2018 Oscar Thoughts

Making one of my rare and unsolicited film posts because as of an hour ago I’ve seen all of the Oscar best picture nominees and as usual I have Things To Say.

I’ve decided to rank them by personal preference, from worst to best… but this is a very subjective list.

darkest-hour-one-sheet-600x888DARKEST HOUR
directed by: Joe Wright

Imperialist garbage that brings no depth or complexity or nuance or pathos to Churchill’s character.  And on top of that, it’s boring and utterly lifeless.  I expected to at least be grudgingly impressed by Oldman’s performance (grudgingly because I do not like him), but I was not.  I thought Churchill’s big speech was delivered better in a totally deadpan tone by Fionn Whitehead in Dunkirk.  I’d rather see Denzel Washington, Daniel Kaluuya, or Daniel Day Lewis take home the Oscar, but obviously that’s not going to happen.  Oh well.  The only thing I enjoyed about this was Lily James being her normal adorable self.

post_xxlgTHE POST
directed by: Steven Spielberg

Listen, I am going to be completely honest here, I think I zoned out for a solid 70% of this movie and I had to have my friend explain to me what was going on.  This was a complete snoozefest, not helped along by Hanks and Streep essentially playing themselves and bringing no heart or passion to this story.  I don’t understand Spielberg’s direction, either – he tried to turn a simple story about tenacity and perseverance into a dramatic thriller, and the pieces didn’t add up.  That was 2 hours of my life wasted.

mv5bndk3ntewnjc0mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzyxntmwmzi-_v1_CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Okay, I apologize in advance because I know this is a #controversial opinion, but… I very much did not like this movie.  I did like the book (with a lot of reservations), but my dislike of the movie had nothing to do with ‘the book was better!!1!!’ (anyone who’s heard me talk about book to film adaptations knows I am NOT a stickler for book accuracy – and CMBYN was a rather faithful adaptation, so that wasn’t my problem).  But the way Elio and Oliver’s relationship translated to the screen made my skin crawl.  In the book, there’s a 7 year age gap between them – 17 and 24 – which, though legal in Italy, raises a lot of questions about the fundamentally imbalanced power dynamic when you have a relationship with an age gap like that.  In the film, Armie Hammer looks 30 and Timothee Chalamet looks 15.  That’s a 15 year age gap that’s visually being portrayed, which, in and of itself I’m not terribly comfortable with – but then the visual cues we get on top of that are so misguided without Elio’s accompanying commentary that we get in the book.  e.g., at one point in the book Oliver touches his shoulder and Elio pulls away because he finds it so arousing – we see that exact same scene in the film, but it just has such a predatory air to it since we don’t know why Elio is pulling away.  And I mean, aside from that, this movie is too long and meandering.  Good soundtrack, though.

shape_of_waterTHE SHAPE OF WATER
directed by: Guillermo del Toro

I always have such dispassionate reactions to Guillermo del Toro films, which is odd since, as you guys know, I love books and films that are just plain weird.  I mean, Yorgos Lanthimos is my favorite director, so that probably says a lot right there.  But del Toro’s brand of weirdness doesn’t quite match my own, I guess, because I always end up thinking ‘oh, that was good,’ but not quite feeling it.  That’s how I felt about The Shape of Water.  This film is beautifully constructed, wonderfully acted, compelling, strange, different, just… not really for me.  It was probably a bit too fairytale-like for my personal preferences.  But I still wouldn’t mind seeing it win.  del Toro is a passionate filmmaker with truly unique visions – I’d love to see him recognized for it.

mv5bmjg1ndy0ndyzmv5bml5banbnxkftztgwnziwmtewndi-_v1_sy1000_cr006761000_al_LADY BIRD
directed by: Greta Gerwig

I had the strangest reaction to Lady Bird.  I saw this movie twice – first at theatres then at home.  The first time I saw it, I loved it.  I related so much to the titular character and to her relationship with her mother in particular.  Obviously all coming of age movies have a certain formula to them and this one was no exception, but I found it so heartfelt and compelling and I saw so much of myself in it that I didn’t mind at all.  And then I saw it again, and… man, did this not hold up in a rewatch.  I don’t know what happened, but none of the passion I found in it the first time was there the second time.  I think it’s because it’s a film that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of depth.  It has a story to tell and it does it well, but it’s not the kind of film that has a lot to offer that’s lurking beneath the surface.  So, I never really know what to do with it in rankings like this.  I guess it’s fitting that it’s just floating somewhere in the middle.  Anyway, this was my hard reminder that not all films are made to be watched again and again.  I’d still die for Saoirse Ronan though.

phantom_thread_posterPHANTOM THREAD
directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

This film completely crept up on me.  It’s slow moving, and the first act sets up a rather formulaic story: older man falls in love with younger muse, they try to change each other, love perseveres.  And then that is just… not where it goes.  At all.  There’s such an undeniable artistry to this film’s construction – it was hard not to be compelled by the score and the top-tier performances.  And Alma is one of the greatest characters I’ve ever seen.

