Tag Archives: best picture

Oscar Bait – Parasite

Title: Parasite
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Year: 2019
Country: South Korea

Parasite gets its own post because, hell, some film had to get their own post and why not give it to my favourite film from 2019 as well as a Top 10 from the 2010s. I cannot believe that I managed to see this as an inflight movie many months before it got a release in the UK. It was worth the resulting jet lag in order to get an advanced look at this masterpiece.

I cannot remember the last time a film was able to give me such an emotional roller coaster and was able to excel at all aspects. When this was funny, it was hilarious, when it was tense, you were in knots. It’s the ultimate home invasion film that is somehow not a horror film, even though it does engage in horror tropes at times.

In the end, what made this the film of the year for me was how I was unable to predict what was going to happen. Just when I thought I had this film pegged, they were able to pull the rug from underneath me. It provides social commentary without being preachy and even makes you examine whose side you are actually on. In every way, this is a film that managed to out-Tarantino Tarantino and then some.

Will this be the first foreign language film to win the Oscar? Honestly, after Roma was denied last year in favour of Green Book it’s hard to say that the Academy doesn’t owe us. Thing is, I just cannot see the U.S. based Academy giving their main award away to a non-English language film. Sure, they’ve given it to British films, but sadly a Korean film feels like a bridge too far.

There’s no doubt where this film ends up in my current rankings, but here they are nonetheless:

1) Parasite
2) Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
3) Joker

Oscar Bait – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood / Joker

Well, it’s that time of year again where I watch my way through the Best Picture nominations so I can get an automatic check off on my Best Picture winners list. I am going to write up my thoughts on this years nine nominations in the order that I saw them, with one film getting a post of their very own.

As always, there are a bunch of other films that I saw that would have been eligible for the Academy Awards that I felt were under-represented or completely neglected. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why The Farewell was unable to score a single nomination, but maybe time will be the better judge than the old white men of the Academy.

Title: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 2019
Country: USA

Tarantino is one of those directors where I will watch their films because their name is attached. The only one of his films that I have yet to see is The Hateful Eight and I do have plans for that once I am done with the 1001 list. When I saw this back in August, I walked out with two thoughts in my head: this is going to be nominated for a ton of Oscars and that Brad Pitt may actually walk home with one of the statuettes.

As someone who loves film history, I watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with such a knot in my stomach because of what happened to Sharon Tate. The relief when Tarantino threw the curveball was massive and gave the final flashes of violence were coupled with a weird sense of relief. I can’t deny that this is a well directed love letter to New Generation Hollywood, but I’m already 5-6 months later and it’s already beginning to not age to well in my brain. It’s not his best film, but it’s a good enough romp even if it is a little long at times.

Title: Joker
Director: Todd Phillips
Year: 2019
Country: USA

Why? Why is this the most nominated film at the Oscars and the Baftas? I think it’s a good enough film and I am glad that it got some of the nominations that it did – but I draw the line at Best Director as the film hangs entirely on a brilliant performance by Joaquín Phoenix. Without Phoenix, Joker would have been lucky to get more than a nomination for Makeup as it would not have been in the minds of the Academy.

Like I said, it’s not that this is a film that I disliked. In fact, after all the hate it got, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. Hell, I think it’s better than a number of films I saw for the Oscar nominations than last year. I just can’t get over the idea that this might win and get all the kudos for being the first comic book film to win Best Picture when The Dark Knight couldn’t even secure a nomination. At least I won’t be too sour when Joaquín Phoenix walks off with his Oscar. I can’t see anyone stopping him now.

Like last year, I’ll also be ranking the films I see for the nominations. So here is where they are after the first two films:

1) Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
2) Joker

Oscar Bait – Vice / Green Book

Title: Vice
Director: Adam McKay
Year: 2018
Country: USA

Right, there’s no point mincing words here: Vice is one of the worst films that I’ve seen in years. In YEARS. I mean, I had trouble watching Fences but at least it had material for the cast to work with and the tour de force performance from Viola Davis to get me through. Not with Vice though, where I got an hour in and I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t even halfway towards the finish line.

