Each and every year, awards season brings about hot debate amongst all film goers as regards the movies they feel are the very best to be released across the previous 12 months, so in the spirit of the year’s biggest debate settler (The Oscars) we thought it might be fun to jump in on the action of ranking the most appreciated of our favourite art form and host this very special Oscars Best Picture edition of Ranked, because if it’s good enough for the highly qualified experts of the Academy, then it’s good enough for us!
We encourage discussion, and we’re pretty certain at least some of you are going to disagree, so please do leave your thoughts in the comments below!
9. Darkest Hour
The ideologically and thematically problematic premise of Darkest Hour aside, this was a a film that was lacking artistically in the same levels of sophistication, beauty and depth as its competition this awards season, with its well-crafted central performance being the fuel that ultimately carried it to the finish line, itself hiding the cracks in production and particularly the screenplay that made for an otherwise distinctly average film that simply didn’t belong in the discussion.
8. The Post
Oscars the Movie was always a shoe-in for a Best Picture vote, even with less reputable representation across the board for 2018’s ceremony – it was like Spielberg had made a film specifically to garner awards season interest. That’s not to take away from the film’s fantastic screenplay however, and the manner through which the director masterfully used it to create big moments from seemingly small ones, importantly celebrating the truth in an era of Fake News. This is a must-see film for many reasons, but if there were to be one film that could join Darkest Hour on the subs bench it would be The Post, simply because of how indifferent it was during a time of evolution and change.
7. Get Out
Opposed to the glossy, classic Oscars fare of The Post and Darkest Hour is Jordan Peele’s progressive masterpiece, Get Out. This politically engaging horror movie is not only important in how it holds up a mirror to society and offers a voice to often overlooked portions of said society, but it is also perhaps the best indicator of the good that can come from the recent expansion in Academy voters as it is the latest in a spate of genre movies to break the mould in the Best Picture race, illustrating they Academy’s more well-rounded appreciation for movies outside of the historically accurate and dramatic works they usually celebrate.
6. Phantom Thread
As divisive of a film as there is on this list, Phantom Thread has perhaps come at the wrong time in the public conscience to be considered the ultimate classic of this year’s awards ceremony based on its themes alone. Paul Thomas Anderson, the director who had previously brought an Oscar-winning performance from Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, is just as effective at bringing the same levels of world class acting from his lead once again in Phantom Thread, and has shown to be equally as proficient at providing similarly as beautiful photography. The story rests however on the film’s unrivalled intensity, the likes of which is not so obvious and clear as in There Will Be Blood but is similarly as effective, and potentially problematic. The theme, of a controlling man meeting his match in a pseudo-hedonistic relationship, revolves around the male perspective and offers parallels between the personality of its protagonist and that of the director, a similarity it shares with the Razzie nominated Mother!. It seems unlikely that Phantom Thread will win big at the Oscars given the current trend to reject such stories of male struggle and the film’s overall thematic exploration of abusive relationships at the moment, given the climate in Hollywood right now, but this Paul Thomas Anderson movie remains an almost machine-like construction of life’s balance between hyper-tension and beauty; a quite remarkable picture.
5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Perhaps just as controversial as Phantom Thread, this time owing to its lack of consequences given to characters with cruel and unacceptable traits, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has already won the BAFTA for Best Picture and Original Screenplay, and has been taking home numerous awards in the acting, screenwriting and supporting acting categories across this awards season. The film, which is undoubtedly terrifically well acted and intricately knitted together by director Martin McDonagh, was perhaps controversial in its representation, choosing to centre on characters many have coined to be “Trump’s America”, a portion of society not as accepted in usually liberal-leaning film circles as some of the other Oscar nominees. As far as acting goes, there are few contenders to its ensemble cast, and the film has seemingly been overlooked in terms of its terrific pacing and Western movie inspiration. All things considered, Three Billboards is in the middle of the pack when it comes to the 2018 Best Picture Oscar nominees.
Christopher Nolan has been making critically successful box office hits for almost his entire career, but few could have foreseen the financial success of Dunkirk given its specifically British subject matter and complicated presentation. Nolan, whose entire ouevre centres on the theme of time, split the film into three acts which coincided with one another to formulate one of the most tense and moving films of the year. While Dunkirk may have provided little by the way of dialogue, it more than delivered in terms of directorial organisation, cinematography, editing and score, with Hans Zimmer composing one of the most spine-tingling pieces of music in cinema all year long. Of all of the 2018 Best Picture nominees, Dunkirk is the one that felt like the most must-watch event movie, and truly delivered in terms of intelligent, moving filmmaking from a director who seems to be edging ever closer to that Oscar win.
3. Lady Bird
An honest portrayal of the melodrama of our teenage years, Lady Bird is a film unconcerned with the satisfaction provided by informing its audience of everything that is taking place in its universe and is instead entirely tied to its protagonist, Lady Bird, as played by the fantastic Saoirse Ronan, Oscar nominee. Ronan’s character’s relationship with her Mother (fellow Oscar nominee Laurie Metcalf) is absolutely the anchor of a movie that is perhaps the most well put together coming of age drama for a decade, a deserving screenwriting, actress, supporting actress, director and Best Picture nominee.
2. The Shape of Water
The favourite to win Best Picture in a year with many reasonable contenders, The Shape of Water is a mesmerising and transfixing fairytale unlike any other, its themes and hopefulness entirely encapsulating of the anti-abuse trend that has become the mantra of Hollywood in the aftermath of 2017’s sexual abuse revelations, its story altogether more encompassing of the hope we wish to feel amongst the fear, hatred and divisiveness so prevalent domestically and internationally at this time. An ode to cinema as an industry as well as classic cinema as an art form, Guillermo Del Toro orchestrated a timeless quality in his fantasy romance that is sure to live a life beyond that of this year’s ceremony and transcend into the public consciousness in the same way only the truly memorable Oscars nominees seem to do.
1. Call Me By Your Name
Quite how Luca Guadagnino managed to capture the essence of infatuation and each of our first loves with his European-based coming of age romantic drama is anyone’s guess, for what was presented by the Italian born filmmaker was undoubtedly the film of the year, and easily one of the most sincere and beautiful love stories put to film this century. The imagery, visual poetry (both of actual and metaphorical meaning), the acting, pacing of the editing, screenwriting and of course the now iconic monologue, were all brought together as individually phenomenal aspects of the film by a director set on having his production overwhelm your senses and bleed into your bones, the effect of which was simply moving, and the deserving Best Picture winner.
In what was a tough field to define by quality as each release was so clearly a product of phenomenal filmmaking that seemed to excel in different ways, we felt that Call Me By Your Name just outshone The Shape of Water in terms of its overall quality, though we’re sure there’ll be many who disagree. If you do, leave a comment! Film is an art form, much of which is of such a moving and/or beautiful quality and depth that we get a selection as strong as this when judging which films should be considered the best, and if we all felt the same way about everything, film would surely be a whole lot more boring.