Best Films Of 2018

We’ve paid out the bad, now it’s time to celebrate the good. 2018 was an incredible year for cinema. Here’s our favourites from the year that was.

10. Isle Of Dogs 

“The Isle of Dogs is a visual feast for the eyes. The whole production team has put a lot of love and dedication into every minute detail of this film and the result is nothing short of outstanding,” – Josip Knezevic. 

04 April - Isle of Dogs

9. A Star Is Born

“Bradley Cooper’s first outing as a director is an exciting success, but the real star here is Lady Gaga. She lights up the screen with her incredible voice and the on-screen chemistry between her and Cooper makes for one hell of a ride,” – Elle Cahill.

A Star Is Born November 2018

8. A Quiet Place

“Few films are as adept at crafting tension as A Quiet Place; prepare to peer through your fingers, dig your nails into the armrest and squirm like you’ve got an eel in your undies,” – Rhys Pascoe.

04 April - A Quiet Place

7. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

“In a year completely overstuffed with superhero movies, one very late entry blows the whole lot of them away and manages to completely reinvigorate the genre. It’s also the most satisfying bang-for-your buck blockbuster extravaganza for 2018,” – Corey Hogan.

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse December 2018

6. The Shape of Water

“Meticulous in its craftsmanship, every frame, facet and fabric in The Shape of Water is dripping with sumptuous detail, from the intricate sets and rich colours, to the grotesque design of the creature himself,” – Rhys Pascoe.

January 2018 - The Shape of Water

5. Hereditary 

Hereditary is trauma-inducing, nerve pounding, soul shredding satanic fun for the whole family. It’s yet another stunning debut from a director to watch, and another triumph from the ever-creative A24,” – Corey Hogan.

Hereditary June 2018

4. Mission Impossible – Fallout

“When Fallout gets going, boy does it let loose. From a breathless chase through tight Parisian streets to another dizzying dash across London rooftops, the action set pieces arrive one after the other, each more exciting than the last,” – Rhys Pascoe.

Mission Impossible Fallout July 2018

3. The Favourite

The Favourite is as delightfully fun as its trailers suggest. It’s a wild ride of back-stabbing and manipulation and it’s lead performance from Olivia Colman is unmissable,” – Elle Cahill.

image

2. BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman is funny and electric, placing a microscope on the issues that African American’s are still battling to this day. This brilliant, stranger-than-fiction story is definitely worth a watch,” – Elle Cahill.

August2018_BlacKkKlansman

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an explosive first offering to 2018. It combines wit and sensitivity in a gritty story about one woman’s mission to find her daughter’s killer,” – Elle Cahill.

January 2018 - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Honourable mentions: 
Widows 
I, Tonya 
Roma 
A Simple Favour 
The Wife 
American Animals 
Brother’s Nest 
Bad Times at the El Royale 

Isle of Dogs image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
A Star Is Born image courtesy of Roadshow Films
A Quiet Place image courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse image courtesy of Sony Pictures
The Shape of Water image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
Mission Impossible – Fallout image courtesy of Paramount Pictures
The Favourite image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
BlackKklansman image © Universal Pictures 2018
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

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Worst Films of 2018

Here it is. The films of 2018 that made us cringe the most. The ones that made us roll our eyes and sigh. Check out our top picks for the most disappointing films of last year.

7. The Predator

“Backstories are hinted at but never explored. Plot points are established early and then forgotten. The larger hybrid Predator is completely underwhelming. And then, before you can blink, the climactic fight is over and something even more underwhelming happens: a sequel is teased” – Zachary Cruz-Tan

Predator

6. Fifty Shades Freed

“Like an impotent lover that never really attracted you in the first place, the Fifty Shades trilogy limps to an unsatisfying climax that leaves you feeling dirty and ashamed,” – Corey Hogan

February 2018 - Fifty Shades Freed

5. Venom

“Venom just washes over you, it’s neither entertaining nor horrifying enough to hold your attention. I found myself strangely bored by the mish-mash of ugly VFX, dark cinematography and uninspired design oozing from every frame,” – Rhys Pascoe

