I watched them all. All nine of them. Here is a brief, no spoiler review of each Best Picture nominee. Following that, I will predict some winners in the major categories. Then I will elaborate on some themes from this year’s movie selections. So, here here we go, in alphabetical order.
Best Picture Quick-Review
Call Me By Your Name
Pretentious. Snobbish. Boring. The only truly great part of this film was the acting done by Michael Stuhlbarg. I can’t get the thought out of my mind that this film is nominated solely because it is a homosexual love story. If it were a straight love story, with all the same elements, people would yawn. What is not a yawn, though, is the very disturbing ages involved–a grown man and a 17 year old boy. I’m pretty sure that is a crime.
This film has some great one liners, and the storytelling is superb. It is hard to take such a well known subject and historical figure as Winston Churchill and make it interesting, but this movie does just that. There are some bits that are ahistorical, but that doesn’t take away from the truly outstanding film this is.
If like you lots of scenic panoramas, then this is your film. However, if you like a little dialogue, then maybe not so much. I bet the screenplay for this movie is no more than a page and a half.
Of all the films, this one surprised the most in how much I enjoyed. It is equal part Rosemary’s Baby, The Village, and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.
If you like Juno, you’ll love this movie. Great acting. Witty dialogue. Religious overtones, both positive and negative, as well as that great classic mother/daughter angst.
Asparagus. Mushrooms. and Loud breakfast. That is all you need to know. The acting here is superb, but the story leaves me flat. The MC is interesting, but not interesting enough to make me care.
Great historical film, but I think it misses the mark in terms of greatness. It wants to be Spotlight for the Vietnam War. This is not Spotlight.
The Shape Of Water
Of all the movies nominated, this was the one I was most excited about. Boy, was I disappointed. I know lots of people love this film, but I just couldn’t. The acting is good (again, Michael Stuhlbarg steals the show) but I hated the overall story. And what is with the Parisian arthouse soundtrack to a 1960s era movie set on the East Coast? This movie ruined some of the sweet nostalgia I have for The Creature From The Black Lagoon.
Three BillboardsOutside Ebbing, Missouri
This is a disturbing movie. Its s loud, profane, vulgar, and shocking. These elements combine in a powerful way to evoke deep emotions. It reminded me of the Coen Brothers.
I predict Darkest Hour. Billboards has a punchers chance, and Get Out is a long shot.
This is the toughest one for me to pick. It should probably go to Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk, with would split the best picture and best director categories. The problem is, Jordan Peele did so much with so little in the movie Get Out that I really think I want him to win.
If anyone besides Gary Oldman wins it is a travesty. I love Denzel Washington, but if he wins it is because the academy feels guilty for not picking him last year for his outstanding role in Fences.
Frances McDormand in a landslide. If Saoirse Ronan won, though, I wouldn’t be mad.
Woody Harrelson. He and Rockwell could split the vote, but I think Harrelson has this. The biggest question is why is Willem Dafoe even on this list. The best acting in The Florida Project was Brooklynn Prince as Moonee and Bria Vinaite as Halley, who aren’t nominated for anything anywhere, which is a real shame.
Laurie Metcalf wins.
Blade Runner 2049, although Dunkirk might sneak in there.
It is always interesting to me how the Oscar films tend to follow themes that might reveal a lot about culture and the times in which we live. This year is no different.
- The historical Dunkirk as the symbol of snatching hope in the moment of despair. This is the focal point of both Dunkirk and Darkest Hour. I feel like these are companion films that should be watched together.
- Elaborating on that theme, the overall feeling of ‘trapped’ comes to mind. That is true in Dunkirk and Darkest Hour, but also Get Out, The Shape Of Water, and even Call Me By Your Name if you get right down to it. One can even spot that theme in the movie Lady Bird and it shines brightly in The Florida Project and MudBound.
- Only two films are set in the present time–Billboards and Get Out. (Caveat, it is possible in mind that Get Out is actually set in the future, but that is a different discussion). As the world gets more complicated and technologically driven, the stories we tell go back to simpler times. This might be because telling a story in the era of technology is difficult. This is what some of the problem was with the Blade Runner reboot. Technology is not all that interesting, and it removes opportunity for narrative.
- Women are the future. Water, Billboards, The Post, and Lady Bird are female driven films. This is a very good thing. The next hurdle for Oscar will be women behind the camera getting serious consideration for directing.
You know I’ll be watching the Oscars Sunday night. I guess we will wait and see who wins and how right or wrong I was. I still have not forgiven Oscar for Birdman, so disappointments are possible.