Last year, I was able to watch all of the Oscar Nominees for Best Picture thanks to Regal Cinemas’ week-long Oscars marathon. This year, I was able to do it again. Nine movies in four days. It’s becoming one of my favorite traditions going into Oscar season. You don’t have to binge all nine at one time, but I definitely recommend taking the time to watch every single one of these films. They’re worth it.
Here is my ranking for the 2018 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees, from least to top favorite:
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance
Dunkirk told the story of the British military disaster in the early stages of World War II. With France being taken over by the Germans, British troops have been pushed to the beaches of Dunkirk. The movie is broken down into three storylines: The Mole, The Sea, and The Air. Each of these stories has a different timeline, a week, a day and an hour. These timelines end up coming together to tell the story of the beach’s miraculous evacuation.
The first time I watched this movie I had no idea what was going on. I got lost trying to put the storylines together. It seemed like the movie had no flow. The second time though, I could start to see why people had enjoyed this movie. There still wasn’t anything that stood out, but at least I understood the stories and their interconnection. To me, this is one of those movies that need to be seen on the big screen and more than once to really appreciate it.
8. The Shape of Water
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon
The Shape of Water is the story of Elisa (Hawkins), a girl who is unable to speak that is forced to ask herself what she is willing to do for love. Elisa works as a janitor at a secret government facility. One day, her section of the facility gets a new “item.” When Elisa finally sees the “item” she learns it is an amphibious being or fish person. Elisa starts to feel close to the creature, she begins to teach it to sign so that they can communicate. They start to form a close relationship and that is when things get tricky. The Russians and the United States both know about this creature. The Russians want to stop the United States from getting any information from it and the United States wants to use it to further their space program. The American military is willing to do whatever it takes.
This film is all about inclusivity. It was a fairytale, but a very aggressive one. I kept finding myself clenching my jaw. I knew the theme that del Toro was trying to get across. I just felt like it was thrown in my face in such a dramatic way, that I didn’t ever really settle in. This movie had me feeling uncomfortable about a cause that I am really passionate about.
7. Phantom Thread
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville
Phantom Thread follows the relationship of Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis), a world-renowned dressmaker, and Alma (Krieps), a young, strong-willed woman. Reynolds is set in his ways. He lives in a house in London that doubles as his workshop. He has a routine and it must be kept to or his day is thrown off balance. Reynolds has a history of finding a muse having her come live with him and then sending her away when he tires of her. That is where we meet him. His latest muse is “ending her run” and Reynolds goes to the country to get away. That is where he meets Alma. They hit it off at once. He brings her back to London, but unlike his other girls, Alma refuses to completely conform to his rules. This causes tension between Reynolds, Alma, and Reynold’s sister (Manville), who is used to being “the woman” in Reynolds life.
This movie was very pleasant. I could probably watch it again on a Saturday afternoon. It definitely has its questionable moments, but I honestly felt like this was something I could add to my Netflix queue for a rainy day. It is definitely a very artsy film. I felt like the time could have been a little shorter. All in all, this movie wasn’t anything that stood out one way or the other. It was just there.
6. Darkest Hour
Directed By: Joe Wright
Starring: Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas
Focusing on the early days of World War II, Darkest Hour focuses on the beginning of Winston Churchill’s (Oldman) first term as Prime Minister. It deals with a time when Western Europe is losing the war. Churchill is faced with the decision of negotiating with the Germans or pushing on, potentially putting his country in danger of invasion.
I felt like this movie showed a part of history that Americans don’t think about. We focus on World War II after we entered. I know I hadn’t realized the fear and desperation that was clear on everyone’s choices throughout the movie. This movie was easy to watch and really enjoyable. I honestly feel like I need to watch it again because I know that I didn’t catch everything.
