Moonlight against La La Land (or David vs Goliath)

It is known that the super production La La Land is the front runner to win it all on Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony.  The other contender in the prime categories of Best Picture and Best Directing, which wouldn’t cause a major upset if it did win, is the powerful indie film Moonlight.

La La Land is straight out of a Hollywood textbook

It is an homage to the musicals of the past with the 1960’s look we love so much. It has a strong soundtrack with catchy and beautiful rhythms. It showcases old school Jazz music throughout (probably where they got me)! It is fun, hopeful, dreamy, wisely constructed through time, and it has beautiful and lovable main actors, what more do you need really!? Well…

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It’s also brilliant filmmaking, with remarkable technical achievements

The cinematography, especially the long takes ( from French plan séquence) are what brings it to another level. It has quite a few of them, and it starts with the very first one taking place on a Los Angeles highway. Although it is said that some cuts were inserted, they’re seamless, and the look of these scenes is just fantastic! A lot of crane shots, a big variety of steadicams and a real master operating them in Ari Robbins! A lot like what we saw in 2015’s winner, Birdman, making it seem like it was shot entirely in one take. It wasn’t, but if you’re looking for just that, check out King Dave, from the 19-2 series director Podz!

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Opening scene, long take on L.A. highway

The Oscars love show business movies

Being a Hollywood movie about Hollywood gives it an edge over the competition. As we’ve seen in the past, and you only need to go 2 years back with Birdman, movies about show business do well at the Oscars. Add to that Chicago, The Artist, Moulin Rouge and Showgirls… (Ok, maybe not the latter, that one did well at the Razzies rather!) However, it must be said that they all were great movies nonetheless. Birdman really was the best movie of the year in my opinion. But there’s also the budget question here. Which brings us to David…

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Moonlight, with its 1.5M budget, is the perfect contender

Everybody loves an underdog, and this indie production has proven in previous award shows that it could win against a production 20 times its budget. It doesn’t have the big names La La Land has. The ones you might recognize are Naomie Harris and House of Cards’ Remi Danton, Mahershala Ali. The latter has a rather small role, but it still got him on the best supporting actor quintet. Naomie also received a well deserved nomination for supporting actress, delivering astounding performances scene after scene. The rest of the cast is notably very strong as well!

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Moonlight’s strength lies in the characters, their evolution and the way it tackles controversial themes (especially in America)

But it also lies in the moments where nothing needs to be said to convey feelings of anger, hope and discomfort. The tale of this young boy’s struggle in growing up and finding his place in the World is touching and heartfelt. And a few weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration, a story depicting diversity in race and sexual orientation as well as the cruelty of intimidation, might be coming at the right time for the American audience. In any case, it is clearly more than welcomed by Hollywood who keeps the political speeches coming. But will it be enough to dislodge their golden boy tonight?

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Frankly, with all my prejudice about musicals and love stories coming in (really not my cup-of-tea, I’d almost prefer a Nic Cage movie… almost), except for the timing playing in favor of Moonlight, I still couldn’t find any reason for La La Land not to go home with the highest honors. It is the closest you can get to perfection in its particular type of film. So get ready for a whole lot of LaLaLa tonight!

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