 

get_out_ver2GET OUT
directed by: Jordan Peele

One of the most important films made in recent years, which fearlessly tackles anti-black racism through a lens which specifically examines microaggressions.  And on top of that, it’s entertaining as hell.  It’s horror, it’s comedy, it’s suspense, it’s just a damn good story, and I’d love to see it win best picture simply for the important conversations it’s started, both in and out of the film industry.

 

 

636259596029402722-billboardsposterTHREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
directed by: Martin McDonagh

Full disclosure: I’m a little biased.  I’ve been a huge fan of Martin McDonagh since I first saw In Bruges in 2008, which quickly became my favorite film of all time.  I’ve since read the majority of his plays, seen one of them performed live, seen all of his films multiple times, including his Oscar-winning short… anyway, I’m biased.  I love this man’s storytelling.  I love that he deals in complex morality – I love the almost surreal twisted fairytale quality to the darkness of his scripts.  I love that none of his characters are ever fully redeemed – we’re just shown glimmers of hope that maybe one day the cycle of anger and revenge can be broken.  I think that’s the point of Three Billboards – it’s not a straightforward redemption story like some think it is, and while I understand some of the backlash and criticisms, I still think it’s one of the most interesting and thought-provoking films I’ve seen in ages, and I’ve enjoyed really digging into these characters’ motives and divining their twisted moral compasses.

dunkirk_film_posterDUNKIRK
directed by: Christopher Nolan

Love, love, love.  I saw this three times in theatres and I cried a lot.  The sheer tension and heightened emotionality of this film is incredible.  I think one of the most annoying things you can say about a movie is ‘it’s not a film, it’s an experience’ so I’m trying to resist putting this into those words, but that’s basically what it comes down to.  This film really challenged everything I thought I knew about how to tell this kind of story.

 

And now, all this nonsense for the main categories, if you’re curious about my wants & predictions:

BEST PICTURE
Prediction: The Shape of Water
Want: Dunkirk or Get Out for very different reasons

BEST ACTOR
Prediction: Gary Oldman
Want: Denzel Washington

BEST ACTRESS
Prediction: Frances McDormand
Want: Margot Robbie

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Prediction: Sam Rockwell
Want: Sam Rockwell

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Prediction: Allison Janney
Want: Mary J. Blige

BEST DIRECTOR
Prediction: Guillermo del Toro
Want: Guillermo del Toro

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Prediction: Call Me By Your Name
Want: Mudbound

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Prediction: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Want: Get Out

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Prediction: Coco
Want: Loving Vincent

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Prediction: The Shape of Water
Want: The Killing of a Sacred Deer Dunkirk

ORIGINAL SCORE
Prediction: The Shape of Water
Want: Dunkirk

What do you guys think of this year’s Oscar nominations?  Comment and let me know!

23 thoughts on “2018 Oscar Thoughts

  1. It’s interesting to see why you disagree with a lot of the nominations, but they’re totally valid points. It’s disappointing when a film you like doesn’t stand up on a rewatch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! And on the flip side I totally understand why each of them were nominated, even if I personally disagree. And it really is 😦 I still have a lot of fondness for Lady Bird, but I was sad to see a lot of the magic go out of it the second time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve only watched Dunkirk so far and I liked it a lot, my main motivation for watching it was Aneurin Barnard being in it (as I’m a huge fan of his), but it surprised me a lot and I adored it! ❤
    I'm very curious about Lady Bird, The Shape of Water and Call Me By Your Name (I've seen some people complain about this one before, it made me a bit worried, I'll make sure to read the book before watching the movie for a better experience).
    Great post! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love Aneurin Barnard! He was so great in that and his character always makes me cry 😥

      I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts on all of these! Thank you! ❤️

      Like

  3. It was interesting to read your opinions. With some of them I agree very much, even your “controversial” ones, even though I still think Get Out just borrowed too much from other movies to get such great reviews and be recognised in the Best Original Screenplay category. Besides, its ending was just so weak and ill-considered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to hear it!

