If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably noticed that I’ve been far more active lately. I spent the better part of Oscar’s long weekend (Thursday-Sunday) in the movie theater, seeing all the Best Picture nominees. I’d already seen four of them, but I wanted to rewatch everything.
Black Panther (this was my bonus movie): I didn’t want to wait until weekend shows weren’t sold out so when I decided to take Thursday off work to see Three Billboards at 4 so I could see the Oscar shorts on Saturday at 7—there was a LOT of scheduling issues to try and get the shorts in, guys!—I talked my favorite cinema-going companion, Philip, into coming to see Black Panther with me. It wasn’t hard. I was pretty sure that I’d love this (I love Creed, which also stars Michael B. Jordan and is also directed by Ryan Coogler) but I was surprised by just how much I loved it. I have friends who have already seen it multiple times (I think one friend has seen it four times!) and I’m definitely wanting to see it again and will buy it when I can. I felt so inspired at how it felt to see all these women who were more than just the “romantic interest” or there to be saved by someone. I’m white and this representation meant the world to me, so I can’t imagine how much more I’d appreciate it if I were a person of color. I cannot recommend it hard enough.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (rewatch): This is a super hard movie to watch. It’s violent, it’s dark, there isn’t a real resolution and every major character is fairly awful. But I also love it. It’s compelling and it’s darkly funny. It’s not for everyone and probably not even for most people. But I loved it and I respect the hell out of it.
Phantom Thread: This is my least favorite of the nine but it’s also the one I’ve thought about the most. The characters are all unlikable (beyond unlikable!) but it’s a fascinating movie. The pacing is deliberate but I couldn’t look away. The people on my favorite NPR podcast called it “forgettable” but honestly, I don’t know that I’ll ever forget it. I don’t think I’ll watch it again, but it’s going to stick with me.
Estimated time at the movies: 10 hours (including a lunch break at the restaurant across the street, between Black Panther and Three Billboards)
Dunkirk: I loved this and I wasn’t expecting to. I am not a fan of war movies, because I don’t like realistic violence as much. (Horror movie violence tends to be cartoonish, and I am fine with that.) I’d also heard that the three timelines can be confusing, but I paid attention and it was fine. (It helps that, while all the characters look similar, I could break the timelines into “air,” “the one with Mark Rylance” and “the other one.” (“The other one” goes from land to sea and “the one with Mark Rylance” is exclusively sea.) I would’ve picked Christopher Nolan for Best Director for this movie and I wish Mark Rylance had gotten a Best Supporting Actor nod. But this movie is just beautiful and tense and I absolutely loved it. It caught me off guard and I love when that happened.
Lady Bird (rewatch): This is my favorite of the nine. It was going in and it stayed my favorite. I’m a fan of quiet dramas, and this is a perfect movie. It’s sweet and funny and just a lovely movie. I wish Laurie Metcalf had won Best Supporting Actress; this performance of hers is just stellar. She does so much with relatively little (the movie centers around Lady Bird, obviously, and her mom isn’t around much and when she is, they argue, but Laurie Metcalf just nails everything).
Get Out (rewatch): This is the movie I’ve seen the most (this was my fourth viewing) and each time, I appreciate it more. I wish that it had gotten more awards than just Best Original Screenplay, but I cheered so much when it won that. It’s a horror movie, but it’s more of a social commentary than it is a horror movie. (Maybe also more of a thriller than a horror movie, so if you’re not a fan of horror, check it out.) The acting is also perfect and I love everything about it.
Estimated time at the movies: 11 hours–this was the day with well over an hour between each screening, which meant that I spent a bunch of time in the VIP section upstairs–comfortable seating, plus better food options.
Call Me By Your Name: I didn’t know that much about it before I went in (the sum total of my knowledge: “gay love story; my friend Kathy loves it”), and it blew me away. Unpopular opinion: Timothee Chalamet should have won Best Actor. I love everything about this movie: the acting is great and the pacing is languid and the cinematography is gorgeous. It didn’t feel like I was watching a movie and I think that’s because most of the people aren’t particularly famous. (Armie Hammer is probably the biggest name, right?) I am going to watch this movie so many times.
Shape of Water: This was one of my most anticipated movies and it didn’t disappoint. I do already love Guillermo del Toro and it’s set in Baltimore (during the Cold War), and I love that. My city in olden times! This cast is perfect and I wish that Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins had won their respective awards. Frances McDormand was great but Sally Hawkins did so much with body language and her face (her character is mute). People have been very snarky about this movie (“a human/fish love story”) but it’s great and it deserved to win.
Oscar shorts (live action and animated, not documentary): Philip came and saw this with me, too. It turns out that I don’t really like shorts. Well, let me walk that back. I enjoyed the shorts (especially the live-action ones; the animated ones tended to be a little much. I liked Dear Basketball—which won—except now we live in a world where Kobe Bryant is an Oscar winner). But we were in that theater for over 3 hours and there were so many stories and just give me one long movie and not ten little ones. (I don’t like short stories either, as a rule.) The live action shorts were all excellent but I’m so happy The Silent Child won! (Fun fact: Philip is British and the little girl—and okay, yes, everyone associated with the movie—is apparently from a town near where he’s from and his sister has been seeing her on the news all the time for the past week or so.)
Estimated time at the movies: 11 hours
Darkest Hour: Another Kelly-and-Philip screening! This had a King’s Speech-vibe (which I loved) and I was a huge fan of that. This was a little less good, but I had a great time. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that Winston Churchill was absolutely right but I can’t imagine the strength it took to avoid all the talk of trying to appease Hitler. (Philip said it made him feel really proud to be British and I can see that. For me, though, it was a little harder to watch because not only is America not the hero, it’s the third-tier villain—behind Germany and the British government officials who wanted to force peace talks.) I also loved seeing this after Dunkirk because it was good to see what was happening in Britain during the course of that movie.
The Post (rewatch): I loved this movie so much more the second time! It’s so smart and watching Kay Graham go from being pretty timid to completely forceful made me seriously want to stand up and cheer. I don’t think this is Spielberg’s or Tom Hanks’ best work but Meryl Streep is completely genius in this. It’s very talky and if you’re not particularly interested in a movie where there’s not a lot of action, this isn’t for you. But I loved it and I am hoping to get it as a late birthday present.
Estimated time at the movies: 5 hours (it would have been even less but I got there early so I could get some Korean wings from the VIP section–thank you, Cinemark!)
My favorites (in order): Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name, Shape of Water, Get Out, Three Billboards, The Post, Dunkirk, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread.
Best: Shape of Water, CMBYN, Billboards, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Post, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread. They’re all excellent, though I think PT was weakest.