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And The Oscar Goes To…

It's AWARD season....yaaaaayyyy!!!! This is a really exciting time of year for many of us, especially me! The nominations came out on Jan 24th but I've been doing my Oscar research for months already. Potential nominated movies are typically released around Christmas time. Since the Golden Globes, SAG's, Critic's Choice Awards, Bafta's and the Oscars are from January to March, I have to start my mission around that time.

I always take the Golden Globes as a good indicator of the movies that will be nominated for an Oscar. The Golden Globe nominations come out in early December and I start to see as many of the movies as I can. Most of the movies that could be nominated for Academy Awards are in the cinemas at that time. Others are typically available on streaming apps BUT there are always some that have to be purchased on demand. Many of the "Shorts" categories are free on YouTube.

This year I saw many of the nominated movies in the theater and I would love to share a short review on the ones I feel impacted me the most. There were some outstanding performances and tear-jerking movies this year. I love how movies broaden your mind, help you to understand a personal struggle, learn a little bit more about history in an artistic way, and make you laugh, cry, and sit in awe. First I'll share what I thought, then I'd like to give you a peek into an Oscar themed party I threw.

Here's a link to the Oscar nominations

You can print off your own Oscar nomination list on on their site and check off each film as you see it. Then, after my 2-3 month hunt to watch each nominee has finished, I select two things in each category: who I would LIKE to win and who I think will ACTUALLY win.

Please keep in mind that you should always check the ratings and content of movies for yourself, according to what you are comfortable watching. Obviously, not all of the movies are G-rated ;) I have a lot of friends and family who may need this disclaimer. The over-arching concepts of main messages and artistic value is what I am looking for when I am concerned with "what should I watch". I ask myself, what is the artist quality, the main theme, is there a concept that I need to broaden my mind about, "what is the world dealing with lately?" Many of these questions are answered in films and documentaries. I get very excited each year to see how my curiosities can be answered through the artistic expression of someone wanting to be heard.

These are my top personal favorites that I recommend and where I watched them. I will also add in a few movies that were nominated for Golden Globes, but weren't nominated for Academy Awards that I feel deserve some attention.

Women Talking (In select theatres)

An adapted screenplay from the book written by Canadian writer Miriam Toews was nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. I can't say enough about the level of performances from EACH character in this film. The direction of Canadian, Sarah Polley should've been nominated in my opinion because she did a beautiful job with this sensitive story about a religious colony of women who were sexually, mentally and physically abused for many years who decide it's time to find freedom and make a change. A must see!

The Fableman's (In theatres)

I watched this film at Christmas before the Oscars were announced knowing it would be a favorite to win. Directed by Steven Spielberg as an autobiographical look into his own life growing up towards a film director career in a Jewish family. While all of the performances were top notch like the Best Actress nomination for Michele Williams, my "jump up and down" moment was when I read that Judd Hirsch was nominated for his role as Best Supporting Actor. After his powerful performance I was in tears sitting in my seat in the dark cinema. I predicted then and there he would be nominated. Strangely, he was NOT nominated for a Golden Globe, so I was nervous that the academy wouldn't recognize him, but they did! PHEW! Other noteworthy points are the cinematography and production design. It is a beautifully made film worth watching.

Empire of Light (Disney+)

I am honestly shocked at the one and only nomination for this gorgeous film by Sam Mendes who directed and won for 1917 in 2019. This movie stars Olivia Coleman who was nominated for a Golden Globe BUT not an Oscar!!! Jaw-dropping moment for me. I mean, I'm glad it has been noticed for the cinematography, because that is the first thing that hits you deeply. Olivia needed to be nominated in my opinion because she showed us a version of the beautiful, strong and straining reality of mental illness through her performance. I've never watched Olivia Coleman in a role I didn't like, so I may be biased. She's outstanding! She comes very close to being the next "Meryl" for me ;)

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris (rent on Prime)

I had the biggest, contented and goofy smile on my face during this whole film. I think it was partly because I had been in Paris last May and also because the sheer positive innocent outlook of the main character, Mrs. Harris. She brought unbelievable joy and hope throughout the film. The costume design was one of the best I've seen and it's clean as whistle for those of you that want that kind of viewing. It has one nomination for Costume Design and I hope that it wins, honestly. She too was nominated for a Globe but was snubbed for an Oscar nomination :(.

Triangle of Sadness (rent on Prime)

I'm not sure that I have laughed this hard at particular scene in a movie in a long time...when you see THAT scene, you will know what I mean. This movie is so cleverly written with irony and wit which pokes fun at the ultra luxurious lifestyle of the rich. Funfact: I was staying in Cannes, France back in May the week before the film festival begun at the same hotel that Woody Harrelson was staying at: The Hotel Barrion le Grey. I thought this film would have starred Woody Harrelson a lot more than it did since it was heavily marketed with him in the headlines, but that's ok, the unknown-to-me main actors were refreshingly outstanding. The Golden Globes nominated Dolly De Leon, (who appears for her main role towards the end of the film for Best Supporting Actress) was snubbed at the Academy Awards, unfortunately. I thought she was a hilarious star in her role. She made me belly laugh at her sarcastic deadpan humour. Definitely high on my 'must watch' list. Also nominated for Best director, but probably won't win against Steven Spielberg. You have to see this one!

