This week, the Oscar nominees were announced, with a notable tonal shift after #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite.
Leading all nominees with 13 nods, including best picture, was Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water, but many of the headlines focused on this year’s inclusion of women directors, transgender filmmakers, minority actors, even Netflix. Click here for a full list of nominees.
Many theaters do Oscars showcases of top nominees in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, which this year are on March 4, delayed by the Winter Olympics, including Tampa Theatre’s annual showcase of shorts.
But if you just can’t wait, here is a list of best picture nominees, along with reviews and where to see the movies this week in Tampa Bay.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Remember this name: Timothée Chalamet. His portrayal of a teenager attracted to an older man (Armie Hammer) in sun-dappled Italy may win an Oscar for best actor. Luca Guadagnino’s elegant direction of James Ivory’s screenplay results in the year’s swooniest romance.
What movie critic Steve Persall had to say: "Movies don’t usually sound this smart or look this minutely picturesque in 1980s period and seemingly every leaf of its Northern Italy setting. Call Me by Your Name makes eyes and ears swoon, so the heart has little choice but to follow. It’s a movie one wishes to live in, speaking the way these characters do." Read a full review.
Rating: R; sexual content, nudity, profanity
Running time: 132 min.
Currently playing at: Sundial 20, Regal Park Place Stadium 16, Centro Ybor 10, Veterans 24, Woodlands Square 20, Regency 20, Palm Harbor 10, Highwoods 20, Hollywood 18 - Port Richey
Gary Oldman may finally get that Oscar he has long deserved for Darkest Hour, a movie that seems constructed to do little else.
What Persall had to say: "Oldman is center stage splendid as British prime minister Winston Churchill at a crucial point in World War II, right around Dunkirk time. …There is nothing subtle about Oldman’s portrayal or the burnished-oak showcase Wright builds around it. Anthony McCarten’s screenplay gives the actor a constant stream of pithy declarations to grumble or roar in Churchill’s rasp, as if the old man dropped his best quotes in this two week period." Read a full review.
Rating: PG-13; thematic material
Running time: 125 min.
Currently playing at: Sundial 20, Regal Park Place Stadium 16, Tyrone Luxury 10, Studio Movie Grill Seminole, Countryside 12, West Shore 14, Veterans 24, Woodlands Square 20, Citrus Park Stadium 20, Bradenton 20, Cinema 6 Port Richey, Highwoods 20, Hollywood 18 - Port Richey
Christopher Nolan’s clockwork retelling of a crucial World War II evacuation told from land, sea and air in three separate time frames. Hans Zimmer’s tick-tick-tick musical score adds to tension Nolan has already secured. The most technically proficient movie of the year.
What Persall had to say: "After a career of mind-bending fantasies, writer-director Christopher Nolan has now crafted a historical epic almost too perfect to believe. Dunkirk is Nolan’s cinematic foray into reality, the true story of a Allied rescue against all odds in 1940 that stemmed the tide of World War II. Brilliantly conceived from triangulated timelines and perspectives, Dunkirk deserves mention among the finest war movies ever, and certainly among the best of any sort this year." Read a full review.
Rating: PG-13; intense war violence, brief profanity
Running time: 106 min.
Currently playing at: Veterans 24. Also available at Redbox.
Jordan Peele’s subtly savage satire of racial appropriation uses horror tropes to deliver its message. Get Out is an eye-opener equaling Do the Right Thing in expressing a contemporary black experience amid white privilege. Plus it’s funnier.
What Persall originally had to say (he confesses he was wrong about its Oscar worthiness): "Jordan Peele’s Get Out isn’t Oscar material, yet it’s a razored rebuttal to the movie industry’s so white, so what reputation. Nothing is more Hollywood than horror movies, nor more show-business-as-usual than cultural appropriation. Get Out is an allegory of African-American strengths being siphoned for the benefit of white people, disguised as a run-of-the-kill horror flick." Read a full review.
Rating: R; graphic violence, strong profanity
Running time: 103 min.
Currently playing at: Not currently showing in the Tampa Bay area. It is available at Redbox.
Semi autobiogrpahical, writer-director Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird follows a rebellious teen in her relationship with her strong-willed mother. Gerwig was nominated for best director after Natalie Portman called out the Golden Globes onstage for its all-male finalists.
What Persall had to say: "Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is a different sort of delightful, like its first-time director in her day job as an indie cinema darling. Initially considered an acting and writing muse, Gerwig finds her own in Saoirse Ronan playing a version of the filmmaker’s Sacramento youth. Ronan’s portrayal of Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson has the makings of a Gen-Z hero, a rebel whose weapon of choice is stubborn irony." Read a full review.
Rating: R; language, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and teen partying
Running time: 94 min.