Venom October 2018

4. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

“Rowling’s story comes across as convoluted fan fiction. It tends to favour side-characters delivering monologues and backstories that no one will be able to follow without a PhD in Pottermore,” – Corey Hogan

Fantastic Beasts Crimes of Grindelwald November 2018

3. Winchester

“The scares are both well-orchestrated and heart-pounding, but Winchester doesn’t bring anything original to the horror genre and at times it becomes predictable,” – Elle Cahill

February 2018 - Winchester

2. Submergence

“Submergence is a dull, tiresome plod through a series of events that are no doubt meant to be shocking and romantic, but simply end up resembling a dying fish flopping about on the shore. It is a joyless, merciless experience,” – Zachary Cruz-Tan

August2018_Submergence

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom follows a narrative that’s muddled with ridiculousness and built on poor foundations. It’s just as silly as The Fast and The Furious series, except here there are no excessive action sequences to offset the weak narrative and ensure the film is at least somewhat enjoyable,” – Josip Knezevic

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom June 2018

The Predator image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Fifty Shades Freed image (c) Universal Pictures 2018

Venom image courtesy of Sony Pictures 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald image courtesy of Roadshow Films

Winchester image courtesy of StudioCanal

Submergence image courtesy of The Backlot Films

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom image (c) Universal Pictures 2018

Movie Review – McKellen: Playing The Part

And he’s still playing a part…

⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Elle Cahill

McKellen: Playing the Part takes a look at the life of stage and screen acting legend Sir Ian McKellen, tracking him from his time as a young boy, through to his career in the theatre world and his eventual move into the film industry. Filled with firsthand stories from McKellen, the documentary demonstrates the inspirational figure McKellen has been and continues to be in society.

While it largely relies on interviews with McKellen to narrate the story, the use of archival footage and photographs is actually the most interesting part. Director Joe Stephenson has been allowed unrestricted access into the life of a traditionally private man, and he takes full advantage of this privilege.

Stephenson doesn’t interview anyone other than McKellen for the entire duration of the documentary, which seems like a pretty big mistake. McKellen has worked with a host of brilliant actors including Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Patrick Stewart. Each of them could have added a different dynamic to the documentary with anecdotes about McKellen.

Stephenson attempts to get McKellen to open up and bring some rawness to the documentary, but this proves to be a bit of struggle. To be honest, it’s not really a surprise. McKellen has spent his entire career ‘playing the part’ during his interviews and press tours. No wonder it’s difficult to pull down his walls.

The documentary still has its emotional moments, however, especially when it comes to how McKellen hid his homosexuality until his early forties. His coming out was very public and he shares how he lost friends and lovers to the AIDS epidemic. Here we gain a real insight into parts of McKellen’s life that aren’t as well known, especially his strong activism around sexuality.

While it doesn’t quite reach the depth it needs, McKellen: Playing The Part is still a nicely made documentary that’s worth watching on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

McKellen: Playing The Part is available in Australian cinemas from September 27

Image courtesy of Icon Film Distribution 

Movie Review – I Am Paul Walker

The life of the late Paul Walker is told plainly in Adrian Buitenhuis’ new documentary.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Zachary Cruz-Tan

We all know of Paul Walker’s achievements as an actor, having starred in some of the most successful movies of our time. Some of us may also know that he was deeply fascinated by marine life and the preservation of the ocean. Maybe even fewer might know he was an avid car collector, a pricey hobby that turned the circumstances of his death into tragic irony. He seemed like a great guy, genuine, level-headed. I Am Paul Walker, the new documentary by Adrian Buitenhuis, recounts the man and the many things he did, though not always in exciting fashion.

It’s a real shame, because Mr. Walker was a complex figure, at least as detailed by the many relatives and friends who speak during the movie. He was primarily devoted to surfing, having grown up along the Californian coast, but his interests extended beyond the waves.

As a young boy, he was handsome and charismatic. He landed a few early acting roles alongside Michael Landon and Josh Brolin on Highway to Heaven. Then he decided to jeopardise his career by returning to his studies. He always dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. Then he acted again, this time as a strapping adult, and before he knew it he was a megastar, pulled away from the seas six months at a time.

