Reviews of Movies, TV shows & metro Detroit Restaurants

Short movie & TV show reviews and metro Detroit restaurant reviews

Friday, March 2, 2018

Reviews & Ratings for the 2018 Oscar Best Picture Nominees

I have now seen all 9 Oscar Best Picture nominees and here are my short reviews for each (the movies are listed from my favorite to least favorite).

I really enjoyed Lady Bird and it’s my favorite movie amongst the Best Picture nominees. I don’t think it’ll win Best Picture, but it’d be my #1 vote. There was just something about this movie that was just so enjoyable. It’s a great coming-of-age movie about the relationship (often strained) between a high school senior Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (played amazingly by Saoirse Ronan) and her Mom Marion (another fantastic performance, this time by Laurie Metcalf). While this type of story is not relatable to me (I’m a boy and my relationship with my Mom was most decidedly NOT strained), it’s told in such a natural way in this movie. I’ve heard numerous people (most notably Bill Simmons from The Ringer) say they didn’t want this movie to end and that’s how I felt about it as well...9.0/10 stars.

I loved this movie and reviewed it already ( I gave it 9.0/10 stars.

Get Out pretty much flips the horror genre on its head as it combines horror/terror/psychological thriller elements with well-timed humor with racial anxiety at its core. For his directorial debut, Jordan Peele did a damn find job. I heard an interview with Peele on NPR’s Fresh Air in which he described the movie as a “social thriller” and that is a perfect description. I guess when you direct a movie, you can usually accurately describe it. The basic premise of the movie is how a young black man (Chris played by Daniel Kaluuya) goes to visit his white girlfriend’s (Rose played by Allison Williams...very UN-Marnie like!) parents on their very strange estate. That’s when the shit most decidedly hits the fan. This movie scared me, made me jump, and made me laugh...8.5/10 stars.

In a different year, a movie directed by Steven Spielberg starring Meryl Streep & Tom Hanks would be a shoe-in for Best Picture. But times are changing and The Post is not likely to win. It’s still a very good movie that is directed & acted quite well (duh...see above!). I didn’t know anything about the Pentagon Papers prior to this movie, so it was a good learning experience for me. What better teachers than those already mentioned, right? This story of how The Washington Post was able to expand upon the story already broken by The New York Times about the Pentagon Papers is told excellently by this movie. The story is sort of a prequel to All the President’s Men (another excellent movie that I recently watched again) and includes some of the same characters, most notably Ben Bradlee (played by Hanks), the Post’s editor. Streep’s portrayal of Katharine Graham (the first female publisher of a major U.S. newspaper) is spot-on and provides inspiration in our current, turbulent era as it pertains to how women are treated. This woman rose above many challenges to provide excellent leadership at a time when women were treated even worse than they are today. I really liked this movie...8.5/10 stars.

Talk about a unique movie. How many Oscar-nominated movies can say they are about a love affair between a mute human (Elisa Esposito played superbly by Sally Hawkins) and an amphibious creature (played by Doug Jones) with a 1962 Cold War backdrop? Not many, right? The Shape of Water is that unique movie and it’s an excellent movie at that. I have never been a big fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s movies (I thought Pan’s Labyrinth was overrated), but this movie is an exception. It’s a great story and it’s visually stunning. The performances by the cast from top to bottom are all outstanding, with Hawkins, Richard Jenkins as Giles (Elisa’s neighbor), and Octavia Spencer as Zelda Fuller (Elisa’s co-worker & best friend) delivering on all levels. There are a lot of emotions at play here from love to friendship to misunderstanding to hatred and Del Toro mixes them all together perfectly. I definitely enjoyed this movie...8.0/10 stars.

Call Me by Your Name (

I definitely liked this movie as it is a good love story with dramatic & comedic elements and even some heartbreak. It’s also a coming-of-age movie for its main character Elio (played wonderfully by Timothée Chalamet) who is intelligent & quite mature for a 17-year old, yet still very precocious. While he flirts with and has some romantic moments with his friend Marzia, it’s not until Oliver (played by Armie Hammer) shows up for the summer to work with Elio’s professor father (a superb Michael Stuhlbarg) when the romance really kicks in. In spite of their age difference (Oliver is 24), the spark between them is undeniable. Their summer love affair set against an exquisite Italian background will change them forever. Italy in the summer is  just as much of a character as those played by actors and it’s the perfect setting for this movie. One of my favorite scenes is when Elio’s father speaks to Elio at the end of the movie about love and how even in painful moments, he should cherish the joy he felt. Stuhlbarg’s delivery of this speech was excellent...8.0/10 stars.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (

I’ll get this out of the way...I personally do not think this is the best of the Best Picture nominees, but I do predict that it will win the Best Picture Oscar. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri because I did. It is a very good movie with great performances (especially by Frances McDormand as main character Mildred Hayes and Sam Rockwell as racist cop Jason Dixon). The blend of dark comedy and drama is balanced excellently by writer/director Martin McDonagh. Mildred’s quest to prod Ebbing’s police department into finding out who raped, killed, and burned her daughter by painting three billboards outside of town criticizing the beloved town’s sheriff is bold to say the least...7.5/10 stars.

When I walked out of Darkest Hour, I thought it was a great movie with a great performance by Gary Oldman. After some reflection, I still think Oldman WAS great (and will most likely win an Oscar), but I don’t think the movie is as good as I first thought. I think the creative licenses it took with history were just a bit much, most notably the scene on “The Tube”. Winston Churchill is one of the most important men in history and this little slice of history is pivotal for the future of Britain (and arguably the whole world). It’s set essentially at the same time as Dunkirk, but from the perspective of Churchill and his fellow politicians. The decisions that Churchill must make will decide how Britain proceeds in WWII and this movie does a good job of portraying Churchill’s perspective & thoughts...7.5/10 stars.

The more I think about it, the less I like this movie. The main character is Reynolds Woodcock who is played superbly by Daniel Day-Lewis (not exactly shocking as he’s just an amazing actor). But Woodcock is just an asshole who is obsessive compulsive, controlling, self-centered, misogynistic, and just flat out childish. I like my movie characters to be a little more humble and less awful. He’s awful. He falls in love with a younger woman (Alma Elson played by Vicky Krieps). Their relationship starts out well enough and he’s actually charming & decent. But as time goes on, the real Woodcock comes out. By the end of the movie, their relationship takes on a dark tenor which they seem to be just fine with. If it wasn’t for Day-Lewis’ and Krieps’ performances, I probably would like this this movie much less. But because of them, I will say that I liked it well enough to give it 6.5/10 stars.

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