THE NINE: Short reviews of the 2018 Best Picture nominees

March 2, 2018

 

Below are short reviews of all nine movies nominated in the Best Picture category of this year’s Academy Awards by BP Features Editor Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz-Brooks, Deputy Editor-in-Chief Jacob Feitelberg, and Opinion Editor Aidel Townsley.

Winners will be announced this Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Dolby Theatre, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.  Click here for a live blog of the ceremony by Lifestyle Editor Sadie Toczek and Features Editor Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks, beginning Sunday at 4:30. 

BP Graphic by Gilad Spitzer.

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Call Me By Your Name

This year’s Oscar class is home to many great movies, but none achieve beauty and artistry quite like Call Me By Your Name.

Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet, is a sophisticated 17-year-old who spends his summers with his parents in Northern Italy. His father — an archeology professor invites — invites a doctoral student to their home to work as an intern. Elio soon discovers that he still has much to learn about love and desire.

The warm colors and lush greenery of the Italian countryside intensifies the emotion between the characters.  

This film is much more of an acquired taste than the other nominees. The slow pace and methodical character development make it an investment for the viewer. Some may also be turned off by the film’s sexual nature. But if you are willing to put in the investment, it is truly a beautiful film that should be a contender for this award.

Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks

Click here to watch the trailer on Youtube.

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Darkest Hour

Darkest hour follows famed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill from his appointment as prime minister to his decision not to surrender to Nazi Germany.

Churchill is often portrayed as a caricature of himself, with his famous speaking style and odd appearance. But Gary Oldman presents his more human side. Churchill struggles throughout the film and often doubts himself. Watching the film, it is hard not to be drawn to him. His famous rousing speech in front of the British House of Commons at the end of the film caps off the audience’s unlikely emotional experience.

I would recommend this film both for those interested in learning about one of the most significant politicians of the last century and for anyone who enjoys a journey to overcome doubt and fear.

Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks

Click here to watch the trailer on Youtube.

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Dunkirk

Few movies make you feel the suspense and angst of a situation like Dunkirk.  With gunshots breaking stark silence, you will nearly jump out of your seat.

Most of the movie is made up of tense moments waiting along with the soldiers for their rescue.

Even for people who know their history, Dunkirk is far from predictable.

Dunkirk follows several storylines because when the soldiers are rescued, the focus is not on one soldier or pilot.  In the film — as in history — it is on the collective.

That is why you will not remember any names of specific people after this movie.  Instead, you will feel part of something bigger than yourself or one person: a nation.

— Jacob Feitelberg

Click here to watch the trailer on Youtube.

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Get Out

While it is strange to see a horror movie in contention for Best Picture at the Oscars, once you see Get Out you will understand why.

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut tells a harrowing tale of Chris, an African-American photographer played by Daniel Kaluuya, who goes to his white girlfriend’s parents’ house for the weekend and discovers things are not quite what they seem in their quaint white neighborhood.

Peele, famous for his 2012-15 sketch comedy series with Keegan Michael Key, is no stranger to comedy and uses it to relieve tension before unexpectedly twisting back to suspense.

What earns Get Out an oscar nomination, however, is the way Peele uses the horror genre to convey the evils of racism. While there are a few jump scares and and some gore, the film is full of unsettling scenes that force the viewer to confront his or her own racial biases.

Get Out is a thrilling yet relevant experience that is worth the watch even if it is your first horror film.

Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks

Click here to watch the trailer on Youtube.

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Ladybird

Written and directed by newcomer Greta Gerwig and set in 2002,  Ladybird is a coming of age story unique in its ability to be universal. A love story to the small corner of Sacramento that Gerwig grew up in, we follow a high school senior called Ladybird as she navigates her final year there.

The characters are extremely nuanced and believable, and the movie is also laugh-out-loud hilarious in the way looking back on your own life often is. It’s the nostalgic ability to view your mistakes and experiences as comical when seeing them from far away.

The title character and her mother — played by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf respectively, both nominated for their acting performances — navigate friendships, home life and the unknown future, making Ladybird a movie worth watching especially as a teenager or as someone who knows one.

Aidel Townsley 

Click here to watch the trailer on Youtube.

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Phantom Thread

If there was an Oscar for most confusing movie, it would surely belong to Phantom Thread. Set in 1950’s London, it introduces us to a dressmaker played by Daniel Day-Lewis. He becomes bored of his lovers quite quickly, until he meets Alma, played by Vicky Krieps. She becomes his model and muse for his dresses, and they grow closer throughout the film.