Honestly, I thought that Bohemian Rhapsody was a shoo in for being my least favourite film in this batch of nominees. But no, Vice manages to eclipse that and it is all down to the choices that Adam McKay made. Here’s the thing, Dick Cheney’s life should have made for an engaging movie in the vein of House of Cards, but instead he goes for something far more flippant in an attempt to mimic the great The Big Short

In the end, this film just ends up being a boring mess which is a complete waste of Christian Bale and Amy Adams’ talents. As much as I hope Amy Adams one day wins an Oscar, please for the love of God do not let it be for this role in Vice. She should have won for Arrival over Emma Stone in La La Land – but that’s something for another time. Vice is such a drag to watch – I’m just glad to never have to see it again.

Title: Green Book
Director: Peter Farrelly
Year: 2018
Country: USA

And this is it, the final Best Picture nominee from this year’s Academy Awards. It’s one where I have probably heard the most conflicting opinions with a co-worker (whose taste I trust) seeing it in the cinema twice to hearing a film reviewer say that Viggo Mortensen’s acting is so broad that it has made them re-evaluate him as a performer. Quite a contrast.

The benefit of hearing such differing thoughts is that you really can go into a film and just take the film as it comes… which for the first half an hour was the fear that this was going to be another Vice. During this first section I got the criticism of Mortensen’s acting and I began to question how this film could ever be considered a comedy. Then Mahershala Ali came on screen and suddenly I began to enjoy the film.

There is no doubt that, at times, there are some issues with the film. The score tries to hard to highlight emotional moments that it can become overly sentimental. Some scenes and lines feel like they are reaching too hard to be Oscar worthy that it can be off-putting… as well as making you feel that they have been heavily fictionalised. In the end though, despite these problems, this is a good film that really flies as long as Mortensen and Ali’s characters are together. As much as I loved Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman – the supporting actor Oscar deserves to, once again, rest in Ali’s hands.

So, where does this leave me with the final rankings. Honestly, this is not as strong a group as last year but that’s on the Academy for failing to nominate better films. These films were out there and eligible to be nominated, but that’s just how it goes. In the end, unless you are paid to do so, it’s difficult to think of people out there who can watch every single films in a given year that might be good enough for the award.

Anyway here are my ranking, for what it’s worth:

1) The Favourite
2) Roma
3) BlacKkKlansman
4) A Star Is Born
5) Green Book
6) Black Panther

7) Bohemian Rhapsody
8) Vice

Oscar Bait – Bohemian Rhapsody / BlacKkKlansman

Title: Bohemian Rhapsody
Director: Bryan Singer
Year: 2018
Country: USA

The Academy are a mysterious beast. Scratch that, awards season is a mysterious beast. Acclaimed films like First Man, If Beale Street Could Talk and Can You Ever Forgive Me? get scraps and then there’s Bohemian Rhapsody with it’s middling-to-negative reviews and a more-than-problematic director… that somehow gets a nomination.

I’ve mentioned before about my complicated feelings about Queen, which means that I am most definitely not their target demographic. However, it does have the benefit of my being able to watch this purely as a movie and not be won over by the frequent clips of the Queen discography. Stripped of that, this movie is very much a paint-by-numbers biopic that takes timeline liberties and sanitizes a subject for mass appeal.

In the end, this gets by on Rami Malik acting his socks off (although, at times, it feels like something more out of Saturday Night Live than an award-winning film). Divorced of this performance and a liking for the music of Queen, then Bohemian Rhapsody is a bad film plain and simple. However, so many people love Queen which would go a long way to explain the massive divide in critical and public opinion. Will it win? No, but Malik might pick up Best Actor if Singer’s recent child sex allegations don’t damage his chances.

Title: BlacKkKlansman
Director: Spike Lee
Year: 2018
Country: USA

It’s unusual for there to be multiple films in the running for Best Picture that are already playing on the movie channels or have already been released on DVD. This year’s nominees have been a treasure trove for this and have allowed me to watch three of the films from the comfort of my own sofa in the company of a stuffed walrus.

BlacKkKlansman is one of those films that I was so happy to see nominated for the Oscar. Not only did it give me a proper excuse to prioritise it over watching movies on the 1001 list, but it gave Spike Lee an overdue nomination for Best Director. Also, it’s one of the few nominees that I was actually interested to watch – especially because it’s based on a ridiculous, but true, story about an African-American cop who infiltrated the KKK.

