Whenever you walk into a theater or screening room to review a movie you never know whether you are about to experience a masterpiece or a complete turkey. In the case of Oscar’s nine nominated Best Picture contenders this year — all of which I reviewed on video and in print for Deadline when they were first released — I am happy to say the Academy and I are totally in sync.
There is not a dud in the bunch, and in fact six of them landed on my own year-end Ten Best List and the other three easily could have filled one of those slots. As a critic it is gratifying to find a group of films as artistically satisfying as the one the Academy has deemed their best of the year, and the ones I was pleased to see before all that acclaim and success which led them to this moment.
Oscar Nominations: 'La La Land' Ties Record With 14 Noms; 'Arrival' & 'Moonlight' Snag 8 Apiece
Check out my original reviews of each below:
Producers: Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder and David Linde
The gist: The alien subgenre of sci-fi movies is a crowded and often predictable one, but director Denis Villeneuve has a lot more in mind.
Read all of Deadline’s Arrival stories here.
Producers: Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington and Todd Black
The gist: Fences does not come across as a filmed play as much as a permanent cinematic document of a great work to which attention must be paid.
Read all of Deadline’s Fences stories here.
Producers: Bill Mechanic and David Permut
The gist: It is a natural for the long litany of movies about war and courage, and especially a natural for the directing talents of Mel Gibson.
Read all of Deadline’s Hacksaw Ridge stories here.
HELL OR HIGH WATER
Producers: Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn
The gist: It is a must-see for fans of smart, intelligent filmmaking that mixes entertainment with something to think about.
Read all of Deadline’s Hell Or High Water stories here.
(20th Century Fox)
Producers: Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams and Theodore Melfi
The gist: Thanks to this engrossing and beautifully told story, these women will be “Hidden Figures” no more.
Read all of Deadline’s Hidden Figures stories here.
LA LA LAND
Producers: Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt
The gist: Damien Chazelle’s film is a gorgeous romantic fever dream of a musical that should hit contemporary audiences right in their sweet spot.
Read all of Deadline’s La La Land stories here.
(The Weinstein Company)
Producers: Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Angie Fielder
The gist: It has all the elements that make a hit, but at its heart is an emotional powerhouse of a true story.
Read all of Deadline’s Lion stories here.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Producers: Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck and Kevin J. Walsh
The gist: The devastating human drama was pegged from the start to be one of 2016’s most memorable films, and that fact hasn’t changed.
Read all of Deadline’s Manchester stories here.
Producers: Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner
The gist: This story may seem particular to one community, but it is ultimately much more a tale of self-discovery, and universal in its pure and truthful humanity.
Read all of Deadline’s Moonlight stories here.
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