This is the first time where I have had reason to write about Paul Thomas Anderson, so I thought that it would only be fitting that Phantom Thread would be the only one of the nominees to receive its own blog entry. You see, I would probably rank him among my favourite working directors alongside Hayao Miyazaki, Lars Von Trier, Pedro Almodovar and Wes Anderson – so I am going to take this chance and run with it.
Having seen Phantom Thread I am now only left with Inherent Vice and Hard Eight to see in order to complete the Paul Thomas Anderson oeuvre. I’m still hard pressed to see how, at least for me, he will ever top Punch Drunk Love – but he sure did come close with this beautifully twisted work of toxic masculinity.
Watching this in the context of Oscar season is pretty bittersweet. You see, Phantom Thread is never going to win the statuette. This isn’t just because it was a bit late to the Oscar hype party (seriously, I was thrilled to see PTA’s latest work get as many nominations as it did), but because this is not an Oscar film. I know Moonlight wasn’t either… but all the more reason for them to go for something more regular and less artsy.
As much as I thought, at the start of Oscar season, that my heart would belong to The Shape of Water – in comes PTA with this impeccably shot, dark and twisted love story about a master fashion designer and the muse that his plucked from a countryside teahouse. The three principle cast members are exceptional with Daniel Day-Lewis’ idiosyncratic performance completely leading the way no matter the scene he is in.
It’s also worth noting just how beautiful this film looks. The costume design is sumptuous and on point as is the cinematography and art direction. This is one of those rare films where it is hard to turn away not because it’s riveting, but because everything is so artfully done. In a better world Phantom Thread would have taken in more nominations but, as it is, 6 is still an amazing achievement.
So here we are. Now that I’ve seen all of this year’s nominees for Best Picture I can rest assured that this entry on the bucket list remains complete. It has been an uncommonly strong year (for the most part) for films that fall into the field of vision for Oscar voters. Sure my favourite eligible film of 2017 (which would be the Pixar film Coco) didn’t receive a nomination, but here is how I would rank these 9 films anyway:
1) The Shape of Water
2) Phantom Thread
3) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
5) Call Me By Your Name
6) Get Out
7) Lady Bird
8) The Post
9) Darkest Hour