Beautiful people, the nominations for the Academy Awards have been released. Now, be honest, you haven’t seen all of the Best Picture nominees, have you? As I do each year, I would be happy to be of assistance.
I feel it is my duty to provide a thorough review/summary of each of the nominated films in case you can’t get to see all of them before the Oscars. Since you haven’t seen all of these nine movies, let me fill in the blanks. Because, for the umpteenth year in a row, I have seen exactly 0.0% of these films this year!
2017 was a pretty rough year for Hollywood. Let’s just list a few things that went wrong for Hollywood this year:
- With the rise of Fuckface Von Clownstick (thank you for the apt moniker, Jon Stewart), Hollywood was in a tizzy. Not only did the liberal elite have to listen to Mel Gibson and James Woods boast about the Republican control of the White House and both houses of Congress, but they also had to watch Clint Eastwood spend the entire year wearing a MAGA hat. Luckily no one takes Mel Gibson or James Woods seriously for other reasons as well, but the fashion faux pas by Dirty Harry shook the normally sharp-dressed actors to their core.
- Stories about Harvey Weinstein’s despicable behavior became well known outside of Hollywood circles in 2017. While these stories were not surprising, the sheer volume of them and the number of people playing moral Twister to try to justify their own behaviors gave rise to multiple audition tapes for Reed Richards in a new Fantastic Four movie.
- Hashtags officially became public enemy #1 to Hollywood in 2017. From the #MeToo movement to the #TimesUp movement (both taking on the ugliness of sexual assault and harrassment) to the #OscarsSoWhite movement (pointing out the lack of diversity in Hollywood) to the #OscarsSoMale movement (bringing attention to the blatant sexism in Hollywood), hashtags were everywhere. All of a sudden, an industry whose growth was based on the seven deadly sins was seen as a negative. Luckily, #Hashbrown never took off.
- Of course, with any positive social understanding and change, there are small-minded and hateful people who feel they have to lash out in counter-intuitive ways. So, from the morons who brought the #NotAllMen hashtag to the forefront, Hollywood started seeing a wave of horrible people who thought that having a racist and sexist president gave them the right to say and do whatever they wanted. Yeah, I have no joke here. It’s just too sad.
- Finally, not only were the Jedi placed on the endangered list, but we were informed that the last one was in danger, prompting a possible extinction of the Force.
Of course, it wasn’t just Hollywood that was affected by the calls of resistance to the de-evolving of American society. These battles played out all over reality. Movies, in addition to providing escapism, have always sought to reflect the feelings of the people. As such, movies released this year tried their best to provide hope and a reason to resist. However, the grand pall of existential despair was everywhere this year, and the Best Picture nominees show that in microcosm.
Let’s get to the nominees, in alphabetical order:
“Call Me by Your Name” – This most striking thing about this film is its bleak outlook on the movie industry itself. The directors/writers/producers/everyone did not even care enough to properly title the film. Instead, when movie theaters asked what to put on the marquee, the distributors just told them to call it by whatever name they wanted, in the snarkiest tone possible. In the promotional material provided to the Academy, there was a simple index card taped to a BetaMax videocassette which said, “Call Me by Your Name – no one cares and it doesn’t matter anyway.” Also, given that the movie was only available in BetaMax format and a very limited run of Laser Discs being produced, no one was able to watch the movie anyway. This type of self-spite made this movie the perfect Best Picture nominee for 2017.
“Darkest Hour” – One would think that this movie would be a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination in any year. A movie that revolved around a historical figure at a critical time in world history that was well acted and intriguing seems to be begging for a Best Picture nomination. But 2017 was not a normal year. Therefore, this movie about Winston Churchill and starring Gary Oldman did not get the nomination for Best Picture. Rather, one hour of the movie was nominated for Best Picture. This sixty minute period of time was dubbed the “Darkest Hour” because the filmmakers turned off all of the lights on set for this time, ostensibly to save on electric costs (and appease the Greenpeace protesters outside). During this hour, placed exactly in the middle of the film, the entire theater becomes engulfed in darkness. The audience hears the actors bumping into set pieces and each other. The dialogue completely falls apart as actors just give up on their lines and scream in an attempt to use echolocation and escape the film lot. After this hour, the movie picks up where it left off when the lights went out without explanation. Movie critic Jay Sherman points out that this “Darkest Hour” creates “the perfect expression of disorientation associated with movie-goers free time being wasted by indulging in a pointless practice of staring slack-jawed at a giant screen. The darkness is welcome for those who feel passing out might be the best course of action. This movie is sure to be a hit with the drunk and chemically-altered audience.”
“Dunkirk” – A comedy making the list of Best Picture nominations is a surprise move. Not only is “Dunkirk” a comedy, but it is, in essence, a sports movie. Well, at least this movie COULD HAVE been a comedy, if it was focused from a different perspective. “Dunkirk” suffered the most from a typo when the movie was released. The original name of the film was “Dunk. Irk!” and is a basketball movie highlighting the phenomenon known as posterizing. Posterizing is a term used when a basketball player dunks the ball over an opponent and the result is so impressive that the image is used for a poster celebrating it. The opposing player, the one who is being beaten badly, only gets to be on the poster because he stinks. With that in mind, the film title of “Dunk. Irk!” is spoken by the defensive player because try as he might, the superior offensive athlete is making him look foolish. However, with the typo, people believed this was a World War II movie and probably why it was nominated. But in this odd year, maybe a film laughing at the humiliation of losing in sport is a worthy contender.
