A few weeks ago, the 90th Academy Awards aired on ABC. The awards opened up discussion about what movies make the cut for nominations.
Did the fish sex movie really win Best Picture? Yes, and they did not just have sex. They made love.
How did “Lady Bird” not win anything? The Oscars still love old men. (Shout out to the god Laurie Metcalf.)
Has anyone under the age of 70 actually seen “Darkest Hour”? Absolutely not.
There were many great films from 2017 that did not receive any nominations, and they still deserve an audience. This list is about films that did not receive any nominations from the Academy — while “The Florida Project” and “Blade Runner: 2049” are two films that were robbed of Best Picture nominations, their other nominations disqualify them.
“Good Time”: I want to shoot this film into my veins. “Good Time” follows a small time criminal (Robert Pattinson) over 24 hours as he tries various schemes to post bail for his mentally handicapped brother. Pattinson is a revelation, going from starring in “Twilight” to having a performance worthy of a Best Actor Oscar (much more worthy than Gary Oldman in a Nutty Professor-esque fat suit). His performance is the heart of the film, but the cinematography is what makes it a future cult classic. The camera effortlessly whips around New York, following Pattinson in his seemingly endless odyssey. The film is not just a “Good Time.” It is one of the best thrillers in recent memory.
“A Ghost Story”: The polar opposite of “Good Time,” “A Ghost Story” is a slow and methodical look at grief and time. The film follows a man (Casey Affleck) who tragically passed away, only to view the world as a silent ghost. This spectre takes the form of Affleck in a white sheet with eye holes. This simplicity allows the film to present the grief of a man watching his wife mourn for him without fetishizing the loss. The film is not for everyone — it is deliberately slow and offers almost no dialogue or resolution. However, these choices are what provoke the questions of loss and mortality that make the film so special.
“Brawl In Cell Block 99”: On the surface, “Brawl In Cell Block 99” seems like a simply well put together action film. But, there is more lying behind the surface of the expertly shot violence. The film follows boxer-turned-drug runner Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn) on his rampage through prison to ensure a life for his wife and unborn child. This blood-soaked action is a slow burn that eventually explodes into delightful gore and revenge. The savagery of the action performs best as a metaphor for the plights of the working man in American capitalism. The film’s barbarity and pathos would not work without Vaughn’s performance. Vaughn’s imposing stature allows the audience to believe he could be capable of such brutality, and his charisma allows the audience to identify with his struggle to provide for his family. “Brawl In Cell Block 99” is a film that questions the private prison system, and simultaneously, where Vaughn tears a man’s face off. In short, the film is bloody fun and deeply thought-provoking: the best of both worlds.
“Raw”: I’ll be honest: I have lied about seeing more French films than I actually have. Normally, great French cinema is profound, yet boring. However, “Raw” is anything but boring. The film follows Justine (Garance Marillier) on her first year in veterinary school, where she begins to discover that she is a cannibal. This premise seems laughable at first, but director Julia Ducournau’s decision to take this bizarre storyline in its entire seriousness makes the film utterly captivating. This solemn approach to absurdity is evident in every aspect of the film’s world and characters. “Raw” is a film that makes cannibalism into a relatable story about discovering yourself and sexuality.
“The Meyerowitz Stories”: I never expected to like “The Meyerowitz Stories,” given that I have pretty much hated everything Baumbach had done previously. Yet, in “The Meyerowitz Stories,” Baumbach has finally stopped writing self-flattering stories about 20-year-old women who want to sleep with schlubby 40-year-old men. Instead, the film follows a dysfunctional family of New York intellectuals, made up of Danny (Adam Sandler), Harold (Dustin Hoffman), Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), and Matthew (Ben Stiller), attempting to reconnect. Baumbach's mumblecore dialogue works perfectly coming from the mouths of dysfunctional older men and women. The film feels like an intensely personal look at the troubles of creating art and maintaining a family life, and the result is the greatest film that Baumbach has ever made.
This list is not to invalidate the films the Oscars did recognize. I believe the that two films nominated for various awards — “The Phantom Thread” and “The Florida Project” — are landmarks of the film industry and will be remembered as such.
While this list highlights five films that deserve to be recognized at the Academy Awards, this is also not to say it is completely exhaustive. Movies including “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” “Okjia,” “It Comes at Night,” “Columbus,” and “Mother!” are all worth watching, but didn’t make the cut for films that were snubbed the most.
In a perfect world, the Oscars would acknowledge all these films, but I would recommend that people do their duty as movie fanatics and at least try to watch these five underappreciated masterpieces — especially “Good Time.”