Currently playing at: Sundial 20, Sunset Point Cinema Bar & Grille, Veterans 24, Woodlands Square 20, Regency 20, Bradenton 20, Cinema 6 Port Richey, Highwoods 20, Hollywood 18 - Port Richey
Say it ain’t so, Daniel Day-Lewis. After three Oscars and far too soon, Day-Lewis announced he’s retiring from acting. His swan song reunites the actor with director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) for a drama of passion and fashion in 1950s London, with Day-Lewis portraying a designer for the post-war high society.
What Persall had to say: "Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread is passionless window-shop cinema, each static tableau lovingly arranged for display and easy dusting. Its centerpiece is a mannequin, albeit played by Daniel Day-Lewis, whose gift for keeping anything interesting is seldom so necessary. Phantom Thread is reportedly the three-time Oscar winner’s farewell performance. Pity. That makes this reunion with Anderson, a decade after each peaked in There Will be Blood, doubly disappointing. There isn’t blood now; Phantom Thread barely has a pulse." Read a full review.
Rating: R; profanity
Running time: 130 min.
Currently playing at: Sundial 20, Regal Park Place Stadium 16, Tyrone Luxury 10, CineBistro Hyde Park, Veterans 24, Woodlands Square 20, Citrus Park Stadium 20, Regency 20, Highwoods 20, Hollywood 18 - Port Richey
Steven Spielberg builds the perfect Oscars beast, a true, politically relevant tale starring the two most decorated and respected actors of their generation. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks portray Washington Post icons Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee, wrestling with the decision to publish the Pentagon Papers. Any resemblance to present-day First Amendment challenges is purely intentional.
What Persall had to say: "Spielberg’s agenda includes defending First Amendment rights, celebrating female empowerment and sticking it to Richard Nixon again. I’m in favor of all three. The first two are especially relevant today. The Post doesn’t make a compelling case for any of those ideals. Its chief form of persuasion is saintly typecasting: Meryl Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine (Kay) Graham and Tom Hanks as irascible editor Ben Bradlee. She dithers her way to unintentional feminism while he squints, grumbling corn like "My God, the fun!" when a tip comes in." Read a full review.
Rating: PG-13; profanity, brief war violence
Running time: 115 min.
Currently playing at: Sundial 20, Regal Park Place Stadium 16, Tyrone Luxury 10, Studio Movie Grill Seminole, Countryside 12, CineBistro Hyde Park Village, West Shore 14, Centro Ybor 10, Veterans 24, Woodlands Square 20, Xscape Theatres Riverview, Citrus Park Stadium 20, Regency 20, Bradenton 20, Oakmont 8
THE SHAPE OF WATER
An erotic fairy tale with horror the Grimms never dreamed of, Guillermo del Toro’s Cold War fantasy is an emotional and technical marvel, from Sally Hawkins’ nearly wordless performance to the best monster suit ever. Michael Shannon’s sadist is the year’s top villain, a "man of the future" and the future is now.
What Persall had to say: "The Shape of Water is a fairy tale of eros, horror and whimsy, a creature feature doubling as a swooning romance, its bloodiness pumped straight from the heart of master fantasist Guillermo del Toro. … (Sally) Hawkins melts your heart as Elisa Esposito, a mousy, mute woman whose only two friends are outcasts of other sorts in this era. One is her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), a gay, shy advertising artist. The other is Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer), Elisa’s black co-worker, cleaning floors at a top secret U.S. government laboratory." Read a full review.
Rating: R; violence, profanity, sexual content, graphic nudity
Running time: 123 min.
Currently playing at: Sundial 20, Regal Park Place Stadium 16, Tampa Theatre, Veterans 24, Woodlands Square 20, Citrus Park Stadium 20, Highwoods 20, Regency 20, Bradenton 20, Hollywood 18 - Port Richey
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
A pungently overwritten revenge saga featuring three of the year’s top performances: Frances McDormand (nominee for best actress) as a mother wanting answers, Woody Harrelson (nominee for best supporting actor) as a police chief not providing them and Sam Rockwell (nominee for best supporting actor) as a dim, dangerous deputy standing his ground.
What Persall had to say: "As played ferociously by Frances McDormand, Mildred is no one to underestimate, not for her callousness or ease of violence when necessary, which is for her alone to decide. Yet Three Billboards isn’t simply a revenge flick or murder mystery … Three Billboards lands somewhere near Coen brothers country, eloquently finding comedy in horror and vice versa. Yet it remains its own mangy animal; a study in grief that’s funny, finding justice in terror and forgiveness after the unforgivable." Read a full review.
Rating: R; strong profanity and violence, racial epithets, sexual references
Running time: 115 min.
Currently playing at: Sundial 20, Sunset Point Cinema Bar & Grille, Veterans 24, Woodlands Square 20, Regency 20, Bradenton 20, Palm Harbor 10, Hollywood 18 - Port Richey, Grove 16 (and CineBistro)