I really did not want to see Phantom Thread. And honestly, I am not entirely glad I did. But I wanted to see every movie nominated for Best Picture, and was intrigued that Daniel Day-Lewis announced directly after production that it was his last movie ever. Phantom Thread is set in 1950s post-war London. Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a famous dressmaker of the British elite.
As much as I love foisting my movie opinions on others, I don’t envy the jobs of Academy voters. Every year they put forth their best guesses as to what films and actors they feel stood out over the last 365 days and every year somebody somewhere will always feel their favorite piece or person has been snubbed. Unfortunately, those opinions are consistently more boisterous than the silent consent of the masses. That said, I think they’ve done a good job this year… for the most part. Best Actress has Frances McDormand (Three Billboards)?
Trevor White ’07, the executive producer for The Post, could walk on stage this year if The Post receives the award for Best Picture at the Oscars on March 4, and Reed Van Dyk ’07 is nominated for his role as writer and director for DeKalb Elementary, a short film.
The elevator pitch for The Shape of Water is “a fairytale for adults,” and the movie doubles down on this concept from the very beginning. The opening shot, a graceful long take, sweeps through an underwater home as if the viewer is swimming in it. The image is surreal, especially combined with Alexandre Desplat’s enchanting score and Richard Jenkins’ narration about the “princess without a voice.” Within the first minute, we’ve been transported into director Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy. Del Toro’s vivid imagination brings to life the story of a mute woman, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), in the 1960s who works as a janitor in a secret government laboratory in Baltimore. The science facility has captured an aquatic, humanoid amphibian, referred to as The Asset.
For the record, that’s not some clever title from me, that’s just the title of the movie. And, to be fair, why wouldn’t it be? That’s what the movie’s about: three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. Maybe it’s because lately I’ve only been seeing superhero movies, which I’ve been harshly informed are “the avatar of the dearth of creativity in American capitalism” (whatever that means), but Three Billboards really surprised me… in that it wasn’t called “Ebbing, Missouri: Age of Billboards” or “Billboard Battle.”
All jokes aside, I liked this movie and I’m surprised that I did because the title is just one of a couple things that make Three Billboards seem a little “Oscar-baity” on first glance. It’s small, it’s gritty and it tackles some extremely adult themes.
Directed by Sebastián Lelio, A Fantastic Woman (Una mujer fantástica) depicts an enigmatic and spirited transgender heroine, Marina, who unexpectedly lost her 20-years-older lover Orlando, and recounts the struggles and the precarious circumstances that she faced after Orlando’s sudden death.
The Oscars: an award show that expanded the number of Best Picture nominees after it snubbed a well-made, entertaining action movie, and yet still refuses to nominate well-made, entertaining action movies. I understand The Academy’s struggle, though. There are a lot of great films each year that simply need to get nominated, such as… The Flashily-Directed Movie About Actors Pursuing Their Dreams (La La Land)
The Uplifting Movie About Black People (Hidden Figures)
The Nuanced Movie About Black People (Moonlight)
The Movie That’s Not Nearly Pretentious Enough To Even Have A Chance (Hell or High Water)
The Movie About Everyday White People Wallowing In Their Own Despair (Manchester By The Sea)
The Movie Nobody Has Heard Of And Even Fewer People Have Actually Seen (Lion)
The Acting Showcase (Fences)
The War Movie (Hacksaw Ridge)
The Beautiful, Thought-Provoking Movie About Giant Squids Spraying Ink At The Actress From Enchanted Inside a 1000-Foot-Tall Hovering Black Potato (Arrival)
The Oscars could use a shake-up. At this time last year, I wrote an article introducing a hypothetical Oscar for Best Scene, which would allow The Academy to nominate movies that don’t exactly fit the Best Picture mold, but still have entertaining, technically impressive or inspired sequences.
After I published my article last week, I received comments from people around me: “Hey, you didn’t mention Finding Dory! What gives?” Well, I left Finding Dory off my list to talk about it more in-depth because the Academy gave it no nominations this year. Only four Pixar movies have ever been totally ignored by the Academy Awards; all of them have been in the past five years. Those films are Cars 2, Monsters University, The Good Dinosaur, and Finding Dory. See a pattern here?
Even though Citizen Kane is turning 75 this year and I LOVE keeping up with the number of things on the list with their age, I realize that 75 things about Kane would be lowkey obsessive, even for me. But how else could I honor the best film of the twentieth century (and perhaps all time) without going a bit berserk? This one’s for all the Orson Welles fangirls out there. I feel your love. It won the 1941 Oscars for Best Writing for an Original Screenplay, but was nominated for ninth overall.