It’s become an annual cliché to complain about the announcement of the Best Picture nominees, to sigh about how most folks haven’t seen many of the nominated films, how the nominated films represent an elitist niche corner of the industry, and how they wouldn’t recognize the nominated films if the nominated films smacked them in the face with a fish. With that said, we’re about to do all of that whining anyway, but we’re going to feel a little bad about it. (I read the full list of nominees and legitimately got down to Logan in Best Adapted Screenplay before being all like HEY, I SAW THAT ONE, until I realized that I hadn’t actually seen that one, but definitely did put it on my Wish List. But several members of my family are deeply familiar with The Boss Baby.)
To that end, here’s an unhelpful and uninformed guide to the 2018 Best Picture nominees, which are, by all accounts, artistically impeccable films with important messages that most of us will never ever watch, especially if it gets to spring, when Solo and Deadpool 2 and Infinity War come out, oh man, the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to fight with Thor! Brilliant.
Call Me By Your Name
Uninformed Plot Guess: Either a love story, or some sort of long-in-coming sequel to Face/Off. PLEASE BE OPTION B.
Uninformed Plot Guess: Conventional wisdom holds that this title would denote a film about a murderous lunatic in an abandoned farmhouse, or a doll that’s struck by lightning and goes on a rampage in a small Montana town, or an alien species that infects its human hosts with gelatinous bacteria. Yet it’s apparently about Winston Churchill, who, disappointingly, does not go on any rampages. (Or if he does, they’re British rampages, which are really pretty chill.)
Informed Plot Knowing! One of the two films you at least saw a poster for! This is a thrilling wartime spectacle about the impossible rescue of hundreds of thousands after the Battle of Dunkirk in WWII. It’s directed by Christopher Nolan, but there are zero black holes in it, so you should be able to understand the third act.
Informed Plot Knowing! Jordan Peele’s by-all-accounts masterpiece about the horrors of American race relations, as conveyed in an American horror film. And you’ve probably seen this one! And if not, you should — and if we have to deal with another Patriots Super Bowl can we at least agree that Peele should win this, so we have something to feel good about this spring?
Uninformed Plot Synopsis: We know three things about this one: 1. That it’s not about Lady Bird Johnson; 2. That we’re a little surprised we have a mental frame of reference for Lady Bird Johnson, I mean, we’re not that old and 3. This film was directed by a real live lady, Greta Gerwig, who’s the first female-person director nominee since 2009! Congratulations to the Academy for remembering that women make movies more than every eight years.
Uninformed Plot Guess: This is literally the first time we’ve heard the title “Phantom Thread.” The makers of “Phantom Thread” could walk into this coffeeshop with “Phantom Thread” posters and “Phantom Thread” t-shirts and “Phantom Thread” flamethrowers, and we’d be like, who the hell are you guys?
Slightly Informed Plot Guess: It’s a movie about the Washington Post, the Pentagon Papers and the Importance of Journalism. And it stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, who is nominated for her 958th Oscar! And it’s directed by Spielberg! This is like the Oscars All-Stars, except everybody hates journalism now.
The Shape of Water
Slightly Informed Plot Guess: Because this leads the pack with 13 nominations, and because I felt bad getting this far and not doing any research, here’s the synopsis: “At a top-secret research facility in the 1950s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.” So, it’s like “The Abyss,” then? With the weird water-face CGI alien slinking around the oil rig or whatever? No one else is getting this reference, are they. Anyway, “Shape” is directed by Guillermo del Toro, so it will, in some way, haunt your sleep for a year.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Slightly Informed Plot Guess: This sounds important. When does Deadpool 2 come out again?