2018 Oscar-Nominated Movies: A Reel Talk Roundtable

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Best Picture

Call Me by Your Name

The last two scenes of Call Me by Your Name contain what I think are the two best moments in film this year. They are incredibly visceral, thanks in part to understated performances by Chalamet as well as Sufjan Stevens. Apart from this, I felt the movie to be a little underwhelming. I have not read the novel, but I can’t help but think I would care about Elio and Oliver far more in the context of the book. Hammer and Chalamet are fine—but not gripping (with exception to Chalamet in the final scene) by any means. It’s good, not great.

-- Ben Panzeca

Ugh, give me that #GayItalyLifestyle! I could feel the sun radiating from the shitty Mason, Ohio theatre screen I saw this movie in. Beautiful soundtrack, beautiful people, beautiful story! Sad and gay. Who could ask for more? Fun fact: they had to Photoshop Armie Hammer’s balls out in some scenes because his ‘nards were peeking out of his short shorts.

-- Frannie Comstock

Timothée Chalamet and I have a lot in common: we own multiple Talking Heads shirts, we share the same birthday, and our melodramatic cries are exclusively soundtracked by Sufjan Stevens. I want Michael Stuhlbarg to be my dad so much, I’m actually trying to memorize his endearing dad-talk monologue so I can cheer myself up on a whim. Despite having such a strange name, Armie Hammer is stunning and biscuity and he wears the shortest shorts I’ve ever laid eyes on.

-- Rebecca Sowell

Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour is a well-acted, often funny, and entertaining movie, perfect for those viewers who want to foster, in their own minds, the prevalent World War II myth of Great Men defeating a Great Evil. Gary Oldman’s Churchill is charming and funny, and we root for him the entire time which may be a detriment to this movie. Because there are moments when Churchill’s surface cracks, and we get a portrait of a man who has neglected his family and well-being in pursuit of power, with a substantial gift for rhetoric, but who may be in over his head. But those moments are glossed over, and Churchill makes us laugh and then cheer when he ‘rouses Britain to defeat the Nazis.’

--Harold Rogers

I haven’t seen this film but I don’t want Gary Oldman to win because he’s crusty and gross.  

-- Rebecca Sowell


This would be a classic pick for the Academy to make for Best Picture. The cinematography is phenomenal, Nolan is a highly-respected director, and it tells the story of an extraordinary moment in history. This would be a safe choice. I wouldn’t be upset, but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed if this won the award. Nonetheless, Nolan deserves to be rewarded for this masterpiece in film direction in some way.

-- Ben Panzeca

I haven’t seen this film either but I love Harry Styles and I love stylish sweaters so I’m sure it’s great.

-- Rebecca Sowell

This film was outstanding in every sense of the word. Nolan successfully re-envisions the classic war flic and takes it to a new level. This new level does not necessarily provide the heart warming comradery of The Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan but rather creates a poignant and heart rending impact that is achieved via its carefully casted roll of "Britain's Best," a time-synced genius Zimmer soundtrack, and the lack of a linear plotline. One of the most remarkable elements was Nolan's deliberate decision to not actually show the enemy (the Germans) in person, thus transforming them into an existential threat bearing upon the cornered troops and their saviors. This is what made so many classic war movie lovers dissatisfied by this film—it was not the typical man-pain romp with death and glory. However, this complexity is precisely what made the film a masterpiece and made it transcend anything else previously in the war drama category. The emotional impact reaches farther and deeper as Nolan wrestles with the sheer concepts of war in ways most of us would never think to consider. After watching two hours of the carefully curated color pallette of viscerally overwhelming action, I for one, am changed. Easily the most understated film of the year.

-- Libby Fischer

Get Out

By far the most fun experience I had in a theater this year. This film is incredibly rewatchable. Jordan Peele proved himself to be one of the most exciting directors in Hollywood with this thriller that is scary, poignant, and even humorous at times. I hope that Peele will be a mainstay for years to come, and I love that the production company Blumhouse is beginning to get the recognition it deserves. It’s such a vibrant movie, and I’m really pulling for this to win Best Original Screenplay.

-- Ben Panzeca

Get Out… of town, Jordan Peele… your writing/directing is TOO good 😉 Important movie that handles real issues in an entertaining, thoughtful, funny, AND scary way. See Chelsea Peretti’s tweet.

  -- Frannie Comstock


Get Out is smart and funny and scary and important and can I have more than one best-movie-of-the-year? Thrillers are often not movies I can watch again and again—once I know the twists, is there a point?—but I have no doubt that this one I will rewatch every year, probably until my death. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is a true masterpiece. I want so many movies to win this year, but I can really say this one deserves it.

