thoughts//THE CASE FOR 'HELL OR HIGH WATER'

AWARDS COVERAGE



Though it powered through a successful run at the Cannes Film Festival, Hell or High Water's late summer domestic release looked to be a hopeful filler in the adult-crowd-pleaser market. What could have easily been a forgotten release, the film became a surprise box office success.

More of a modern day crime drama about family bonds than a western, the West Texas set actioner provided plenty of thrills and spills, plus the same ol' Jeff Bridges performance he's become known for in the 2010's.

With an impressive box office haul supporting it, the picture slowly climbed the awards season charts, earning the title of Dark Horse at one point (which now, surprisingly, belongs to Arrival).

The script is rich and smart. The performances are notable, especially from leading men Chris Pine and Ben Foster. It's definitely a film Middle America can get behind and the type of film whose win would be celebrated across party lines, if politics are anything on which to base it.

Nominated for 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, let's take a look at Hell or High Water's chances at this Sunday's 89th Academy Awards.

BEST PICTURE

Should It Win:
The film struggles very little. It's a very smartly built plot, resting on the backs of ample performers and breathtaking, Texan landscapes. There's a sense of Americana about it, even in its deepest and darkest moments. Craftily directed by David Mackenzie, Hell or High Water could easily fill the notches films like No Country for Old Men filled in recent years. The only thing missing here is a sense of newness.

Will It Win:
There's a little rumbling of vote-splitting between La La Land and Moonlight, leaving the door open for Hell or High Water or Manchester by the Sea. But, with the Academy's new(ish) voting procedures, that's unlikely to happen.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Should Jeff Bridges Win:
Much like the argument that Sandra Bullock's win should have come for Gravity, not The Blind Side, perhaps Bridges' win should come for Hell or High Water, instead of Crazy Heart. In that film he plays a similar, gruff, wise man with a stunted past (both characters' lives are completely different, but there's a certain sense of loss and grovel present in each).

Because we've seen this Bridges before, his nomination is solely based on the Academy's love for him. It's a fantastic performance, so a win would be great and deserved, but it's also something we've already before seen.

Will Jeff Bridges Win:
Best Supporting Actor is one of the closest races this Oscars season, with Mahershala Ali riding at the top, but teetering his lead with Bridges and Dev Patel. All three have picked up important precursors. With La La Land this season's behemoth, Moonlight should pick up a win here, where it doesn't have to compete with the Hollywood musical, which means Ali should have the win in his pocket.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Should It Win:
While the performances are outstanding, it's Taylor Sheridan's script that really packs a punch. The dialogue is so tightly written that each and every word drips with authenticity. It's definitely one of the strongest scripts in the past decade.

Will It Win:
Many think La La Land will sneak in for a win here, but the true deserving film is Manchester by the Sea's incredible script by Kenneth Lonergan. Hell or High Water's chances of winning are pretty slim.

BEST FILM EDITING

Should It Win:
The film is tightly told, going from sweeping relationship tropes to fun, action-filled sequences. The editing is clean and seamless, delivering a picturesque film completely worthy of its Best Picture nomination.

Will It Win:
With its Film Editing nomination, Hell or High Water does earn some much needed momentum for its Best Picture race. But, being up against a musical with some impressive sequences, means it won't end up a victor here. 

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