It’s that time of year again when we’re shown which films from the past year are the best and many of us try as much as possible to watch them, download them if we must, and understand why they’re the best. It’s Oscars time again, friends.
This year’s ballot is interesting, as it’s the most diverse Oscars ballot yet after the fallout of last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Other than the usual heaps of praise showered upon La La Land (also a problematic film in itself, but we’ll talk about that a little later), the New York Times counts six black actors (on top of other PoCs in the field) nominated for awards, and a variety of diverse movies.
Here’s a brief list of the Oscar bets we’re pretty hyped for.
La La Land
Let’s get this one out of the way first. Although the movie’s way more problematic than it initially lets on, mainly for Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian’s role as white-man savior of the jazz genre (something that’s also rather outdated; John Legend’s character was actually right) and a lot of other nuances that the local audience watching won’t immediately get, the movie’s underlying themes of love and the pursuit of dreams is pretty resonant. You wouldn’t believe how many little debates and hot takes people are putting out online after seeing this movie; that’s how powerful it is. It doesn’t hurt, too, that it sounds and looks pretty. It doesn’t have to win Best Picture, but it should get some recognition for trying something we don’t see in movies most days anymore.
We love great feel-good stories, and what could be any better than the story of three black women (two of them played by Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae) helping NASA send white guys to space? Hidden Figures is taking forever to release here (quick fact-check shows that it’s showing on February 22, a month from now) but when it does, best believe we’ll be all over it.
Quick, how many movies is Mahershala Ali (House of Cards, Luke Cage) in this season? Janelle Monae, too. Anyway, the trailer for Moonlight doesn’t offer something solid to unpack, but what’s lying beneath is a story of a young black man growing up in an insane, messed-up, hypermasculine, and dare we say typically black environment. We don’t see it being for everyone, but like Donald Glover’s Atlanta, Moonlight will be a good but definitely more serious watch for people interested in the culture.
Yes, Zootopia is nominated for Best Animated Feature. We can’t believe that the movie only came out really early last year; it felt like it’s been forever, so you can imagine the surprise when we saw it was nominated this year. For sure, Moana and Kubo and the Two Strings are going to be the favorites in this division, but we wouldn’t want to sleep on Zootopia simply for being the wokest animated Disney movie around so far. When you’ve got adults questioning how society works (if they’re even self-aware enough to do so after seeing this) and kids pretty much learning how they should be nicer to one another no matter what kind of people they are, you know you got a low-key winner in your hands.