Friday, April 13, 2018

October: A meditative piece about love, loss & changing of seasons

Directed by Shoojit Sircar 
Written by Juhi Chaturvedi 

Few things that I completely loved & adored about Shoojit Sircar's extremely real and relatable saga about love & loss.

1. Juhi Chaturvedi's evocative writing of these believable & affable characters that make you feel as if you have met them somewhere in your past. With October, she successfully writes a meditative piece that manages to linger on with the audience even after one leaves the theatre.

2. Beautiful use of the city (Delhi) & its people, that end up becoming supporting players to this soulful story.

3. The writing isn't rushed, which makes one feel more connected with Dan (Varun) and everybody else that orbits around Shiuli (Banita Sandhu).

4. None of your usual tropes of a love story are added or even remotely grazed.

5. Avik Mukhopadhyay's steady no-gimmicky, almost transdental camerawork that superbly captures the intensity of a hospital and the changing of seasons.

6. And of course, VARUN DHAWAN. All these years after Badlapur, he once again shows us that if it's needed he sure can risk it & act his heart out, and give a soulful performance. 

Slow & steady storytelling, indeed at times can win the race.

P.S: October may be not everyone's cup of tea, but I feel people should give this fragile & tender love story a chance. It is bound to pull on your heartstrings.

Monday, April 2, 2018

How Warner Bros. Ruined What Could Have Been an Amazing Experience at the Cinemas for the Whole of India

Ever since I read the book back in 2011, I have been waiting for its visual adaptation. 'Ready Player One' written by Ernest Cline had transported me to an amazingly fresh and imaginative world that took me on a ridiculously fun & quest-filled ride. I remember reading it and thinking to myself that this is like a treasure-trove of 80's nostalgia, covering everything from 'Back to the Future' to Roald Dahl.
My headlong love affair with movies started ever since I saw the Hindi dubbed version of Jurassic Park way back in 1994, when I was 5. I didn't understand much of what was happening on screen, but I sure was really fascinated by it. That was the first non-Indian movie I ever saw in a theater, and I was completely blown away!
So imagine my happiness when couple of years ago it was announced that none other than Steven Spielberg was going to adapt this into a movie! He may not be a so-called "auteur filmmaker", but there's no denying that he knows how to pull the heart strings and take the audience on a magical journey, and that's exactly the kind of filmmaker this movie needed. Whether it's E.T - The Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones or Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg has always managed to take the audience on an adventurous ride, filled with emotional scenes, artistic long takes, haunting music, masterful scene transitions and beautifully choreographed camera movements, in short he has given us many of the most iconic moments in cinema history.
So now you know how badly I was waiting for 'Ready Player One' to release here in India. Had booked my tickets in IMAX and was eagerly counting down the seconds, when suddenly rumours started coming in that the movie for some 'unknown reasons' is getting delayed/postponed!
That sure felt like a gut-punch by Warner Bros. For no rhyme or reason, WB had all of a sudden decided to cancel all shows all over India a day before the official release (except for a handful of theatres where the movie was distributed by SPI Cinemas).

No official statements were issued by WB or WB India (It's been 5 days and they still haven't), and for some weird reason, none of the major news outlets in India are covering this. All of them are/were busy covering Christopher Nolan's arrival in India, and I don't blame them. But now that he's gone, I guess you guys can help us out a bit, and get some response out of the studio if possible.

There have been lots of rumours floating around, from distribution disputes to censor issues to delay/errors in KDM ('Key Delivery Message' is a special electronic key that contains a code which unlocks an encrypted film), but a source has said that this might all be happening because of infighting within WB. And that there is also a very strong possibility the movie won't get a WIDE release now in India, as WB has already started their marketing & PR campaign for their next major release that's happening on 13th April (Rampage).

