Inkwell reviews the best picture nominees

Inkwell reviewed the movies nominated for the 2018 Academy Award for Best Picture. The 90th Academy Awards will air this Sunday at 5:00 pm.


Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name, set in the summer of 1983 in northern Italy, follows the story of a unique bond that forms between a 17-year-old boy, Elio, and an American man, Oliver, who is staying in his family’s summer villa. This coming of age film explores the topics of self-identity and discovery, particularly within Elio, who struggles to understand his new feelings toward Oliver and feels ashamed of having feelings for a man. He eventually learns to accept these feelings, however, and pursues this connection with Oliver. The movie from then on continues to flesh out the relationship between the two men, however, they have to keep in mind the fact that the relationship could not last forever.

While watching this film, I fell in love with the connection Elio and Oliver had. It was a nonconventional and forbidding love, which is most likely the reason while watching it I wanted so badly for them to be together. One thing I would warn others of is that the film is rather sensuous/erotic at times. I strongly recommend this movie and believe that you will fall in love with this relationship just as I have. 4 out of 5 stars

-Molly Bryant


Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour follows Winston Churchill’s critical role as Prime Minister of Britain during World War II. The plot begins in 1940 with the resignation of Neville Chamberlain and the contentious appointment of Churchill, played by Gary Oldman. At the time, Germany dominated the war, and the British military’s power dwindled. With urgency to rescue British troops from the threat of the Germans, much of Parliament pressured Churchill to enter into peace negotiations with Germany. The stubborn, brash Churchill, however, saw more hope in continuing the fight. Through Churchill’s various relationships, with his typist Elizabeth Layton (Lily James), with his wife, Clementine Churchill (Kristin Scott Thomas), or with King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn), director Joe Wright illustrates the complex, demanding, and ambiguous task of leading such an influential nation through war. Eventually Churchill successfully carries out “Operation Dynamo,” in which civilian boats rescued and evacuated over 300,000 enclosed British soldiers from the shores of Dunkirk, France. This shifts the path of the war, and ultimately leads the Allied Powers to victory.

With Churchill’s heavy English accent and notorious mumbling, your first order of business should be to turn on the subtitles. Then, soak it all in. The honest depiction of Churchill allows for a deeper understanding of this vital part of history. In hindsight, global political decisions can seem easy. This movie certainly reminds the average viewer that history is a direct outcome of human decisions. Churchill’s ability to capture an audience, despite his raw social skills, was one of the most captivating aspects of his character. Other politicians and military leaders did not always trust Churchill, but his passionate speeches rallied Parliament to believe in Britain’s role in the war. In an age of presidential tweeting, rambling, and incoherence, it was refreshing to be reminded of the power of a strong political speech. Darkest Hour is not an action-packed, edge of your seat movie, but the honest characters and historical struggles kept me engaged as I was transported back to the politics of arguably one of the world’s most influential wars. 4 out of 5 stars

– Allison Fitz


Dunkirk  

While Dunkirk may not be at the top of your list of movies, it probably should be. Dunkirk offers a glimpse into the tragedies that happened when Germany advanced into France during World War II. The movie has minimal dialogue but a powerful overall message. It addresses all the fears posed to soldiers during time of war, including bombing, drowning, fire, small spaces, death and fear of the unknown.

The situation that happened on Dunkirk’s beaches was heart-wrenching, with soldiers lined up for miles using every possible vessel, whether medical, naval or civilian, they could get their hands on. There are graphic scenes that could be hard to unsee, however considering it is a war movie the violence is minimal. Toward the end of the movie their mission to evacuate Dunkirk’s beaches was successful, as 330,000 soldiers were safely evacuated. Dunkirk may attract an older crowd, but big names for a younger generation include Harry Styles. 4 out of 5 stars

– Nina Doody


Get Out

Get Out focuses on a man named Chris meeting his girlfriend’s (Rose) family for the first time. Chris feels paranoid meeting Rose’s parents being that he is African American, and that Rose, who is white, says that she never brought someone like him home to meet her family before. Rose says that her family is very accepting, he shouldn’t worry, and repeatedly tries to convince him that everything will be fine. Throughout the movie Rose and her family continuously try to gain the trust of Chris, leaving him in a stage of being easily manipulated. Rose’s family holds an auction that Chris attends, but he quickly feels uncomfortable with the guests and how overly fascinated they are about his race. Little does Chris know that he is the one being auctioned.

Get Out incorporates dark humor, cutting-edge satire, and also an enticing twist that will leave the watcher wanting more. First time director Jordan Peele exceptionally portrays the experience of a minority and the stereotypes made about their race. When watching this film the first time I felt very naive, not knowing what was actually happening until the very end, but the second time I realized how brilliantly the director left subtle hints about the twist. This unpredictable film plays with your psyche, and allows the watcher to truly empathize with the main character. 5 out of 5 stars

-Jade Cheatham


Lady Bird

In this five-time Academy nominated movie, a rebellious and insubordinate teenager trying to navigate her way through a Catholic high school in Sacramento, encounters friendship, love, loss, and a self-inflicted broken arm. Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who demands to be called Lady Bird, lives in a household with parents trying to push her to get to college. Her mom (Laurie Metcalf) is very harsh with her and tells her that she will end up in community college, but her dad (Tracy Letts) supports her lovingly and financially, trying to help her reach her dream schools. Lady Bird finds herself in a theater class with her friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) during the final year of high school, where she meets her closeted homosexual boyfriend, Danny (Lucas Hedges), and a community she can rely on.

