The inside scoop on the nine films nominated for Best Picture.
The inside scoop on the nine films nominated for Best Picture.
Text: Maxwell N. Burnstein
The precursor to the 90th Academy Awards show sees a series of popular acknowledgments and credible misses in a year that felt almost hopeful. Having digested all the films nominated, here is an honest account of the nominees calling shots for Best Picture on March 4, 2018 at the Oscars.
Call Me By Your Name
The first relatable cinematic depiction of queer love is made whole by Timothée Chalamet’s ability to endure as Elio. The film itself possesses a notable indie quality that aligns itself with the Northern Italian setting, and a storyline that is set in the pre-gay acceptance world in 1983. Audiences fall deeper for Elio as his character continues to fall for Oliver—Armie Hammer’s character—in this year’s most captivating on-screen relationship. The heart of the film extends from the expression of acceptance shown by Elio’s parents to their son and his undisclosed partner. Win or lose at the Oscars, the film heightens the normalcy of queer youth as a mold for the non-nuclear family in its real and unaddressed point of tension.
Gary Oldman is sensational as Winston Churchill in a gripping performance centered on whether the newly appointed Prime Minister will negotiate with Hitler. Taking place during World War II, the film finds strength through its cultural relevance with films like, Dunkirk, which creates context for a younger audience to enjoy. Alongside Oldman, Lily James delivers a groundbreaking performance in an otherwise dreary story. Outside the Academy it’s likely the film will be passed over.
Dunkirk is emotionally challenging as the battle against Germany in World War II draws a hellish evacuation for the English, French and Belgians on the beach of Dunkirk, France. A visual extension of the sensory experience uses perspective to draw audiences into the ravage that feels distinctly reminiscent of a Christopher Nolan film. Positions from air, sea and land draw vantage on this huge cast featuring Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, and Fionn Whitehead. Dialogue is seldom where sound engineering is used to add impact and reflex to the explosive sequences. A cinematic spectacle with eye-catching cinematography is the best visual film of the year and is a real contender.
The nomination for Get Out is relevant and pays tribute the Academy’s ability to be forward thinking. In a year where the taboo was topic the film felt distinctly current by tackling issues on culture, race and oppression. Daniel Kaluuya holds you close as Christopher Washington in this living nightmare of white supremacy, while Allison Williams delivers a strong portrayal as his girlfriend, Catherine Keener. The range of comedy, tension and horror mask this film as something new, earning rave reviews and a cult following that will pay homage to the film well past award season.
Saoirse Ronan is effortless in her embodiment as Lady Bird, the seventeen-year-old finding her footing in a race to escape adolescence and her mother as she heads to college. The nostalgic 2002 setting sees Lady Bird as a mirror to millennials’ in the coming-of-age film everyone can relate to. As Lady Bird’s mother Marion, Laurie Metcalf, bares a likeness to the upbringing most teens face, especially with outside pressures. The social stages of obscurity, popularity, and self-defiance to acceptance are explored through the only movie this year that’ll leave you filled with joy. In a season with subject matter as dark as the movie industries #MeToo movement, the only nominated female Director Greta Girwig creates a beautiful female driven film that deserves the accreditation it’s bound to receive.
Of all this year’s nominations none are more mundane then The Post. I imagine both Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks agents doling through Oscar worthy scripts until they came across The Post. Looking to the movement of Argo (2012) and Spotlight (2016) shows the Academy’s favoritism towards films that promote their own importance and this incredibly bland film feels like bait. The cast alone would catch your attention without it being a historical film about a political scandal fronted by the country’s first female newspaper publisher. The Post has all the makings of an Oscar winner but feels disingenuous as both actors fail to deliver their best performances.
The Shape of Water
Guillermo Del Toro’s fantastical world in The Shape of Water was an immersive journey that pushed the limits of the imagination. As Elisa Sally Hawkins portrays a mute janitor in a laboratory where she encounters the amphibian man. Overcoming her passionate love for the creature, she is aided by her friends played by Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins—as the two face the oppression of society fronted by nemeses Michael Shannon in this season’s most dynamic ensemble. The film is nominated across categories including production design, costume design, and cinematography, which highlights the dimensions of Del Toro’s under-water illusion. As one of the best films of the year The Shape of Water will remain a cultural reference along with Pans Labyrinth (2006).
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
There is a shock when you realize the severity of the subject matter in this original screenplay. The injustice faced by Mildred’s daughter after her murderer isn’t found pushes her to put up three public billboards outside her hometown that change everything. Directly confronting subjects of motherhood, community, and death, Frances McDormand gives the best lead female performance of the year in this spine chilling saga that is shockingly good. Outside the acting categories that will surely sweep the awards, this isn’t the feature we need to define this year in film despite it being the lead contender.
The last on-screen performance from Daniel Day Lewis happens in the Phantom Thread, unfortunately. Three-time Oscar winner Lewis finds solace at the close of his career undertaking dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock at the height of British Haute Couture in the ‘50s. Following an unethical love affair with Woodcock’s muse Alma played by Vicky Krieps, feels secondary to the fashion that makes this film watchable. As a whole, the film misses the mark but perhaps the natural pauses provided by an on-demand experience will let audiences get through the film to mark the end of Lewis’ legendary career.