I sincerely hope someone from WB takes notice and decides to do something about this and gets the movie released here.
"Every time I go to a movie, it's magic, no matter what the movie's about." 
- Steven  Spielberg

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Oscars 2018 - Predictions

2017 saw some really meaningful and socially relevant movies. Some had enormous social and emotional impact, some subtly talked about immigration and oppression, some are now even being taught in courses in colleges & universities, whereas some did not even have "leading characters" so to speak and did not follow the general rules & structures of film-making, but still ended up being true cinematic marvels, and like any other year, we had some really crappy ones too.

So in short, it has been a great year!
So let's get on with it. 

The 4 acting categories in my honest opinion are locked, even though I don't totally agree with them.
Best Actor - Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Best Actress - Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Best Supporting Actor - Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Best Supporting Actress - Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

I'm fine with the last 3, but it's the Best Actor category where I defer. If it was up to me (which obviously it is not), I would have given it to TWO guys, Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) & Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name). Gary Oldman was great no doubt, but the 2 young guns I mentioned, left a huge impact on me with their performances. Timothee made me cry and feel heartbroken, whereas Daniel successfully managed to make me feel extremely paranoid and claustrophobic. 

Now on to Best Director & Best Film.
I love and admire the brilliance of Christopher Nolan, and won't shy away from accepting the fact that I am a complete fanboy of his work, but Mr. Nolan, let this year belong to the genius of Guillermo Del Toro. I have no doubt that you will go onto make many more wonders like Dunkirk, you will most likely be the first person who actually goes and shoots on Mars with an IMAX camera, but let 2017 belong to another visionary. The 'Third Amigo' of the Inarritu-Cuaron-Del Toro Triumvirate, and the only remaining Mexican 'Amigo' who's yet to get a Best Director Oscar (Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director for 'Gravity', and Alejandro Inarritu won Best Director for Birdman & The Revenant).

From Left: Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo Del Toro & Alejandro Inarritu
Del Toro's 'The Shape of Water' is perfect & well timed, it may seem like a weird love story between a 'Fish man' & a mute woman, but in reality it's much more than that. At a time when most of us feel like we don't have a voice and feel as if we are surrounded by so much hate and anger, 'The Shape of Water' talks about the oppressed, gives them a "voice", subtly refers to immigration, and the importance of love & acceptance.   
So, Best Director - Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water).
And, Best Film: The Shape of Water

Warren Beatty: "And the Oscar goes to ... "
Faye Dunaway: "The Shape of Water!"
Warren Beatty: "Get Out!"
I'm not going to hide the fact that I'm secretly hoping something like this happens!

On to the writing categories. 

Best Original Screenplay: Get Out (Jordan Peele)

If you know me personally, then you very well know how much I love this movie, and I'm sure at some point in the past one year, I must have bored you by talking non-stop about it. For me nothing screams original and unique more than Jordan Peele's horrific, intensely thrilling (and even hilarious at times!) look at "post-racial America". Get Out was hands down one of my Top 3 movies of 2017. Although with some touches of predictability, it still brilliantly manages to question the white liberal hypocrisy. 

Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name (James Ivory)

A poignant coming of age story of the disappointment and exhilaration springing from the uncertainty of young love. To be honest, this movie deserves much more love. 

Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049)

The time has finally come. After 13 previous nominations, it's finally going to be the year of the genius British lenser, Roger Deakins. All the nominees this year, did one of their best works, but Blade Runner 2049 was something else! Every single frame of BR2049 stood out and felt like it was meticulously crafted & drawn on a canvas. 

Best Editing: Dunkirk 
Okay, so once again if it was up to me, I would tie this one between Dunkirk & Baby Driver.

Best Original Score : Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water)

Best Song:  "Remember Me" - Coco

Best Animation: Coco
Coco wasn't just a movie, it was more like a cultural celebration of great perspectives, flavours, sound & music all thrown in, to make a fun concoction.

Best Visual Effects & Best Production Design: Blade Runner 2049 

Over the past decade, as Visual Effects have gotten better than ever, I feel the Academy voters have a harder time determining the difference between cinematography and VFX, and have awarded those prizes to the same film as often as not. And for some reason, the Academy seems to have some sort of aversion to the Apes franchise (The final part of the trilogy was in my opinion one of the best films of 2017). 