He made millions very quickly but refused to succumb to the Hollywood life. Instead he’d vacation up in snowy mountains, go diving, wrestle Great Whites or revisit his love of surfing. The key to his appeal is that he never lost sight of who he was, even when fame propelled him above his reality.

All this is told simply and with great efficiency, but the movie is incredibly basic. It begins with Walker as a teen in 1988 and ends in 2013 with tears and regret. There’s home footage, standard interviews, serviceable music. Occasionally there’s a clip from one of his movies.

He strikes me as a man who always went back to his childhood, even when money and women flowed like a river around him. He treaded the line between fame and obscurity. Shouldn’t he deserve, I don’t know, something more than this film? For the life of me I can’t identify anything wrong with I Am Paul Walker. It’s perfectly vanilla. It tells the story it needs to and does it professionally. I’m just not sure it’s interesting enough. It needs to take risks, like he did.

I Am Paul Walker is available in Australian cinemas from 21 September 2018 

Image courtesy of The Backlot Films 

Movie Review – McQueen

Alexander McQueen was a famed fashion designer who sadly took his own life in 2010. The documentary McQueen explores the enigma of this creative genius and the path that led him to despair and loneliness.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Elle Cahill

McQueen follows the short and tragic life of fashion designer Alexander McQueen, from his start as a tailor, all the way through his incredible shows and partnerships with major labels, until his death in 2010. It examines where his influences and inspirations came from, as well as the events that led him to suicide.

The documentary is not only for his fans, but also for those who are interested in visionaries of the modern world. McQueen was well-known for his daring take on fashion that made strong commentary on aspects of society. The documentary explores where McQueen got his ideas from, and how he translated this into runway fashion, with a determination to always top his last show.

Through the use of interviews with people who were close to McQueen, we begin to get an idea of the man who frequently shied away from the spotlight. Behind the scenes footage of his runway shows help to create an image of the chaotic world that he operated within, and personal videos and photographs of him also give a rare insight into the enigma that was McQueen.

As the documentary moves on, it slowly grows darker as the pressure of fame and fitting in to the modelling world began to impact McQueen. It also shows how fleeting life can be, and after a series of deaths of close loved ones, it all proved too much for McQueen.

McQueen is a brilliant documentary about an innovative fashion designer who was taken from this world too soon. Directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui have done a great job showcasing McQueen’s talent, while also exploring the underbelly of fame and the fashion industry.

McQueen is available in Australian cinemas from September 6 2018. 

Image courtesy of Madman Entertainment and © Salon Galahad Ltd 2018

 

Part 1: Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2018

The Revelation Perth International Film Festival is back for 2018! Screening from July 5-18, this is your chance to check out the latest and greatest in independent cinema. Featuring films and documentaries from Australia and all over the world, here’s a snippet of what’s on offer! Stay tuned for another sneak peak next week!

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion and Disco
Documentary
USA

Sex, fashion and disco – need we say anymore?

Elle Cahill

Revelation FF Antonio Lopez July 2018
Sex, Fashion and Disco chronicles the crazy, wild ride that was fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez’s career. The documentary features interviews from some heavyweights in the fashion and film industry such as Grace Coddington (American Vogue creative director) and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story), as well as wild stories about Karl Lagerfield, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones and Andy Warhol.

Tales are told, and old times are reminisced upon with joy and laughter from an era when sexuality was an experiment and drugs went hand-in-hand with the fashion industry. There are some poignant moments, such as the racism issue in America that drove Lopez away in the late 60’s, and the impact that the AIDs epidemic had on the fashion industry that brought about a sense of seriousness to the documentary, but director James Crump doesn’t delve too deeply into these matters.

Sex, Fashion and Disco is intended to take the audience on a mad trip back in time to a period when irresponsibility was to be favoured, and the fashion industry was at its peak, and it certainly achieves this.


More Human Than Human
Documentary
Netherlands

What does it mean to live in the age of intelligent machines? Two documentarians set out to find out.

