Look, the other categories in The Calvins are great, but the one that matters the most is Best Picture. Sure, Best TV Show has become competitive in recent years. Overall, movies still have more prestige than television, though. The winner in Best Picture is the seminal Hollywood project of the year. So, who’s the big dog this year? Well…
2018 Calvin Awards: Best Picture
By David Mumpower
March 2, 2018
In a stunning upset, Get Out, a release from more than a year ago, sustained its momentum throughout 2017. In a year with largely lackluster competition, the Jordan Peele offering only had to stave off one true competitor to claim the title of Best Picture at the 2018 Calvins.
Why did we love Get Out? Our staff connected with the brilliant mash-up of conventional horror film and treatise on social injustice. The first half of the film takes a creepy tone, as something’s clearly wrong at the home of Missy and Dean Armitrage. Their invited guest, Chris Washington, knows this, but he wants to impress the parents of his girlfriend.
Little does Chris realize that his situation is precarious. The Armitrage family doesn’t have the best of intentions for their potential son-in-law, and the explanation for their actions is one of the most fascinating social commentaries in 21st cinema. Get Out is a film that will get debated in Film Studies classes for years if not decades to come.
Yes, 2018 was a down year for major awards contenders, but that fact in no way reduces the greatness of Get Out. It’s a masterpiece that entertains while making a subtle point about modern society. We always knew that Jordan Peele is an amazing talent, but we were still caught off-guard that he followed the mediocre Keanu with one of the most important films of the decade.
The only other film that emerged as a serious contender for Best Picture is Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan’s gripping tale of a critical battle during World War II is unique by standard movie contentions. It relies less on narrative and more on visuals. In that way, it’s an experiential story that requires the right environment to appreciate fully. Exhibitors were willing to give Nolan whatever he needed to project his film at the highest quality, and the reality is that anyone who watches it at home is missing out.
On the big screen, the demonstrations of battle in the air, on land, and at sea feel more personal and engrossing. Out of all the releases of the past year, Dunkirk was the one to see in theaters. If you missed it, you should keep an eye out for special screenings. Otherwise, you’ll never fully understand why we view it as the second best movie of the year.
The second tier of our favorite films this year is the range of third to fifth place. The third choice for Best Picture is Call Me by Your Name. Set in lush Northern Italy, the romantic backdrop is ideal for this sort of coming of age/coming out story. It stars Elio as a 17-year-old kicked out of his own bedroom for the summer due to the presence of grad student named Oliver.
Elio’s passionate dislike of Oliver clearly indicates his true feelings, even though he has a girlfriend. Oliver is also a great deal older, but as the summer grows hotter, the two men acknowledge their true feelings. It’s almost the male equivalent of Blue Is the Warmest Color, and our staff admired its honest take on the nuanced nature of sexuality, especially in teenagers.
Coco and Lady Bird complete our top five. BOP’s love of Pixar is well-established, as their films have won Best Picture multiple times. We didn’t perceive Coco on quite the same level as classics like WALL-E and Up, but it’s still a remarkably complex exploration of the challenges of family. It’s also the most visually stimulating Pixar film to date.
Lady Bird, our fifth selection, tells a simple story well. A rebellious teen daughter cannot wait to fly the nest and go out on her own. Her final days of high school are a struggle to survive her unpleasant circumstances. Once she’s free from family, however, she discovers a different perspective of the life she’s had. It’s a charming, well intended take on the complexities of mother/daughter relationships.
The films in sixth and seventh place this year received a lot of love from certain staff members. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri garnered multiple first place and strong down ballot support for its gritty portrayal of a determined mother. This woman knows that the cops haven’t expended the appropriate resources to track down her daughter’s killer, and so she finds a novel way to apply pressure.
Phantom Thread trailed only Get Out in terms of first place votes from our staff. Alas, it proved too divisive for several voters, meaning that it was on a disproportionately small number of ballots. To be fair, it takes a very strange turn toward the end of the film. That choice isn’t for everyone. Then again, expecting normalcy from a Paul Thomas Anderson flick is just asking for disappointment.
The strength of this top ten isn’t readily apparent up until this point. I’ve been honest that we’ve had better years at the Cineplex. But I do think 2017 deserves some credit in this range. Our final three selections this year are Wonder Woman, The Post, and I, Tonya. At the time of publication, those features have an average Rotten Tomatoes score of 90%, with the lowest grade at 88%. There weren’t many films that knocked our collective socks off the way that Gravity did, but that’s one of the best #8-10 selections that we’ve ever had.
As always, we’ve posted our top 25 at the bottom of this chart. The films that came closest to nomination for Best Picture this year were Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, Mudbound, The Shape of Water, and The Big Sick.
2018 Calvin Awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music