The Woman King (Netflix)

Viola Davis has recently become one of my favorite PEOPLE as well as one of my favourite actress'. Have you seen her interview on Netflix with Oprah?!? All I can do is Bow down in front of her for her amazing strength and hope. The Woman King is one of her best roles yet. What a boss! She was nominated for a Globe but snubbed for an Oscar nomination. This is very unfortunate because she gave a strong performance at 60 years old. She blew me away! Unfortunately, it's not nominated for any Oscars, but was nominated throughout the different award categories this season.

The Banshees of Inisherin (Disney+)

This film is 'Feckin' beautifully set off the west coast of Ireland. The performances are unbelievable in this movie! The story line is sad and shocking but once you know the metaphor it becomes clear what this severely severed relationship is all about. Colin Ferrall has already won an award for best actor at the Globes and now, a best supporting actor win for Barry Keoghan at the Bafta's. Its cleverly written, gorgeous, uncomfortable yet a must-see.

Elvis (Crave/HBO)

If you liked Moulin Rouge then you're going to love Elvis. Even if you're not a huge Elvis fan, you'll love the art direction, integrative mix of music and Austin Butler's surreal impression of Elvis himself! The costumes and art design will also blow you away. He has been getting awards left right and centre for best actor, so let's wait and see what happens on the 12th.

The Whale (In theaters)

This is a very difficult movie to watch. I saw it once and I don't think I'll watch it again, it was THAT hard. Honestly, I thought I'd see a lot more hope and connection amidst the relationship between Charlie and his daughter. In the last few moments I cried like a baby and so did most of the people in the theatre. It was VERY powerful and I'll never forget it. He deserves a win here in my opinion. He won a Critics Choice award (that made me ball like a baby), and a SAG, so fingers crossed for the Oscar's. I also want to highlight his supporting actress co-star, Hong Chau who brought a raw, vulnerable and caring role to the film. It deals with such hard topics such as body image, obesity, the damage of Christian church and true love. He's my pick to win.

Blonde (Netflix)

This girl needs more recognition!!! Holy Moly what a performance. She's my pick to win. Just like Austin Butler, Ana de Armas brought Marilyn Monroe back from the grave. I really thought it was Marilyn herself the whole time. If you're a fan of the film, Some like it Hot, shot down in Coronado, California then you're going to be jaw-droppingly glued to the screen. Even Colin Ferrall gave Ana props on the platform of his Golden Globes win after she presented the award to him, "I thought you were extraordinary, I cried myself to sleep that night I saw your performance, it messed me up so bad." I myself didn't cry, but I would definitely cry over how good her performance was.

Black Panther Wakanda Forever (Disney +)

This film will make you tear up , cross your arms to your chest and repeat "Wakanda Forever" as you watch the beautiful tribute film to late Chadwick Boseman. Nominated for four Oscar's including a well deserved best actress nomination for Angela Basset. It has all of the feels of the first film and more. Rihanna sings the main song on the soundtrack and it's just been announced she's singing it live on March 12 too. It's my favorite to win best song. It's called "Lift me Up" and you have to hear it!

Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount+)

I've seen this exhilarating movie twice in theatres and once at home. The soundtrack is amazing as well-featuring songs by One Republic and Lady Gaga. I mean, if you've seen it, doesn't the reinvented beach scene bring you right back to Goose and the gang playing volleyball? It Takes my breath away ;). If you love the original (and who doesn't), then you'll adore the nostalgia of this film, especially for those of us who were raised in the 80's. We were soooooo lucky. Tom got snubbed for a best actor nomination from the Academy, but the film is nominated for the big one: Best Picture. It won't win, but I'd say it's the funnest of the bunch.

Avatar: The Way of Water (in theaters)

I saw this film laying back in my recliner at my local cinema in Saskatoon in ultimate real D- 3D and it was UNREAL. If you have always wanted to go scuba diving but are too scared to, then check it out. The second film makes you actually feel like you are under water. No kidding. It's so cool! So far, James Cameron hasn't been awarded as much as I thought he would be for this film. I'm sure that not winning best director at the Globes hit his ego hard. I do feel bad for him since this movie is his baby he poured his blood sweat and YEARS into.

Living (in theaters)

This thought provoking and inspiring film has picked up two nominations at the Oscar's this year. One nod for best actor for Bill Nighy and the other for adapted screen play. His co-star, Aimee Loo Wood could have been easily nominated as well. She was delightful! I loved this movie so much. It captivated me the minute it began with a vintage look into the hustle and bustle of London life in the 50's. I wish this movie could have been nominated for best picture, best score, and direction of it could have been. Bill had such a gentle way of expressing himself with a sensitive subject: one's legacy. Also a G-rated film you can sit back and enjoy.

