365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

3Dec/170

Mudbound (2017)

An early and serious contender for 2017's Best Picture is a movie that may not have found its way to a theater had it not garnered so much critical acclaim. Dee Rees's (Pariah) Mudbound is a Netflix original movie and had it not been for The Academy of Motion Pictures' rule of all Oscar-nominated films be available to the public via movie theaters, who knows where it would have landed. This is not the Netflix's first movie to receive so much praise that the movie had to be released in the theaters. 2015's Beasts of No Nation faced a similar fate. However, the kudos that Beasts of No Nation originally received faded as Oscar season approached and the movie ultimately did not receive a single nomination. The same won't be the case for Mudbound which very well could earn a Best Picture nomination as well as nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Jason Mitchell), Best Supporting Actress (Mary J. Blige), and Best Adapted Screenplay just to name a view.  It's an early prediction and I have yet to see any of the other contenders, but this does feel like a very weak year for movies and I would be shocked if Mudbound is not nominated for Best Picture and I would be surprised if it doesn't win at least one award in one of the other categories before cinema's biggest night of the year is complete.

Mudbound takes place during the time of World War II. It is set almost entirely in rural Mississippi Delta farmland with quick scenes cut in every now and then to show two of the supporting actors who are fighting for the Allied Forces in Europe. In just her second directorial effort, Rees (who also wrote the screenplay) does a masterful job in so many different areas that I truly believe that if this movie is not nominated for Best Picture, it will be the biggest snub of 2017. What Rees excels at (where a lesser director would most undoubtedly fail, is getting us connected with so many different characters. It's ambitious to tell so many different stories, regardless of how much they are intertwined. Often the result is a complete disaster. Not so with Rees who narrates the story of two families, each struggling to survive, each in need of another but, at the same time, set against one another by callous society because one family is white and the other black. I'll discuss this later in this review. In addition to excelling at getting us deeply connected to more than a dozen characters, Rees further demonstrates her genius by developing characters so deep and rich that it often becomes difficult to tell which characters are good and which characters are evil all the way through the very end. The writers and directors of HBO's Game of Thrones do a brilliant job with this as well. Just when you think you know a character, the character changes in ways that are so drastic, yet believable. The difference is Game of Thrones is seven season's worth of ten hour-long episodes. Rees told her story in just under two and a half hours. Finally, what Rees knocked out of the park was the seductively tragic nature of her film. There are moments that are breathtakingly beautiful and ones just minutes later that are gutwrenching and extremely difficult to watch.

But Rees's direction wasn't the only thing going with this film. The story flowed perfectly, beginning with Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke - Everest, Lawless) and his brother Jamie (

The second family is the Jackson family. The Jackson's are living in equally wretched poverty. Preacher Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan - Shelter, Wetlands) is a sharecropper, laboring over hundreds of acres of land that he knows he will never own. His wife Florence (Mary J. Blige) helps plow the fields and raises their children while also working as Laura's maid. Their oldest son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell - Detroit, Straight Outta Compton) is more progressive than his parents in the sense that he doesn't just want to roll over for the white people. The film follows the Jackson's and the McAllan's through tragedy and turmoil, their fates connected through various threads of circumstance, none of which are rushed, but some of which seem to be pushed maybe a little too hard.

 

 

Plot 10/10
Character Development 9.5/10
Character Chemistry 9/10
Acting 9/10
Screenplay 10/10
Directing 10/10
Cinematography 9.5/10
Sound 9/10
Hook and Reel 9/10
Universal Relevance 9/10
94%

 

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