On Sunday, March 4, one film will take home the Oscar for Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony. Nine out of the possible 10 films were nominated this year, each of them vastly different from the other. With a woman and a black man among the directors, this year’s awards have the potential to be noteworthy and exciting. Below is a breakdown of each of the nine films to help guide you throughout all your Oscar festivities.
The following reviews are by Valerie Duarte:
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as an illustrious dressmaker named Reynolds Woodcock for what he has said will be his last appearance on screen. A complicated relationship between him and a waitress named Alma (Vicky Krieps) develops immediately after he welcomes her into his life.
“Phantom Thread” provides a kinky and mysterious story about intimacy that I was not expecting but nonetheless kept me entertained. However, the film left me wanting an explanation and wanting to understand the characters so much so that it distracted me from appreciating the film itself. I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing something.
The independent film packs so much into so little time. It’s an accurate rendition of how girlhood and teen years feel. Greta Gerwig (also nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay) has chosen to make her directorial debut a coming-of-age story about Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) set in Sacramento, Calif. The relatable relationship between Lady Bird and her mother (Laurie Metcalf) adds weight and elevates the narrative about a goofy, fervent senior year. Both actresses are nominated for their performances. I will be pleased to see teen girls taken seriously and for “Lady Bird” to take home the Oscar.
“Call Me by Your Name”
Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 novel is absolutely tender and beautiful. Set in 1980s Italy, the romantic tale about 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and his father’s apprentice, 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer), could seem far from relatable to much of the masses. But “Call Me by Your Name” is sure to put butterflies in your stomach as it translates a very specific love story into a universal one, and that is why it is my personal pick for Best Picture. The calmness of the Italian countryside, juxtaposed with the tumultuous pairing of Chalamet (nominated for his performance) and Hammer left me eager to watch it again.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
A dark and dramatic, yet comic film stars Frances McDormand as a mother that is frustrated with the unsolved case of her daughter’s murder, along with other injustices she has experienced. McDormand and co-stars Woody Harrelson, who plays the town’s chief of police, and Sam Rockwell, a deputy, are all nominated for their performances. This is a film that only really deserves to win Best Picture for the twists and turns that make up the plot—nothing else. The cinematography was nothing new and I wasn’t fond of the insightful attitude that almost every character seemed to have.
The following reviews are by Antonio Dos Santos Lau:
One of the more popular choices for Best Picture, “Get Out” serves as Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. Peele, who previously was more known for his comedic prowess, also served as the main writer of the film that blew audiences away with its clever story and controversial standpoint on racism. The film tells a story of a young black man, played by Daniel Kaluuya, who goes to meet the family of his white girlfriend for the first time. As the film progresses, he begins to realize that her family has some sinister plans in store for him and he is forced to fight for his survival. This film is in consideration for Best Picture because it managed to balance horror with comedic undertones while also address the fact that racism, while generally frowned upon, is still very much alive in today’s society.
“Shape of Water”
Another front-runner for the award of Best Picture is the film “Shape of Water.” The film is directed and partially written by Guillermo del Toro who directed the “Hellboy” films in 2004 as well as “Pacific Rim” in 2013. Critics have praised the film for being a visual masterpiece as well as an emotional, yet unlikely love story. The film focuses on the relationship between a cleaning lady named Elisa, played by Sally Hawkins, and a mythical, amphibian creature, portrayed by Doug Jones, who is held captive at the secret government facility where Elisa works. While they are two totally different beings, Elisa, who is mute, and the creature both relate to the feeling of being outcasted by society and are able to view each other as beautiful, despite their respective flaws. Overall, the film was both original and thought provoking, making it a likely candidate to take home the award.
Set in the year 1940, Dunkirk tells the true story of the evacuation of allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches of Dunkirk in Northern France. Broken up into three sections, the film portrays the perspective of the soldiers on land, sea and air. One thing that stuck out to me was the amazing sound that the film featured. There were multiple parts of the film that made me feel like I was in a warzone and the music they chose in the film really helped intensify the scenes. There wasn’t a whole lot of dialogue in “Dunkirk,” as the film focused more on the environment and emotion on the faces of the actors to tell its story. While it may not be favored to win the Oscar, “Dunkirk” can definitely be viewed as a dark horse in the race, and could very well end up taking home the award.
Also set during World War II, “Darkest Hour” focuses on the famous Winston Churchill when he first took on the position of Prime Minister. The film follows Churchill in the year 1940, when Nazi forces were at the United Kingdom’s doorstep, ready to invade. It goes on to portray how Churchill rallied the country to stand tall as opposed to negotiating with their foreign enemy. While the film wasn’t my most favorite of the nominee’s, I will say that lead actor Gary Oldman did an amazing job portraying Churchill. Oldman was always an actor that I knew by face but not necessarily by name. In this film however, he was utterly unrecognizable due to not only heavy cosmetics but also his dedication of becoming his role. Even if the film doesn’t win Best Picture, Oldman should be recognized for the stellar work he put in to making this movie a consideration for the award.
Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” is the final nominee for this year’s Best Picture award. The film has a star-studded cast lead by Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks who, respectfully, portray Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee of The Washington Post. Graham was the first female publisher of a major American newspaper and Bradlee was her editor-in-chief. The film primarily focuses on the difficult decision that The Washington Post had to make on whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers, which were classified documents regarding the United State’s involvement in Vietnam between 1945-1967. The film gained positive recognition for the performances of its actors and has present day relevance due to the parallels between the Nixon administration and the current Trump administration. While I don’t believe this film will win the award, I still really enjoyed watching it and I was able to appreciate how the film depicted all the work that had to be put in for a paper to be published back in this time period.
While all the nominated films are critically acclaimed and deserving of the award, only one will come out on top. The Oscars will air on ABC at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 4, with Jimmy Kimmel as the host for the second consecutive year. Tune in to see which one of the nominees ultimately gets crowned Best Picture.