Rhys Pascoe

Revelation FF More Human Than Human July 2018
For over a century, science-fiction cinema has heralded a future populated with synthetic robots and artificial intelligence, from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. In their 78-minute documentary More Human Than Human, filmmakers Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting attempt to condense this abundance of ideas into a single streamlined premise; could a robot replace a filmmaker?

In partnership with a robotics lab, Pallotta and Wolting set to work rigging up a ‘camera bot’ that can read faces, frame its subject and pose questions to the ‘interviewee’, which in this case is Pallotta. In parallel to this, the documentarians scour the globe for case studies relating to the current state of artificial intelligence, conducting interviews and learning more about current innovations in the field.

While this pattern – cutting between case studies and the unfolding lab project – helps to structure the film, the two strands don’t always mesh seamlessly. While the main premise is interesting, it doesn’t have the same pull as the varied experiments that are touched on to flesh out the runtime.

All told, this tidy film has something to say about a wide range of technological marvels, and should make even the most ardent technophile feel a little on edge next time they boot up their smartphone or laptop.


Lost Gully Road
Feature Film
Australia

A film about a girl on the run, a bag of money, a spiritual entity, some shady side characters and some flickering lights… confused yet?

Elle Cahill

Revelation FF Lost Gully Road

On the run, Lucy (Adele Perovic) goes into hiding in an isolated house in the middle of a forest. As the days trickle by, she quickly descends into boredom, with her only form of entertainment coming from the once a day phone call from her sister to give her an update on the “situation”. A spiritual entity soon makes its presence known, further adding to Lucy’s paranoia and the feeling of isolation.

This spiritual entity is portrayed in a very similar way to Olivier Assayas 2016’s Personal Shopper, and is further emphasised through flickering lights and voyeuristic POV shots, but it doesn’t quite achieve the thrill or scariness that I think was intended.

Perovic does well with the material provided, particularly during her interactions with the spiritual entity and the physicality she brings to those scenes. Without giving too much more away, director Donna McRae has attempted to use Lost Gully Road to comment on the female experience in a male-dominated world, and the issue of consent. Unfortunately for me, the film doesn’t quite hit the mark, but I can understand what McRae was trying to achieve.


[Censored]
Documentary
Australia

An Australian documentarian goes looking for shocking material of old. Surprisingly, she’s upset when she’s shocked by it…

Corey Hogan

Revelation FF censored July 2018
[Censored] is the hour-long final product of Sari Braithwaite’s delve into Canberra’s extensive archive of clips cut from international films by Australian censors between 1951 and 1978. She presents her findings as an essay documentary and think-piece, slicing thematically linked clips together and intercutting with the rules and regulations of the Australian Censorship Board, commentating with her own opinion on what was deemed unacceptable for audiences back in the day, and what would surely pass without the bat of an eyelash in more modern, unshackled times.

Cinephiles and historians will no doubt revel in the mouth-watering smorgasbord of never-before-seen clips surgically removed from hundreds of films of the era, ranging from timeless classics like Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, to lesser-known gems and even a (potentially) educational video featuring a childbirth. Braithwaite states upon commencing that her goal was to liberate these filmmakers’ artistic visions from the conservative fuddy-duddies intent on muffling creativity. At first, she is true to her word, highlighting the ridiculousness of cutting simple scenes of kisses between couples and verbal arguments that drop a few F-bombs. Soon though, she begins to question the necessity of sex scenes, nudity, and violence – in particular violence against women – and it is up to us as an audience to decide whether we agree with her more contemporary opinion, or if we can appreciate these clips as a time capsule in the context of their films and period.

Personally, I found Braithwaite’s approach decidedly closed-minded and loaded with bias, but no doubt there will be a large crowd who agree with and find poignancy in how off-put she is by the shocking content here. Considering the amount of these taboos we see unabashedly in everything we watch these days, perhaps it’s consuming so much distressing media at once that had Braithwaite sympathising with the censors. However you feel about the topic [Censored] is certainly provocative in one way or the other.

