Director: Dee Rees
Producers: Carl Effenson, Sally Jo Effenson, Cassian Elwes, Charles King, Christopher Lemole, Kim Roth, and Tim Zajaros
Writers: Virgil Williams & Dee Rees
Cinematography: Rachel Morrison
Composer: Tamar-kali
Distributor: Netflix
Release Date: November 17, 2017
Run-time: 134 minutes


FILM SYNOPSIS: Two soldiers, one black, one white, return to Mississippi following World War II, to discover that their goals in life and ideas about race have been dramatically altered. Bound by their shared experiences and the fact that their families work the same farm, the former soldiers strike up a troubled friendship.


Just by being nominated, “Mudbound” is breaking barriers. The Academy has often been thought of has disliking Netflix released films. A large portion of the Academy is made up of actors and I guess the thought of movies being taken out of the theater might get them up in arms. But with streaming services pushing for more and more new content, at some point the Academy had to break from tradition. “Mudbound” still missed out on a Best Picture nominations and if it had been a normal, theatrical released studio film, I wonder if that fact would have changed any. Like all Oscar nominated films, they do have to have a theatrical run at some point, but that doesn’t last very long.

Both Mary J. Blige and Octavia Spencer got nominated for an Academy Award this year in the same category, which isn’t a record setting event but it does show that the Academy and Hollywood in general are starting to move in the right direction as far as equal representation. Especially when you realize that both of them got nominated over the much loved Holly Hunter from “The Big Sick,” who I wholeheartedly believe deserved a nomination. Blige does an amazing job of essentially turning off her big personality and fitting the part of the introspective wife of a farmhand. Although she has very little dialogue in the film, she does have a gravitas about her in the scenes she does have. Blige also comes out with a Best Original Song nomination, having written and performed the song “Mighty River.” With her strong performance and the heartfelt song, you definitely get the sense that this was near and dear to Blige. Although this was not quite her acting debut, you still wouldn’t be able to tell that this is the biggest film she’s ever been apart of. At the moment, all the buzz is behind Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) and Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”) so expect to see one of them pull off the win over Blige and Spencer.

“Mudbound” also makes history in that Rachel Morrison is the first female cinematographer to ever be nominated for an Oscar. You may recognize her name as the cinematographer of Marvel’s “Black Panther” as well, so you know that she will not be going anywhere anytime soon. Her cinematography in “Mudbound” may not be as prominent as say Roger Deakins in “Blade Runner 2049” or Hoyt van Hoytema in “Dunkirk,” but she definitely goes above the norm and earns her nomination. Best Cinematography is a stacked category, but Deakins not only delivers some of his best work this year, the man is down right due. Playing devils advocate, however, some would say females in general are due to win this category. And in this year’s social climate, a female winning this category could be a huge boost. Should she win on that accord alone? Probably not. But it’s not impossible.

Mary J. Blige’s song “Mighty River” lands at the bottom for me however, with all the Original Song nominees coming off as better songs, in my opinion. It does fit the sad, emotional tone of the film, so in that sense, it does a nice job of encapsulating the film. But it lacks in the sense that it does not really work for me outside this movie like all the other nominees do. It’s not quite as catchy as the songs from “The Greatest Showman” or “Marshall” and the song from “Coco” does a great job of being palatable outside the film while encapsulating the film as a whole. Here are the lyrics to Blige’s “Mighty River”:

Life is a teacher, time is a healer
And I’m a believer like a river wild
Ego’s a killer, greed is a monster
But love is stronger, stronger than them all
White flag in hand
I don’t want to fight
No lines in the sand, I’m on your side
Invisible, no color life
It’s time we put our, put our, put our differences aside
Time tells no lies
It keeps changing, and ticking, and moving, then passes by
But if you’re lucky it will be kind
Like a river flowing through time
Let it wash you clean
(Like a river)
Going up stream
(Like a river)
Cutting through right
(Like a river)
‘Cause it never gives up
(Like a river)
So full of life
(Like a river)
Liquid like time
(Like a river)
That’ll wash away
(Like a river)
The pain from yesterday
Love is the answer, hate is a cancer
Hope of forgiveness, it waters the soul
Our blood is red, we’re not so different
‘Cause underneath our skin we’re identical
White flag in hand
I’m not gonna fight
No lines in the sand, I’m on your side
Invisible, no color rise
It’s time we put our, oh put our differences aside
We know wrong from right
Oh time tells no lies
It keeps changing, and ticking, and moving, then passes by
But if you’re lucky it will be kind
Oh like a river flowing through time
Let it wash you clean
(Like a river)
Going up stream
(Like a river)
Cutting through right
(Like a river)
‘Cause it never gives up
(Like a river)
So full of life
(Like a river)
Liquid like time
(Like a river)
Let it wash away
(Like a river)
The pain from yesterday
Oh oh oh (mighty river)
Rain down on me
(Like a river)
All it takes is time
(Mighty river)
To heal this bloodline
(Like a river)
Better wash me clean
(Mighty river)
Get this dirt off of me
(Like a river)
Oh oh oh (mighty river)
Let it wash the pain
Oh oh oh (like a river)
Oh like a river (mighty river)
Mighty and better river (like a river)
Oh yeah (mighty river)
Rain down on me
(Like a river)
Oh oh oh (mighty river)
Oh all the hurt and pain
(Like a river)
Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah
(Mighty river)
Oh mighty river, mighty river (ooh ooh ooh ooh)
The last category it is nominated for his Best Adapted Screenplay. I would definitely put the screenplay from Dee Rees and Virgil Williams at the top of the heap, despite there being very few adapted screenplays to choose from this year. “Logan” likely does not stand a chance in this category so “Mudbound” definitely overcomes that. There is some love for “The Disaster Artist” and “Molly’s Game” going around but I feel like “Mudbound” probably packs a bigger punch than those films. The screenplay I don’t think it can overcome is James Ivory’s “Call Me By Your Name,” which has been a juggernaut this awards season. Without a win here, “Mudbound” would be winless. Cinematography Rachel Morrison is likely the film’s best bet of getting a win and even there she would almost be getting the pity vote rather than winning on her own merits.

MARY J. BLIGE
“Florence Jackson”


CHARACTER SYNOPSIS: Mary J. Blige portrays Florence Jackson, the matriarch of a sharecropping family whose loved ones are targets of racism following her son’s return from fighting in World War II.


PREVIOUS NOMINATIONS

MARY J. BLIGE
NONE


RACHEL MORRISON
Cinematographer


RACHEL MORRISON
NONE


“MIGHTY RIVER”
Music and Lyric by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson


MARY J. BLIGE
NONE
RAPHAEL SAADIQ
NONE
TAURA STINSON
NONE



VIRGIL WILLIAMS & DEE REES
Screenwriters


VIRGIL WILLIAMS
NONE
DEE REES
NONE



NETFLIX

VIEWED: Monday
February 19th, 2018

14

14

Films Left Days Left

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