Winter movie round-up: from musicals to the stars

February 4, 2017

After finishing my final exams, packing most of my belongings and travelling the hour-long road trip home, my brain finally began to relax and settle into a winter break filled with family fun, much needed rest, Netflix and movie time.

Every year around Christmas, some of my favorite movies come out. This year was no exception. From Dec. 16 to Jan. 18, many movies were released in theaters including “Doctor Strange,” “Moana,” “Passengers” and “The Accountant.” In total, I went to three different movies: “La La Land,” “Rogue One” and “Hidden Figures.”

The first on my list, “La La Land,” sadly turned out to be my least favorite of the three. However, it was the only musical and has since been nominated for several Academy Awards.

The plot revolves around main characters Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) who are trying to make it in the very entertaining–yet stressful–town of Los Angeles. Although I was enthused by the commercials, I was less entertained by the movie.

With much more dancing than singing, this musical turned out to be the most silent one I’ve ever seen. With some awkward silence also came some uncomfortable lighting. The whole movie seemed to be dark and not as bright as the commercials I had seen on television. These two factors made the movie seem too long, leaving me with one hope of an incredible ending. Therefore, I was devastated when I didn’t see the ending I wanted.

One impressive feature of “La La Land” was Ryan Gosling’s ability to tickle the ivories, which, unbelievably, was a skill he only acquired in preparation for the movie. Despite the problems I had with “La La Land,” this made it worth it. All in all, I would still encourage others to see this film, but I just wish that I would have waited until it came out on DVD.

The second film I saw over the break was the action-packed, emotionally driven story of “Rogue One.” This Star Wars film follows the lives of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as they try to obtain the plans for the Death Star. This film takes place between Episode III and Episode IV, in the series order. Being a fan of Star Wars myself, I anticipated this film for a long time, and thankfully my high expectations were fulfilled above and beyond.

“Rogue One” fits seamlessly into the series and obtains the same quality, drive and focus as the original Star Wars that came out when my parents were young. I was thrilled with every part but most amazed by the performance of Felicity Jones. Carrying the plot of the film on her shoulders, she made every second enjoyable. The only negative aspect of the film was the fatal ending.

The final film I went to see in theaters was “Hidden Figures.” This not only was my favorite movie over the break, but one of my favorite films I have seen in a very long time.

“Hidden Figures,” which is based on true events, takes place during the space race just before John Glenn’s historical flight document collaboration software. It follows three influential female African American mathematicians who were crucial to the success of the first Americans to orbit the Earth. These three women, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), not only broke ground for females in the NASA industry but also made unprecedented advancements for African Americans.

Knowing that this film was inspired by actual events made the experience of watching it even more mesmerizing. From intense emotional scenes to hysterical ones, the actresses who played these “hidden figures” were remarkable. Although Spencer and Monae gave incredible performances, Henson gave my favorite performance. If it were up to me, she would win the Oscar for Best Actress this year.

This film was powerful and inspiring. These women were determined to do their jobs and make history. It was so empowering that the audience in my theater broke out clapping in several instances. Therefore, it was the perfect film and the perfect movie experience, and it deserves Best Picture.

Even though all of these movies didn’t exactly meet my expectations, they all made impacts and made Christmas break a bit more exciting. With a world as crazy as ours, it is nice to have a bit of escape. So although I didn’t do anything necessarily educational over the break, I did see several movies. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a moving picture has to be worth ten times that.


– Ethan Dial, staff writer

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