The Oscars are coming soon, and all the nominations are out. This year, nine movies are up for best picture. Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, The Shape of Water, Get Out, Phantom Thread, Call Me By Your Name, The Darkest Hour, The Post, and Dunkirk. Some of these movies I loved, others, I am mixed on. I will not be delving into spoilers here, but I will give a quick synopsis of my thoughts on each movie, along with where I rank them. But first, I need to talk about a few movies I thought were snubbed.
Honorable mentions/ Snubs
1. Blade Runner 2049-
How was this movie not nominated? Not only is it better than half the other movies that were nominated, but it is honestly good enough to win Best Picture. It is honestly one of the best sequels ever made and improved upon the original in almost every conceivable way, and I love the original movie. It has the best special effects and cinematography of any movie this year. Denis Villeneuve continues to put out great movies every year, and this is one of his best movies. The acting is great, even Jered Leto. I have a couple issues with the plot, but nothing major. I do not want to spoil the movie so I won’t go into detail. But there is an argument that this could be a 10/10 movie, though I would leave it as a 9/10. If this wasn’t snubbed, it would be third in my rankings.
2. Good Time
I had a blast watching Good Time. Is it the best movie of the year, no, but it is at least better than a couple movies that were nominated. Robert Pattinson gives a legitimately amazing performance. The movie was tense, fun, and well made from a filmmaking standpoint. The movie doesn’t have the star power in front of or behind the camera to get the attention it deserves. But this crime thriller about a brother trying to get his brother out of jail is one of the top 10 movies of the year. To get zero nominations is a joke. 7/10
3. Big Sick
Romantic Comedies tend to be the exact same movie, every time. Two unlikely people come together. They flirt, come together, have a good time, and then some contrived bullshit pulls them apart so the big climax can be one of them making some grand gesture to win them back. These movies are usually full of creepiness, that is presented as normal relationship stuff. But Big Sick broke the mold. Big Sick is a heartfelt story, based on the real relationship of writers Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, who also stars. Big Sick is funny but is also sincere. I do not think it is the Best Movie of the year, but I would kick 4 of the movies nominated out to make space for Big Sick. 7/10
Best Picture Rankings
9. The Darkest Hour
I wasn’t excited at all for this movie. I knew that it would be a Best Picture nomination from seeing the first trailer. This movie feels like it was made specifically to be Oscar Bait. Get a well-known actor to play a historical figure, and make the movie all intense and serious. To be fair, Oldman’s performance as Churchill was great, and he could win Best Actor and I would be fine with that. But this movie is no different than any other biopic. We have a movie like this every year, to varying success. The ones that work, are ones that focus on more than getting a great performance out of their lead. But Oldman’s performance is the only exceptional aspect of this movie. Beyond that, it is average. I could make a top 30 list of 2018 movies, and this may not make the list. 6/10
8. Lady Bird
Lady Bird was a fine movie. It is the typical coming of age movie. A teen girl struggles with relationships at school and at home, comedy and drama ensues. I enjoyed it. The humor worked, the writing was top notch, though cliche at times and the acting was mostly great as well. As for the directing, it was very good for a directorial debut, but not without flaws. The camera angles were mostly uninteresting and standard. There is nothing inherently wrong with standard, but if we are talking about giving someone an award for Best Directing, or Best Picture, the standard doesn’t cut it. But again, it is Greta Gerwig’s first time directing a feature-length movie. She has shown she has talent. Her writing was great, and the directing will get better with experience. I enjoyed this movie, but I do not think it is deserving of a Best Picture Nod. If I had to rate it, I would say a 6.5/10.
7. The Post
Another movie that just has the Oscar Bait feel. These movies about the true story about some journalists trying to break some major story. This time, it is the story of the Washington Post exposing the Pentagon Papers. Now the story itself is important, but the movie is only decent. The performances are of course good with leads like Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, but like most Speilberg movies from the last two decades, the film itself is pretty standard. It reminds me of Spotlight, another movie that told the true story of some journalists breaking some big story. They are fine movies, but hardly worthy of these awards, though Spotlight did win. 6.5/10.
