We had seen August Wilson’s Fences on Broadway, and I decided to watch the movie on the ten-hour return flight from Greece.
This was, by a distance too large to assign a coherent number, by far the best movie of the past year. It makes La La Land and Moonlight seem like amateur films, and while Hidden Figures is intriguing for its documentary aspect, it’s not in the same league.
How Denzel Washington did NOT receive the Oscar for this is beyond my poor powers of comprehension. Casey Affleck in Manchester By the Sea, who strangely won it, was not in the same universe.
Unless you’re measuring the objective—fastest time, highest leap, longest toss—you’re in the world of figure skating, platform diving, and dance contests with these subjective awards. In many cases they are solid or at least within the realm of honest debate.
Not here. If you haven’t seen Fences, see it. Fortunately, Denzel Washington (who also directed it) doesn’t need another statue for his mantle.
(Notes: Fences is a 1950s tale of black families in a period of transit from open discrimination to situational acceptance. It’s the story of the great passion of an ex-Negro League ballplayer in the pre-Jackie Robinson days who is now a trash collector, too old to play ball in the integrated new world, and his largely negative domination of those around him. Viola Davis, who did win the Oscar, plays his wife, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen her do, far better than the hammy “How to Get Away with Murder,” her TV series. August Wilson, one of our great playwrights, wrote the play and the screenplay for the film.)