Figures!

In the 1960s, the Academy Awards were a very different experience down in the “Colored Audience” section of the Kodak Theatre.

Remember yesteryear when the media and movie fans complained that the Academy Awards nominees were distressingly monochromatic? What a difference a year makes, when studios choose to give leeway to filmmakers willing to bring something different to the table. Of course it helps when the “different” films are also really good films. Hidden Figures isn’t the only Best Picture nominee to figure that last part out, and I’m betting it won’t be the last.

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MCC Home Video Scorecard #10: Oscar Catch-Up Time

Hacksaw Ridge!

“Lord, let me please have just one more Oscar nom. Just one more…”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: the recurring feature that’s me jotting down capsule-sized notes about Stuff I Recently Watched at home. In this batch: we prepare for Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony starring ABC’s Best Pal Jimmy Kimmel, with brief notes on two Best Picture nominees and one nominee in another category for value-added variety.

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“Manchester by the Sea” by the Wayside

Manchester by the Sea!

“C’maaahn, kid. This movie’s a bummer. Let’s get outta here and get you signed up for a Mighty Ducks reboot instead.”

Have you ever walked out of a movie feeling lost and grumpy like Grandpa Simpson? It’s just me, isn’t it?

After all the critical fuss over the Oscar-nominated Manchester by the Sea, I expected to walk out of the theater with my heart ripped to pieces and/or some tears shed, as befitting a film about the grieving process. Maybe it’ll hit me years later, like when I saw Ghost for my second time and had a weirdly intense reaction. I put off this entry for a few weeks to allow time for a surprise epiphany to hit me and upend my interpretation. So far, nada.

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Yes, There’s a Moment After the “Lion” End Credits

Lion!

“Hey, mister! I’ll trade you this fresh fruit for an Oscar!”

My wife and I first heard of Lion when we attended last fall’s Heartland Film Festival preview night here in Indianapolis. I’m sorry we missed its festival screening, but now that it’s been nominated for Best Picture, once again the film and I crossed paths as part of my annual Oscar quest.

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“Split”: The Most Hidden Personality is Always the Worst

Split!

“You guys seem real nice. You wanna come watch X-Men: Apocalypse with me? It’s like the bestest super-hero film ever!”

Movie reviews may not be meaningful to every reader, whether as standalone essays or as en masse aesthetic bellwether, but there’s a reason the last M. Night Shyamalan film I saw was 2002’s Signs. Light word on the street about his last two projects — the Fox summer series Wayward Pines and the tiny Blumhouse scary film The Visit — hinted that perhaps a comeback was in the offing. The flashy trailer for his latest project Split appealed to me less on his name and more for the opportunity afforded James McAvoy to do his own riff on Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets, or possibly Orphan Black. Sometimes it’s fun when talented actors from other countries play half the characters in a given production with a variety of accents. Sometimes, but not always.

On a related note: I’ve tried not to turn this into a full-on recap of the film, but the things that aggravated me most are largely spoilers, buried further down in the “Nitpicking” section in sum but not in exacting detail. If you’re hoping to catch Split someday with the mandatory Shyamalan “twist” intact, a few sentences here — as well as the film’s official entries on both Wikipedia and IMDb — may give you one hint too many of Shyamalan’s game plan. (This section throws shade and spoilers around for two other films, both more than eight years old. Stop me when that’s a problem.)

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“Fences”: Living On After the Dreams Have Died

Fences!

My annual Oscar-quest begins anew! Every year since 1997 I’ve endeavored to see every film nominated for Best Picture in the Academy Awards race, even if its place in the running can be attributed to blatant studio machinations, even when I know a film and I will be at odds with each other the entire running time. Fences, on the other hand, met my high expectations and then some. The only real issue I had wasn’t the film’s fault. I misread the theater seating chart, bought the wrong assigned seat, and got myself stuck in the second row from where the the cast all looked like towering monster heads.

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