So based on the past decade or so, the winner of these categories corresponds with the winner of best cinematography — which this year I believe will be Blade Runner 2049.

Best Sound Editing & Best Sound Mixing: Dunkirk 

The Academy members desperately want to shower some love for this masterpiece, sadly Dunkirk will have to make do with the technical awards (But one still shouldn't totally write off Baby Driver, as "That shit was B-A-N-A-N-A-S!).

And as they say in the business, "That's a wrap", Mr Kimmel, take it away.

#Oscar2018: 5th March,2018
Red Carpet : 5:00AM IST (Star Movies)
Main Event: 6:30AM IST (Star Movies)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Top 10 Films of 2017

Logan is a family drama, an action adventure & an epic superhero journey all rolled into one. It's the perfect culmination to 17 years of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. We see a brooding loner, a man at the end of his line who was always the most tortured and psychologically interesting of all the mutants, stumbling into somebody else’s fight (has always been an interesting aspect of westerns) and then fighting for them. James Mangold uses the story to comment on some extremely contemporary issues, including the refugee/immigration crisis and the persecution of minorities. It’s difficult to believe that this is the last time we’ll see Jackman's Wolverine on the big screen. Bidding farewell definitely is a bittersweet affair.

2. Baby Driver:
The most fun I have had in a theatre this year! Edgar Wright's 'Baby Driver' was a jaw-shattering spectacle of sight and sound that keeps you on the edge from start to finish. Easily one of the most original, unique, technically brilliant, intricately detailed & meticulously crafted films of this year.
"This shit was bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S"

3. Get Out:
'A sociopolitical thriller from the comedic mind of Jordan Peele', now this one-liner itself is enough to make my filmy-senses tingling!  With 'Get Out', Peele successfully delivers a searing razor-sharp satirical critique of systemic racism that's prevailing in the United States.

4. Blade Runner 2049:
From the opening shots, we know we are in the presence of a masterful storyteller & a visual tactician. Coming 35 years after the iconic original, Denis Villeneuve's sequel is filled with spellbinding visuals & profound themes. It's an investigative thriller that successfully transcends boundaries, evokes emotions, and becomes a transformative experience. 

5. The Big Sick:
One of the funniest movies of 2017! And it has one of my favourite dialogues of this year, a conversation that happens between Kumail Nanjiani and Ray Romano, who's playing Nanjiani's girlfriend's dad. Romano's dad character fumbily asks Kumail who's awkwardly having chips “So what’s your stance on 9/11?”, the Pakistani American replies, “My stance on 9/11?” he says, blinking slowly. “It was a tragedy,” he replies. “We lost 19 of our best guys.”
'The Big Sick' is delightful, extremely charming & has a big heart. 

6. War for the Planet of the Apes:
There isn't a War as much as it's a battle, but it sure is a technical marvel by director Matt Reeves & Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar in the trilogy. Matt Reeves ends the trilogy in perfect fashion, making us feel extremely emotional, connected, and content with Caesar. Just like the old 'Apes' movies, this trilogy too is filled with allegorical tales that are full of symbolism, adventure, satire, political intrigue and philosophy. Every single close-up shot of Caesar's face made me want to give a standing ovation to the genius of Andy Serkis. This is one of those rare trilogies that got better with each passing movie, and has one of the best endings of a film trilogy.

7. Dunkirk:
'Dunkirk' truly is an original & unique take on war. It is definitely not a character driven war movie, but a technically flawless war movie by Christopher Nolan. The intensity from the very first scene, is at such an insane level, that at times you'll feel you have been transported straightaway to the climax of a great war movie/documentary.
It's said that you need to first care about the characters, so that you can relate to their actions, but with Dunkirk, it's the 'War' that is the character, the one & only character. You might not remember any names or actors, but you are bound to remember the spectacle & the experience, that is Dunkirk. Dunkirk is a minimalist art film that Nolan successfully dressed in a suspenseful set-piece war-machine garb. To sum it up, I would say Dunkirk is like a bomb, you hear the ticking from the very first second, and you know, shit is about to hit the ceiling & something big is about to happen very soon.

