The 90th Academy Awards’ nominees were recently announced, and they came with an interesting mix of Hollywood veterans, hot rising stars and promising fresh faces, all making their mark in the field of filmmaking and the hard task of story-telling. The past year brought us  a varied collection of female-centric, racially diverse and socially enticing films that in many instances defy categorisation, while invariably surpassing initial expectations. With the Oscars airing on March 4th, here’s a closer look at the Best Picture nominees and eniGma’s Mohamed Hesham’s take on each film.

The Post

The Post recounts the real life events that took place in 1965 when The Washington Post’s publisher Kay Graham, along with executive editor Ben Bradlee, were faced with the ultimate test.  The two had to make the agonising choice to either play it safe and not publish the Pentagon Papers or to publish them and give the American public the truth, but run the risk of jeopardising the imminent public offering of their company in the stock market. This historical masterpiece is a sure critics’ darling, if only for having Steven Spielberg as its director and Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as its mains stars.

Director Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep & Tom Hanks at the European Premiere of The Post at Odeon Leicester Square

Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour gives you a close look at the challenges legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill faced in his early days in office.  The film depicts how, despite relentless pressures all around him, he stubbornly refused to give up on what he believed in and ultimately led the Allies to victory in World War II.  While the film depicts actual historic events, its genius includes some surprising comedic flair mixed with dramatic depth, skillfully conveyed by Gary Oldman in his portrayal of Churchill. Darkest Hour is a testament to Gary Oldman’s amazing talent as a master actor.  He completely morphs into the character of Churchill, to the point that you forget it is Oldman on the screen.

Director Joe Wright, Kristin Scott Thomas, Gary Oldman & Lily James at the film premiere in London

Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name tells the story of a seventeen-year-old American boy in Italy who starts to develop feelings for his father’s graduate student. This film is charming in the way it features the magic of the Italian town of Crema in 1983 and the simplicity with which director Luca Guadagnino tells this haunting coming of age story. Based on the novel by Italian-Egyptian author, André Aciman,  the film is especially noteworthy for introducing new talent, the rising star Timothée Chalamet, who is a true revelation and has  garnered rave reviews for his raw and refreshingly authentic performance as Elio.

Timothée Chalamet & Armie Hammer at the 55th New York Film Festival

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is a fantasy film that showcases the true genius of Director Guillermo del Toro.  It draws you into a mesmerising world and a forbidden love story between a mute woman and an eccentric sea creature in the 1960s.  However strange this might sound, these two make you believe in true love with their pure and ironically natural relationship. The Shape of Water, featuring great talents such as Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins, is easily one of the most moving, heartwarming and otherworldly films out there.

Director Guillermo del Toro, Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer & Richard Jenkins at the Italy Venice Film Festival

Dunkirk

Dunkirk is a chilling film that takes you deep into the horror of the days the British Army was trapped at Dunkirk after the fall of France during World War II. It brilliantly portrays the feelings of wounded soldiers wanting nothing more than to return home, but fighting to death for their home’s safety. Dunkirk is probably Director Christopher Nolan’s finest installment to date, displaying his true range as a director and his vision as a filmmaker. The entire word-count of the dialogue throughout the film is probably less than in any other film this year, which further cements Nolan’s skill as a screenwriter, emphasizing emotions more than words.

Tom Glynn-Carney, Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles & Jack Lowden at the film premiere in France

Get Out

Get Out was, hands down, last year’s breakthrough film when it comes to maximizing critical acclaim as well as box office success. We are not sure we ever saw anything like this film before. Best described as a modern day classic American horror story, the film offers much more than a regular horror movie, crossing genre boundaries and acting as a true social commentary.  It is filled with mystery, thrills, a couple of fresh jokes and a genius concept.  It also introduced Daniel Kaluuya, who helped elevate the film to a whole other level, as a bona fide star with solid acting chops.

Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams & Director Jordan Peele at the Browse Build Series

Lady Bird 

Lady Bird is as nostalgic as it is smart and witty. It chronicles the story of rebellious Sacramento high school senior Christine McPherson, who goes by the name ‘Lady Bird’, and her troubled relationship with her overbearing mother. Lady Bird, masterfully portrayed by Saoirse Ronan, is a beautiful multilayered character who is determined to get what she wants, even though she may not know what that is. This brilliant film is the directorial debut of actress Greta Gerwig, who also wrote the screenplay. Through the course of a year, the protagonist explores different passions, falls in and out of love and loses her innocence, but gains something much more valuable – the sense of identity and belonging.

Laurie Matcalf, Greta Gerwig & Saoirse Ronan at the 75th Golden Globe Awards

Phantom Thread

While bearing the enormous pressure of being his last film before his recent retirement, Daniel Day-Lewis’s Phantom Thread definitely does not disappoint.  Daniel Day-Lewis stars as a dressmaker who falls in love with a younger waitress in London in the 1950s, played by Vicky Krieps. Throughout the film, you see the trials and tribulations of this unlikely couple trying to cope with each other’s very different personalities.  This film successfully delivers the goods, with its talented cast, brilliant director – Paul Thomas Anderson – and its fresh and entertaining premise.

icky Krieps, Director Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Day-Lewis & Lesley Manville at the film’s viewing party

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This film is one of the strongest contenders this year. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri tells the story of a woman who goes after the police force in her hometown in the most unlikely way in order to shed light on the unsolved case of her daughter’s murder and rape. The film not only showcases some A-class talents, such as Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson, it also offers a whole lot of tears, surprising laughs and a heartfelt message of retribution. With Martin McDonagh at the helm as both its director and writer, Three Billboards is guaranteed to win big at the Oscars.

Martin McDonagh, Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand & Graham Broadbent at the 75th Golden Globe Awards

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