5. The Post
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks
The Post is all about the fight around the freedom of the press. In 1971 The Washington Post is struggling. Its journalists are being beaten to stories by The New York Times. The New York Times gets its hands on classified documents that revealed the fact that the government was aware that Vietnam War was a lost cause. After publication, the New York times is handed a cease and desist order and is informed they are being sued by the federal government. The Washington Post then has the ability to get ahead and continue to post the documents. Meryl Streep’s character must decide what is more important, the financial safety of her family’s paper or the right of the American people to know the truth.
I enjoyed this movie a lot. There were so many parallels between this movie and what is happening today. This movie definitely had the learn from past mistake life lesson feel.
4. Call Me By Your Name
Directed By: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg
Call Me By Your Name is a love story between a boy Elio (Chalamet) and Oliver (Hammer), the Man who spends the summer as his father’s research assistant. Elio deals the pressure of being a teen, but he also feels like he doesn’t fit in. He is content being on his own writing or playing music. He has friends but doesn’t go out of his way to do more than is expected of him. Oliver is the opposite, from the moment he gets to town he is outgoing and into hanging around as many people as possible. Throughout the summer though, Oliver starts to get Elio to go out. They start to get close and their original “forced” friendship turns romantic.
This movie was so light compared to other films dealing with the same issue. It was a love story, but also a coming of age story. It was about a boy who is scared to admit who he really is, but is met with acceptance once he does. Unlike the other films, Call Me By Your Name has a very independent film vibe. I felt like it was something that I would be watching at a film festival, which added to its charm. This is probably going to be one my romance binge list for a while.
3. Get Out
Directed By: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford
Get Out is a psycho-thriller that is based around an African-American man meeting his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents. That’s really all the plot that is safe to give away. I was really skeptical about this movie going in. I had heard all the hype, but I couldn’t get past the horror movie aspect. After watching it though I can see why it’s a nominee. The social commentary was unbelievable. I was scared that I would be thrown off by all of the hype that had surrounded this movie, but I never lost interest. I spent most of the time trying to figure out what Peele’s end game was. I couldn’t figure out what the happy ending was going to be. This movie wasn’t too serious in spite of its message, which was my biggest concern.
2. Lady Bird
Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf
Lady Bird is about a high school senior trying to find herself. She is going through all of the struggles of a typical high school senior: friends, boyfriends, prom, graduation and finding a college. Ronan’s character calls herself “Lady Bird,” she calls it her given name because she “gave it to herself.” Lady Bird and her mother also have a lot of conflicts throughout the movie. She even mentions feeling like her mother doesn’t love her. Lady Bird’s ultimate goal throughout the film is to leave Sacramento and go to an east coast school. This film is all about watching a teenager grow during one of the most important years of their lives.
This film just hit so close to home for me. I’m not much older than Lady Bird. It wasn’t that long ago I was making the same decisions she was making and worrying about the same types of things. I felt like this movie was very realistic. Gerwig wasn’t trying to romanticise anything, she was just simply telling the story of a young female trying to figure out her life. This was one of the few movies I have come out of wish it could have been longer.
1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Directed by: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell
Three Billboards is all about a small town in Missouri that has a lot of problems. One of its biggest is its police force. It’s full of racist, lazy officer who use their beliefs to decide cases. After waiting seven months to get information about her daughter’s murder, Mildred (McDormand) decides that she has had enough. She decides to rent out the three billboards on the outskirt of town using them to ask the Chief of the town’s police department why there have been no leads. The town automatically begins to revel against the billboards, rallying behind the police department. Everyone is against Mildred, who ends up going to extremes to get her point across.
This movie is full of twists and turns. I absolutely loved it. It was the perfect balance between reality and fantasy. I honestly felt like the premise of this movie, Mildred buying the billboards to combat the police, could be a real-world situation. But there were definitely moments that are improbable if not impossible, but I didn’t care. They blended together seamlessly. This movie kept me entertained for the entire almost two-hour runtime. I’m already pumped for it to be on streaming services so that I can watch it again and again.