The 90th Academy Awards are upon us, airing March 4, and raising many questions, such as: Will celebrities again dress in all black in #MeToo solidarity? Does Mobile’s own “Get Out” stand a chance of winning Best Picture? And does a lady really fall for a fish in “The Shape of Water?”
Sometimes it seems like a film’s chance of getting nominated for Best Picture is in direct inverse proportion to people’s interest in seeing it; some of these films seem like medicine we have to take. The main example is that silent, black-and-white film “The Artist,” which no one seems to have seen before or certainly since it won Best Picture in 2011. But this year, it seems there’s something for everyone, and by everyone I mean World War II buffs.
Here’s a cheat sheet to make the 2018 Oscars less like school, even though two of the nominees are about historical events. Here’s what the nominees are about, and here’s how, where and why to watch them.
“Lady Bird” — Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical directorial debut stars Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf as a stubborn, passionate mother-daughter pair. This is sensitive, subtle coming-of-age fare for fans of films such as “Juno” and “Boyhood.” Now available to watch on iTunes and playing at AMC Wharf 15.
“The Post” — The impeccable pedigree of Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg delivers a classy newspaper procedural in the vein of “Spotlight” and “All the President’s Men.” Movies that delve into and celebrate journalism are almost fetishistic at this point in our beleaguered national story, so this is good for those of you who still believe in the existence of facts, and the worth of telling them. Now playing everywhere.
“Dunkirk” — Spectacular Christopher Nolan film about the desperate evacuation of thousand of British troops, stranded on a French beach like sitting ducks. Of the two Oscar-nominated films about World War II, this one focuses, with very little dialogue, on the common man. Fans of “Band of Brothers” will surely want to rent or stream this one.
“The Darkest Hour” — This Oscar-nominated WWII film, on the other hand, focuses, with a great deal of dialogue, on the leaders pulling the strings of the common men. Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill in the role, and the makeup job, of a lifetime. This film is now playing everywhere.
“The Shape of Water” — The fantastical vision of Guillermo del Toro features one of my favorite actresses, Sally Hawkins, as a mute cleaning lady who works at a secret government facility in 1960s Baltimore, where she discovers a classified experiment who steals her heart. For fans of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Splash,” this imaginative film is in theaters.
“Phantom Thread” — Six of the biggest names in Hollywood — director Paul Thomas Anderson and star Daniel Day-Lewis — create a beautifully shot character study of an awful-sounding man and the woman who tries to love him. Day-Lewis delivers what he says will be his final performance as an exacting fashion designer in the 1950s. Now playing at the AMC Wharf.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” — This is the nominated film generating the most controversy, a fractious film for fractious times, starring Frances McDormand, who takes the matter of her daughter’s unsolved murder into her own hands. If you loved McDormand in “Fargo,” you can check this out at the Crescent Theater, the AMC Wharf or rent/stream it.
“Get Out” — This wildly successful, low-budget horror film has a special place in local hearts because Jordan Peele created his sly story of racial tensions stretched to an arguably logical, and inarguably terrifying, conclusion right here in Mobile and the Eastern Shore. You can rent or stream this groundbreaking film, but, hey, maybe you got to be in it as an extra.
“Call Me By Your Name” — Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet play hesitant lovers in a gorgeous Italian setting over the course of a languid Italian summer. There is eye candy galore in this tender but sophisticated story, and you can see it at the AMC Wharf.