The 2018 Oscars are upon us and for the past couple of years now I’ve embarked on a mission to watch every movie that gets nominated for Best Picture. Usually that means Jenny is along for the ride, though I’m not sure if she always likes being apart of it just yet. My brother John is also in on it, though he lives on the other side of the planet, we always share our feelings about the movies we see and report our progress. Last year we began putting the name of every Best Picture nominee in a hat and drawing them out at random to choose our watching order. That has helped because in the past I would leave movies I was not interested in to watch near the end and almost always I would never get to them and not watch them. So here is my ranking of the nine Best Picture nominees this year.
- Dunkirk – The movie told a very important story from history, and made it come alive in a very real and gritty way. It almost made you feel like you were on the beach, much like Saving Private Ryan did in it’s opening scene. Christopher Nolan did a great job incorporating the element of time into the story. It was a bit confusing at first, but when I caught up it was a great addition to the movie.
2. Lady Bird – Lady Bird is probably the funniest movie I saw all year. Saoirse Ronan may quietly be becoming one of the best actresses of her generation and she’s only 23. Directing, writing, costumes, acting and virtually every part of this movie is right on point, something I wasn’t really expecting going in.
3. The Shape of Water – One of the oddest movies of the year might be the most endearing. Sally Hawkins is great as the mute protagonist, and the supporting cast helps bring this far-fetched tale to life. Guillermo del Toro masterfully directs the entire thing and should take home Best Director.
4. Get Out – Director Jordan Peele hit the right note with Get Out. He made it scary yes, but also managed to make an unbelievable plot (taking someone’s brain and putting it in another’s body) but made you feel like this type of bait and kidnapping could really happen. Also the tone and tension of race is perfectly set for America’s current political climate.
5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Here’s where I begin to draw the line between movies I really liked to movies that were alright with some flaws. Everything in Three Billboards is powerful; the acting, story, even the sets. I do see some major flaws in some sloppy storytelling, motivations of some characters, and the redemption of Sam Rockwell’s racist cop. I think the director was going more for shock value with Woody Harrelson’s character’s suicide than actually the right choice for the story.
6. The Post – While a nice reminder of the importance of watchdog journalism in our current political climate, it’s your run of the mill “hard-working reporters bring down shady government” movie. It just doesn’t have the same humanity as Spotlight, or urgency as All The President’s Men and takes a backseat to those two movies in it’s genre. I think it was somewhat disappointing for a Steven Spielberg movie starring Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and a great supporting cast. On paper this should be a classic, but on screen it is just another movie.
7. Darkest Hour – Another take on the Dunkirk story, this follows the politics of the extraction rather than the soldiers on the beach as in Dunkirk. This movie is basically all about Gary Oldman’s performance as Winston Churchill. The performance is great, but that’s about all that stands out from the movie, which as a whole is pretty average.
8. Phantom Thread – This is where I draw the line between movies I liked and movies I hated. I hated Phantom Thread. I get it was more about subtle character development and manipulation, and under the surface goings on. I believe one of the main things a movie is supposed to be is entertaining, and Phantom Thread is one of the least entertaining movies I’ve ever watched. I know all the movie snobs out there will say “you just don’t get it”. Trust me, I got it, but bye the end I was so bored I just wanted her to murder/suicide him with the mushrooms and let it end.
9. Call Me By Your Name – I am not the audience that Call Me By Your Name was made for and I knew that going in. That doesn’t stop be from being able to detest the movie. Like Phantom Thread I thought it was rather dull and boring, although more interesting that the previous. I thought the Characters were fairly wooden and clashed, and their relationships were all forced, including the weird family dynamic. Armie Hammer’s older Oliver is pretty clearly manipulating Timothee Chalamet’s younger Elio’s feelings for him in not a very healthy way. Oliver seems to get what he wants out of the trip, while leaving Elio to fend for himself at the end. It will probably go down for me as one of my least favorite movies of all-time.
Well there it is, I’m sure most people will argue that I have the rankings backwards or have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ll say that this is more of a list of my favorite nominees, not necessarily the best movies of the year. I’m no film critic and I’m not going to sit here trying to tell you that Call Me By Your Name and Phantom Thread are terrible movies, or that Dunkirk and Lady Bird are all-time masterpieces. I like what I like, and everyone else out there has a different opinion, which is great. I’ll just be rooting for Dunkirk, Lady Bird, and Shape of Water when the red carpet is rolled out.