8. Wind River:
Taylor Sheridan, the writer who gave us last year’s socially conscious crime-drama 'Hell or High Water' & 'Sicario' before that, proves us with 'Wind River' that he's undeniably a strong director. 'Wind River' is a chilling thriller that deals with the investigation of a murder of a local girl on a remote Native American Reservation known as Wind River, a vast, snowy area of land in central Wyoming. 

9. Split:
What can I say, M Night Shyamalan is back! And this time he had a great script & 24 different personalities of James McAvoys by his side. McAvoy’s impressive range is on full display in 'Split', in which he stars as Kevin, a man with dissociative identity disorder. 'Split' is Shyamalan's most entertaining film in years, and a great return to form.

10. Mother!:
Easily the most polarizing film of 2017, even more than 'The Last Jedi' & 'Bright'. If you are a fan of Darren Aronofsky's kind of psychological thrillers which have deeper meaning in them, then you are sure to love this one. 'Mother!' is jam-packed with symbolism, metaphor and allegory, and it plays like a visual poem & leaves a searing impression.

Honourable Mentions:
Call Me By Your Name, T2 Trainspotting, IT, Gerald's Game, Bright, Brigsby Bear, Coco, Brad's Status, Columbus, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Lady Bird, Thor: Ragnarok, Colossal, Don't Think Twice, Okja, Lego Batman, Gifted & John Wick 2.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

And the Oscar goes to ...

My 2016 started off in an average fashion and then just went downhill, the only saving grace were the sheer number of great movies that released. From 'Deadpool' to 'La La Land', from Ryan Reynolds to Ryan Gosling, we truly had some amazing movies in 2016, and I'm quite sure that the big Oscar day is going to start off with Ryan Seacrest asking the Ryans on the red carpet "how come Canada makes such amazing specimens, and can we all move into your country for the next few years?".
My love for the Oscars started way back in 2001, when I got up really early on Oscar morning (because of the time difference) and went to my neighbours house to watch the ceremony and see whether 'Lagaan' would win the Oscar for the 'Best Foreign Film' (Sadly it did not), and ever since that day I have been smitten by it. My admiration increased to a whole new level in 2009, when I saw someone whom I admire and love, stand on that beautiful stage and collect 2 statuettes. Those who know me well, already know who I'm talking about, for the others, I'm talking about music composer AR Rahman, who went home with the Oscar for 'Best Score' and 'Best Original Song' for the movie 'Slumdog Millionaire' that year.
I have seen lots of people whom I admire & look up to, stand on that stage and collect that golden statuette (Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Hans Zimmer, Steven Spielberg, Ennio Morricone - the list goes on).

As I always say with these Oscar posts, I know there are lots of you who might not value the Academy Awards that much or might think they are overrated, well I totally respect your opinion and understand where you are coming from. Secondly, these are just my opinions, you might not like the nominees & the movies and might want somebody else to win, which is totally cool.

So yeah, I write this post every year solely because I love movies. I have tried my level best to watch all of these movies (either in a theatre or in some other way or form). There are certain categories that I have left out because either I have no idea about them or haven't seen majority of the movies in those categories.
FAIR WARNING: If you are one of the few people who disliked or even 'hated' La La Land, then you are definitely not going to like what you are about to read. 

Best Picture:
Projected Winner: La La Land
'La La Land' was truly one of the most unique experiences I have ever had while watching a movie. It was one of those movies where I had this big grin all throughout the movie, and I was completely overwhelmed by what I was watching. If you have ever been in love or have been crazily passionate about something, then I suggest you give this a watch, if you haven't already. This is the kind of movie that you would want all your exes to watch, and may be even think of you at least once while they watch it. The moment the movie ended, I just wanted to bow down to the talent of Damien Chazelle (Writer-Director, previously nominated for 'Whiplash). The sheer tenacity with which he has pulled off this amazingly stunning project is just unbelievable!