-- Meg Matthias  

Even though it’s been so long since I’ve seen Get Out, I distinctly remember feeling paralyzed by fear and excitement when I watched it in theaters. I may have broken a world record for the longest amount of time a person held their breath. Not only is the film well-made and entertaining, but it holds a very timely and important message about our culture. If someone told me three years ago that Jordan Peele would be nominated for multiple Oscars, I would have been surprised… but also not surprised, if that makes sense. Peele is so incredibly talented and I hope he receives the recognition he deserves.

-- Rebecca Sowell

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”.  By not seeing this movie you are actively avoiding knowledge and prospective.  Listen to Dr. King, don’t be stupid and go see Get Out.


Lady Bird

So many dead-on accurate moments in this film relating to teenage-girldom. Writing your crushes names on the walls? Passive aggressive thrift store shopping with your mother? Masturbating in the bath? Unreal.

-- Frannie Comstock

I saw Lady Bird in November, and at that point it was hands-down my favorite movie of the year. Now I’ve seen a few more movies, but for teen-girl-relatability Lady Bird still wins—it is a classic story of me, an audience member, both laughing and crying for the entire showing and then forcing everyone I know to watch it with me. If we are friends and you have not seen Lady Bird, I think I have failed you. Also, this is a movie you should at least once watch with your mom.

-- Meg Matthias

I don’t know if I’ve ever watched a movie that encapsulates the universal feel of high school better than Lady Bird. It’s sentimental and genuine, and I found myself involuntarily tearing up for a good half of the film. The humor and sadness are impeccably intertwined through each scene in a manner that truly reflects real life (and also makes me really sad). I would love for Lady Bird to win Best Picture solely because of the amount of times I was genuinely floored by how right it was about being a teenager and talking to dumb high school boys. - Annie Eyre

I became fixated on Greta Gerwig after my first viewing of Frances Ha a few years ago. I found her to be so compelling and I wasn’t even entirely sure why. Maybe it was something subconscious. Lady Bird sealed the deal for me—I realized Gerwig understood me and my struggles on a visceral level. The realization of this alone made me cry. How lucky am I to have found a fantastic role model who feels and articulates the same feelings/thoughts/experiences as me and just so happens to make shining, authentic films? Although I will never know Gerwig on a deep or personal level, I feel so much pure love and admiration for her. Lady Bird is the film I didn’t just want, but I needed. After discussing the film with peers, I was awestruck by the sheer amount of people who felt the same as me. We all felt represented in one way or another. It’s incredible because few pieces of art can have that effect. All I can think right now is how I long to show this film to my future daughter one day. I want her to feel understood. - Rebecca Sowell

Gerwig and Ronan construct a marvelous coming-of-age story that is a breath of fresh air. This is a mother-daughter film that will be around for decades to come. -- Ben Panzeca

Phantom Thread

All I gotta say is………………...yes. (I think about this movie every day of my sad life).

-- Frannie Comstock

Everything I do in my life is now haunted with comparisons to Phantom Thread. Crunching on some cereal for breakfast? Wearing some clothes I think are nice? Wondering if a person I have a crush on is really into me? All these #relatable moments are no longer my own. They belong to Phantom Thread, and it is such a good movie that I am totally okay with it. 

--Meg Matthias

Even though the trailer for Phantom Thread was confusing and ridiculous, the film itself is amazing (and also confusing and ridiculous). The cinematography is gorgeous and made it physically impossible for me to look away from the screen, which is good because this movie is excellent. I would love for it to snatch a sneaky win for Best Picture, mainly because I’m absolutely haunted by it.

-- Annie Eyre

Despite the minimal dialogue, this film is anything but threadbare. Paul Thomas Anderson extends a whole universe suspended in time, full of pristine beauty and dissent. The aura of Daniel Day-Lewis is unmistakable—it leaches from the screen and absolutely captivates the audience. I found myself surprised by how disturbing it became, but I was loving it. Even though this film has made me more self-conscious about whether or not I’m noisy when I eat, I strongly believe it would be an honor to be roasted by Reynolds Woodcock.

-- Rebecca Sowell

If this is Daniel Day-Lewis’ last performance, it certainly cements his legacy as the best of our time. Far more subtle than his other characters, Reynolds Woodcock is a treat to watch for every second of this film. However, as their characters battled for power on the screen, Vicky Krieps proved to be as formidable a presence as any. She was wonderful. I hope P.T. Anderson is recognized for this film -- I believe it to be the best of the year.