Despite being set in 1972 (although the events of the film actually happened 7 years later), Lee ensures that we as viewers understand the timelessness of the messages of his film. He makes a lot of effort to hammer home the atmosphere of racism that was (and still is) prevalent in areas of America. He does this not just with the members of the KKK, but also members of the police. This is also tied into misogyny, antisemitism and homophobia – but racism is the main issue of the film.

Some of the messages are very on the nose, especially when you think of the pre-selection that will occur of people who would want to see this film, but these are the times we live in. The ending sequence where he plays real footage of neo-Nazi marches and how Trump apologizes for them is remarkably chilling; the final footage depicting the death of protester Heather Heyer being particularly harrowing.

It’s weird to think that a film like BlacKkKlansman, which depicts so much darkness, has so many comedic moments. Then again, it would be hard to watch if it wasn’t for those moments. Sometimes the switching between tones gives a bit of whiplash, but for the most part it’s done well. It’s also worth heaping praise on both John David Washington and Adam Driver for their roles – just a pity that the former couldn’t achieve a nomination at the Oscars.

So, will this win? Probably not. It may snag a screenplay award, but I would be surprised if it would achieve much else. Still, it’s a very interesting and worthy nomination – and I am so glad to have seen it.

Current Rankings:

1) The Favourite
2) Roma
3) BlacKkKlansman
4) A Star Is Born
5) Black Panther

6) Bohemian Rhapsody

Oscar Bait – A Star Is Born / Roma

Title: A Star Is Born
Director: Bradley Cooper
Year: 2018
Country: USA

One of the interesting things about keeping a watchful eye on awards season is seeing how films rise, fall, peak too soon or never quite gain momentum. Obviously, you have to take things like the Oscars with a substantial pinch of salt because if a film or any part of a film really is the best of the year, then there shouldn’t be this whole momentum thing to consider.

I mention this because A Star Is Born looks as if it could be the latest victim of losing momentum in the month before the Academy Awards ceremony. It picked up a bunch of early awards, but despite being nominated nearly everywhere it’s starting to lose out. Means that whilst there is a consensus that it is one of the best of the year for a number of fields – it’s not quite the best. Having seen it (finally), I would have to agree with that sentiment.

Coming into this version of A Star Is Born having already seen the original 1937 version and the 1954 Judy Garland version, it feels like I am at a bit of a disadvantage. After all, this is a remake and it very much follows the same story, except that it is transplanted to the modern day with it being set in the music industry rather than in film-making. So, as someone who sees the finale coming, it’s interesting to see how they tease things as an act of foreshadowing.

Now, considering that this is Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut – A Star is Born is actually quite impressive and I hope this means he does some more work behind the camera in the future. Similarly, Lady Gaga gives an exceptional performance in her first leading role and I hope she goes down the Cher route and continues along this cinema path whilst still releasing music. She may not get another role as meaty as Ally Maine, but I’m sure there will be scripts out there to help her shine.

Here’s the question though – is this the best of the nominated films? The answer is no. This is one of the three films I was looking forward most to seeing (the others being The Favourite and Roma) and it started off with a real bang, only to whimper a bit at the end once the power dynamic shifts in her direction. It’s definitely earned it’s nomination this year, as well as a bunch of the others it’s got. For now though, my fingers are crossed for The Favourite.

Title: Roma
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Year: 2018
Country: Mexico

Before getting into the film itself, I just have to say that I hope that as time goes on we see more and more of these releases being available streaming or on demand in and around Oscar season. I’m not being lazy or stingy here, but you need to be really on it if you want to catch things in the cinema that may just be nominated a few months later. So thank you Netflix and I hope you keep on distributing Oscar nominees.

Now back to the film, which made me realise something: I may have been sleeping on Alfonso Cuarón as a candidate for one of my favourite directors working today. If you look at his body of work there is an insane amount of variation in genre and it would be difficult to not consider Roma and three of the four more recent films of his as modern classics. Hell, he helped make the Harry Potter films grow up.

Then we get to Roma, which in any other Oscar year would have been my automatic front runner (as of now, that distinction still belongs to The Favourite). Not only is it a sensitive yet compelling slice-of-life film that manages to teach you a lot about a world and history that you may not be aware of, but it’s got two great roles for women and challenges your preconceptions about how a film like this will proceed.