Surprise Winner : Moonlight
If only 2016 was a year when we did not have 'La La Land', then this beautiful gem would definitely have been my pick. It's always inspiring and beautiful when a movie touches your soul, and when you feel and empathize with the characters, that's what 'Moonlight' did for me.

Best Director:
Projected Winner: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
From that incredible opening scene on the freeway to the last scene which features a fast-forward, Chazelle makes the whole movie just glide through. Whether it was the camerawork or the music or the dance numbers, it made me feel like I'm sitting in a raft and just gliding through a beautiful celestial stream, which occasionally had a few bumps here and there. I have no doubt in my mind that Chazelle is going home with this one. In 2014, I had gone crazy over his 2nd directorial movie 'Whiplash', for which I felt he should have got nominated, but this year I believe with 'La La Land' Chazelle is going to be the youngest winner in this prestigious category.

Best Actor:
Projected Winner: Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
I have never shied away from saying that I am a big fan of Ben Affleck, whether it's his directing, writing or even acting, I love the guy. But this year, his little brother who used to get screwed around in 'Good Will Hunting' has finally shown us how gifted he is! Stephen Fry summed it up aptly during his monologue at the BAFTA's this year when he said "Casey Affleck is without doubt one of the most brilliant actors in his family." Well that he most definitely is.

As soon as the movie begins, you start having this incredible urge to console and hug Casey Affleck, even when you as an audience don't really know what's wrong with his character or what he is going through (which you find out much later in a heartbreaking scene), you feel like putting your hand over his shoulder and saying to him "I know it feels shitty right now, but it's going to be okay. Trust me." The beautifully subtle way with which Casey Affleck performs and does justice to this role is truly unbelievable. After watching the movie I remember feeling, only a person who has been through some kind of sadness would have been able to write (Kenneth Lonergan) and then act out such a role. Do watch this magnificently poignant movie, but beware, hearts will be broken & tears will be shed.

Surprise Winner: Denzel Washington (Fences) 
Performing a character from an August Wilson play on stage itself is a tough ask, but adapting, acting AND directing an August Wilson adaptation for screen, is a totally different ball game, but then we are talking about a superhuman by the name of Denzel Washington. He manages to pull it off amazingly well, the only slight negative is that the movie looks like a play being filmed. I felt there was so much Denzel could have done with the characters and the story but I guess, he wanted to stay true to the vision of August Wilson. He had played the role brilliantly on stage and even won a Tony Award for it in 2010, and had been trying to get this story made in to a movie for the last 6 years. What I loved about Denzel's performance is that it's completely opposite to the kind of performance Casey Affleck does in 'Manchester By The Sea'. Denzel is just the opposite of subtle, he lays everything out on the screen, his character's happiness, his sadness, everything is there for us to see in a hard-hitting loud way. Knowing the fact that he has missed out on the direction nomination for this one, I won't be surprised if Denzel picks up his 3rd acting Oscar for 'Fences'.

Notable Mention: Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
I have just one thing to say about 'Captain Fantastic' or as I like to call it 'World's Best Dad', PLEASE watch it. Think of it as a cross between 'Little Miss Sunshine' and 'Into The Wild'. Mortensen truly is an actors' actor and a gifted one.
If I could vote, my vote would have gone to this genius.

Best Actress:
Projected Winner: Emma Stone (La La Land)
This category is pretty much done and dusted. Everyone in Hollywood is in love with Emma Stone right now and she truly was adorable in 'La La Land'. She definitely was charming and was the heart & soul of 'La La Land', but this category deserved to be fiercely competitive, which sadly it's not. It's a travesty that some of the best performances of this year, some of whom I personally feel were way ahead of Stone, likes of Annette Bening, Amy Adams and Rebecca Hall who I felt outperformed Stone by miles are not even nominated.

Notable Mention: Amy Adams (Arrival)
Even though she wasn't nominated in this category, I just have to mention her name here. She single-handedly carries the whole movie, and still somehow was robbed of a nomination! My vote would have gone to this linguistically solid gem of a performance by someone who carries the whole burden of 'Arrival' on her shoulders.

