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.
Recommended for you: Christopher Nolan Films Ranked