Howdy y’all. Last year, I went through some of the Oscar categories and gave my 2 cents and my predictions for the lot. It was a fun thought experiment but overall kind meh. So instead of doing the same this year, I’m going to do something different and go through each of the best picture nominees one by one. I am mostly doing this because this year I have actually seen each of the nominees thanks to the wonderful service known as MoviePass and there are many spectacular films on the list (though I suppose that should come as no surprise to anyone). A few of these I have reviewed on their own, and for those I will link my full reviews if you’re interested. However, for each film, I will give a brief run down of the flick and discuss what makes it stand out from the others, as well as the likelihood of it winning best picture (or any other category it might be nominated for). At the end, I will tell you which film I think is best (which will come as no surprise to anyone who read my Best of 2017 list), as well as which film I believe will actually win the Oscar. Oh and the order I am tackling the nominees will be in alphabetical order to account for any bias. So without further adieu ladies and germs…
Call Me by Your Name: Every year, a film comes out that is beloved by everyone that watches it, while I am left in the back of the room wondering what I missed. So congrats to Call Me by Your Name for taking that award. At least it will win something. It’s a rather simple premise. Boy falls for boy. Both boys play coy with each other. Boys love each other. Boy has to leave boy behind. Boys still love each other despite the fact that they’ll never see each other again. The acting here is pretty decent as is the writing, though that shouldn’t be surprising since it’s based on a book but whatever. Again, I’ll say it again. I do not see the magic of this film. I will say that there are a few moments that will hit you right in the feels but other that that, I just don’t believe the romance. Maybe I’m too cynical but I just didn’t see it. That being said, I don’t expect this film to win Best Picture. Just too many other heavy hitters. BUT. I’m sure this film will take away some other awards on Oscar night (Best Adapted Screenplay for instance). Just not this one.
Darkest Hour: Here’s another film that probably won’t win Best Picture. Why? Because the only good thing about this film is Gary Oldman. Now. That’s not to say the rest of the film isn’t bad, it’s fine. It’s just that Gary Oldman takes this movie to another level. Without him, this is movie is just a run-of-the-mill historical drama, but Mr. Oldman’s performance of Winston Churchill is spectacular. Not only that, it tells a rather inspiring story. Just hear me out. There are many figures in history that are revered for their accomplishments, whatever they might have been. Like MLK for the U.S. civil rights movement or Lincoln for the emancipation proclamation. Churchill is high on that list, yet many may not know about his struggles getting into Downing Street. There are plenty of stories like this one, however it doesn’t make it’s message any less inspiring; if you do the right thing, then the struggles will be worth it in the end. Darkest Hour should not win Best Picture and it will not. This is one of the films that is only on the list because the Academy feels like they need 9 films on the list. Again. This is not to put Darkest Hour down. It is a solid film and a must watch for any history nerd out there. For everyone else, eh. Just catch it on Netflix in the spring.
Dunkirk: And here’s where my heart aches. There is no way Dunkirk wins Best Picture. Period. In fact, I’m shocked that Nolan’s latest masterpiece was even nominated, considering Interstellar and Inception weren’t. That being said, Dunkirk can stand toe to toe with any of the other nominees. It is expertly shot. The acting is fantastic in the most subtle way possible. It takes risks in presenting a story in a way that you won’t see in a mainstream film any time soon. While Spielberg continues to get nominations for towing the party line, Nolan continues to push the boundaries in his films. Memento. The Dark Knight Trilogy. The Prestige. Inception. And Interstellar. All these films led to Dunkirk and it shows. It’s why the fact that Nolan remains un-thanked from the Academy is so sad. Dunkirk won’t win Best Picture. Nolan won’t win Best Director. Dunkirk will probably win a few of the technical awards (i.e. Best Editing or Best Production Design) but the real accolades will remain from his grasp. I’m sure Nolan will win his Oscars one day and my brain cannot even fathom what that movie will be. I’m sure it’ll be like a combination of Fergie and Jesus. (Edit: when I say Fergie, I mean old Fergie. Not the recent national anthem Fergie. Wow man) For now, I’ll settle for knowing that Dunkirk is the best film on this list (oops did I spoil that). Oh well moving on.
Get Out: Ok. On to a film that has a chance at winning. A long shot. But a shot nonetheless. Get Out is great. I don’t need to explain that and you don’t need to hear it. Everyone knows the magic that is Get Out. Jordan Peele didn’t just knock it out of the park. It knocked it into the basketball arena twelve blocks away. It’s a horror movie (and a good one at that…not the garbage Insidious horror-esq films that plague the genre today). It’s a mystery film. It’s deep and it’s simple. It has buckets of rewatch-ability and you’re sure to find something new every time you rewatch it. I said in my top 2017 list that Jordan Peele has the license to do whatever he wants because this film is that good and I stand by it. Now. All that being said, I’m not sure if this film will win the Oscar. I think the other films below have a better chance to win based on the overall “Oscar buzz” (whatever that means), however I think Get Out could be the dark horse of the year. It ticks all the boxes that the Academy looks for and combine that with the racial message of the film, it might just be the shocker of the year.