“Get Out” – What is there to say about this movie? Well, for starters, it isn’t really a movie. It is a blatant scam. The theater takes your $12.50 for the ticket and requires you to purchase at least $32.75 worth of refreshments. Once everyone gets into their seats and settled, the screen flashes a singular title card, stolen from an old Monopoly board game: and screams the name of the movie over and over again. Then, the doors are locked and everyone in the theater is subjected to a lame Escape Room type of game. After one hour, an announcement comes over the speakers saying that the popcorn was poisoned and escape is the only way to get the antidote. At the end of the three hours in the theater, the doors are unlocked and ushers come in to clean. Definitely not a movie for the faint of heart. However, it masterfully matches the overwhelming sense we have of being dead inside with being dead outside.
“Lady Bird” – Finally we get a movie with substance. This film details the heartwarming tale of a patriotic young woman named Juli who was going for a bicycle ride one day. She was minding her own business, enjoying the weather, when suddenly the Presidential motorcade came screaming around the bend, almost mowing her down. Incensed by the lack of human decency displayed by this egotistical ass, Juli spoke the visual language of the vast majority of the country and gave the motorcade the middle finger. Colloquially, this gesture is called “flipping the bird,” giving the movie its title. Later in the movie, Juli is fired from her job because her bosses are a bunch of weak-minded cowards. But never fear, her heroism is rewarded through a GoFundMe campaign and she gains immortality through a hugely viral meme. This hero story of the last living person with hope is the odds-on favorite to win, if not the Oscar, then the hearts of millions.
“Phantom Thread” – This movie is one of the more symbolic movies which have been nominated for Best Picture this year. Already a shoo-in for Best Costume Design, this film rises above the level of gimmick early on. “Phantom Thread” was filmed in front of a giant green screen but used no CGI. The trick used to such great effect was that every costume was sewed together using very thick green thread which matched the green screen itself. This created the illusion of disembodied parts floating around and characters who seemed to be physically tearing apart at every seam. Obviously, this is representative of the disassociation in the world and the fractured nature of us all. The plot of the movie was definitely secondary to this thoughtful insight into our souls.
“The Post” – One of the more divisive films on this list, it was rumored that Tim Allen protested this film as a “left-wing liberal conspiracy of the highest order, most likely funded by George Soros.” When asked if Mr. Allen knew who Mr. Soros was, he simply grunted like a caveman, said, “I’m Santa Claus!” and ran off into the woods. The film itself is a master class in minimalism. For two hours and 37 minutes, we see a singular fence post on the screen. We can see the remains of a run-down farm behind the post with a voiceover explaining this post “stands in Nebraska, but could be anywhere.” The narration, handled by Ron Howard, speaks for the entire film, in the most condescending tone imaginable, about how the post is a symbol. It is a symbol of the midwest, the heartland, the guts of America. But also it is a symbol of ignorance and corn-based home-made alcohol and meth addiction and jingoism. “The Post” symbolizes the foolishness of the typical Trump voter who votes against his or her best interests. The only action in the film is sophomoric and occurs in the last five minutes. That is when an ugly pigeon with a bad toupee lands on the post to defecate on it. And scene.
“The Shape of Water” – One of the more straightforward movies of the year, “The Shape of Water” explores what happens when diametrically opposed sides argue over any topic to the point of inaction. Obviously, the shape of water depends on the container in which it is housed, so that container is the item argued over in the movie. 85% of the movie is from found footage first aired on C-Span with the remainder filmed on location in the United States Capitol building. To gain a consensus on the shape of water, House Republicans suggest glass drinkware. House Democrats counter that plastic beverage holders would be more appropriate. Eventually settling on a pint glass with a rubber coozie, the Senate side takes up the debate. Senate Republicans argue that a cup might be easier to handle. Senate Democrats, led by Senator Hook of Neverland, take offense and demand that a pail be used for the water. Senators Jack and Jill (Republicans from the Hill) filibuster for hours, using Jack’s CT scans for visual effect of the pail being a bad idea. I would warn you of spoilers, but let’s be honest, you aren’t seeing this movie for the plot. You’re seeing this movie for the special effects, as after 3 hours of pointless and childish bickering from our country’s supposed leaders, cool-looking, shape-shifting Terminators come back in time and blow up Washington DC just minutes before another continuation resolution vote can be heard. So happy endings all around.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” – Perhaps the bleakest of all the bleak movies this year, this film consists of three still shots, repeating in order: WE ARE DOOMED.
This year’s batch of Best Picture nominees share a strong moment in cinematic history. They remind us that not only can we not see the forest for the trees but we also cannot smell the napalm being used as accelerant in the approaching wildfire.
Whichever movie takes home the golden idol to worship, the Academy would like you to remember that movies teach us all an important lesson. That lesson is: nothing matters and we are all going to die, so you may as well keep seeing these things.
Until next year (maybe), enjoy the Oscars!
Tags: Academy Awards, Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, LadyBird, Oscars, Phantom Thread, the post, The Shape of Water, three billboards outside ebbing missouri