So the Oscars tonight, in these dark times there’s not much on Hollywood’s plate, hardly anything Oscar-worthy. I liked the Guillermo del Toro movie, The Shape of Water, but then I like all of del Toro fantasies. It’s the child’s world of make believe, where everyone is larger than life and the bad boys are really bad, where every magic wish is realized and every fear effectuated. The horror is truly horrific. This movie is lighter, a romance between a mute girl and a aquatic creature.
Frances McDormand, who’s made a specialty of playing lower middle class women who’ve had few breaks in life, does it again in the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. As always she does an excellent job, a frustrated housewife, ignored and shushed away by the police after her daughter’s rape and death, with a cad of an ex-husband and poverty nipping at her heels manages to straighten everybody out and uncover who did it. A nice little movie, but not spectacular. Same as with Lady Bird, good acting, spunky girl.
Call Me by Your Name came out before the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the me-too movement, otherwise there would have been controversy about the love affair between a 17 year old boy and an older man. A beautiful movie about an archeologist’s family and their summer at a villa in Italy. The older man, a 24 year old graduate student, has been invited by the father to intern for the season. A sweet love affair develops with the son in the long leisure days of summer. A feel good and beautiful movie with a glimpse of how people should behave.
My love of fashion called for a special evening to view Phantom Thread; I watched it on Saturday night and was left underwhelmed. I had expected the glamour of high couture, the models, the runway, and mostly the divine clothes. Instead, I got Daniel Day-Lewis as a petty tyrant of a dressmaker, anal obsessive guy who can’t even stand the noise girlfriend makes buttering her toast at the breakfast table. I am made uncomfortable by the simpering girlfriend, who accedes to all his wishes, the field marshal of a sister who manages her creative brother’s life down to getting rid of his old girlfriends for him.
Beyond these offerings are what Sam Goldwin once disparaged as, “If you’ve got a message, send a telegram” type movies in which Hollywood preaches about current affairs and how we should all get our heads straight.
And the Oscar for best picture this year is . . .Call Me By Your Name!
Postscript: They only chose The Shape of Water because they lacked the courage to stand up for art in the face of controversy.