My wife and I have completed our 14th annual viewing of the Oscars Best Picture nominations. A tradition that we truly enjoy and work real hard to complete. This is the first year I am writing it for ThisWeekinWorcester.com and, with any luck, it won’t be my last.

NOTE: Due to a sick child, we missed one movie, Phantom Thread.

If you have read any of my past blogs on this topic it has been made very clear that I believe the Academy switching to nine nominated films from five was a colossal mistake. This year is no different.

Two things have to be pointed out:
1. My wife is very upset that The Greatest Showman did not get much love from the Academy.
2.The Academy nominates too many movies for Best Picture.

I must say that this years nominations were very underwhelming. There was not one movie we watched that said “Hands down! Best picture”. Which makes my wife’s assertion that The Greatest Showman even more prevalent.

If this years nominations accomplished anything, it was there were some good performances by individuals.

Anyhow, here is my Best Picture Reviews (no particular order):

Dunkirk – As a history buff I went into this movie with blinders on, proclaiming that it was going to win. Those blinders came off rather quickly. Dunkirk missed the mark because it really didn’t tell the story of what happened in those battles and what Churchill was doing back home to get those soldiers off the beach. You never really knew what part of the film you were in with all the flashbacks and flash forwards. This movie had a lot of potential, but swung and missed.

The Darkest Hour – Since Dunkirk did not explain the rescue efforts in it’s film, the Academy decided to nominate the movie that did. The year of Dunkirk. I thought this movie was very slow. It had it’s great scenes, which we all saw in the previews. The deciding factor for me was I could not get past the fact at how fake Gary Oldman looked as Winston Churchill. He looked like a character out of “The Muppet Show”. They should have consulted with the creator of “The Crown” to recreate Churchill. The acting was over done and the plot was very slow. This movie could not keep my interest.

Lady Bird – This movie follows the ultimate teen angst/coming of age cliches that describes movies. It was just a movie following the main character through her senior year of high school. The main character “Lady Bird” was a little bit of a mess and Saoirse Ronan played it very well, earning her a Best Actress nominee. The acting in this film was very good but the story just wasn’t there, leaving you wanting it to end. As the case in every Indie film, it just ended, no closure. It would make some viewers hate the movie more. This is a good rental maybe a year down the road.

Get Out – I give the Academy credit by going outside their comfort zone on this one. I’m not usually into movies like this, but I have to say it kept my interest. It was a combination of some suspense thrillers that have come in the past. If you like suspense mystery thrillers then you would really like this movie. The movie was good, but not Best Picture worthy. Kudos to the Academy for going outside their norm. But when you nominate too many movies, this is what happens.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – If there is a nominated film I want to win, this would be it. The story was compelling, the acting was phenomenal and the cast was fantastic. Frances McDormand played the grieving angry mother looking for answers spectacularly. Woody Harrelson as the target of McDormand’s angst was great as understanding and defensive. Sam Rockwell playing the mess of a police officer in a small town was great. Just think of his character in “The Green Mile” and that’s what you have. All three earned actor nominations. I loved how throughout the film the three characters were at war with each other but had a mutual respect. This was a good movie and definitely worth a viewing

The Post – Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep together is Hollywood gold. The story of the McNamara report that went public by the New York Times and Washington Post. It is a compelling re-enactment of the business vs. journalism tug of war that went on to determine if the stories went to print. It is definitely a tribute to true journalism, which has been truly lacking over the past decade or so. I did not think this was Meryl Streep’s best performance, but that bar is really high and she earned a Best Actress nomination. I thought Tom Hanks performance was much better and was slighted with the lack of a nomination, but again, his bar is high. I did not like this as much as “Three Billboards”, but not a bad movie.

The Shape of Water – As weird as this movie is, it kept me engaged. This is a highly contrived story of a mutes woman meeting a swamp thing like character and falls in love. I just didn’t get it. However, this is right up the Academy’s alley and just may bring home the trophy. I thought the acting was just ok, the story very unbelievable and the ending extremely predictable. This movie received 13 nominations. I’m sorry, I just didn’t get it.

Call Me By Your Name – I put this movie in the dark horse category. The movie had some great acting. However, it was very slow and the story never fully develops. The relationship seemed forced and I never fully understood why they called each other by the other’s name. Armie Hammer is not a good actor and uses his looks to get by. The movie has some subtitles as there are three languages being spoken and they shift seamlessly through all of them. This is a dark horse in my estimate and could bring it home.

Phantom Thread – (Not seen) – I really wanted to see this because I am a huge Daniel Day Lewis fan. He is a great actor with unbelievable range. With that said, I have heard the movie is good but very slow. Very fitting for all the nominations.

Who do I want to to win?: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri
Who will win?: Shape of Water

Take a nap and around midnight you will know who won for sure.

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