The Pro Tem Team Sizes Up This Year’s Nominees for Best Picture!
Call Me by Your Name
Reviewed by Camille Slaght
Call Me by Your Name is a trilingual treasure set in Lombardy, Italy, circa 1983. Timothée Chalamet, a gifted young Franco-American, plays the role of Elio, a cultured 17-year-old who switches effortlessly from English to French to Italian throughout the film. Every summer, Elio’s academic father welcomes an American intern into their villa, and so the handsome Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, settles into the bedroom adjoining Elio’s. The sexual tension builds between the two young men as they fall in love in a social context not yet ready to accept their relationship. Both men often find themselves at odds with their desire for each other, struggling to figure out how to reconcile their homosexuality with their Jewish faith. In contrast to the typical narrative, Elio’s parents’ unwavering love for their son is beautifully portrayed, culminating in a touching monologue about love and acceptance from Elio’s father towards the end of the film. This is a movie that gets better as it goes on. In fact, I would watch it again and again just to feel the tension build to the final scene—one of the most drawn-out, authentic, and raw depictions of heartache I have ever seen on screen.
Reviewed by Ayla Sljivar
Set during the early days of Winston Churchill’s first term as Prime Minister, Darkest Hour is a mélange of the great orator’s public victories as well as the private, sensitive moments of self-doubt that help turn an illustration of the inner-workings of the British government into a gripping piece of populist entertainment. Director Joe Wright did not waste time introducing Gary Oldman as Churchill, who sits in the dark with his face illuminated solely by the match he strikes to light his cigar. The film begins on May 9, 1940—just days away from the evacuation at Dunkirk—when the British Parliament is in shambles, having lost confidence in Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup). Although Churchill was not the party’s first choice for leader, he was seen as a flexible asset and a brilliant orator.
What is unique about Darkest Hour is that it takes place in an entirely different sphere of war; namely, from cabinet rooms beneath Westminster Palace and inside Churchill's home, settings which allow the audience to understand the critical and vulnerable days faced by a Prime Minister with imminent war looming above his head. Darkest Hour is cinematic, yet eloquently theatrical and is a must-watch for history buffs or anyone wishing to delve deeper into Churchill’s state of mind amidst the bloodshed.
Un critique par Sandrine Exil
Le nouveau film de Christopher Nolan, intitulé Dunkirk, met en scène des soldats de la Belgique, de l'Empire britannique, du Canada et de la France, entourés par l'armée allemande qui ont évacués lors d’une bataille de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale. Dunkirk est un chef-d'œuvre impressionniste. C'est un film de guerre comme peu d'autres, qui transmet l’émotion à travers des plans brillamment réalisées, souvent privés de dialogue pour mettre l’emphase sur le spectacle pur de l’image. En utilisant une structure narrative risquée—voire radicale—qui divise la narration en trois chronologies entrecoupées, Dunkirk dramatise les événements catastrophiques lorsque le corps expéditionnaire britannique a tenté d'aider les forces françaises, belges et canadiennes à endiguer le passage des Allemands à travers la France. 400 000 soldats britanniques se sont retrouvés sur les plages de Dunkirk, dans le nord de la France, essayant désespérément de trouver un moyen de traverser les 26 miles de la Manche. Le film bouge profondément à des moments inattendus et les éclats d'émotion ébranle les spectateurs en évitant toute sentimentalité artificielle ou exagération héroïque.
Reviewed by Sarah Ariza-Verreault
To simply call Get Out a horror film is to unfairly pigeonhole the film’s brilliantly crafted comedic stylings and social implications, not to mention the unbelievable writing of Key & Peele’s, Jordan Peele — there is nothing like it. The film follows African-American, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya of Black Mirror) as he visits the house of his white, liberal girlfriend’s parents in a rich, secluded area in the woods. His girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams of Girls) insists that her family is not racist, but this doesn’t stop Chris from discovering the family’s wickedly twisted secrets.
Get Out is an incredibly well-crafted film that any viewer would have to see more than once in order to fully understand its complexity. The film’s plot is fraught with symbolism and foreshadowing, which is so brilliantly integrated that it can easily be missed. Get Out is by far the best film I have seen in theatres, just on the basis of audience reaction—at the exact same time at every screening, the audience will laugh, scream, jump, and even applaud—it’s easy to get invested! Even if it doesn’t win best picture, Get Out is definitely a must-watch!