Best Supporting Actress - Viola Davis
Surprisingly Viola Davis wasn't playing a supporting character in 'Fences', she was very much the leading actress in the movie. She had even won a Tony Award in the best actress category in 2010 for playing the same character when it had gone on stage, but I guess, the studio must have thought she would have a way better chance to win this category rather the 'Best Actress' category, where it's pretty much a given that Emma Stone is going to walk away with the glory.
I still believe Viola Davis was robbed off her first win way back in 2012 for her performance in 'The Help' when she lost out to Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady). 

Notable Mention: Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
In my honest opinion, it's Harris who deserves to win this category because like I said, Viola Davis is not a supporting actress in 'Fences', whereas Harris is perfectly that in 'Moonlilght', she's a strong and solid supporting character who excels with each passing second in the movie. 

Best Supporting Actor:
This is definitely the toughest category to predict this year.
Projected Winner: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
One of the major reason why I want Mahershala Ali to win is because I loved 'Moonlight' and he was incredible in it. It's an extremely powerful beautiful little film. And secondly, Mahershala Ali is one hell of an amazing actor, whether it's his performance in 'Hidden Figures', 'House Of Cards' or 'Luke Cage', he has been amazing in all the roles he has played in the last 2-3 years. If it hadn't been for 'La La Land', I would have wholeheartedly wanted 'Moonlight' to walk away with all possible statuettes this year. Trust me, 'Moonlight' is that beautiful, it's a brilliant coming of age story that you wouldn't want to miss.

Surprise Winner: Dev Patel (Lion) or Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
These two could very easily pull the rug from under Mahershala Ali's shiny shoes! These two definitely weren't the supporting actors in their respective movies but once again the studio must have thought they would have a much better chance in this category. 

Best Cinematography: 
Projected Winner: Linus Sandgren (La La Land)
'La La Land' opens with an extremely impressive musical number amidst a traffic jam on the freeway, which doesn't even feature the two main leads! Cars, trucks and buses get stuck and everyone suddenly just pulls to a stop. People get out of their respective vehicles and instead of raging and abusing at the top of their voice, they instead sing and dance to "Another Day of Sun,” The camera then swings and glides to keep up with all the movements;Linus Sandgren and his camera dance along with the folks on the freeway,which ends up being a perfect ode to LA.
Sandgren successfully manages to make Los Angeles look poetic, evoking the feeling of classic Hollywood, using long and fluid takes and creates a world of vivid and beautiful colour.

Surprise Winner: Bradford Young (Arrival) 

Best Music:
Projected Winner: Justin Hurwitz (La La Land) 
It took Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz more than 6 years to realize their long held passionate dream of making this Hollywood musical, which would be an ode to their favourite musicals of the 40's and 50's. Hurwitz had been working on the music of 'La La Land' even before the duo had started working on 'Whiplash' (their previous outing together).
This is Hurwitz’s 3rd collaboration with writer-director Damien Chazelle, his Harvard roommate. The two met freshman year at Harvard, where they started a band called Chester French with classmates. By sophomore year, the two decided to quit the band and work full-time on movies.
Well, you don't create a lavish movie musical in a hurry. These two classmates/roommates/fools-who-dared-to-dream who love movies and music would have the perfect ending to their story this coming Oscar night, or should I say, the perfect beginning. 

'And here's to the fools who dream. Crazy as they may seem.'

Best Song:
Projected Winner: 'City Of Stars' (La La Land) 
Justin Hurwitz is going to walk away with his 2nd Oscar of the day, and along with him the 2 debutants, lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who currently have a sold out Broadway show running by the name of 'Dear Evan Hansen' are going to walk away with their first win.

