So, The Shape of Water, directed by visual ARTIST Guillermo Del Toro won best picture and best director at the Oscars this year. This is great for him. His film was masterfully directed and watching it was like a dream. The way scenes flowed in to the next, how there was almost always music playing and subtly tuning on and off, how amazing the movie looked, how every character and motivation was fully understood from the way their stories were told and how the plot was gripping, and interesting, made this movie amazing. Again, watching it was like a dream. A dream in a world which is anything but. Our world.
This year the subject of sexual assault has been on fire. At other award shows and appearances this year celebrity attendees wore black to signify that #TimesUp. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and many other big Hollywood players were accused of sexual assault and the men and women in the industry decided that it was time this misbehaviour was put to an end. Which was marvellous! This topic is important to me and seeing action being taken was exciting. Although, had it been up to me, I would have just not turned up to these events and invited others to do the same. I mean, surely the best way to show that sexual misconduct in the industry is a plague is by not going. Cut off your support for any of these events for your own safety, etc. I digress.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, directed by In Bruges’ Martin McDonagh was a really great movie too. It was not like Del Toro’s Shape of Water at all, though. It was harsh. It got to the point; it was frank. At times, it was ugly. It showcased the desperation that can come in the seeking of justice and how society still views woman who want their own justice when they have been the victim of terrible, terrible assaults; horribly. Mildred (played by now academy award winning actress Frances McDormand) wants justice for her daughter who was raped and then burned to death and, having been denied this and seeing the police force who are looking into it as insufficient in their duties, she takes it into her own hands. She VERY publicly calls out Woody Harrelson’s Chief Willoughby and demands answers. Through the movie we see her, as well as other residents of Ebbing, live with the consequences of this action.
Now, maybe it’s just me that thinks this, but I think the award for best picture should go to a movie with real, real meaning. It should teach us a lesson; make a real comment on our world and perhaps what we’re doing wrong in it. Call out the wrongdoers. Show those who may be unaware of issues that they are issues that need attention. The Shape of Water was beautiful and had an amazing cast but I think one of the movies that really accomplished holding a mirror up to the world was McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It came around the time of #TimesUp and the issue of women being abused, raped and murdered is ever present and the issue of their want for justice being side-lined is too. This is why Three Billboards was my pick for best pic. It made a real and solid effort to make a change. Let’s hope, despite its loss, it still does.
Three Billboards could never have won. Why would the academy let this movie win when it calls out sexual misconduct and abuse, and it’s a lot of big Hollywood players carrying out this misconduct and abuse? Amazing and deserving, but it was always doomed to lose.
Get Out was another amazing nominee. I’ve watched this a few times, the first time in cinema and subsequent times on streaming services and like…it just doesn’t stop. It succeeds so well as a comment, a horror and a comedy. It looked super good. Performances were all round spot on. Characters were believable and likeable (except the racist ones (but like…they were likeable before they turned out racist?)) and it was overall an amazing and extremely rewatchable experience. It was Jordan Peele’s directorial debut and he did such a terrific job with his first piece; I am so excited to see what he does next. He is the first African-American man to win best screenplay which is such a fantastic achievement on his part.
But let’s put it simply. Get Out would never have won best picture. Why? Because the academy is prejudiced and would never have let two black led, black produced films win the best picture award two years running. The clear majority of best picture winners have been from white creators, and an overwhelming majority of best actors/actresses have been white as well, despite the amazing content produced by people of colour, especially over recent years. Despite being a clear winner, Moonlight last year was nearly shafted when the presenter reading the envelope ‘got confused’ or some shit and announced La La Land as a winner. I loved that movie but it was no best picture winner. But it was a safe winner. Like how Shape of Water was an amazing movie, but another safe winner.