I am torn on Dunkirk. On one hand, it is a true cinematic experience. It is tense, thrilling, and really does make you feel like you are in the middle of a war. On the other hand, it has issues. The dialogue is often hard to hear. Christopher Nolan defends this by saying he wants it to sound realistic, but there are ways to get around that. You can use subtitles. You can have the characters shout over the loud sounds around them. But Nolan did neither, making it hard to hear what characters are saying. Also, the movie is nowhere near the same experience out of the theater. The movie relies on the big screen, and the theater sound system to be the experience it is. Without this, it feels like a standard war movie. So it gets downgraded. But still, the movie is the first movie on this list I think actually deserves the best picture nod. It was finely crafted despite these flaws. 7/10
5. Get Out
The horror movie genre may be the genre with the lowest success rate. The majority of horror movies released are lazy garbage that exists only to have jump scares that scare people. But Get Out was different. Get Out offers amazing social commentary, likable and intelligent characters, deeply unsettling antagonists, and genuine humor. It is immensely impressive considering it is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. I would have assumed Peele could make a good comedy, but for him to come out and make a great, intelligent, horror film, is amazing. The movie is about racism, but it is never preachy. Too many movies with social commentary fall into that trap, but Peele masterfully avoids that. My complaints, there was some cheesy jump scares, jump scares that use the annoying womp sound in post. I hate when horror movies add sound in post, that is unnatural to the world of the movie, just to scare people. But it only happened a couple times and is only a very minor problem. Should it win? Probably not, but I do think it deserves to be here. 8/10
4. The Shape of Water
No one makes fairy tale movies the way Del Toro does. He has this way of capturing the imagination of audiences, while still keeping us grounded. Of course, his movies have always been praised for the creature effects, but he can also tell a great story. This is his best movie since Pan’s Labyrinth. I talked earlier about Big Sick doing a good job breaking the convention of romance movies, but Shape of Water breaks the mold even more. To tell a love story about a Mute Woman, and a Sea Monster, and for it to work, is amazing. The acting is great, the story is great. Some of the movie is cheesy, especially Michael Shannon’s antagonist character, but it is hard to tell a romance story without some cheese. The most impressive part of this movie, it’s budget was only around $20 million. That is half the budget of The Cloverfield Paradox, and that movie was a piece of crap. This is the first movie on this list that I think would be deserving of winning the award, discounting Blade Runner which was snubbed. 8.5/10.
3. Call me By Your Name
Another well made romance movie. I am sure a lot of people will miss out on a good movie because they are uncomfortable with a romance about two men. Those of us who are not immature got to see a fantastic movie though. The cinematography and music in this movie were fantastic. The movie is a feast of the senses. All the senses work well together to make it very easy to get drawn in. What really sells the movie though is how believable the emotions are. You believe these two characters are in love with each other, and the movie doesn’t need the crutch of using sex or nudity to sell that. Romances are not usually my type of movie, but I can enjoy this movie from a film perspective because it is wonderfully crafted. 9/10.
2. Phantom Thread
This was Daniel Day-Lewis’s last movie, and boy did he go out with a bang. As usual, his performance was near flawless. But this movie is far more than a good performance. The soundtrack is top notch, the directing is exactly as good as it has to be, and all the other actors deliver brilliant performances. The movie is a beautiful look into the nature of abusive relationships, and how people can become trapped in them. The movie is disturbing but in a good way. I do not want to spoil why it is so disturbing because if you haven’t seen it, you should go into it blank. I do not know if it will win, the disturbing nature may be a bit off-putting to some Oscar voters, but it is more than deserving of a win. 9.5/10.
1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri
And finally, we come to Three Billboards, my favorite movie of the year.Now this movie is controversial. The blog and Tumblr crowd accuse this movie of glossing over the racist backstory of the character Jason Dixon, a racist cop. But here is the thing, his racism is just a character trait, it is not part of the story. Not every movie needs to be about racism. Look beyond the movie not being woke enough for you, and you will see a movie that is crafted flawlessly. The acting is fantastic, the story is amazing. It balances comedy and drama perfectly. It is tense, it is fun, and honestly, it may be one of my favorite movies of all time. Not every movie needs to be about issues important to you. Do not let the angry Tumblr crowd dissuade you from seeing this movie any more than you would let angry people from the right dissuade you from seeing Call me by Your Name. You can disagree with the politics of a movie, and still appreciate the movie. The movie is brilliant. 10/10