Images courtesy of Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2018

Movie Review – Tea with the Dames

In Tea with the Dames, Roger Michell gives us a snapshot into the lives of four impressive icons of the stage and screen.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Zachary Cruz-Tan 

Roger Michell’s Tea with the Dames is pretty much what you’d expect. It is a cordial documentary spent in the company of four utterly charming and gracefully weathered dames of the British Empire, who have spent their lives on the stage and screen and now appear on screen once again to speak candidly over cups of tea.

The ladies are Joan Plowright, who married the invincible Laurence Olivier in 1961 and retired in 2014 when her declining eyesight made acting impossible; Eileen Atkins, who surrendered a career in dance to recite Shakespeare; Maggie Smith, remembered by many as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter movies; and Judi Dench, who reached cinema late in life and then gobbled it up.

According to an early blurb, all four women meet regularly to brush up on each other’s lives. This time, they’ve let the cameras and microphones in, an allowance they start regretting before the afternoon’s over.

It’s clear almost at once that they are immaculately private women. Their first conversation is awkward and quiet, with careful side-glances and uncomfortable silences. But as the day draws on and the talking moves from room to room, conversations begin to flow, sporadically prompted by Michell somewhere off-screen.

The women cover nothing of any real importance. Nothing that cannot be read off their Wikipedia pages or learned from old footage. They discuss their early days at The Old Vic, the magic and woes of marriage, growing old, the burden of superstardom. Sometimes they curse and other times they tease one another. You can tell they’ve had these conversations before, many times, and are tired of having to repeat themselves.

But they are tremendous sports, and brighten the camera as only such heroes can. It is precisely that they’ve known each other for decades that makes Tea with the Dames such a fascinating and enjoyable experience. Sometimes we’re not even interested in what they’re talking about, but the language they employ and the humour with which they deliver it endear us to their shared experiences.

There’s not much else to say about a documentary in which the characters do nothing but talk. I can only express how I felt while watching them, and I think I had a smile across my face for most of it. I certainly laughed a lot. And if you have an appreciation for beautiful, fiercely forthright ladies who know how to command the screen, you will too.

Tea with the Dames is available in Australian cinemas from June 7 

Image courtesy of Transmission Films

Aardman Animations – The Kings Of Claymation

Elle Cahill 

“Get off me cheese! Get off!”

When I was young, my mum would jokingly say this line while flapping her hands at us kids when we touched something we shouldn’t have. Needless to say, I was brought up on a healthy diet of Aardman Animations, first with the Wallace and Gromit short animations, and then their first feature film Chicken Run  – which is also endlessly quote-worthy.

Now, nearly 30 years since they first released Wallace and Gromit’s A Grand Day Out, their latest creation Early Man is due to hit cinemas. Despite its humble beginnings in Bristol, UK in 1972, Aardman Animations has continued to make breakthroughs, not only for stop-motion animation, but also for computer animated films, commercials and television programmes, all whilst staying true to their English roots and love of clay.

Founded by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, it wasn’t until 1976 that they produced their first piece of professional work. They continued to do small commissioned pieces of animation work for television programmes until 1989. After recruiting Nick Park in 1985, they were commissioned by Channel Four Television to create a series of five-minute animations called Lip Synch. This inspired the creation of similar content using clay figurines and stop-motion, including Park’s 1990 Academy Award-winning short film Creature Comforts.

From this point Aardman Animations cemented themselves as the leader in stop-motion animation. Their second Wallace and Gromit short film in 1993 The Wrong Trousers also went on to win the 1994 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, as did the third film A Close Shave which took home the same award in 1996.

Aardman Animations have continued to go from strength to strength. Whilst their output doesn’t match that of larger animation studios like Pixar and DreamWorks, they have continued to have box office success with each new offering – well, with the exception of 2006’s Flushed Away, but let’s sweep that one under the rug.

Aardman aren’t afraid of embracing new technology, and despite their love of the traditional clay aesthetic, the company’s willingness to test and adapt to new technology has kept them in front of their competitors. This can be seen more in their advertising division where, for example, they recently made VR projects for Google and BBC. Once tested in their advertising work, they will often integrate new technology into the making of their feature films in any way they can.

