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'Manchester by the Sea'

Casey Affleck, left, and Lucas Hedges star in "Manchester by the Sea."

The Golden Globes have been awarded. The Writers and Screen Actors Guilds have been chosen. The People’s Choices have been distributed. We’re finally in the homestretch – it’s the Oscar countdown!

Of the eight nominees for Best Picture, three played at The Roxy this year. “Hell or High Water”, “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea” were all local favorites, drawing big crowds throughout their runs, and leaving audiences with a lot to talk about and process in the lobby after screenings.

“Despite the limited diversity in our region, or maybe because of those limits, a film like ‘Moonlight’ is essential viewing for audience to experience a kind of depth and meaningfulness,” said Roxy director Mike Steinberg. “I can’t think of a film this year or any other year that shows us so clearly and poignantly that black lives do, in fact, matter.”

The other nominees for Best Picture include “Arrival”, “Fences”, “Hacksaw Ridge”, “Hidden Figures”, “La La Land” and “Lion”.

One of the Roxy’s awards-season missions is to bring the smaller nominated films to town that Missoula would otherwise not get to see on a big screen. To that end, short and foreign film nominees will be turning up on our schedule throughout the month.

“The shorts always end up being that category that people watch the Oscars and feel frustrated they have no access to. It's great to give people the most well-rounded sense of what's been nominated,” said theater manager Marshall Granger.

For 11 years, Shorts International has brought the nominated Short Film program to theaters worldwide. Their program including live action, animation and documentary shorts, brings the smaller films to the big screen in over 480 theaters throughout the U.S. and Canada. This year’s selections include films about everything from sandpiper birds (“Piper”) to a woman who can see the past and future but not the present (“Blind Vaysha”) to security guards who communicate via CCTV (“Timecode”).

One of this year’s nominees for Best Foreign Language Film, “Tanna”, opened the Montana Film Festival in October. A story about young lovers breaking the rules and risking everything for each other, “Tanna” is the first-ever feature film shot entirely in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu and largely performed by the Yakel tribe living on the island.

“ ‘Tanna’ is a monumental feat in storytelling. A seamless blending of documentary and narrative film. Raw in its approach, it offers something completely new to the form of filmmaking,” said MTFF director Andrew Rizzo. “Its content is both fresh and timeless, showing us that humanity will continue to tread over treacherous territory unless we allow love to infuse our perspectives and traditions with elasticity.”

Other nominated films in the foreign category include “Land of Mine”, “A Man Called Ove”, “The Salesman” and “Toni Erdmann”.

Before you fill out your ballot, make sure you’re making the most-educated guess possible by joining us at The Roxy all month long for special screenings of Oscar-nominated films.

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