So here we are – the big night is upon us – the 89th Academy Awards will be honoring Hollywood’s greatest cinematic moments of 2016. As usual, I had set myself the ambitious goal to watch all the contenders in the major categories before the big night – and as usual it was quite the challenge but I am closer than I ever was before. Thus, I believe that I can objectively judge who should take home a golden statue. But as we all know from all the snubs, that person is not always the most deserved winner but that’s just the game. So let’s move on to my predictions of tonight.

Which movies were nominated again ?

  1. Arrival
  2. Fences
  3. Hacksaw Ridge
  4. Hell or High Water
  5. Hidden Figures
  6. La La Land
  7. Lion
  8. Manchester by the Sea
  9. Moonlight

And the Oscar goes to: La La Land

Undoubtedly this is the movie which the Academy has fallen in love with this year with its whopping 13 nominations. And quite frankly it is a unique and wonderful movie experience which deserves a lot of credit (mostly to for its achievements in music, direction, screenplay and acting) – but for me personally it just was not impactful enough to deserve winning best movie of 2016 – but then that’s just me.

But it really should go to: Moonlight

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Up until this afternoon, I had written the following words: “Besides Lion, I have watched all these films and in my personal opinion, there is only one deserved winner at this point – and that is Arrival. It was literally the only movie which had me glued to the edge of my seat from start to finish. It was shot beautifully and carried home its (not very easy message) home to the audience in the most effective way.”

Now, I just left the theater having watched Moonlight (review pending) and this was just truly the winner of the year. Everything about this movie was so right and perfectly executed, it can’t be really compared to Arrival – as it so much smaller in scale and everything else. Nevertheless, Moonlight told a wonderful and beautiful story of the development of young Chiron in the rough neighborhood of Miami – as he discovers his sexuality and how he learns to live with it. The way how Barry Jenkins chose to tell the story in different chapters with different actors gave the movie a very unique touch and I will certainly remember this film for some time for its artistic value, its great cinematography and the fantastic score. To me, an Oscar winner movie should be a movie which in a few years will still be recommendable. Furthermore, it should stay on my mind for more than 30 minutes after leaving the theatre. Don’t get me wrong, almost all nominations are really decent films (probably with the exception of Fences which just wasn’t my cup of tea) but none of these movies was – at least in my mind – a true cinematic masterpiece.

What about the rest…

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Hacksaw Ridge (review pending) was a solid war movie with a great message, Hell or High Waters was very modern western with a great depiction of today’s sad face of (Trump’s) America, Hidden Figures was one of the many #OscarNotSoWhite statements of this years Academy Award nominations but – in mind – just a little too “Disney’ed” down to leave a serious mark.  La La Land was certainly a masterpiece of entertainment and yet again showed the great talent of the 32 (!!!!) old Damien Chapelle – but yet again it wasn’t impactful enough for me to really be the best film of 2016. Well, it did have an impact on my life because my wife hasn’t stopped singing “City of Stars” ever since we have left the theater. Manchester by the Sea does have the New England bonus going for it; the film was just so incredibly sad and “uneventful”. What I mean by that is that it take (Spoiler Alert) the turn we are hoping for it to take and that makes the movie probably more realistic than any of its peers. It is a movie almost drowning in its sad realism and that sadness is carried forward by Casey Affleck in the most effective way.

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