Best Editing:
Projected Winner: Joe Walker (Arrival) 
With 'Arrival', Joe Walker just showed us that he's a genius who can successfully manipulate time and space and keep the audience guessing. 
I'm going to sum up my feelings by saying that 'Arrival' is a like quadpod that has 4 very strong and extremely effective legs in the form of Amy Adams (Lead), Eric Heisserer (Writer), Denis Villeneuve (Director) and lastly, Joe Walker (Editor), who all get together and successfully pull off this amazing science fiction project about tolerance and unity. 

Surprise Winner: Tom Cross (La La Land)
If the Academy truly is blindingly in love with 'La La Land' then it's very much possible that it might win this category too.

Best Original Screenplay:
Projected Winner: Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea) 
'Moonlight' should have been in this category rather than being in the 'Adapted screenplay', if not for the weirdly conservative Academy members who decided that Moonlight should be put in the other category, because the writer-director Barry Jenkins said that what inspired him to write 'Moonlight' was a play, 'In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, written in 2003 by Tarell Alvin McCraney that was never produced. So with 'Moonlight' out of this category, I am going with Kenneth Lonergan's 'Manchester By The Sea', a heartbreaking story of a man who's having a terribly tough time trying to deal with his past.

Surprise Winner: La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
Like I said before, depends on how much love the Academy wants to shower on 'La La Land'.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Projected Winner: Eric Heisserer (Arrival)
This is perfect example of how a story is supposed to be adapted. Eric Heisserer manages to make all the necessary changes required to elevate an already well written short-story of Ted Chiang's by the name of 'Story of your life' and makes it even more appealing.
With 'Moonlight' also being in this category, I'm split between the two. I would be happy if either one of these two win, but as this is an 'Adapted Screenplay' category, I'm going to go with 'Arrival'.

Surprise Winner: Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) 

Best Production Design:
Projected Winner: La La Land
I feel the only competition to 'La La Land' in this category is 'Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them' but even then I'm quite sure that Academy is going to go with the musical that evoked the glorious Hollywood of yesteryear in all its beauty.

Best Visual Effects:
Projected Winner: The Jungle Book
'Rogue One' was great, but jungle book is jungle book. Call me biased or nostalgic, I am going to side with 'The Jungle Book' on this one.

Out of the possible 13 Oscars that 'La La Land' could win, I'm going to say that it's definitely going home with at least 7. 

Following are some movies that may not have got a nomination or even garnered any kind of financial success but made an impact and left a mark on me: (Not in any particular order)
  1. Swiss Army Man - The Daniels (Writer & Director) You'll either hate it or just fall in love with the sheer magic & genius of it. Luckily, I fall in the latter.
  2. Deadpool - Tim Miller (Director) This movie in my personal opinion deserved to get nominated in at least 3 categories. This is exactly how a 'R' rated superhero movie is meant to be!
  3. Sing Street - John Carney (Writer & Director) I loved 'Once', I was smitten with 'Begin Again' and in 2016, I fell head over heels 'Sing Street'! Trust John Carney to make a really sweet little gem filled with great characters and musical pieces.
  4. Paterson - Jim Jarmusch (Writer & Director)
  5. Hunt for Wilderpeople - Taika Waititi (Adapted for screen & Director)
  6. 10 Cloverfield Lane -  Dan Trachtenberg (Director)
  7. The Edge Of Seventeen -  Kelly Fremon Craig (Writer & Director) John Hughes Re-Incarnated
  8. Don't Think Twice - Mike Birbiglia (Writer & Director)
  9. War On Everyone - John Michael McDonagh (Writer & Director)
  10. The Shallows - Jaume Collet-Serra (Director) Anthony Jaswinski (Writer)
  11. Tickled (Documentary) - David Farrier & Dylan Reeve (Directors)
  12. Hush - Mike Flanagan (Co-wroter,editor & director)
  13. Blue Jay - Alexandre Lehmann (Director) Mark Duplass (Writer)
And that's an official wrap for 2016! This scene from 'Zootopia' of a creature that is half blind and half deaf pretty much sums up my year. Hope 2017 will be kinder.
2016 was a great year for movies, here's hoping 2017 is even better.
All the best and May The Force Be With You.