 -- Ben Panzeca

The Post

The Post may induce mass amnesia because nobody I have spoken to can remember much of what happens in it. Nevertheless, it is a much more entertaining movie than you probably expect (but not by much). Spielberg sure can make a movie, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks sure can act, and the movie sure is timely like the Rotten Tomatoes consensus says. But it’s like eating a solid piece of toast: tasty and enjoyable while it’s happening, but you’re not going to share it with your friends unless they really love bread. - Harold Rogers

The Shape of Water

I have weird feelings about The Shape of Water. While I was in the theater, I fully enjoyed my viewing experience—the cinematography is beautiful in the spooky and monstrous way in which Del Toro excels, the acting is moving, and the music is haunting. My problem began after I left the theater and thought about the story (and compared it to the other Best Picture nominees). Is The Shape of Water just a filmic fairy tale with the introduction of fish-monster-sex to keep it adult and R-rated? I think maybe. - Meg Matthias

I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would. Despite being initially unsettled by the Scaly Fishman Monster, I later found it endearing. The American Sign Language representation made me really happy too! The fishy sex scene wasn’t explicit as I thought it would be—I blame Twitter for making me nervous about seeing some semi-bestality action. I don’t understand how Michael Stuhlbarg continues to get the best roles, but I’m not going to question it. This was my first Guillermo del Toro film and I must say I was impressed—the only facts I know about him is that his last name translates to ‘of the bull’ and he once said, “Emotion is the new punk.” For this, I respect him. - Rebecca Sowell

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A bad movie that tricks you into thinking it’s a good movie. Performances were great, script was not. Plot holes/directorial inconsistencies/weird language choices galore, including my favorite thing posited by the movie which is that raping-a-teenage-girl-while-setting-her-on-fire-and-leaving-her-to-burn-to-death is a common occurrence. Not to be that bitch but I get why white, middle-aged, leftist-but-not-actually Americans like this movie because it presents a small town narrative in which you can be a social-justice hero without actually doing the right thing.

-- Frannie Comstock

Though the smear campaign against this film may leave it awardless come Monday morning, I hope this is not the case. Frances MacDormand is deserving as anyone for the Best Actress award -- but it is Harrelson and Rockwell and Hedges that bring the movie fully to life. It is rare that we can find so many deeply complex characters in a film, and for that I commend Three Billboards.

-- Ben Panzeca

Other nominations

The Big Sick

I think Kumail is great and I think this movie is great. Heart wrenching, hopeful - the perfect love story for 2018. Shout-out to the cheeseburger scene. On top of everything, great closing credits song. Also, who knew Ray Romano could actually act? Debra! - Frannie Comstock

I’m still bitter I missed The Big Sick in theaters, and I need to see it one hundred more times to make up for this mistake. Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon are smart and funny and honest writers, and I love that their love story is real. It’s also on Amazon Prime, which means almost no one has an excuse for not watching it. - Meg Matthias

I, Tonya

Perhaps my favorite film of the year, this movie made me want to get better in all aspects of filmmaking, which I think is the pinnacle of greatness for a film. Additionally, I, Tonya dealt with scary subjects in a lighthearted way without (at least in my opinion) being offensive. Also, perhaps the most compelling trailer I’ve ever seen. Everyone’s a winner, baby! - Frannie Comstock

Margot! Robbie! My reviews may be devolving by this point in the article, but please just know that I loved I, Tonya. The Sufjan Stevens songs may not have made it into the movie, but they say best how I feel: Tonya Harding is one hundred percent my star. - Meg Matthias

If you don’t walk out of I, Tonya with the intense desire to transport back in time to 1994 to give Tonya Harding a hug and also punch her ex-husband, then I don’t think I trust you as a person. I, Tonya was hilarious and tragic, and I definitely cried a whole lot more than I would expect to while watching a movie about figure skating. Honestly, I’m pretty sad that it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, but I guess Allison Janney’s (probable) Best Supporting Actress win will sort of make up for that crime. - Annie Eyre

Best Actor

Paddington 2

Paddington Bear deserves Best Actor. He has more talent in his one paw than anything froggy ol’ Gary Oldman has ever done. His blue duffle jacket? Iconic. His floppy red hat? Showstopping. His love for orange marmalade? Trendsetting. Paddington is the backbone of the film industry, and awarding him anything other than the highest honor would be a disservice to quality and excellence. Your move, Academy. - Rebecca Sowell

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