This movie takes a lot of turns in my opinion. We see the progression of Lady Bird trying to join the group of popular students and pushing away her friends, to Thanksgiving dinner at her boyfriend’s house, to prom night where she realizes her best friend is more important than some boy. I would say the movie is right in being rated R. There are scenes with binge drinking, smoking, and sexual activity. I would not recommend it to someone under the age of at least 13 unless they are aware of these themes. Otherwise, I would say it portrays a very unique high school experience with parts almost anyone can relate to and comedy everyone will enjoy. 5 out of 5 stars

Julia Henning


Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread takes the audience back to 20th century Britain where a renowned dressmaker, Reynolds, falls for a waitress, Alma, who becomes his muse and love interest. Soon Reynolds and Alma begin to argue, usually in instances where Reynolds degrades Alma. This causes Alma to try to regain power in the relationship by poisoning his food. This cycle repeats and becomes the embodiment of their love story.

The movie is a mysterious film as it combines romantic drama with dark moments. The dressmaker’s character is not very admirable as he is very narcissistic and controlling, but Alma’s personality is so strong-willed and determined that it takes the movie in a mysterious and dark route. Despite the nice contrast, the two characters clash, making their love story unenjoyable and confusing. The overall pace of the movie is on the slower side and there isn’t much energy, so it may not be a movie intended for younger audiences. 2 out of 5 stars

– Kaitlin Tan


The Post

Featuring Academy Award winners Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, The Post is not your typical drama/thriller movie; however it shows the effort, chaos, and fine print rules that go into writing a story and sending it through the press while bearing an important question concerning the difference between freedom of the press and the leakage of highly classified and confidential information. The role of one woman is a prominent feature in this film, which makes the movie empowering, particularly in a time when few woman held powerful positions in business. The mechanics of the printing machines, typesetting and other early 1970s technologies is also very visually appealing.

The beginning is a bit slow, but as the storyline progresses, you begin to see the challenges and stress journalists have to endure in order to reveal the truth. This is a movie where the overarching ideas make the viewer develop new questions and reconsider a new perspective regarding the press. 4 out of 5 stars

 


The Shape of Water

Like a contemporary Romeo and Juliet, The Shape of Water retells the age-old story of both the cruelty and kindness the human heart can possess, but in a completely unique fashion. This story draws viewers in with its enchanting soundtrack and captures their full attention with the vivid and graphic imagery. Both gut- and heart-wrenching, this movie is sure to make you feel something, whether its fear, love or a general sense of yearning.

The antagonist and protagonists both live on the extreme sides of the spectrum of bad and good. On one side is the antagonist, Richard Strickland, someone any viewer is almost guaranteed to feel disdain for. Between his misogynistic tendencies and repulsive behaviors, he’ll have the toughest stomachs twisted. On the other hand is sweet (not to be mistaken for stereotypically innocent), Elisa Esposito. She is mute but communicates more within the span of 123 minutes than some people might in a lifetime. The only character who lives in the middle is Dr. Hoffstetler, the government scientist who observed the amphibian man, though he slowly inches his way to good and comes to redeem himself.

Elisa’s character is full of love despite the adversity life has thrown at her and finds the good in life. Her two best friends, Zelda and Giles, are the perfect partners in crime. Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer, whom I’m sure you recognize from Hidden Figures, works with Elisa and defends her throughout the film. Her other best friend, her closeted neighbor, Giles, is both dependent on and supportive of Elisa along with all of her endeavors. As Elisa grows to fall and sympathize for the Amphibian man you get to see her personal transformation. Her life becomes slowly less bleak and more exciting. Set during the cold war, the 60s, and during times of discrimination, the movie’s tension is always palpable. 4 out of 5 stars

– Gabi Krieger


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri follows the story of a grieving, angered mother, played by Frances McDormand, as she tries to question and challenge the local policemen after not solving the murder and rape case of her sixteen-year-old daughter. To do so, McDormand buys three billboards in the small town of Ebbing, Missouri, and uses them for messages that not only attack the authorities but also specially target the chief of police, William Willoughby, played by Woody Harrelson. Throughout the movie there is constant conflict around these billboards between the mother and the police which leads to tears, violence and the town in chaos, all because of some words on a couple of billboards.

This well-written and excellently directed film gives an interesting perspective on what it is like in small towns where racial injustice is a huge issue. The film definitely conveys a strong message but it did so through violence and graphic images as well as the use of hateful and disrespectful language, which I think for some may be too much to handle. From my perspective, however, I think that it was necessary to have these more unpleasant aspects because without them, the story would have not been the same. 4 out of 5 stars

-Maeve Hunt