Reviewing the 2018 Academy Awards nominees

Three writers cover the movies nominated for 'Best Picture' at this year's Oscars

Three reviewers watching Lady Bird.
Credit: 
Photo illustration by Julia Balakrishnan

Every year, there’s inevitable hype, controversy and conversation generated about the Oscars. But the most anticipated of them all is ‘Best Picture.’

Since we’re all students with busy schedules, it’s understandable most of us have yet to watch all nine of the pictures nominated this year.

Whether you want to wow people at your Oscar parties with informed opinions of the films or simply looking for more cultural currency, we’ve reviewed the nominees for the biggest award of the night for you.

The Shape of Water

You’ve probably heard of this movie as “the one with the fish sex.” However, Guillermo Del Toro’s film about a half-fish, half-human bonding with a mute woman over their ‘otherness’ is so much more than what it’s been reduced to. The film manages to take an outlandish concept and keep it grounded to the point that you forget this interspecies romance can be, for lack of a better term, uncomfortable to watch at times. One of the many Best Picture nominees with the potential to take home the top prize, this film will keep you entertained from start to finish and most importantly, will allow you to feel artsy and cultured for having watched it.

Rating: 5/5

Get Out

Despite being released over a year ago, Get Out has only become more relevant in today’s climate. Flipping several tropes on its head, the film tackles white, liberal racism when an African-American man travels to his girlfriend’s parents’ home and discovers a darker motivation to her family’s friendliness. Although it may not win big come Sunday, the conversations it’s brought about will ensure its legacy lasts for years to come.

Rating: 5/5

Lady Bird

If you haven’t seen Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut yet, make sure your mother is nearby when you do so you can give her a big hug immediately after watching. Saoirse Ronan plays a high school girl whose dreams of moving to the East Coast clash with her mother’s wishes to keep the family together. The film beautifully showcases the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship, while simultaneously portraying the anxieties that come with navigating high school. Though the understated performances in Lady Bird may get overlooked by the Academy, don’t let that fool you  this film is a must-watch.

Rating: 5/5

Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name is a love story between a 17-year old boy, played by Timothée Chalamet, and a 24-year-old man, played by Armie Hammer. Both leads deliver fantastic performances and the film’s impressive direction by Luca Guadagnino is light, colourful and beautifully shot. Notably, the characters never face the typical homophobia you’d expect for two gay characters in the 80s, allowing the focus to remain purely on their summer romance.

Rating: 4/5

Dunkirk

Dunkirk is unquestionably a visual masterpiece, telling the little-known World War II story of civilians evacuating allied soldiers from sure defeat at the hands of the Nazis. However, with a cast of actors who are too bland to differentiate, each having very little dialogue and no backstory, it was hard to become invested in what ultimately happened to any of them.

Rating: 2.5/5

The Post

Set in the 1960s, The Post follows the first female publisher of The Washington Post as she and her team work to expose US government secrets during the Vietnam War. For such an exciting plot line, the movie was a bit of a drag. It seemed an intense news scandal as large as The Washington Post’s would come with built-in excitement. However, the film lacks the momentum and excitement of its fellow ‘Best Picture’ nominees.

Rating: 3/5

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This film had numerous disconnected storylines and events, appearing as though it would result in a shocking twist involving all the parts you “should have seen coming”. However, the movie’s lack of resolution left numerous plots unresolved, making it difficult to sing the film’s praises. Maybe the film’s wonderful randomness was part of the reason it seemed incapable of having a plausible resolution.

Rating: 3.75/5

Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread follows a relationship between a successful designer who dresses British royalty and his girlfriend, a strong-willed woman who quickly becomes his muse. But the dysfunction between the two of them makes it much more stressful to watch than enjoyable. The movie’s attention to detail, performances and pleasing visual aspects are impressive but the plot itself makes it easy to pass up. 

Rating: 1.5/5

Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour chronicles Winston Churchill at the beginning of WWII. The story shows a different side of Churchill than his typically-portrayed stoic demeanor. It tackles all sorts of historical issues and provides lots of interesting insight to them. The movie was wildly successful in box offices and maybe there’s something about grasping on to old political stories because of the political climate now. It’s safe to say, this film is a true contender.

Rating: 4/5

Whether you have time to catch some of the movies or you just read up on the opinions on the nine movies nominated, you can go into Oscar Sunday prepped to root for whichever Best Picture movie you think deserves the award.

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