So, that happened….

Olivia Colman winning the 2019 Oscar for Best Actress for The Favourite

The 91st Academy Awards promised us a train wreck but gave us—for the most part—a pretty good ride instead.

Here’s my recap of the moments I remember the most, good and bad.

The start of the show was a little rocky, in my opinion. The performance by Queen, fronted by Adam Lambert, was fine but a little more dull than I was expecting or hoping for. I know that’s a tough room to play, but the whole thing seemed too low energy to me. It was the first time a rock band had played the Oscars and maybe we’re seeing why. What made things worse was when the show then cut to a standard “welcome to the Oscars” package, featuring voiceover narration and footage from the red carpet with standard shots of celebrities waving to the camera, it seriously felt like the People’s Choice Awards, not the Oscars. The show was in serious danger of grinding to a halt. This is the gaping hole that was left by not having a host and I felt like they failed miserably to fill it. There was no edge, no spark, no genuine excitement at the top of the show. Thankfully, though, the producers inserted the traditional movie montage here and it righted the ship. The montage is always my favorite part of the show, so maybe I’m biased, but I watch the Oscars to celebrate

Best Supporting Actress winner for “If Beale Street Could Talk” Regina King
movies, so these montages which celebrate the past year in film always give me goosebumps. And then, with the first presenters, I could feel the show back to steaming full speed ahead. Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey arrived to present the first award, but, before they did, they essentially delivered a host-type monologue and it was fantastic.

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

DreamWorks

It’s rare enough to have a sequel be as good or better than the original, but for a movie to actually have two sequels that are worthwhile is rarer still. When the original How to Train Your Dragon film came out in 2010, it was a huge hit, and a critical success (98% on Rotten Tomatoes). Then, when the sequel came out in 2014, all of those who loved the first were naturally skeptical and nervous—usually these endeavors end up being pure money grabs lacking any creativity or ingenuity—but, lo and behold, the sequel did almost as well at the box office and with reviewers, still cracking the coveted 90% mark on Rotten Tomatoes (final rating on RT was 92%). There were many fans of these movies that felt it still never got the love it deserved though, playing second fiddle to the bigger, more marketed and flashier Pixar and Disney animated movies of the last 10 years. Well, now maybe with the final movie in what can now officially be called a trilogy, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World may finally bring the much-beloved films some much-deserved attention. Let’s not continue to ignore these wonderful films the way we are ignoring the similarly excellent Paddington movies.

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Free Solo and Cold War

Oscar season comes at you so fast, it’s impossible to see everything during the two month window at the end of the year. Because of this, I usually need January and February to catch up on some that I missed, and this year has been no different. I recently finally got to seeing two critically-acclaimed movies that I had missed, both nominated for Oscars: Free Solo (nominated for Best Documentary Feature) and Cold War (nominated for Best Foreign Film, Best Cinematography and Best Director). Here are my thoughts on each.

FREE SOLO

Little Monster Films

“Free solo” is a rock climbing term that defines a climb that is done without any safety ropes or harnesses. It literally means man vs. mountain and it is the most dangerous and difficult way to climb anything, let alone one of the most challenging rocks in the world. The film Free Solo chronicles the attempt by world-famous American rock climber Alex Honnold to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, which would make him the first and only person to ever do so. If you’re thinking this is a National Geographic-type movie that is all about man vs. nature, you’re right. But what totally shocked me is how much more there is to it. It is a psychological study, a celebration of life, an homage to Earth’s beauty and power, but, more than anything, it is an riveting story that grabs you from the beginning and takes you on a harrowing but incredible journey that competes with any of the dramas created in Hollywood.

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