You find me feeling really annoyed today. As you know, I had intended to finish watching all of the films nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award before the Oscars. I managed it but failed to get down my predictions for the awards. To be honest, I was so tired after work on Sunday that I fell asleep. It’s a problem I often have. What can I say? I love to nap. If I had published my predictions I would have been pretty much 100% accurate. The only one I refused to call was Best Support Actress because it was a tough call. Every other main category, I got right. Of course, saying this without proof is meaningless. However, I was one of the few people who correctly saw that Three Billboards wouldn’t win Best Picture. Not that it was a terrible film; it just isn’t an Oscars film. The Shape of Water was the obvious winner. It was beautifully made and beautifully performed. It was an all-rounder. The only one that might have beaten it? Lady Bird. Frances McDormand and Gary Oldman were, basically, unstoppable. And Sam Rockwell. Sorry to anybody else in that category but he was the star. My only upset at the awards was the lack of award for Greta Gerwig. I knew Guillermo Del Toro would win but it would have been a great move for the Academy to give the female director her due. It just goes to show, no matter how well #Timesup and #Metoo are doing, there is still a long way to go for gender equality. And let’s not even get started on racial equality. Hollywood may be improving but it’s still a man’s world.
But the point of this post isn’t to get too into a rant about Hollywood. I wanted to do a bunch of quick reviews for all of the Best Picture films that I haven’t been able to review yet. This week I watched the final 3 films and couldn’t decide which of them to fully review. So I thought, why not do them all… but super quickly. It’s my birthday week and I am highly in demand. So let’s get this done.
- The Post
Remember back in 2008 when Righteous Kill came out and everyone was super excited to see Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro finally being on screen together since Heat? Then the film turned out to be awful. I feel like The Post was so close to being another Righteous Kill. This was the first time that Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep would come together to make a film. Three of Hollywood’s most respected coming together to celebrate Katherine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. It was a story with a lot of potential and starring 2 actors who always capture the attention of the Academy. This should have been a sure fire hit.
The reality? It doesn’t feel like anybody is really doing their best here. This isn’t Spielberg at his hackiest but it’s certainly not his best. It’s portrays the fast nature of the event but it all feels a bit… blah. Then there’s Meryl Streep who kind of walks it in. She’s not terrible but she’s been so much better. And Tom Hanks? I don’t know what he was doing with his accent but he just sounded like Janet Snakehole from Parks and Rec. What The Post does really well is take a point from America’s history and make it relevant for today’s audience. The themes here, mostly the idea of freedom of the press, are supremely relevant today and it knows it. Does it know it a bit too much? Yeah, but there is a great deal of power here. There have been better films discussing these ideas but it’s not as if The Post should be ashamed. I just wish this trio had come up with something better.
- The Phantom Thread
The Phantom Thread possibly owes a lot to being Daniel Day Lewis’ final film before his, supposed, retirement from acting. I imagine there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t have aid it any attention had it not been. It certainly wasn’t highest up my list of films I wanted to watch this year. However, I’m glad I did. Daniel Day Lewis made this film what it is. His performance was so strong and committed. Playing a famous London couturier living with his sister. He has quite the reputation and the ego that goes with it. He is indulged by everyone around him, including his sister whom he lives with. Until he meets and falls in love with a young waitress who won’t accept his behaviour and struggles to fit into his world.
The Phantom Thread was so much more than I was expecting. There is a dark humour hidden beneath its gorgeous aesthetic. This is a celebration of beauty in all areas and is a sumptuous experience. It also tells a pretty convincing story about what it’s like to be in love with an artist. It occasionally loses its way but, eventually, you just go with it. Despite all of the dark and dodgy elements to this story, there is an underlying sense of hope here. A sense that, despite every potential problem, there is always a way to find a balance between what you want and what you need. A way to balance who you are as an artist and who you want to be as a lover. It’s a weird romantic story but, partly thanks to The Shape of Water, manages to feel completely normal.
- Call Me By Your Name
I wasn’t sure I would enjoy Call Me By Your Name mainly because pretty much everyone has been banging on about how great it is. There was so much hype surrounding this film that I, kind of, wanted it to suck. So many people named it their film of last year but I couldn’t imagine it being better than either Lady Bird or The Shape of Water. I waited until the last moment to watch this because of my reservations. But, now that I’ve finally seen it, I’m happy to say it was a pretty great film. Not the best, by any means, but I really enjoyed it. I think this all comes down to the performances of Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. They both do remarkably well to convey a tender and passionate love that both men try to prevent. Chalamet, in particular, is fantastic at going through the journey of a young man experiencing his first real love. You can’t help but get caught up in their romance.
My only real issue with this film is the director. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very beautiful film but there is something off about certain scenes that remove you from the moment. Take the first time Elio and Oliver have sex. The camera slowly pans away from the bed and points to a tree outside of the window. It stays there an uncomfortably long time whilst the two men are moaning and groaning in the background. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I get that he didn’t want to show anything too explicit, which is fine. I just don’t get the decision to do it in such a half-arsed way. This film feels like its trying to be arty but never quite managing it. It believes that it is something more than it is. If it hadn’t been such an empowering LGBT+ story with such talented actors, Call Me By Your Name would have been nothing.
- Get Out
I gave a brief review of this film in my Sunday Rundown the week I watched it but I decided to give it a quick look over here. Otherwise it would be the only Best Picture nominee that didn’t feature in a Tuesday’s Reviews. I didn’t want to do a full review of this because I was worried about spoiling it. I do, however, think this film is perfect. It has been marketed as a tacky horror film but it is so much more than that. Yes, it is a perfect homage of classic horror film. It’s also a clever and real portrayal of life in America today. Yes, it’s sensationalised but it comes from a very real place. This deserved to be nominated in every category this year and Jordan Peele more than deserved his win for writing the screenplay. In an ideal world it would have been a real contender for Best Picture but, let’s be honest, the Academy is nowhere near ready for that. But Get Out is a sensational film that will stay with you after you watch it.