Movies to watch out for As voting for Academy Awards begins, here is a list of some big onesby Opinion Express January 9, 2018 0 comments
“The Big Sick”
One of summer’s sleeper hits, “The Big Sick” is what a modern romantic comedy should look like. Using the American immigrant experience to tell a cross-cultural love story, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily v. Gordon wrote one of the year’s most charming scripts — and they’ve promoted the hell out of it in the months since. It’s clearly found favor with voters, too, having earned top nominations from the Screen Ac- tors Guild Awards. Comedies like this have made the Best Picture roster before — think “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Juno” — and it seems primed for affection from the Academy’s younger, more diverse membership.
“The florida Project”
The Florida Project” is a testament to the resourcefulness of independent film making. With a modest $2 million budget, Sean Baker cast unknowns to play a hard-up mother and her 6-year- old daughter living at a low-rent motel outside Disney World. What starts as a quirky charmer about the misadventures of a few ambling kids ends as a heartrending portrait of lower-class travails. The movie, which once seemed a bit small in scale for the Oscars’ taste, has collected a decent sum at the box office despite peaking in a mere 229 theaters. This is one worth rooting for.
“Call Me by your Name”
“Call Me by Your Name” is universally beloved, but its momentum lacks the sort of narrative that would help propel it all the way to the Oscar podium. A gay romance that’s more luscious than it is overtly political, Luca Guadagnino’s masterwork doesn’t carry the same social consciousness that, say, “Moonlight” did when it scored Best Picture. Sadly, some voters will feel like they just handed this award to a queer movie. And while “Call Me” has (mostly) avoided the backlash that haunts many front-runners in the Twitter age, it’s had to ride its wave of fervent fandom since premiering at Sundance in January. That’s a long road to travel without a more pointed angle to hook Academy members looking to honor the movie that best represents the chaos of 2017.
“The Shape of Water”
Rarely does a movie so seamlessly blend technical mastery and patient storytelling. None of Guillermo del Toro’s previous projects have been nominated for Best Picture, which turns “The Shape of Water” into something of a career achievement recognition. With a lovely interspecies romance at its core and an old-fashioned sweep that pays homage to Old Hollywood, this lets voters think with their heads and their hearts. And yet its glowing reviews haven’t translated to widespread precursor accolades. “Water” will land a bevy of influential tech nods, but it feels destined to be loved but not awarded.
“Three Billboards outside ebbing, Missouri”
Martin McDonagh’s barbed dramedy scored the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival, back when there was no discernible front-runner what- soever. That bellwether — a reliable prophesy for Best Picture candidates — gave “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” the semblance of a de facto pacesetter. But by the time the movie opened in November, it met a swift blowback from critics who challenged its muddy racial politics. On the other hand, “Billboards” is a fiery portrait of a woman protesting her daughter’s rape — a timely conceit in the age of #MeToo. Which political pole will prevail? Based on the precursor prizes, “Three Bill- boards” is still very much in the race: It received the top nomination from the Screen Actors Guild Awards, considered the most reliable predictor because of the group’s overlapping voters.
Warner Bros. has fought hard to keep “Dunkirk” in this contest, parading the never-before-nominated Chris-topher Nolan here, there and everywhere for screenings of and interviews about his kinetic World War II saga. Its reputation as the category’s forerunner has waned, but it ended 2017 as the highest-grossing movie unaffiliated with a franchise or reboot. That has to count for something, especially when “Dunkirk” is promised a lot of love from the tech categories.
“Lady Bird” paved a path to the Oscars on its own merits: After the movie was warmly received on the fall film- festival circuit, A24 wisely stamped its then-perfect Rotten Tomatoes scores across advertisements. It’s since become the trendy indie studio’s highest grossing release to date, besting “Moonlight” and proving that films about teen girls can be every bit as sophisticated and nuanced as the heady dramas that saturate Oscar season. “Lady Bird” is the type of movie people want to root for — lovable and warm and nostalgic in all the right ways. With all the requisite attention (the same thing as love, don’t you think?) from the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes, it has a strong shot at nabbing this trophy.
“Get Out” mounted the year’s stealthiest campaign. After it became a runaway phenomenon in February and March, Universal Pictures hosted an industry party for its digital release — the type of event commonly associated with Oscar bids. Writer/director Jordan Peele has remained a fixture on the media circuit, winningly advancing conversations about the story’s racial satire. Just a few weeks ago, in between tweeting about how “Get Out” could be considered a Christmas movie, Peele was profiled by The New York Times. His continued presence has lent added gravitas to what voters of yore might have dismissed as a crowd-pleasing thriller. Now, the Academy can throw its weight behind a movie that is both woke and audience-friendly; it’s exactly what 2018’s awards need.