Lady Bird: Despite being a (relatively) simple movie, Lady Bird is quite phenomenal and easily stands toe to toe with any of the other nominees. Lady Bird’s story is simple yet to the point and the writing is witty and intelligent even though it doesn’t have to be. Additionally, the acting is great. How great? So great that I could not picture these characters as anyone else. They hit all the right beats and make you feel for them during their journey. Probably my favorite thing about this movie is the ending, which is not exactly happy nor sad. It leaves you (and our main character) right in the middle, and that’s perfect because that’s life. Sure, we have our ups and downs. Good days and bad days. But usually our individual lives don’t get wrapped up perfectly and is made up of some positives and some negatives and that is Lady Bird. At the end, Lady Bird isn’t floating on cloud nine but she is still happy because she’s looking for the positives in her life and not worrying about the negatives. It’s something we all should do honestly. Now. I think Lady Bird’s odds of winning are pretty low. Even though it is just as good as anything else on this list, I’m assuming many of the Academy’s voters won’t think it does. It’s chances are lower than Get Out but higher than Dunkirk.
Phantom Thread: OH BOY. STRAP YOURSELVES IN FOLKS. THIS ONE IS A DOOZY. Artsy doesn’t even begin to describe this film. And I’ll admit. I have never seen a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. There are plenty on my list. Just haven’t gotten around to it. So, again, maybe it’s me here, but I don’t see it. Perhaps I need to see it again to full understand what PTA was going for, which is fine. There are plenty of movies like that out there. That being said. Damn. What is this movie. There’s a dress maker. He falls in love. She falls in love. But he’s weird. And she poisons him but he likes it…or…I DON’T KNOW MAN. I’M NOT ARTSY. Again, perhaps there’s some greater metaphor that flew miles over my head (miles being an understatement), but I don’t see it. Now, this film is gaining Oscar buzz. Paul Thomas Anderson is a big name. It is the final performance for Daniel Day-Lewis and we all know how Oscars love that stuff. Plus, the rest of the cast is superb in their acting and this film is shot quite well. All in all, this film might be another surprise hit. (And please. If you saw this film and understand it, please tell me. Cause. Damn.)
The Post: Alright. I’ll say it only once. The Post does not deserve to be on this list. It’s a fine movie. It tells an important story, the acting is pretty good, and is well put together. However. This film is just not on the same level as 2017’s best. Sure. It tells an important story but it doesn’t really do anything with it. It just tells it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Tom Hanks is fine as he always is but he is no where near as emotional in this movie as he could’ve been. Same thing goes for Meryl Streep (who doesn’t deserve to be nominated for Best Actress but that’s just me). I feel like Spielberg is phoning it in with this one and was just hoping that he’d get praise for the simple fact of having a story about the power of journalism and unfortunately he was right. I’m not sure The Post has a chance at Best Picture and I really hope it doesn’t win. There are so many better pictures on this list.
The Shape of Water: The Shape of Water. Also known as Fish Sex: the Movie. No jokes. One of the serious contenders for the 2018 Best Picture is a film that predominately features fish sex. When you watch the trailer, you know the lead actress (who is wonderful in her part, fish sex aside) is going to fall in love with the fish creature, but you think it will be a platonic/PETA love that will end with her letting the fish creature escape so it can return to its fish creature parents. You’d think that. But you’re wrong. You watch the first 30 seconds of the film and you instantly know it is going to lead to one thing: fish sex. Now. With that out of the way, two quick things. One, this film is directed by Guillermo del Toro so honestly fish sex isn’t that far out of reality. So (again) I suppose that was my fault for not expecting fish sex. Two, fish sex aside, the Shape of Water is really good. Yes. It does revolve around fish sex and when it happened I was equally amused and confused at what I was watching. Yet it actually tells a rather sweet love story that’s tied around an intriguing cold war mystery. This film seems to be the darling flick of the year, taking numerous awards at the previous award shows yet hasn’t won a best picture award. I think del Toro is a shoo in for Best Director and maybe a few technical awards (like Costume Design). As for Best Picture, I’d say possible but only if Three Billboards splits the vote with another nominee (like Phantom Thread). More on that in exactly 12 seconds.
Three Billboards…: And here’s the front runner folks. Three Billboards has been taking all the major awards (for the most part) and for good reason. This film is phenomenal. Frances McDormand is exceptional. Woody Harrelson (the man, the myth, the legend) is top. Sam Rockwell is magnificent. The story is equally funny and depressing. Combine that with the fact that it doesn’t hold your hand through the film and you get an instant classic that we’ll be talking about for years to come, regardless of whether it wins Best Picture. I don’t think there’s anything else to say here. If you still haven’t seen this film, do yourself a favor.
So. There are my thoughts. As for my personal picks. Well, as stated above, I believe Dunkirk is the best film on this list since in my opinion it is as perfect of a movie as we can get. That being said, it has no chance at winning. The front runner is Three Billboards, followed by Phantom Thread, the Shape of Water, and Get Out. Get Out is the dark horse. Unlikely but still possible. I think the Shape of Water is next in line. A long shot due to the pequillar story (again…fish sex) but still possible if Phantom Thread takes enough votes away from Three Billboards. Speaking of, Phantom Thread has a good chance as it’s been gaining steam in the past two months. However. my prediction is….
Three Billboards! It has been winning the best picture awards from all the other major groups and I believe the Oscar voters will follow suit. Plus, it’s just an excellent movie. So that helps.
Well that’s that folks. Happy Oscar watching and I cannot wait to (hopefully) see how wrong I was.