Reviewed by Camille Slaght
The first thing you should know about Lady Bird is that it is directed by Greta Gerwig, the fifth woman ever to be nominated for the title of Best Director. For that reason alone, Lady Bird should be on your must-watch list. Also incredibly impressive is the degree to which enchanting Irish actress, Saoirse Ronan, nails the American accent that she adopts to play the leading role of Christine, otherwise known as “Lady Bird”. This movie tells the story of a quirky girl who wants nothing more than to get out of Sacramento to free herself from her stressful life and boring hometown. Having watched Lady Bird in theatres, it was quite special to see how different moments evoke laughter from different generations of viewers, but at some point, everyone relates to this delightful coming of age story. In Lady Bird, Gerwig finds a way to make light of the seriousness and angst of teenagehood, without belittling or reducing the protagonist’s anxieties about identity, love and family. I highly recommend it!
Reviewed by Behrad Taeed
The Post—directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and Sarah Paulson—takes place in the early 1970s, and concerns the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. Its plot centres around the battle between Nixon’s government and the press. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are fantastic in this movie, but that is not altogether new or surprising. What is surprising, however, is the snoozefest that is The Post. Don’t get me wrong, the plot and the history behind The Post should have created a far more exhilarating movie. Instead, it comes across as an informative take on something that happened. In short, The Post tells an interesting story, in an uninteresting way. For that reason, this is a movie I will probably not be caught re-watching—it’s a movie to be watched at home once (or maybe twice if you really love the history behind it).
All that said, The Post deserves credit for highlighting the importance of journalism at a time when the current President denounces all press that produce negative opinions about him. The Post sheds light on the importance of the press and the right to free speech in North America. In the end, this film had promise and had a chance at being a thrilling story but fell disappointingly short, opting instead for a safe, informative story. There is still hope for hardware at the Oscars for individual performances, but these were—unfortunately—the only saving graces The Post had.
The Shape of Water
Reviewed by Reia Tariq
The latest masterpiece by acclaimed director, Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water is at once many things, ranging from fantasy, drama, romance and even—in a brief bit in the middle of the film—a musical shot in black and white, reminiscent of an old school Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie. The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito, a mute janitor working in a secret government facility in the early 1960s, alongside Octavia Spencer as her co-worker, confidante and voice, Zelda. The two women meet Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon, in one of the best performances of his career I might add) who has captured a mysterious sea creature from South America—played beautifully by frequent del Toro collaborator, Doug Jones—and brought him back to the lab to experiment on. Elisa forms a bond with the specimen and while I don’t want to spoil the ending, let’s just say if you were a fan of the Creature from the Black Lagoon and wished you could combine that with Beauty and the Beast (but with a more amphibious beast and a strong moral message on love and acceptance), then The Shape of Water is the film for you!
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Reviewed by Sarah Tadjana
Hell hath no fury like a mother scorned—that much is certainly true of Mildred Hayes’ character, played by Frances Dormand in Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. In this film, Dormand epitomizes feminine rage in its most brutal form through her crazed-but-controlled portrayal of a mother hell-bent on finding her daughter’s murderer and rapist—frankly, if she doesn’t win Best Actress for this performance I would consider it a downright outrage. Since the release of Three Billboards in November 2017, director Martin McDonagh has come under considerable fire for his questionable portrayal of race, violence, and policing in the film, a public sense of outrage which is certainly understandable, although perhaps misplaced. The film itself casts the often twisted, unfair nature of justice in an uncomfortable spotlight, but it does so to underscore the uniquely human potential for change and forgiveness (however lacking in repentance it may seem). In the end, these critiques may prove insurmountable in Three Billboards’ quest for the top nod at next month’s ceremony, but they should not stop you from seeing this powerful film whose message, while neither uplifting nor inspirational, is raw and incredibly poignant.
Words of Warning: This film is not for the faint of heart or those who are easily offended. It is both painfully slow and sickly chaotic, set to an operatic soundtrack that grates on the ears and clashes with the small-town Southern setting. If any of these are things you’re unable to get past, don’t bother.
For a review of Phantom Thread, check out our newest columnist’s run-down!