Puss in Boots (In theaters)

I don't know if I adored this movie because I recently became a cat mom, but I highly recommend it. I hope it wins, although the beautiful animation of Pinocchio is sweeping across the awards this year. They integrated a anime style during the fight scenes which was unexpectedly cool! You'll laugh a lot even as an adult watching. It's super cute. I can't wait to watch again.

Tàr (rent on Prime)

Cate Blanchette did a fantastic job diving head first into her role as lead conductor of a large symphony orchestra with demons in her closet. This thriller keeps you on your toes wondering what's around the corner. The classical symphony orchestra music was absolutely riveting. She has been winning for best actress throughout award season and she's the favorite to win an Oscar.

Let's talk about some of other Oscar snubs. I watched a few impactful films that were not recognized by the Academy that I thought I'd mention.

Good Luck to you, Leo Grande (Prime)

Emma Thompson deserved a nod here. She showed us a very real and vulnerable performance in her role. Showing full frontal nudity for a woman in her 60's displayed such bravery as she dealt with issues of body image and sexuality at her age. She gives women freedom to think about exploring what it means to have a fulfilled sex life.

White Noise (Netflix)

Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig are crazy good in this film about a toxic waste spill and the governments role in trying to down play the emergency it was. This script is clever and fast paced. I have no idea how they memorized their lines!!! The costumes and set design is spectacularly accurate for the 80's. I'm not gonna lie, it's a bit of a weird trip this one, but I think it deserved an Oscar nomination.

All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix)

If you liked 1917, then you were going to love this movie. I don't know why anyone wasn't nominated for their acting but it's top-notch quality. It's a German film with subtitles but I chose to watch it with the English over dub. It's a grueling film to watch but it was nominated for nine Oscars. I believe there's quality and artistic expression throughout this whole world war one period film. I kind of hope it will win best picture because I think that everything is there to make it happen.

Shorts and Documentaries

Fire of Love (Doc on Disney+)- this is a beautifully shot documentary about two volcanologists, who dedicated their lives to the steam and blaze of the great mountain.

The Pupils (Disney+)

I adored this little live short nomination about femal children in an Italian orphanage over Christmas time. The children are such a cute actresses. Give it a look!

Stranger at the Gate (Apple tv+)

This is a documentary short, dealing with a marine who comes back from war and plans to bomb a Muslim mosque, but ends up becoming Muslim, and later, telling them that that was his plan. It's shocking and heartwarming.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (Apple tv+)

This animated short brought me to tears several times as it dealt with the aftermath on how to deal with our feelings post-pandemic. It's sort of a love letter from the artist to us during Covid. It is hand-painted with watercolor through and it, even if you aren't into the deep, psychological feelings that these characters bring you all adore the drawn art.

Ice Merchants (YouTube)

Another beautiful, animated short film about loss, love and hope.

Navalny (Crave/HBO)

Hold onto your seat while you watch this extremely dramatic and heartbreaking documentary about a man who decided to run politically against Valadamir Putin and the aftermath of illegal activity that occurred to threaten his life.

The Elephant Whisperers (Disney+)

If you're an animal lover like me, then you will love this film about a couple who rescues baby elephants in India. They become like a family, and eventually have to make some difficult choices. Once they are healthy and grown.

The Flying Sailor (YouTube)

This is a Canadian made animated short about the harbour explosion in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1917. This sailor goes through an accidental experience that will also take you on a trip.

It's Party Time!!!!!

Ok! Now let's look at the details of the Oscar party I threw. I had a lot of ideas inspired by Pinterest but that's ok, right ;). It's not an expensive over the top party, just one our little family threw together last minute.

These cheesy tuxedo crackers are the cutest things. My daughter cut these small buttons and bow ties out of black olives for me. They will certainly make an impact at your Oscar party.

You can't have an Oscar party without 'champers'. I chose this bottle because I liked the look of the sleek matte black with my theme. It just looks so posh. Of course, I rimmed the glasses with gold sugar :)

I made this fancy popcorn with melted white chocolate and edible glitters throughout. It tasted amazing!!! And it looked so festive with the gold touches.

Candy is always a good touch to any party. Black and gold is the way to go. I also added gold star balloons-another party must have.

Adding gold glitter to a store bought cake like this levels it up, don't you think? And why not add it to some peanut butter cups too?!

The chocolate dipped Ruffles were so dang good! Be careful, you may eat the whole plate.

Adding cute 'Bon Appêtit' napkins, star studded cups, gold straws and star plates with a bronze charger completed the fun look. Our family can finally dig in! All found at the Dollar store!

If you made it this far, congratulations you are some of my favorite people! I hope you have enjoyed reading my opinions on these films. There are lots of amazing films, documentaries and performances left to see, of course, but these are my top nods. I am beyond excited to watch the Oscars on March 12! What about you!? Enjoy the day, -Jenn xoxo

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