Thoughts on the nominations for the 90th Academy Awards

Oscar ArtThe Oscars have always seemed to be an overblown celebration of the same sort of films that are nominated every year. It’s either a war film, a drama or biopic intended to be a showcase for an actor’s talents, a musical or something that is socially relevant. It rarely strays from these conventions, and whenever it does, it’s a complete surprise, such as when “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” took home eleven Oscars in 2004.

They typically never look into Horror Sci-Fi, or Fantasy categories besides the technical categories involving spectacle and ignore the meaningful elements to each of them. That’s why I am very pleased to see “Get Out,” a horror film, nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay, and the comic book based film “Logan” to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

There were some snubs this year, as “Blade Runner 2049’s” gorgeous themes about humanity were not enough to get a best picture nomination, Patrick Stewart was ignored for his beautiful final performance as Charles Xavier in “Logan, and Edgar Wright was looked over for his immaculate artistic direction on “Baby Driver,” along with many others. However, “Wonder Woman” was not snubbed like some have been saying. Even though it was a very good film, nothing it presented was Oscar worthy in any standout area, besides it being the first decent female superhero film.
Regardless, the Oscars are still able to provide recognition for many good films that would be overlooked otherwise. Here is a brief review for each of the films nominated by the Academy for Best Picture:

DARKEST HOUR
This is basically typical Oscar fare, a Fictionalized account of Winston Churchill’s early days as prime minister. There is nothing notable about the film, besides an excellent performance by Gary Oldman. Everything else was mediocre. The director Joe Wright isn’t exactly the best, with his last film before this being universally panned. Not a high recommendation, and besides maybe Oldman as Churchill, I hope it doesn’t win anything. C+

PHANTOM THREAD
“Phantom Thread” mostly exists to be a showcase for Daniel Day Lewis’ acting, and while he is very good in this, the rest of the film is either too boring or too strange to the degree that none of it ends up coming together in an interesting whole. C+

THE POST
It’s gotten to the point where if Meryl Streep is in a film, she’s just instantly nominated for it. Not to say that she isn’t good in “The Post” or that “The Post” is a bad film, but it’s clearly not her, Tom Hanks or Steven Spielberg at their best.
It feels like a courtesy nomination. The Post tells an important story, but not exactly one that is especially entertaining. B-

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
“Call me by Your Name” isn’t exactly a revolutionary film, besides the gay subject matter that it covers. But it still executes it in a very well made fashion. The performances by Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet are incredible, and hopefully films like this are able to exist more without it being considered a big deal. B+

THE SHAPE OF WATER
Guillermo del Toro is incredible. “Pan’s Labyrinth” is a masterpiece of cinema, and all the films he’s made afterwards have been really entertaining as well. However, “The Shape of Water” is like Guillermo Del Toro wanted to make a fantasy film, but he also wanted to make it noticed by the Oscars, so he shoved in every kind of prejudice known to man just so it could get attention. The problem with this is that most of it is unnecessary and is unessential to the plot. But in spite of a rather plodding second act, the rest of the film is gorgeously directed with powerful performances. Good overall, but disappointing. B

LADY BIRD
It’s cool to see that films written and directed by women are finally getting a place in the spotlight. “Lady Bird,” however, isn’t exactly Oscar worthy. If anything, it’s reminiscent of a very similar female directed film that came out in 2016 called “The Edge of Seventeen,” only that in that film, I found the protagonist to be much more likable, and the overall presentation had more heart. Still Lady bird is a pretty good film, and Laurie Metcalf deserved her nomination as the struggling mother. Everything else… not really. B

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
“Three Billboards…” is a great film, one that takes time to ask interesting questions, and is led by a fascinating performance by Frances McDormand, who is a big favorite for best actress. Also great in the film is Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell, who portrays a fascinatingly unique character with a nice arc. It’s a weird experience, and a darkly comedic tale, but an excellent movie. A

GET OUT
It’s great that a horror film has been nominated in four categories at the Oscars. Jordan Peele crafted together a well-made thriller that scares, entertains, and provides thoughtful social commentary along the way.
It gives viewers something to actively think about and is clever in the way it executes its messages. It subverts all the horror tropes in the best ways, and the entire cast is stellar. A-

DUNKIRK
Out of all the Oscar nominations, the best is Dunkirk, directed by Christopher Nolan. Even though this isn’t exactly Nolan’s greatest work, it is his first to be recognized with a Best Director nomination, presumably due to the war topic.
“Dunkirk” is an enthralling experience that inserts the viewer right into the horrors of the event recreated.
If not at least winning for Best Picture, hopefully there’s a chance for Best Director and Best Original Score, as both were phenomenal. A