Roma may also be one of the most beautifully shot films that I have seen for a long time, which means that if Cuarón doesn’t walk away from the ceremony with his second Best Director nod, he should at least be given the prize for Best Cinematography (hell, why not both). I’m also so heartened to see a nomination for Yalitza Aparicio whose naturalistic performance as Cleo the native Mexican maid makes you feel everything.

Given the climate at the moment it would be truly delicious if the Academy ended up giving this year’s Best Picture award to Roma. Not only would it be the first foreign language film to win the gong, but it’s a Mexican one that features dialogue in an indigenous language. It would thoroughly deserve the nod as well, it’s just that the politics would make for an interesting night – especially as it stands to possibly clean up 10 awards!

With half of the films now watched, this is where my rankings are:

1) The Favourite
2) Roma
3) A Star Is Born
4) Black Panther

Oscar Bait – The Favourite

Title: The Favourite
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Year: 2018
Country: UK/Ireland

There is nothing about the blurb of the film that made me doubt how much I would end up loving it. I mean, a period comedy-drama, directed by the man behind Dogtooth and starring Olivia Colman and Emma Stone. That alone is worth the price of admission (which is now hard to gauge now since I finally took the plunge and paid for a cinema membership card). Having watched it, I find it hard to remember the last film that stimulated so many discussions afterwards.

Set in 1708, The Favourite tells the story of Queen Anne and two cousins who end up battling for the title of her favourite in court. In one corner is Sarah, who has occupied this position for decades and is Queen Anne’s secret lover. In the other is Abigail, Sarah’s cousin whose family have fallen on hard times and wants to regain her title of being a lady. This tale of a royal lesbian love triangle is further complicated by Britain’s war with France and a whole host of political machinations operating in the background.

Aside from the lesbianism, I get how this story can sound a little bit dry. Then again, this is national treasure Olivia Colman we’re talking about, so how dare you. To say that I laughed out loud in this film would be an understatement. Whilst this film deals with darker topics like depression, multiple child loss (Queen Anne losing 17 children in her lifetime) and disfigurement – The Favourite is incredibly funny.

In a year where A Star Is Born had previously been anointed for awards glory, it was frustrating to think that a great film like The Favourite might miss out of a lot of awards. However, hope springs eternal with this film having the joint most nominations at this year’s awards… so you never know. As of the moment I cannot think of another performance as good as Olivia Colman’s. She completely runs the emotional gamut as Queen Anne – makes you laugh with her, laugh at her, cry with her, pity her, get frustrated with her and (ultimately) proud of her. At the moment she looks like she may lose out to perennial bridesmaid Glenn Close, but we’ll just have to see.

I also think this deserves some love for the Art Direction, Costuming and Screenplay – but as for Best Picture… I can’t judge as I haven’t seen all of them yet, but this is going to be hard to beat.

So, as normal, here are my rankings as things are now:

1) The Favourite
2) Black Panther

Oscar Bait – Phantom Thread

Title: Phantom Thread
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Year: 2017
Country: USA

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
4) Dunkirk
5) Call Me By Your Name
6) Get Out
7) Lady Bird
8) The Post



9) Darkest Hour

Oscar Bait – Get Out / Dunkirk

Title: Get Out
Director: Jordan Peele
Year: 2017
Country: USA

It’s highly unusual for a film to be out on DVD when it receives it’s Oscar nomination… this year there’s two. Get Out is an even greater rarity – a Best Picture nominee that will have been out for over a year before the Academy Awards are given out. I guess that speaks for both the quality of this film and the times that we live in as, usually, a film released this early usually gets forgotten.

So not only is this an early release, but it’s also a comedy-horror. If someone can tell me of another film of that distinct genre being nominated then please enlighten me as this feels pretty unique.

What sets Get Out apart from other horror films is, obviously, the race angle. It’s hard to go too far into a lot of it without veering into spoiler territory, but the main element is the whole ‘under the surface’ type of racism from people who claim to be otherwise tolerant. It’s all stuff that’s easy to recognise, but it becomes such a baseline that when actual racism starts to occur – such as when someone starts touching him as if he was a piece of meat on display, which echoed a scene from Ali: Fear Eats The Soul – everything feels even more heightened.

