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Oscar Quest 2018: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Three Billboards!

Frances McDormand: as intimidating as a Terminator, even without a gun.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee from 1997 to the present. As of February 21st I’ve officially seen all nine of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover the others in full before the Oscars telecast on March 4th, but let’s see how far I can get before I burn out.

Onward to nominee #8: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, in which UK filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) creates his own stylized take on small-town life in the American Midwest and how it might look if one horrifying incident turned half the townspeople into Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross.

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Oscar Quest 2018: “Phantom Thread”

Phantom Thread!

“Why, hello, viewer. Join me for breakfast and ambiguity, won’t you.”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee from 1997 to the present. As of February 21st I’ve officially seen all nine of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover the others in full before the Oscars telecast on March 4th, but let’s see how far I can get before I burn out.

Onward to nominee #7: writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, reportedly the acting farewell of Daniel Day-Lewis, the closest that men have to an answer to Meryl Streep. I’ve only seen one other PTA film, the stunning There Will Be Blood, in which he guided Day-Lewis through brutally yet artfully steamrolling any and all other actors in his path. In their latest team-up he plays another smug period-piece professional with deplorable ideas about how to be the best there is at what he does, but this time winning the movie through sheer force of will wasn’t quite so simple.

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Oscar Quest 2018: “The Shape of Water”

Shape of Water!

Real talk: there are so many fish in the sea that fish puns are way too easy, so I’m resisting the urge to see if I can string together ten of them in a roe.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee from 1997 to the present. As of February 21st I’ve officially seen all nine of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover the other seven in full before the Oscars telecast on March 4th, but let’s see how far I can get before I burn out.

Onward to nominee #6: Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water, the monster movie that’s been winning hearts and votes in many other competitions throughout this awards season. If you loved his previous creature features like Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Mimic, or the best Blade film, chances are you won’t be disappointed here. Not guaranteed, but quite probable.

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Oscar Quest 2018: “Darkest Hour”

Darkest Hour!

An incensed Winston Churchill contemplating which pasty coward to break in half over his knee first.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee from 1997 to the present. As of February 21st I’ve officially seen all nine of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover all of them in full before the Oscars telecast on March 4th, but let’s see how far I can get before I burn out.

Onward to nominee #5, Darkest Hour, the second and more old-fashioned of the two World War II entrants into the race as brought to us by director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna). The short version of this entry: my wife Anne, lifelong WWII buff, found this much more engrossing than Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Your Mileage May Vary.

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Oscar Quest 2018: “The Post”

The Post!

“By all means,. do go on with your precious newsplaining.”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee from 1997 to the present. As of February 21st I’ve officially seen all nine of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover the other seven in full before the Oscars telecast on March 4th, but let’s see how far I can get before I burn out.

Onward to nominee #4, Steven Spielberg’s The Post. With multiple Oscar honorees Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in the marquee, this based-on-a-true-story salute to American journalism in the face of government malfeasance is one of the more old-fashioned films in the race, wielding a confluence of history and star power in the name of attempted topical relevance.

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Oscar Quest 2018: “Call Me by Your Name”

CMBYN!

The one indie-film theater in Indianapolis has numerous nice touches, including nifty digital poster displays by each screen’s entrance.

Longtime MCC readers know this time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee from 1997 to the present, and look forward to pushing that statistic even farther back into cinematic history if only some kindly programmer would — pretty please with sugar on top –bring Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies back into print, or at least show it on basic cable. I mean, just once would be lovely. I refuse to settle for watching someone’s grainy YouTube upload or pay collectors’ prices for a vintage VHS copy.

Some nominees stuck with me for weeks and months after; some were pleasantly surprising; some I could take or leave; and some like Chocolat and The Reader, I’d rather forget forever. It’s entirely possible that one day the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will nominate something that I absolutely, positively refuse to watch (they came close one year), but it hasn’t happened yet. For now, I remain on a roll.

As of February 21st I’ve officially seen all nine of this year’s Best Picture nominees, but have only written about two of them, Dunkirk and Lady Bird, which I caught in theaters in 2017. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover the other seven in full before the Oscars telecast on March 4th, but let’s see how far I can get before I burn out.

Every year I can always rest assured there’ll be at least one Best Picture nominee that I won’t be able to bring up at church. This year the most obvious candidate is Call Me by Your Name. Why not start the attempted writing marathon there?

(Fair warning: mild spoilers ahead. It’s not a plot-twist kind of film, but I dug in on a couple of points.)

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