Oscars 2018: Ranking The Best Picture Contenders
In 2017, the two films vying for Best Picture at the Academy Awards were — by sheer luck — the actual best films of the year. 2018 is, somehow, much the same, with the top tier of Oscar contenders consisting of some legitimately great films. But which is the best? Let’s rank ‘em!
9. DARKEST HOUR
Make no mistake: Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour is pure pantomime, canonising a symbol of brutish authoritarianism in Gary Oldman’s laughable, unskilled depiction of Winston Churchill, all unsubtle spluttering and cake prosthetics.
8. PHANTOM THREAD
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread is undeniably a curiosity, a meticulously-crafted tale of sickness and dedication. It’s also been, for some of us, a very unpleasant watch. I slept through much of the second act, and when I awoke I had contracted the flu. Hence, I really really did not enjoy watching this film and I never want to see it again, but I can’t exactly call it “bad”.
7. THE SHAPE OF WATER
There’s a lot going on in The Shape of Water, and nothing quite works. Sally Hawkins is a mute cleaner, Octavia Spencer her sassy colleague, Michael Stuhlbarg their enigmatic scientist boss, Michael Shannon a sadistic government agent, Doug Jones a horny fish monster. Wait — what?! Guillermo Del Toro is a master of scenery and dressing, but his story is flat and familiar, his characters mere impressions of archetypes.
6. GET OUT
Get Out was the first hit movie in Trump’s America, and that skewed many’s reactions to it much more favourable than it perhaps deserves. Jordan Peele’s debut feature is a solid black comedy with some excellent performances, but it’s in no way the ‘game-changer for mainstream cinema’ many have claimed it to be.
The first Chris Nolan movie nominated for Best Picture since 2011, and only №6 on my list? Dunkirk is an incredible technical achievement, a masterclass in editing and authorial composition, yet — even upon multiple repeat viewings — it lacks an emotional hook beyond some British military chest-beating. Essential viewing, but not an essential work.
4. THE POST
Speaking of ‘essential work’, the next 5 films are all just that. The Post is the most overt of the anti-Trump brigade of dramas, a gripping tale about the importance of journalistic integrity and speaking truth to power with the best cast imaginable (Streep, Hanks, Odenkirk, Whitford, Coon, Stuhlbarg, Brie) and a surprising 1970s aesthetic that gives the film a real edge.
3. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
I could talk for hours about Three Billboards, an incredibly rewarding work on a number of levels: as a Coen Brothers-homaging midwestern thriller, strong social contemporary on modern American discourse and biblical parable exploring themes of hatred and forgiveness. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell are extraordinary.
2. LADY BIRD
The finest coming-of-age drama since Boyhood, Greta Gerwig’s (nearly) debut as director is as universally-relatable as movies get, as Saoirse Ronan’s eponymous Christine “Lady Bird” worms her way through Senior Year; it’s familial and romantic issues and much more. Brimming with kindness and honesty.
1. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me is a sensuous, enveloping romance brought to life by Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg — three absurdly beautiful species — and a dreamy aesthetic that steals the audience’s heart and hands it back forever transformed.