I’m not a film bluff, so I don’t tend to watch many films or think that deep about Oscars. I prefer films under 2hours. Unexpectedly I have watched two films (La La Land and Manchester by the sea) in the last two weeks with Oscar nominations and both were over 2 hours!
I preferred La La Land, it was a pleasant 2 hours and 8minutes. Both feature some of the grit of life, but La La Land, is about two people following their dreams and their romantic relationship. Whereas Manchester by sea flashes back and forth between two tragedies in the same family and is therefore a more somber film. At 2 hours 17 Manchester by the sea did feel like a long film. To be fair , I did watch Manchester by the Sea after a busy day at 8.25pm whereas, I watched La La Land earlier at 1745 so this may have contributed. I think Manchester by the Sea felt long to me because although it features, two major tragedies the actual tragicevents themselves, features minimally with the focus being the aftermath. The film is quite subtle in it action, mixing the practicalities of dealing with a death such as dealing with funeral and legal arrangements whilst also showing life going on for the teenage son of the deceased. This meant there was no natural end point to climax to, therefore at various points near the end I wondered if the film was going to fade out. But slightly disppoitingly failed to and continued.
Neither film arrives at a happy Hollywood ending, making both poignant. Manchester by the Sea ends with little being resolved, which is authentic in terms of the aftermath of a death, it would have not been in the spirit of the film to have a more dramatic ending. Not too much of a spoiler there but, please stop reading if you want to watch La La Land and be surprised by the ending. Unfortunately before watching, I accidently read a brief comment by Rachal Johnson which stated that the couple did not get together at the end. So when near the end of the film, it fasts forwards 5 years and you see them, not together that was not a surprise to me unlike for the lady next to me who I heard let out a cry signaling sadness that the couple had not ended up together. But, then the alternative film sequence started with the couple kissing upon first meeting. The kiss was a less realistic than the actual start, with him walking out on her and then several false starts before they finally got together. The alternative sequence after believing ,was being denied a happy ending felt magical and you wanted it to be true. The alternative version would not have made such a good film as it would have been less believable without the grit and perhaps annoyingly saccharine. Therefore, when she opens her eyes and you realize she had just been fantasising and they are not together it is a fantastic twist which, I got to enjoy because it would not have totally contradicted what I had read about the ending. I also enjoy the thought of how one moment, can change everything like in Sliding Doors.
It will come as no surprise, that overall I agree with La Land receiving more Oscars nominations than Manchester by the Sea (14 to 6) and also that in the categories of Best Picture and Original Screen play which both are nominated in; thst between just the two (not having seen the other nominees) then I would go for La La Land.
Manchester by the Sea’s main characters are male therefore, there was no chance of a nomination for best actress. Emma Stone for her portrayal of Mia in La La Land is nominated for Best Actress.
Both leading men (Ryan Gosling and Casey Affleck) are nominated as best actor. Goslings role in La Land playing Sebastian, involved the challenges of singing and dancing. Whilst Casey Affleck role as Lee Chapman in Manchester on the Sea, on the surface appears more straight forward, he appears to be not expressing much. However, actually to create the socially in-edept character that he has without ruining it by overplaying it takes skill. Therefore in best male actor category I would go for Casey Affleck.
Both films are nominated for best director: Damien Chazelle for La La Land and Kenneth Lanerghan for Manchester by the Sea. I do not know enough about the impact of directors to judge who was most effective.
As La Land is so focused just on Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling there was no one else who played a big enough part to be worth of supporting actor / actress. Whereas Manchester by the sea although it is centered around Lee (Affleck) it more complex and a variety of characters play, their part in the film including Affleck’s boss in Boston giving him a hard time, to the ladies in Boston and Manchester who flirt with him, to Patrick (Lee’s nephew and his two girlfriends, Patrick’s Mum and Lee’s ex wife.
In the flashback scenes, I would have liked to have seen more of Lee’s brother who dies in the film, triggering Lee’s journey from Boston to Manchester. Initially his journey was aimed at one last goodbye then morphing into caring for Patrick on a temporary basis to shockingly for Lee, later being told he had been picked to be Patrick’s legal guardian. It would have been good for him to feature more to understand Lee and Patrick’s grief better. As it was it was left to Patrick’s character to throw in comments about his Dad. Alas when he says that ‘is or not what Dad would have wanted’ is it a true reflection of his Dad or is he just using the statements to try and influence his Uncle Lee? Lucas Hedges who plays Patrick, certainly has to display a range of emotions to deal with the death of his Father, the arrival of his Uncle as carer, aggressive side at hockey, his side with his two girlfriends including displaying sexual frustration and handling his estranged Mum and her new partner. He has been nominated for best supporting male which seems fairly justifiable and especial his portrayal of experiencing a panic attack.
Michelle Williams who plays Lee Chapman’s ex wife, has a nomination for best supporting actress. I may not disagree with this is, had it not been for the scene below where the attempt at crying was very weak. As Lee walked away her attempt at crying was merely holding her hand over her face. Until that point I had not had an issue with her acting.
I feel perhaps that the above scene, could have been more powerful with different dialogue. It may have been Lee who left the fire unattended however, it was mentioned in one scene about it being cold because of her health they used the fire rather than central heating; therefore this scene could have conveyed her guilt more.
Another one of the categories that La La Land has been nominated in, is costume design. Whilst watching La La Land my friends and I noticed Emma Stone’s fabulous dresses, not sure they quite count as costumes. Although when Emma goes to auditions she always has a different outfit and they do count as costumes! Similar to Carrie is Sex and the city, I’m not sure how at the start when she was a barista , going to auditions she could afford her wardrobe; so fabulous dresses but not authentic!
It may seem like, I have been more critical of Manchester by the sea than La La Land however I do, like Manchester by the sea. Manchester by sea is more complex in a good way, with more storylines, characters etc and hence more to comment on. Sometimes part of the fun with viewing is the thought and discussion afterwards of the good and the bad points!