      As for Get Out, I guess since I see it as a genre film, a lot of its borrowed elements seem to me more like tropes than specific intellectual property belonging to another film in particular. I think the screenplay is strong and original for the racial angle, which was so deeply embedded in the narrative it didn’t read to me like ‘average horror movie that happens to have a black cast.’ I think it deserves to be recognized in that category for the conversations it’s started about antiblack racism, if nothing else. And I liked the ending, but to each his own!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tropes? Peele simply combined Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Stepford Wives and The Skeleton Key, how difficult was that? The movie just falls short of a combined remake of all these three movies, but what angered me the most was that the very beginning of Get Out was shot-by-shot identical to the beginning of the film The Invitation. I agree to disagree, of course.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I would consider the ‘creepy house/creepy family with a dark history’ premise a trope, yeah. All of the films mentioned take that and spin the story in a completely different direction – and I would argue that Get Out is deliberately subversive of that familiar story that’s almost always about white characters. I did notice the similarity of that scene to The Invitation but I guess I didn’t mind because I thought it had a lot of weight in Get Out given the symbolism of deer through the rest of the film… but yes, definitely a case of agreeing to disagree.

        Like

  4. Awesome post! I’ve only seen one film on this list (Get Out) so I can’t offer much in the way of opinions/predictions…but I’d never heard of Phantom Thread and it sounds super interesting so now I want to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’m so excited about Get Out winning original screenplay, I actually liked most of the films in that category but it still completely deserved it. And I think/hope you’ll like Phantom Thread! imo it’s kind of what The Beguiled tried and failed to do…. start with a sort of male narrative and twist it so the female characters have the upper hand – except, in Phantom Thread, you’re rooting for the woman, 100%.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s such a good idea to watch all the Oscar nominated films! I’ve seen CMBYN, Get Out and Lady Bird, and I liked all of them. I really loved CMBYN but I totally agree that the actors looked like they had a massive age gap and I was surprised that Oliver was only supposed to be 24, he definitely looked his real age… I’m going to watch the oscars later today

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you have fun watching them! Honestly like 80% of my problems with the CMBYN film could have been solved by recasting Armie Hammer (who I don’t think is a very good actor anyway) – I really didn’t understand casting someone who looks 30 for a role like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You’re absolutely right about “Darkest Hour” – I was watching it and couldn’t believe how propagandistic it was. It’s like using Churchill as a Brexit manifesto. My favorite film this year was “Three Billboards”, also because I believe “In Bruges” is one of the best movies ever, and because I absolutely love Frances McDormand. I found “The Shape of Water” a bit trite, even though the visual effects were great. And yes, “Dunkirk” is really something else – I felt it with my entire body in the theatre. It’s a shame it was overlooked. It should have won Best Picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is EXACTLY how I feel about all of these films. Much as I loathe Churchill, I do find him an interesting figure and I had some hope (not a lot of hope, granted) that Darkest Hour would examine his actions from a critical perspective, but I was so disappointed at the film’s blatantly imperialist agenda. I’m glad to see Three Billboards getting some love, I think McDonagh is such a talented writer and Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell both gave such tour de force performances, it was hard not to be compelled by it. Trite is the perfect word for The Shape of Water, unfortunately… I did like Pan’s Labyrinth (though I wouldn’t say I LOVED it) and I was hoping for something similarly dark and sinister from The Shape of Water, so I was disappointed at just how tame and formulaic and occasionally corny it was. (Not to mention that for a film which celebrates ~otherness, the least they could have done was use a deaf or mute actress.) Dunkirk was robbed for Best Picture, I absolutely agree. That film was rare and extraordinary.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The Post and Call Me By Your Name were amazing. I liked Shape of Water but c’mon, it wasn’t 4-Oscars worthy!

    Like

  8. I haven’t seen most of these, but I really feel you on the CMBYN stuff. The obvious age difference in the trailer made me way too uncomfortable to go see it, even before I knew what the “actual” age difference was. I understand why some people love it, but it’s just a no-go for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought I might be able to suspend my disbelief and pretend that Armie Hammer looks 24 but I just couldn’t, especially with how their dynamic was handled in the film. There’s such an undeniable predatory vibe to it and it annoys me that this is the kind of gay relationship we’re portraying in mainstream cinema, especially in the wake of recent events… I mean, I know this movie was made before the Kevin Spacey scandal, but there are no dearth of stories about older guys preying on younger guys and it’s so unfortunate. Especially given the progress that was made last year with Moonlight. Ugh. Anyway I’m ranting sorry I just cannot deal with this movie.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Totally agree with Shape of Water, it’s so weird, but beautiful! I actually really liked The Post, as a fan of journalism-themed movies. Dunkirk and Get Out are both faves as well, also maybe we liked it so much because we watched it much earlier in the year so our judgement wasn’t clouded by the fact that we know it’s nominated in the Oscars? Anyways, I really need to watch Lady Bird and Three Billboards, I’ve heard great things about them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think being a fan of journalism movies definitely would have helped with The Post! The subject matter didn’t appeal to me to begin with so I sort of knew I wasn’t going to like it, it never had a fair chance from me. I’m glad you also loved Dunkirk and Get Out! I hope you like Lady Bird and Three Billboards as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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