After an almost-three-week hiatus, I have returned to the greatest country in the world and plan on rolling out plenty of content in the days to come. The Oscar nominations were announced this morning and while I haven’t seen every Best Picture nomination, I plan on watching and offering opinions on all in the week ahead. For now, I have spoken with trustworthy contributors who have informed me which movies do and don’t belong in the category. Without further ado, here are my initial thoughts on the 2018 Oscar nominees:
1. I haven’t seen Get Out. I have heard from everyone it’s great, and I’m not going to dispute this point. But horror isn’t a Best Picture–conducive genre: the last Best Picture nominee from the genre (not including Black Swan in 2010) was The Sixth Sense in 1999 and, before that, Silence of the Lambs in 1991. I understand that Get Out exposes and combats racism, and that’s good because racism is very bad. But we’re talking about best film here. Is Get Out really on the same level as Silence of the Lambs, the last true horror to win Best Picture? I’m fine with the nomination, but I see no way that Get Out will be selected as the best film of the year. Also, props to comedian Jordan Peele for directing a Best Picture nominee—the man really is a genius.
2. Darkest Hour is really just a singular acting performance. Gary Oldman carries this film with mastery of his role as Winston Churchill, but otherwise, the movie is not particularly memorable. In fact, the plot is dependent on an incredible lead performance: the movie concludes with Churchill’s speech in which he declares that England will fight the Axis powers regardless of the circumstances; all action, including the Allies’ moral victory at Dunkirk, is entirely absent from the movie. The film is basically two hours of angry British politicians arguing over whether or not they should negotiate peace with Hitler (spoiler: they don’t). Still, I think Oldman is a lock to win the Oscar for Best Actor in a Lead Role.
3. From the moment I read it’s of the “romantic Neomarxist” genre, I’ve had serious questions about about The Shape of Water. The film tells the story of a mute girl and her (romantic?) relationship with an amphibian. Yeah. Literally, an amphibian. Sources have told me that they “don’t like it” and that it’s “strange.” Not to mention it’s directed by Guillermo del Toro, the guy who spent his last six years butchering the Hobbit series and forever tainting the sacred names of J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson. Nonetheless, I see it as a very progressive—or just bold—move by Hollywood to nominate a movie that transcends sexuality and, on some level, promotes bestiality. I’m not looking forward to watching this, but I will do so and let you know how it goes.
Pre-emptive Grade: C-
4. Lady Bird, which is among the favorites to take Best Picture, is overrated. It’s A LOT of teenage angst in regard to family, friends, sex, and prioritizing those corresponding relationships. The conclusion was, for me, unsatisfying, as (minor spoiler ahead) Lady Bird realizes that she cares deeply for her family during her transition to a new life in college. Like Manchester By the Sea in 2016, Lady Bird leaves several more questions about the protagonist’s identity open than closed. I think Saoirse Ronan has a good chance of winning Actress in a Leading Role, but I don’t see this movie standing against Dunkirk and Three Billboards in the Best Picture race.
5. And now for Dunkirk, the odds-on favorite to win Best Picture. With fewer than forty words spoken in the movie, it was easy enough to follow on an overseas flight. Dunkirk is an aesthetic masterpiece, profoundly capturing the disorienting sense of naval and aerial warfare surrounding the shores of Dunkirk in 1940. In no way did Christopher Nolan aim to present masterful character arcs or intriguing plotlines as he did with Inception and The Dark Knight series; rather, we are presented with a brutal portrait of warfare in which no life seems meaningful and nothing is guaranteed. Indeed, there were several moments during the movie in which I had to backtrack to determine whether the “important” protagonists were even still alive. With a cast which includes Tom Hardy, Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh, the film’s character development is constituted by an enduring need for survival and its consequential deterioration of sanity on the Atlantic Ocean. While this movie may not have been my favorite of 2017, I do think it was the “best picture,” strictly speaking.
6. Please don’t argue that Split should win anything. Mirroring the antagonist who possesses 24 different personalities, the movie utterly lacks an identity and is, in my humble opinion, fucking garbage. I’m not sure which makes less sense: the subversion of an obscure mental disorder into a vehicle to perfect the human race, or the implication that the villain has emerged from a childhood of sexual abuse with powers to physically morph his body at will. Please, don’t waste your time with this one.
-Admin Tam (@tomhall2323)