Regarded by virtually everyone as one of the most transcendent and emotionally affecting love stories of the 21st Century, Call Me By Your Name was nominated this morning for a Best Picture Oscar — great. Does it have even a slight chance of winning? Nope. Two widely respected but imperfect films with plot holes, unlikely occurences and reality detachments up the wazoo are far more favored in that regard; ditto a socially relevant horror satire that’s been absurdly, reflexively overpraised.
Does anyone care if (a) the three leading Best Picture contenders are clearly flawed to some extent while (b) a brilliant, unblemished masterpiece has been relegated to the “almost but no cigar” box? Answer: Nobody cares, it doesn’t matter, things are as they are.
Why did Luca Guadagnino‘s film, which has a 96% Rotten Tomatoes score, get kicked downstairs into the “we really like you but forget it” realm? Because another gay film won the Best Picture Oscar last year, and because the Academy’s old male fart contingent has been cool to the Guadagnino all along.
Does anyone care that Call Me By Your Name is easily one of the three best films of the year (along with Dunkirk and Lady Bird), and that Michael Stuhlbarg‘s climactic monologue in Guadagnino’s film — without question the most emotionally affecting stand-alone scene of the year — never even began to acquire award-season traction? Answer: Nobody cares, it doesn’t matter, things are as they are.
From “Maybe It’s Not Over,” posted on 1.12.18: “Accept it — a Best Picture Oscar for a very handsomely composed genre film about rapturous mercy sex with the Creature From the Love Lagoon might soon be placed alongside the statuettes for Birdman, Spotlight, The Hurt Locker, 12 Years A Slave, Platoon, The Godfather Part II, A Man For All Seasons and The Best Years of Our Lives in the Academy’s golden display case in the upstairs lobby. Almost certainly.
“It will therefore cinch a hard-fought triumph over (a) one of the boldest, most avant garde and stunningly captured war films ever made, (b) the most emotionally affecting and transformational gay love story since Brokeback Mountain and probably of the 21st Century, and (c) one of the sharpest, punchiest and most fetchingly performed coming-of-age tales about a young woman at the start of her adult life, and in a year that obviously cries out for a top-tier woman-directed film and/or a female-centric story to be celebrated above all.
“The reasons for Shape‘s possible victory: (a) it’s a lot warmer than Dunkirk and certainly warmer than the somewhat jagged-edged Three Billboards, (b) it isn’t dealing gay cards (which is a seeming disqualifier among older white male Academy members given that last year a meditative, under-stated gay movie won the Best Picture Oscar), (c) it’s an emotionally inviting fable with a Johnny Belinda-like lead performance from Sally Hawkins, and (d) you don’t have to believe in socially progressive largesse or be on the ‘woke’ bandwagon — you just have to be susceptible.
“My positive Telluride review of The Shape of Water was a bit mixed (I gave it the equivalent of an 8), but in my wildest and most cartwheely dreams back then, I never imagined it would win the Best Picture Oscar. It just didn’t seem to be ‘the type’, for one thing, but that’s one of the changes brought about by the newer, younger Academy members. Genre films (great sex with gill-man + a Larry Cohen-esque horror thriller about hypnosis and zombie slaves) are totally accepted these days as potential Best Picture material.”