Watching this, it was hard to believe that I was watching Posh Kenneth from Skins acting his socks off in the directorial debut of sketch comic Jordan Peele. All things considered, this is a remarkable debut and is the exact sort of horror film that I really enjoy. It’s also worth mentioning the performance of Alison Williams, here’s hoping this is the beginning of more interesting roles for here.

At this point I really am glad to not be ranking this films until right at the end. So many great films this year that it’s getting ridiculously hard to differentiate between the top flight.

Title: Dunkirk
Director: Christopher Nolan
Year: 2017
Country: UK/USA

Despite being the second of the Oscar nominated films to be released, this is the film that I actually saw last. You see, I’m someone who didn’t see what all the fuss was about with Saving Private Ryan, so I kept putting off watching this again and again. Stupid really, I’ve never not enjoyed a Christopher Nolan film… so why would that stop now.

So yea, newsflash, I thought Dunkirk was amazing. I should have just trusted that it would have been because, after all, the Battle of Dunkirk wasn’t some huge victory with gung-ho Americans making wisecracks. No, this is a film about one of the largest and most miraculous retreats in modern military history.

Whilst I hate to give this film credit, I think I might appreciate Dunkirk a lot more because of Darkest HourThere is so much about Dunkirk that I didn’t know, so it was good to get that extra context before sitting down to watch this.

So this had an interesting story to tell, but that can easily be rendered dull by a poor director and script. Good thing Christopher Nolan was involved and found a way to create such an engaging film, despite there being no real central plot line other than ‘escape Dunkirk’.

The big thing that made this work was how Nolan found a way to interweave three distinct perspectives, operating in different time frames (1 week, 1 day and 1 hour) that are all cleverly brought together at the end. It allows for some excellent pieces of foreshadowing and callback as we learn more about what’s occurring.

It’s also interesting to note how little dialogue there is in a lot of this film. I guess that is part of what makes this true to life, but it just goes to prove how, sometimes, you don’t need a lot of spoken exposition to get the emotions and the story across.

There’s a lot that I really could say about Dunkirk, but I’m just going to leave this here. It really was a pleasant surprise just how much I enjoyed this film. Makes me wish I’d not waited for the home release and just seen this in the cinema.

 

Oscar Bait – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri / The Post

Title: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Director: Martin McDonagh
Year: 2017
Country: USA

I tell you, this awards season is getting harder and harder to pick a favourite. Seriously, last year it was difficult because of La La Land, Moonlight and Arrival all being incredible movies… but I am having real trouble here. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri just feels like a masterclass in acting.

If you had told me that this film was a Coen Brothers production I would have probably been taken in. I mean, this is a very black comedy starring Frances McDormand that is laugh out loud funny and yet has some extremely touching moments. Sounds like a Coen Brothers film to me.

Seriously though, for a film about a grieving mother who is relentless in her mission to bring the murderer of her daughter to justice, I haven’t laughed out loud so much in months. The script is a work of genius and I really hope that it wins the Best Original Screenplay nod as, of all the nominated films I’ve seen, it really deserves it.

Then again, the script flies because of the performances by the three leads – with Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell being the obvious standouts. Back when I watched The Shape of Water I thought I wouldn’t see a better leading female performance this year… only to be proven wrong. I also have to admit defeat that, once again, it won’t be Michael Stuhlbarg’s year as Sam Rockwell somehow makes you cheer for his utterly ridiculous and racist cop.

Going into this film I expected this to be all about the investigation, but instead this boils down to a character study about stress, grief and the sense for justice. There is a fantastic scene that really epitomises this for me, and it’s where Frances McDormand’s character gives a speech about culpability. There’s a wider message here for society as a whole (although she directs it at the church), but that’s something for another time.

Title: The Post
Director: Steven Spielberg
Year: 2017
Country: USA

On the surface of it, I should have the same complaint with The Post as I did with Darkest HourThis is a movie about a newspaper investigation (something the Academy likes), directed by Steven Spielberg (whose films usually garner nominations) and starring multi-Oscar winning actors Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Hell, it even includes Michael Stuhlbarg in a supporting role… which appears to be a sign of Oscar quality nowadays.

