The Shape of Water was the big winner at last night's Oscars—taking home statuettes for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Fuckable Fish, and Best Production Design.
Those awards were well-deserved, but in the wake of #MeToo, the night might prove to be most memorable for a few other big moments. Or, as host Jimmy Kimmel put it: “I really hope Frances McDormand gets an Emmy for the speech she gave at the Oscars.”
Over the past year, the Mercury Cinema Strike Force™ worked hard to cover all of last night's major award-winning films. (We covered a ton of non-award-winning movies too, but that's not why you're here.) In December, we had an interview with The Shape of Water writer/director Guillermo del Toro:
“Understanding is love. There’s no difference, really,” says Guillermo del Toro. Despite it being a bright, warm morning in Beverly Hills, he’s wearing a heavy, cozy-looking sweater—and peeking through glasses so thick they distort his eyes. “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.”
Keep reading for our takes on Blade Runner 2049, Call Me by Your Name, A Fantastic Woman, Get Out, Three Billboards, and more.
Blade Runner 2049 (winner, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects)—Regardless of whether LAPD officer K (Ryan Gosling) finds himself in the caverns of a hologram-filled city or in an expanse of radiation-scoured desert, each frame is soaked with melancholy. No character harbors the delusion that they are not, inherently and eternally, alone; they wander an Earth that’s a ghost of its former self. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Call Me By Your Name (winner, Best Adapted Screenplay)—There aren’t many films that can paint a picture of the extravagant turmoil of young romance without lapsing into clunky cliché. But Call Me by Your Name is such a film, and it succeeds by seamlessly juxtaposing the lush Italian countryside with the burgeoning desires and tumultuous emotions of a lovesick teen. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Coco (winner, Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song)—Coco has a couple edgy twists (well, edgy for Pixar, at least) that I won’t spoil for you, but I will recommend bringing a box of Kleenex to share with your row. (During one climactic scene at my screening, a child blurted out, “I just can’t!”) JENNI MOORE
The Darkest Hour (winner, Best Actor, Best Makeup and Hairstyling)—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. NED LANNAMANN
Dunkirk (winner, Best Film Editing, Sound mixing, and Sound Editing)—Dunkirk is imperative viewing—not simply because it offers a vital history lesson, but because it reminds us how moving images and recorded sound, when orchestrated under the baton of a maestro, can work as a kind of teleportation. NED LANNAMANN
A Fantastic Woman (winner, Best Foreign Language Film)—A strain of emotionally startling fancy pushes A Fantastic Woman away from gratuitous pain and into the surreal, with moments that are visually striking and frame Marina’s inner life and reserves with the respect they deserve. MEGAN BURBANK
Get Out (winner, Best Original Screenplay)—Although first-time writer/director Jordan Peele is known primarily as a sketch comedian, Get Out is not a comedy. After the film was nominated as one for a Golden Globe, film writers started a little Twitter brushfire over whether or not the nomination made sense (it doesn’t), prompting Peele to respond: “At the end of the day, call Get Out horror, comedy, drama, action, or documentary, I don’t care. Whatever you call it, just know it’s our truth.” BOBBY ROBERTS
I, Tonya (winner, Best Supporting Actress)—I, Tonya has been criticized for its stylized, darkly comic depiction of abuse, but it’s also one of the only portrayals I’ve seen that presents Harding as a person, and that acknowledges she was abused. It’s hard not to root for her in the film—she's a talented weirdo surrounded by bad men, whose raw determination can’t be blunted by an equally abusive and narcissistic mother (an excellent, unnerving Allison Janney) who teaches her to conflate being loved with being hit. MEGAN BURBANK
Phantom Thread (winner, Best Costume Design)—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
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (winner, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor)—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