Ok, so my title is shameless click bait. I don’t know what all of your Oscar questions are. But I know the questions that are generating the most buzz in my own circles, so I’m going to extrapolate from said buzz and assume that you’re asking some of the same questions. And then I’m going to answer them from the perspective of an amateur film critic who’s seen more of the nominated movies than the average American has, which is still not very many. Here we go.
Q: What does Lion have to do with a lion?
A: Absolutely nothing. I saw this film over the weekend, and I enjoyed it very much and was moved by it, although I think this was partly due to the extremely emotional soundtrack (nominated for Best Original Score) by Dustin O’Halloran (a favorite on the hip instrumental music playlists I frequent on Spotify) and Hauschka. But the title is a real stretch. Here’s what it’s really about: A little boy from rural India gets lost at a train station and ends up over 1,000 kilometers away from his family. After living on the streets and in an orphanage for a couple of months, he gets adopted by a family in Australia. Almost 25 years later, while he’s in Melbourne taking a hotel management course (a little Easter egg for Dev Patel fans), he decides to try to find his birth family, but he has almost nothing to go on–not even his mother’s first name. (As a little boy, he thought her name was “Mum.” This is why parents should teach their kids their real names.) Spoiler: He succeeds in finding them. But he doesn’t run into any lions. And it’s not called Lion because of the way he lets his hair and beard grow out like a crazy mane while he’s holed up in his apartment searching Google Earth. No, we find out literally in the last seconds of the movie that his name means Lion. It doesn’t even really work symbolically–there’s nothing predatory or dominant about this protagonist. Good movie, iffy title.
Q: Will the ending of La La Land make me sad?
A: It depends on who you are. I know one person who was absolutely devastated by the ending, in which the main characters do not end up together. However, the general consensus among my family and friends is that the ending is bittersweet–heavier on the sweet–and appropriate to the story, which is more about pursuing one’s dreams than about finding true love. When you see the two protagonists smile at each other in the very last scene, I’m confident that you’ll be confident that they are both happy with the way their lives have turned out.
Q: How many Oscars is La La Land nominated for?
A: Fact: 14
Q: How many is it going to win?
A: Research-based opinion: 12. I think it’s going to win all but Best Actor (my research says that one goes to Denzel Washington for Fences) and Sound Mixing–that will be Hacksaw Ridge‘s only win.
Q: Is Hacksaw Ridge as gory as they say it is?
A: It depends on who “they” are, but it is pretty graphic, and this is coming from a person who eats snacks while watching The Walking Dead. Also, there are rats. If you can get past all that, though, it’s a very good movie.
Q: What should I wear to my Oscars party this year?
A: If you’re in it for “the long haul” (a key phrase in La La Land), you should probably wear your pajamas, because you know the telecast never ends when it’s supposed to. But if you want to wear something thematic, the bright primary colors and swingy skirts (if you’re a lady) and classic-cut suits (if you’re a gentleman) of La La Land would be a fun choice. You can also look to the Costume Design nominees for some inspiration–the 1920s look of Fantastic Beasts would be fun and not too difficult to pull off.
Q: When do the Academy Awards air?
A: This Sunday night, February 26, at 5:30 if you’re in La La Land, 8:30 if you’re on the East Coast. See you then!