Capsules – The Oscar Nominees I Haven’t Come Around to Reviewing

So… in the immediate future is definitely The Shape of Water (now that it fa sho won) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (ideally leading up to that Han Solo movie nobody asked for) but in the meanwhile there are definitely some of the other Oscar nominees that I totally have words for but don’t feel like writing a whole review for because it’s fucking March and the only 2018 movie I reviewed so far is fucking Maze Runner. I gotta move on (and get my Year-End post in soon)

I’m sure there’s eventually going to be a context where I can provide full reviews for most of these movies (like I will not die before reviewing every Spielberg movie for example), but in the meantime… here’s my capsule thoughts on particular Oscar nominees:

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Call Me by Your Name (dir. Luca Guadagnino, Italy/USA/Brazil/France)

It’s cut like hell. Like, “I need to use up different takes of the same shot and so lemme try to paste them together with this cross for 3 seconds” hell. OK, got that out of the way.

It’s also no less sensual a film than any of Guadagnino’s other pictures, aided by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s soft humid summer photography and the relaxed staging of every character to malaise us enough that gives us patience through the slow simmer of the central romance and follows up by making every moment of extreme passion feel like a punctuation to a wonderfully lazy summer film. Definitely in the upper tier of the Best Picture nominees.

I am not at all qualified to talk about the age gap controversy.

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Lady Bird (dir. Greta Gerwig, USA)

An explicit lesson in how movies can totally not be for me, like independent coming-of-age movies with ordinary aesthetical decisions usually are, and still be a fine movie without any real deficit to its existence. I’d definitely the lion’s share of that credit to the cast and their ability to live-in the characters Gerwig drafts out of her clearly autobiographical script. I’m especially annoyed Metcalf had to lose against Janney (Manville moreso but she didn’t really have a chance and Metcalf had such a good shot and gave such a great performance).

Also fuck Kyle and also Julie is fucking MVP.

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Phantom Thread (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, USA)

(This one I kind of want to write a full-length review for soon, but if I can’t find the time…)

I’m still kind of shocked that Paul Thomas Anderson made one of the few movies here I was rooting hella for during the Oscars, but it does help that he has three superlative possibly career-best (albeit Krieps is just starting) performances at the center of it and he developed… actually no, I don’t wanna say he developed a sense of humor because his movies kind of always had that, but Phantom Thread‘s sense of humor is so much more on my wavelength than anything else he made. It’s probably not better than There Will Be Blood, but I wonder if it’s not better-made if you understand what I’m saying: it’s a movie so self-consciously aware of its own craft and the payoff is that the craft is in and of itself impressive. Such would have to be the case when your art is about artists.

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The Post (dir. Steven Spielberg, USA)

I think we can all agree that Spielberg got to a point where he stopped trying with every project he made and just made movies because it’s the only way he can breathe, but even when he’s absolutely not giving a real damn about the project except as something to keep him busy in the middle of the damn video game movie, The Post is still mostly tight.

I mean, mostly.

And like Lady Bird, it also has a cast that is so much more dedicated than the script asks them too, including Bob Odenkirk starring in his own personal little thriller within the movie and Meryl Streep giving her best performance in a long time drowning in expectations and uncertainties.

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I, Tonya (dir. Craig Gillespie, USA)

This industry isn’t really doing right by Margot Robbie when she’s able to knock out performances like this often for whatever slumming picture she’s in (and I, Tonya is absolutely not slumming… Gillespie has seen Goodfellas and gotten all the right lessons from it) and she’s still not Le Movie Star right here right now.

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All the Money in the World (dir. Ridley Scott, USA)

This movie was not worth salvaging but at least we got another great Christopher Plummer performance out of it.

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The Disaster Artist (dir. James Franco, USA)

That this was ever in consideration for the big Oscars still makes my brain hurt. It has such contradictory problems: it’s devoted to providing a dumbass “follow your dreams” narrative for a man who is a monster that the movie isn’t nearly as incisive and indicting towards yet still wants to treat as a fucking alien for cheap giggles. It’s sloppy in the way only a filmmaker like Franco who thinks himself a higher artist than he actually is could make.

It’s also self-congratulatory in every unbearable manner, especially in the fact that it only exists to show off James Franco’s bland Tommy Wiseau impression.

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Coco (dir. Lee Unkrich, USA)

Like Spielberg, there definitely came a point where Pixar stopped trying and like Spielberg, they’re still kind of nailing it. Coco isn’t necessarily revelatory in any narrative sense, but it’s still effective as tearjerker (especially since I saw it days after my grandmother passed away) and eyewatering as spectacle based in festive oranges and blues.

Plus, hey, it’s fantastic to me how positive about death the movie is as a result of its respect for Mexican culture. And I don’t need to mention the positives of Latin representation, which makes me very very happy Coco won its Oscar.

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Darkest Hour (dir. Joe Wright, UK/USA)

Hahahahahaha who the fuck thought this Seth MacFarlane workplace comedy was a good fucking movie? Is it just because Bruno Delbonnel can never not make movies look so fucking gorgeous?

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