The thing is, where this contains the recipe for Oscar glory this feels like a film that has been made more because of the current political climate than in the quest for awards. Because of this, and it’s something that becomes clear very quickly, it feels like The Post will be a film that’s remembered for a lot longer.

Also, whilst they stretch the truth of the involvement of the Washington Post’s involvement in the Pentagon Papers, they don’t just invent scenes that are out of character just for the sake of an Oscar nomination reel. Also also… at least The Post is interesting and paints these characters as real people that you can root for.

Now.. as much as I love Meryl Streep, I don’t think this is an award worthy performance. There’s not a whole lot for her to work with here (unlike Frances McDormand and Sally Hawkins) but, to be fair, that’s the role and she pitches it exactly correctly. Same goes for Tom Hanks… who seems to have been forgotten by the Academy of late.

For me, the best thing about this film was just watching Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks acting together. Considering all the scandals going on in Hollywood there is something mildly therapeutic about watching these two masters onscreen together. The Post is worth a watch just for that to be honest.

Oscar Bait – Call Me By Your Name / Darkest Hour

Title: Call Me By Your Name
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Year: 2017
Country: Italy/USA

Today’s pair starts off with a film that left me emotionally winded. I didn’t find myself bawling like a lot of people on the internet seem to have ended up, but this is a film that truly moved me. And by moved I mean that I was sat there in a state of emotional shock as the credits rolled beside Timothée Chalamet’s face.

For the uninitiated, Call Me By Your Name tells the romantic coming-of-age story of a 17 year old boy falling in love with a 24 year old visiting academic with Northern Italy as the backdrop. This sounds like the synopsis of a number of different gay interest movies, I know that, but there is an honesty and a style that sets this apart. It also has world class acting and Michael Stulhbarg in a supporting role (who I have adored since seeing him in A Serious Man back in 2009).

This is about as far as I want to go when talking about Call Me By Your Name. I went into this film unspoiled and this is nowhere near old enough a film for me to delve into those. What I can say is that this movie kept me thinking days later and even got me listening to the soundtrack when I was in the office (the appearance of Sufjan Stevens helps here). The world created in this film feels like a more tolerant one than would have probably existed in 1983, but that’s a small niggle in another excellent film.

The fact that, at some point in awards season, a film like this could have been considered a front runner shows how far we’ve come. Between this film and Moonlight‘s win at the Oscars last year, it is heartening to see these slower independent films about homosexual love getting some recognition. Lightning probably won’t strike twice here in terms of award wins, but it will be interesting to see how it turns out on Sunday.

Title: Darkest Hour
Director: Joe Wright
Year: 2017
Country: UK

Right, so I really wanted to stop watching this about 30 minutes in. Pretty much every year there is one nominee that I find frustrating. Last year this was Fences and this year it’s Darkest Hour. However, unlike Fences, not only did I find Darkest Hour frustrating but I also found it quite dull.

Getting platitudes out of the way first, yes Gary Oldman gives a great performance in this film and is able to completely disappear into the character.  It’s a performance where, much like Meryl Steep’s rendition of Julia Child, he is able to give an excellent rendition of what people expect Churchill to be rather than what he was probably like.

Okay now that’s over and done with – boy did this film paint with broad strokes. Anyone who disagreed with Churchill (and actually wanted peace) might as well have been standing in the corner twirling a moustache. Similarly, I understand that this was a dark time in Britain’s history… but I am sure there were still ceiling lights. Every time Churchill gives a speech it’s like the opening scene from The Lion King.

Still this would be mostly forgivable if it wasn’t for the fact that the final 20 minutes of this film are complete and utter fiction. It’s such an aggravating choice for Joe Wright and the scriptwriter to have made to have Churchill base his final decision around the Dunkirk evacuation on a straw poll of the British public that he encountered on the longest tube ride in British history. 10 minutes for one stop? Give me a break.

In the end, if I ask myself the question of why this film was ever made – the only answer I can give is Oscar bait. I know this is why a lot of films end up getting full funding, but as a piece of art I don’t see it and, more importantly, as a way to cast light on an interesting period of history this film fails because of that awful piece of fiction on the London Underground.