Henchie’s First Annual Oscar Assessment!
For the first time I can remember, I’ve actually seen most of the nominees for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. I love movies, but I don’t give two squats about awards or award shows. But I am always slightly perturbed that when the Best Picture nominees are announced, it’s always a smattering of barely released indie films that the average movie-goer hasn’t seen! I may dislike award shows, but I want to have an opinion on movies, gosh darn it!
Well now my time has come! In 2017, I made a promise to myself to go see more movies in the theater, and I pulled it off with aplomb! The arrival of MoviePass by the end of the year helped a great deal, and I have now seen seven of the nine nominees for Best Picture!
I wanted to do this article last week when the nominees were announced, but The Shape of Water didn’t come to my local theater until Friday and I wanted to wait. I was really looking forward to that movie and my patience paid off!
Join me after the jump for my thoughts on most of the best picture nominees, plus some of the other categories.
Now that I’ve actually started writing this blog post, it seems a little haphazard. But I didn’t do any sort of formal review on any of these movies during the year, so I just feel like doing that now.
My favorite out of the nominees: The Shape of Water
The best movie out of the nominees: Get Out
Should win: Get Out
Will win: Phantom Thread
My personal favorite movies of 2017: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Colossal, Power Rangers, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok.
My thoughts on the nominees
Call Me by Your Name: Didn’t see it. Honestly, I’ve barely even heard of it.
Darkest Hour: I liked this one, and it’s grown on me more since seeing it. Gary Oldman is fantastic in the lead role as Winston Churchill, really losing himself in the character and the makeup. Some of the movie sags or is forgettable, but the third act really comes together in some fun and exciting ways. I would have liked the movie to go even deeper into the war with Oldman as Churchill, but then it would have been, like, five times the length. So for what we got, I enjoyed this look into a historical figure I know little about.
Dunkirk: How weird is it that two of the movies on this list are about the rescue at Dunkirk? I know Hollywood has a habit of releasing similar movies together all the time, but this coincidence is really weird. Still, Dunkirk was a solid film. I wasn’t as moved as most people seem to be, largely due to the fact that I like more narrative in my stories, but this was still a good, solid movie about the horror and struggles of war.
Get Out: This movie is just plain great, and I’m glad I went and saw it on a whim last Winter. It’s tense, scary and wickedly creative in its portrayals of race. Much smarter and better people than I can talk about those subjects, but I thought they presented a really creative and fascinating set of villains and a truly disturbing horror story. I think Get Out is the best movie on this list and should win the Oscar, though it wasn’t my personal favorite — but it comes damn close.
Lady Bird: I went and saw Lady Bird because it was making headlines for getting a near perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t use Rotten Tomatoes to guide my moviegoing habits, but I definitely use good word of mouth. Lady Bird is a nice film with some solid humor and great writing and character development. Maybe I need to have been a teenage girl to fully grasp everything in this film, but I liked it all the same. It’s weird to now be watching coming of age movies that take place when I was coming of age. I didn’t get up to nearly half the shenanigans in the 90s that movie kids get up to, but maybe that was just me.
Phantom Thread: I haven’t seen Phantom Thread and I kind of don’t want to see Phantom Thread. I’ve seen the trailer plenty of times, and I’ve heard amazing things about the movie, but it just doesn’t appeal to me. And I don’t really go see movies that don’t already appeal to me. I’m not some professional critic who goes to see any and all movies. And the names Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson don’t guarantee a viewing from me like other actors or directors.
The Post: Being a newspaperman myself, of course I watched and enjoyed The Post. It’s a movie by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep about the power and importance of the freedom of the press; of course it was going to be good. But I think The Post lacks heart, or has its heart in the wrong place. I love the movie Spotlight, which won the Oscar a few years ago for another journalism movie. The difference between Spotlight and The Post is that Spotlight really focused on the emotional core at the heart of their story. We actually met victims of the sexual abuse they were investigating, and we saw how it effected the reporters on a personal level.
But in The Post, the War in Vietnam is almost taken for granted. We, as the audience, are already supposed to know and understand the horrors of Vietnam, and the shameful Presidency of Richard Nixon. The movie doesn’t spend much time with the war or the soldiers whose lives were personally impacted by the information in the Pentagon Papers, nor does it give the reporters and newspaper people any personal connection to the war or the soldiers or the information contained within. And we only get Robert McNamara in person to represent the bad guys who need to be exposed by the news story.
So while I love the power of the press as much as anybody, the movie really only has that going for it, when it could have used a more personal touch.
The Shape of Water: This wasn’t the deeply moving movie I’d been hoping for, but part of me thinks I’m becoming too jaded for movies. The Shape of Water was still pretty great! It’s a touching, adorable and extremely weird movie, which is entirely the point. It’s a great sci-fi monster flick with solid tension and excitement, and a bit of fun here and there. Double weird because I watched actor Sally Hawkins in both this and Paddington 2 within the same week.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: I am a huge fan of most of the works of the McDonagh brothers. The Guard, by the other McDonagh, is one of my favorite movies of all-time. So I was excited for Three Billboards, because I love these guys, and I love weird premises like this. And for the most part, it’s a solid movie with great performances. I don’t think the movie earns the ending it gives us, but otherwise, everything is solid.
Except for this one part in the middle that took me completely out of the movie and has soiled it forever. I’ll give SPOILER warnings.
When Officer Dixon commits attempted murder by throwing that guy out of the window in broad daylight in front of the entire town and in front of the entire police station, and the only thing that happens is he gets quietly fired, I just couldn’t take the movie seriously anymore. Yes, Dixon had been portrayed as a really shitty cop, but the movie does not establish the police department as a whole as so corrupt that they wouldn’t immediately take Dixon into custody. Let alone the fact that the new police chief witnesses the whole damn thing and he also doesn’t immediately take Dixon into custody. IT WAS ATTEMPTED FREAKIN’ MURDER! And Dixon’s firing is so low key that he has to double check with the officer if he was really fired.
AND HE WAS FIRED FOR A REASON! THERE WAS AN INCIDENT! THERE WAS AN ATTEMPTED MURDER! HOW CAN THEY ACKNOWLEDGE THE INCIDENT TO THE EXTENT OF FIRING HIM, BUT NOT BRINGING HIM UP ON CHARGES?!
AND THEN THE VICTIM SHOWS DIXON SYMPATHY IN THE HOSPITAL? COME ON!!
Also, I hated how needlessly cruel the movie was to local news reporters. Cheap shot.
Anyway, that’s how I feel about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.