In what has been described as both the most wide-open and the most boring race for Best Picture in history, we’re still not entirely sure as to who will be taking the top prize at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday. To get a bit of a picture as to which films stand more of a chance than others, here’s my take on which of the nominees are best: all of the Best Picture nominees RANKED.
9. Phantom Thread
Paul Thomas Anderson is a director who really knows how to make a polarising film, but that’s not entirely the case with Phantom Thread.
Undoubtedly the most exquisite film of the year (possibly even the decade) with its beautiful costume and production design, furthered by a subtle yet powerful score throughout that mimicks the story’s growing drama, it’s a real feast for the eyes at every moment.
Unfortunately, that’s part of the problem, as Phantom Thread suffers heavily from being all style and no substance over the course of its first two acts, and although it does manage to bring about great drama and intrigue eventually, it’s a film that feels a lot more pretentious in its painfully slow delivery of such drama than it does organic and genuinely powerful, occasionally even appearing little unlike a posh version of Fifty Shades Of Grey.
8. Call Me By Your Name
The romantic drama genre is always one that features heavily in awards season, and this year, Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is the one taking that spot.
As one of the most visually elegant and beautiful films of the year, Call Me By Your Name is a sumptuous and stunningly nostalgic presentation of young love, as well as the tranquility of the summer countryside in Italy. As a result, it’s a film that’s very difficult to take your eyes off, as it floats its way through a two hour-plus runtime with a very free-willed and loose atmosphere.
Unfortunately, while it may be an incredibly stylish piece, the film doesn’t quite feature the same amount of emotional passion and depth in its central romance, failing to really grab and move you in the way that the best romantic dramas are able to do. Furthermore, despite the two acting nominations, Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet are hardly the most riveting and passionate on-screen couple, and don’t offer performances that will do anything more to make you really fall in love with their characters.
7. The Post
Given that this historical drama from Steven Spielberg was rushed through to the end of production, it’s pretty impressive just how well things turned out for The Post.
Although hardly the greatest biopic of our times, suffering from an exceedingly dry opening half, with a series of less-than-stellar character introductions, and a general lack of direction before thngs really start to get going.
However, the second half of the film remains proof that Spielberg can still work magic with any story, as he turns this history about The Washington Post teetering on the brink of publishing information sanctioned by the US Government into a rapid-fire and deeply intriguing thriller, not letting up for a moment as the stakes grow larger and larger by the second right to the finish.
And of course, with veteran Oscar actors like Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, the film has all the seriousness and professionalism that its story deserves. It’s not the season’s most stunning or world-changing film, but it is a film that’s very competent and ultimately fully enthralling to watch throughout.
6. The Shape Of Water
The Shape Of Water is the film that breaks all the rules of what we normally expect from a Best Picture nominee. From director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), the film is a strikingly strange, yet artistically stunning piece of work that, while won’t prove gold for everybody, is impressive across the board regardless.
Following the story of a mute cleaning lady that falls in love with a monster being experimented on in a US Government facility in the midst of the Cold War, The Shape Of Water is the ultimate mash-up of every genre you could possibly imagine. Part passionate romance, part spy thriller, part comedy, part cute nostalgia flick, and everything in between, it’s a film that tries to cover all the bases, for better or worse.
Now, while I found myself particularly struck by The Shape Of Water, given its artistic ingenuity, wonderful score, sheer originality, and excellent performances, it’s not a film that I ever felt myself falling in love with. That’s in part due to the fact that it’s never really able to give you a consistent story, i.e. one that doesn’t leap wildly between genres throughout, while its exceedingly strange atmosphere proves yet another stumbling block to being able to really fall deep under its spell.
The Shape Of Water is a film that undoubtedly deserves a Best Picture nomination, and one that you should watch simply to see something completely different, but the fact remains that it’s not quite as perfect or swift a movie as it aims to be, which can be frustrating for some.
5. Lady Bird
Director Greta Gerwig is probably right up there with Noah Baumbach, Wes Anderson and the likes for the quirkiest movies in Hollywood today. Lady Bird, however, is so much more than a ‘quirky’ indie movie, but a riveting, heartfelt and fantastically funny coming-of-age tale.
Of course, part of the film’s best heart comes from the fact that it’s so down-to-earth, following a high school girl battling between her mother’s expectations and her own desires to fly free, in a story that’s so well-written and easy to relate to, furthered by a stunning performance from Saoirse Ronan that turns what could be seen as a stereotypical teenager into a really intriguing and most of all likable young woman.
