The Oscars don't mean anything when it comes to measuring the quality of a film—there are too many advertising dollars involved, and too much residual Weinstein-ing for the awards themselves to ever, you know, matter. That said, the Academy Awards do get people to pay attention to some of the better movies that came out in the past year. So with that in mind, here are the Mercury's 1,000,000 percent trustworthy takes on 2018's Best Picture nominees—along with, naturally, some grumbling about movies that should've been recognized, but weren't.
Call Me by Your Name—The acting is fantastically natural across the board, but Chalamet is a revelation as Elio. He’s the ultimate teen: inconsolably sullen with sudden, awkward fits of enthusiasm and lust. And his emotional journey, taking place inside the warm Italian country summer, acts as a memory trigger for the first confusing rushes of love we’ve all experienced. (Trust me when I say these feelings and recollections will hit you in exquisite detail the second you leave the theater.) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Darkest Hour—The good things you’ve heard about Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill biopic are true: Gary Oldman is incredible as Churchill, and the movie takes the actor’s powers of transformation to another level. But I’m not sure this is the right moment for another slice of great-man-with-flaws hagiography. Churchill was a heavy-drinking, cigar-stinking, privileged white guy who didn’t treat his employees very well and got very lucky with the Dunkirk evacuation, but Darkest Hour sees him as rascally old genius beleaguered by those pesky wimps in the Labour Party. NED LANNAMANN
Dunkirk—Nolan has raided his stockpile of cinematic tricks and techniques to make a bravura, you-are-there document of the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation, in which a makeshift fleet pulled more than 300,000 British soldiers off a beach on the northern tip of France as German forces had them virtually surrounded. The result is almost unbearably intense—if you’re prone to cinematic trauma, or if you suffer from actual PTSD, Dunkirk might be more than you’re able to take. NED LANNAMANN
Get Out—While Get Out is frequently funny in a gallows humor sort of way, it’s not a comedy. It’s not a doc either, despite being built on the undeniable truth that America has never stopped fearing, fetishizing, and commodifying Black people. And even if the film’s plot didn’t steer hard into metaphysical sci-fi grotesquery—crashing into unnerving surreality like a stray deer darting into the road—the truth that anchors Get Out lends its scares both potency and resonance. It’s not only a full-blown horror film, but one of the genre’s all-time best. BOBBY ROBERTS
Lady Bird—Like its protaganist, Lady Bird can be jarring and intense—but that’s because of how visceral and relatable its conflicts are. Watching it is kind of like reopening your high school yearbook for the first time in years, wincing and smiling in equal measure. Gerwig’s directorial debut is sweet, tragic, and sentimental, which is exactly how a coming-of-age movie should be. CIARA DOLAN
Phantom Thread—A phenomenally fucked-up romantic comedy, Phantom Thread manages to be pitch-black funny and profoundly disconcerting, sometimes within the same scene. Novelistic, mean, and funny, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest is unlike anything else out there, and it’s great. At least, I thought so? As the end credits rolled, a distressed lady in front of me huffed out, declaring, “Well, that’s not the kind of love I like.” ERIK HENRIKSEN
The Post—The Post is Spielberg’s clear and passionate ode to the adversarial press, and not only is it a refreshing departure from his past work, it also turns out to be a good fit for his slick storytelling style. VINCE MANCINI
The Shape of Water—In a remarkable turn, Guillermo del Toro's movie about a lady fucking a fish has the most Oscar nominations of any film this year! The Mercury has an interview with del Toro: “Understanding is love. There’s no difference, really. That’s why most of the things we hate are things we don’t understand. We live in a time where divisions are done by ideology. It makes us easier to control, but on top of that, they have sold us on responsibility.... They tell you, ‘All your problems are them’—immigrants, illegals, a race, whatever it is—and you go, ‘Of course it is. My problem is not me or what I do. The problem is they are taking my job. They are the guys that are this and that. They are the criminals.’ No, no! It is an illusion. It is not us and them. It is only us. If you understand a person, you love the person.” ERIK HENRIKSEN
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri—Let’s talk about Sam Rockwell for a minute. There’s a lot of other talent in the awkwardly, memorably titled Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Frances McDormand is predictably, fiercely awesome; Woody Harrelson demonstrates unexpected nuance; and writer/director Martin McDonagh takes his patented mixture of profanity and profundity to new levels. But I’d argue that Three Billboards is Rockwell’s movie. He takes a character who at first seems to be little more than a cartoon of a bumbling, racist cop, and transforms him into the moral center of a powerfully moral film. MARC MOHAN
Blade Runner 2049, The Big Sick, Logan, Wind River, The Lost City of Z, and Wonder Woman were also favorites around Mercury HQ—and while The Big Sick got nominated for Best Original Screenplay, and Logan got nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, Wind River and Wonder Woman didn't get shit. At least Blade Runner 2049 got nods for production design and Roger Deakins' remarkable cinematography. If Deakins doesn't win—fun fact, he's never won an Oscar, despite being Roger Fucking Deakins—there truly is no justice in this entire universe, not even when it comes to movies, so we all might as well give up.