The cinematography and design of the setting are exquisite. Everything is polished and elegant.

But what the movie lacks is plot. Running two hours and 15 minutes, it manages to have barely any direction. With such beautiful aesthetics, one would expect to be captivated within the first 30 minutes, but it never happens. The characters are so unusual and bothersome that they elicit a strange response of unexpected uncomfortableness. The ending is peculiar and gives little satisfaction for the long time spent watching this film.

This is not to say that no one will enjoy the film. It is something very different and Daniel Day-Lewis manages to capture a character that could only be written for him.But others may find this film fairly empty and not very entertaining.

Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks

Click here to watch the trailer on Youtube.

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The Post

The Post tackles enduring societal issues like freedom of the press and women’s roles head-on in a very tasteful way while keeping the audience focused on the consequential decision by the Washington Post to print the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

Starring Meryl Streep in an Oscar-nominated performance as the Post’s publisher Katherine Graham, the movie deftly portrays the consequences and pressure of government secrecy as American society split apart over the escalation of the Vietnam War. But it does not throw opinion in your face. It gives you time to reach your own conclusions before it presents its own and puts all of the issues into the context of that time.

When presenting changes in culture — for example, the men at a dinner table start talking about politics and the women stand up and leave the room to talk about fashion — the audience notices the dissonance and decides for itself what to make of it.

In tense scenes, particularly in the newsroom, the camera work pushes everything along as one decision comes up after another.  In other scenes, especially dinner conversations, where it can the camera is still and the action slows down.  But The Post does an amazing job of putting a historic journalistic decision into context and for most of the movie, keeps the audience glued to the screen.

— Jacob Feitelberg

Click here to watch the trailer on Youtube.

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The Shape of Water

As opposed to the usual Oscar nomination which finds new ways to explore old narratives, The Shape of Water turns a bizarre new concept into a heartwarming story. Elisa, played by Sally Hawkins, is a mute janitor who works at a government research facility. When a top-secret amphibian creature arrives, they develop a relationship that pushes the boundaries of love.

Set in Cold War America, the film depicts both fear and awe of the unknown, which helps ground the fantastic concept.

The small cast allows enough time time to develop each character. A cold, ruthless government agent, played by Michael Shannon, is the perfect antagonist to the others, all the charming and hopeful. Richard Jenkins plays an old painter who struggles to find meaning in his life.

The Shape of Water is a crazy amalgamation of horror, romance, drama and sci-fi, truly something you have never seen before and is worth the watch no matter what genre you generally like.

— Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks

Click here to watch the trailer on Youtube.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Though it seems to be the frontrunner for several awards this Oscar season, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri falls surprisingly flat.

Frances McDormand stars as Mildred Hayes, a mother whose daughter was murdered more than a year before the film begins. Unhappy with the results of a police investigation, she erects three billboards criticizing Police Chief William Willoughby, played by Woody Harrelson, dividing the town and sparking hatred toward herself and her friends.

Director Martin McDonagh’s presents some of this with attempted humor, which unfortunately derails the film. Poorly timed lines make it hard to follow the plot and development of characters.

— Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks

Click here to watch the trailer on Youtube.

 

 

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Meet the Writer
Photo of Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks
Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks, Editor-in-Chief

Some people have to discover their interests; others have no choice but to follow them. Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks has been a member of the Boiling Point staff since the first semester of his freshman year. He soon found a love for journalism and became the paper’s Arts & Culture editor the next semester, moving on to Features editor in his sophomore year, and Community Editor and becoming a member of the BP's Editorial Board his junior year. Jacob is now the paper’s Editor-in-Chief as well as director and creator of its forthcoming new magazine. Jacob is an avid moviegoer as well as a diehard fan of the Toronto Blue Jays and Raptors.

Photo of Aidel Townsley
Aidel Townsley, Opinion Editor

Aidel Townsley has written for Boiling Point since she transferred to Shalhevet three years ago. Most proud of her advice pieces for the Boiling Point, she is now Opinion editor. Her other interests include music, psychology and biology.

Photo of Jacob Feitelberg
Jacob Feitelberg, Deputy Editor-in-Chief

Jacob Feitelberg has been a part of Boiling Point since his sophomore year. He originally started by reporting on Color War as a staff writer and then wrote for other sections, including as Outside News and Torah, eventually becoming Outside News Editor for the 2016-17 school year, and now Deputy Editor-in-Chief.  Jacob enjoys listening to classical music and rock music, reading, playing violin, skiing and coding.

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THE NINE: Short reviews of the 2018 Best Picture nominees