Every year, I rant about the Oscars. In fact, I’ve made readers suffer through these rants with me on occasion. However, this last year, I feel like the Academy finally heard the backlash against exclusivity, sexism, and elitism. The movies included in the list of Best Picture nominees were all great pics, but I wonder if that a reflection of the Academy’s choices or of our changing culture – a culture they are finally catching up with?
Here are my thoughts on these films, and why I think they STILL got the best picture wrong.
The Darkest Hour. A rousing war film is always Oscar-bait. However, Gary Oldman’s alleged sexual aggressions were distracting. Beyond that, he did a fine job, though I never didn’t see him as Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill, despite his win. Honestly, anyone else would have been a better choice for Best Actor. Even if we say he did an exceptional job, he was still mimicking another person – not creating a new role from scratch, like EVERY OTHER NOMINEE.
Phantom Thread. What a beautiful film. It was a great love story with amazing fashion choices. I love that it was included in the list of Best Pictures, but the competition was too fierce for this to be a real contender.
Dunkirk. Cinematography-wise, this movie was amazing. It was also a film that, for me, only worked on the big screen. While for some that’s a bonus, it seems like a failure of the narrative. People will forcefully disagree with me on this, but that movie should’ve ended with the rousing arrival of the little boats to Dunkirk. Again, a rousing war film is always Oscar bait. It deserved to be on the list, but it made it here because it told a story we hadn’t heard before – except, as a war story, it was still all too familiar.
Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri. Holy hell, did Francis McDormand deserve her win for Best Actress. She’s one of those actresses who was “due” for an award because of outstanding performances – she’s done a lot since her win in Fargo. However, this wasn’t a “make-up” Oscar win – she truly deserved it for that performance. It was also exciting seeing her outside of the Coen Brothers’ world.
The Post. The Post would have been an amazing film if all the actors hadn’t gotten in the way of it. Can we, at this point, really believe Meryl Streep as a mousy woman pushed around by men? Tom Hanks seemed like he was doing a great job pretending to be someone else. It’s not the actors’ faults. They just bring too much baggage. The director could have chosen lesser-known actors, and it would have transformed the film. He may not have gotten the funding, though. Such are the evils of Hollywood.
Call My By Your Name. This was a lovely film, but I think the trailers did it a disservice. We don’t call the Phantom Thread a straight romantic film, so the trailer’s focus on it being about a gay relationship seemed wrong. It also made it seem more sexual (though that was certainly there) than romantic, which was another mistake.
Lady Bird. It’s about time Hollywood realized women “come of age,” too. As a mom and someone who had a mom, this movie was very moving to me. The characters were alive, and none of them seemed to be performing, as was the problem in The Post. They seemed genuinely to be living in the world of the film.
The Shape of Water. I sincerely loved this movie, but I can’t help thinking that this one for Best Picture and Best Director because Hollywood loves a Hollywood tale. With its throwbacks to classic films and revision of one cinema’s most beloved creature features – The Creature From the Black Lagoon – Academy members saw the familiarity of this tale despite its unusual premise. I’m happy that it won – Del Toro deserved it, though I’m not sure it was the best choice. Any other year, yes, which brings me to my pick for the best of 2018.
Get Out. Here is it – what should’ve won Best Picture. This is a movie that defied traditional genre classification and led to a new kind of horror movie. Though it isn’t the only meter by which to rate an Oscar contender, this movie has legs. We will be talking about it for years, and it’s already showing up in Film Studies classes at universities across the country. I’m glad Jordon Peele won for Best Screenplay, but he should’ve took home Best Director and Best Film.
What do you think the Oscars got right this year? Or wrong? I love a spirited debate!