Along with being a great coming-of-age tale, Lady Bird expands itself further by proving a riveting family drama, with one of the year’s most engrossing supporting characters, the mother played by Laurie Metcalf. As much as this film is about Saoirse Ronan’s young character, it also shows the mother’s perspective of her daughter coming of age, something that we don’t ever really see from the genre, but proves a fascinating and equally well-written and acted extra layer to the film, cementing its place as a fully deserved Best Picture nominee.
4. Get Out
This is the first year that we’ve ever really seen a film from outside the ‘worthy’ spectrum of Oscar hopefuls pick up a Best Picture nominee, but it couldn’t have come for a better film than Jordan Peele’s Get Out.
The horror genre is one that’s never really caught the eye of the Academy, particularly when the film is released 11 months before the Oscars, but the endlessly successful and acclaimed Get Out managed to make enough of an impact to break that trend.
Not only is the film a fantastically entertaining and passionately-made horror film, but it’s also one that blends brilliant comedy and pulp horror with genuinely interesting characters and even a bit of social commentary, making it so much more than the typical haunted house pieces that we’re used to seeing around Halloween time.
A thrillingly original, endlessly enjoyable and brilliantly-made film all round, it’s great to see something that was so beloved by the public all the way back in March of last year be picked up on and rewarded by the biggest awards ceremony of all. Will it win? Highly unlikely, but even getting a nomination feels like a win for the brilliant Get Out.
3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
If there’s one film that’s been at the front of most people’s minds for the Best Picture win, then it’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, from director Martin McDonagh of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths.
Following the story of a grieving mother frustrated with the lack of police action after the murder of her daughter, the film combines incredibly black humour with genuinely impressive and deep emotion, all the while featuring some of the year’s best performances in an ensemble cast that’s absolutely riveting to watch.
The best thing about Three Billboards is the fact that it covers all bases in that regard. Not only is it a film that will really touch and move you at times, even when following relatively minor characters, but it’s also one with life and humour throughout, making it feel so much more fresh than the typical drama fare that we see at the top of the ladder in the Best Picture race. And of course, the stunning performances from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell amongst others all add that little bit more to what is undoubtedly one of the year’s most impressive films.
2. Darkest Hour
Here’s where I break trend a little, because of all the films nominated for Best Picture, Darkest Hour is the one with the least fervour and support behind it, which I think is a real shame.
Written off as nothing more than traditionalistic Oscar bait, the film hasn’t won the same audience or critic support as the rest of the nominees, but that’s disregarding the fact that Darkest Hour does actually offer something very different to your average historical biopic.
Although it’s a story that isn’t intended to be a wildly progressive one, Darkest Hour proves a brilliantly entertaining and riveting watch as it offers a fascinating insight into the most important moments of the Second World War, giving you a really strong sense of just how close the world was to falling to the rule of evil.
And what’s more is that Gary Oldman gives a stunning performance as Winston Churchill, fully disappearing into a character that’s portrayed not only as a great of world history, but a man that’s just as full of humour and quirk as he is bravery and intelligence, and that blend of great drama and humour is what makes Darkest Hour such a great watch, proving arguably the most entertaining and equally enthralling historical biopic ever made.
Proving that 2017 was a year for some really strong Second World War dramas, my favourite of all the Best Picture nominees is Christopher Nolan’s mesmerising war thriller: Dunkirk.
Although its subject matter may be regarded as traditional, the way in which Nolan directs the film is so groundbreaking and innovative, doing away with so many basic conventions of filmmaking, ranging from linear storytelling even to simple character development, and yet making a film so thrilling and intense at every moment that it’s impossible not to be blown away by.
Of all the films nominated for Best Picture this year, none will likely stand up to the test of time quite as well as Dunkirk. Outdoing legendary war films like Saving Private Ryan with its dramatic intensity and portrayal of the real terrors of war, it’s a film that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat and biting your nails right down to the end.
Yes, there is the argument that the film doesn’t have the same level of character depth as the best war films, but Christopher Nolan takes Dunkirk to such a level of intensity and thrills that character intrigue isn’t even all that necessary in making a truly enthralling film. All in all, it may not look all that new on the outside, but Christopher Nolan puts in arguably his best-directed film of all, making Dunkirk a truly innovative, groundbreaking and mesmerising piece of work.