I challenged myself to watch all the best picture nominees this year – before the actual ceremony. In case you plan to binge watch them, here is a review on each and in the order, I think you should watch them in. (Oh ya, spoilers ahead.)
Get Out. Start here, especially if you’re not into indie, historic, or typical Oscar-nominated films.
What it’s about: The reason you should not date a crazy white girl, who’s family lives in the suburbs. It’s a little bit Hannibal Lecture meets Scream. There are some lobotomies conducted in the basement, and people get invited to bid on physical attributes of people to put their brains into. (Ya, creep factor = 8).
Why you should see it: Jordan Peele better known for comedies, challenges himself with the twisted storyline to this one. It’s a good entry into the next 8 movies you’ll have to complete.
The Shape of Water
What it’s about: A mute cleaning lady, Elisa falls in love with a captured sea creature at high-security government lab in 1963 Baltimore. She frees him in a Beauty & the Beast like plotline and ends up one with him in the sea.
Why you should see it: Octavia Spencer is part of “The Help” at the lab acting as Elisa’s voice, and it’s a Guillermo del Toro – ever weird but with great messaging even if the central character is mute.
What it’s about: Winston Churchill and his rise to power during World War II as Prime Minister of Great Britain and how he must try to figure out negotiations with Nazi Germany.
Why you should see it: Gary Oldman does a magnificent job of portraying Churchill both in personal and his work life. Oldman delivers the speeches in stirring oratory just as Churchill was famous for during wartime giving the British lion its roar during the darkest days of World War II.
What it’s about: 1950’s post-war London, The House of Woodcock makes dresses for high end society. Reyonlds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a bachelor has women coming in and out of his life as his muses and companions, relying on his sister Cyril to let them know when he is done with them. He meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress while visiting his country home. In a tale of Pretty Woman meets Misery, Alma who is strong-willed does everything in her power to not be another notch on Woodcock’s post, even to the point of poisoning him to sickness, and nursing him back to health – as if he needs her to be there the whole time.
Why you should see it: Don’t. It’s weird AF, but Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps deliver some strong acting. With the exception of a few notes sewn into the dresses produced by The House of Woodcock, the title served no purpose. Also, the poisoning thing – outright strange.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
What it’s about: Justice. A mom whose daughter is raped purchases three billboards outside of a rural town asking why the local law enforcement hasn’t done anything about her daughter’s crime in months. Along the way, the several societal themes come out: police brutality, domestic abuse, racism, cancer/suicide/right to die, and more.
Why you should see it: Because it will likely win Best Picture. Frances McDormand delivers a performance that will captivate every emotion you can possibly feel in 120 minutes – the grieving heart of a mother who lost a child, the independence of someone who was left for a younger woman, and the leader of a community that wants nothing more than peace for herself and others.
What it’s about: May 1940. Germany advanced into France, trapping allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops are slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.
Why you should see it: It’s where Darkest Hour left of, and of course you want to see how it all came to be. Director, Christopher Nolan develops a multitude of characters – including Mr. Dawson and his son Peter who set out on his boat Moonstone rather than let the navy take her. The movie ends with one of the characters reading Churchill’s address to the nation.
What it’s about: Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper – The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee, Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers and personal lives.
Why you should see it: If you’re like me and love media and news – this is one for you. Also, put Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks together, and it’s a winning combination. Katharine Graham (Streep) gets put in this position and must decide to print the secrets during a time when The Post is about to go public risking it all financially, or doing what the press is about and reporting on the news. What’s also great is the real recorded conversations that Nixon had during his time in the White House were used in the film. #PreWatergate
Call Me By Your Name
What it’s about: Every summer fling you ever had and did not want to end. Summer 1983. 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timotheé Chalamet) is spending the days with his family at their 17th-century villa in Lombardy in Northern Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who’s working as an intern for his father. They have a summer fling, and the rest is history – until of course Oliver must travel back to the states, breaking Elio’s heart later to reveal he is getting married.
Why you should see it: Because it might also win Best Picture. Also, it’s set in Italy and its gorgeous. It’s a great story about first loves and parent’s acceptance of Elio. It is also one of two films that Chalamet is in, and the two pieces challenge his spectrum of acting.
What it’s about: Sacramento 2002. Catholic school. Senior year. A coming of age saga. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is an outspoken teen who lives with her parents, with whom she has a strained relationship [mostly her mother, who has to work a double shift at the mental hospital because her dad is recently out of work], her older brother, who is adopted, and his girlfriend. She’s BFF with Julianne “Julie” Steffans, and together they decide to join their school’s theatre program, where Lady Bird meets Danny O’Neill. They develop a romantic relationship, leading to Lady Bird joining Danny’s family for Thanksgiving. Danny is found making out with a boy, thus ending things. In comes Kyle Scheible, a sort of emo-musician who she meets working at a coffee shop. He and Lady Bird begin a romantic relationship, and she begins to drift away from Julie in favor of a friendship with a popular girl named Jenna Walton. [Oh ya, Lady Bird is trying to leave all this and has secretly applied to schools in New York, under her mother’s radar.]
Why you should see it (last): Probably the most comic of the nine – and a great way to end your binge watching. Lady Bird is just trying to make ends with what she has – and live her best life. While she’s trying to get out of Sacramento, you discover she really loves her life there and the people, especially her mother. She has her Mean Girls moment when she opts to hang with Jenna instead of Julie, but then has a Romy & Michelle moment when she ends up going to prom with Juile, after that lying SOB Kyle takes her virginity. The film ends as Lady Bird moves to New York, and her mother cannot come to terms with it. Her father sneaks in the rough draft letters her mother has written for her into her suitcase. The themes of mental health, adoption, age-ism, and coming out [best scene: when Danny weeps with her behind the coffee shop] are part of this film. And the best supporting actor goes to a star, Danny and Lady Bird named, Bruce.
If you decide to watch the films, some theaters are offering a movie pass for all of them in the last two weeks of February. Check your local listings. As for me my vote is for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.