Oscars Preview: 30 Movies to Watch Before the Nominations Come Out!

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Photo courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter and Paramount Pictures


What it’s about:

Troy Maxson is a working class black man in 1950s Pittsburgh. He was once a great baseball player, but could not become a professional due to the segregation of baseball at the time that he played. After that failure, he became a trash collector to support his wife Rose, his son Cory, and his psychologically disturbed younger brother Gabriel. When Cory gets the opportunity to try for a college football scholarship, Troy’s bitterness from his past wounds and fear for the safety of his son combine to set him against it. Meanwhile, Troy’s straying from his wife yields serious consequences, and the fence that he is building around his yard never seems to do what he wants it to do.

Major Players:

Denzel Washington, a six-time nominee and two-time winner of the Oscars, both directs the film and plays the lead role of Troy Maxson. August Wilson, the late playwright who won a Tony and a Pulitzer for the play Fences back in 1987, completed the movie’s screenplay before his death in 2005. Two-time nominee Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson.

What the Critics are Saying

Many critics are acknowledging the theatrical nature of the film while praising its power and its performances. Owen Gleiberman of Variety notes that “…on screen the play comes off as episodic and more than a bit unwieldy.” But Catherine Shoard of The Guardian writes, “This long-awaited film adaptation of the August Wilson play remains stagy, but as a showcase for two towering performances it could hardly be improved.” Referencing Rose’s line to Troy, “What about my life?,” the New York Times’s A.O. Scott notes, “What is most remarkable about this film is how thoroughly — how painfully, how honestly, how beautifully — it answers that question.”

Possible Nominations:

Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (Wilson), Supporting Actress (Davis). Several sources are predicting that Denzel Washington may receive two nominations for this film; one for Best Director and one for Leading Actor.