It’s this natural embrace of new technology that has also helped Aardman to be fearless in their different business pursuits. Apart from being the first British content producers to partner with iTunes, they also established a deal with YouTube where they made all their work available on the video sharing site, and in return YouTube regularly monitors and removes any videos of Aardman productions that aren’t uploaded by them. Another business milestone for Aardman was when they managed to crack the Chinese market in 2010 with their popular children’s show Shaun the Sheep, despite China’s resistance to Western content.

Aardman Animations continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible with stop-motion animation with each new film. They currently hold three Guinness World Records, including the record for the largest stop-motion animation set, and most plasticine used in a feature film (Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit used 2,844.9 kg of plasticine). To this day, Lord and Sproxton continue to have large creative roles in Aardman content and are the main driver’s behind ensuring that Aardman are always embracing new and upcoming technology. This formula certainly seems to be working for them, so it will be interesting to see where Aardman continues to move in the future.

Image courtesy of Aardman Animations & United International Pictures from Wallace & Gromit’s The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005). Source: IMDb 

Movie Review – Human Flow

An emotional rollercoaster on a treacherous journey; Human Flow puts a face to a worldwide epidemic, tracking various groups of migrants around the globe.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Elle Cahill

In his latest documentary Human Flow, famed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei explores the growing epidemic of displaced migrants around the world. With Weiwei and his crew right on the front lines, we are thrust deep into the midst of the global refugee crisis, gaining access to the stories of individuals we would normally only see on the other side of the fence.

As you would expect, Human Flow isn’t exactly easy viewing. It’s heavy stuff that gives a voice to those who are desperately seeking a better life. When these people reach a dead end in their journey, and begin to doubt whether they should have risked everything to flee in the first place, it’s absolutely tragic. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of children involved in these journeys, and seeing them behave as everyday kids in horrible conditions really drives home the universality of being a kid.

But it’s not only it’s subject matter that makes Human Flow such a powerful and emotionally driven documentary; it’s also beautifully crafted, with stunning cinematography that captures all angles of the refugee lifestyle. Drone shots encapsulate the harsh landscapes and provide an inside look to war torn areas not often seen on film, while steadicam shots show the sheer size of the crowds journeying cross-country. There’s even footage from Weiwei’s phone that provides a more intimate perspective of the camp life.

Weiwei appears on camera himself during a couple of interactions with his interviewees, and even in these brief glimpses we get the sense that he genuinely cares about these people and this rampant issue.

Human Flow‘s only downfall is in trying to pack too much into two and a half hours. It offers an in-depth look into the international refugee crisis, but it’s almost too in-depth. We get whizzed around the world without being given an opportunity to take a break and really digest what we’ve seen, all of which culminates in a somewhat rushed conclusion.

Although it packs in too much, it still gets across its core messages and demonstrates there is no end in sight for the issues faced by countless refugees. Despite its lengthy run-time, it’s a real eye-opener as to why people all over the world are risking their lives to flee their countries. I’d encourage you to go see it for that education alone.

Human Flow is available in Australian cinemas from March 15 

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films

The Changing Face of the Oscars

Michael Philp 

The Oscars have changed remarkably over the past decade. Since the expansion of the Best Picture slot to include up to 10 nominees, there’s been a marked increase in the inclusion – and celebration – of films centred on diversity. This movement kicked up a notch last year with Moonlight’s win, but the Weinstein scandal last October appeared to throw those efforts into sharp relief. Last Monday, it was suddenly a lot more obvious that white men were winning, or even being nominated for, an award over their “diverse” colleagues.

For many of us, this year’s awards felt caught between the Academy’s old habits and the new wave of socially conscious, diversity-focused filmmaking. The Shape of Water won Best Picture, but it was up against mediocre Oscar bait that shouldn’t have had a chance in hell – namely The Post, but also Darkest Hour, and to a lesser extent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. In previous years those films would have been serious contenders, and Darkest Hour probably would have won, but in 2018 the Academy has begun to move on from the kind of stodgy biopics that have been their bread-and-butter for the past century.

But of course, they haven’t entirely moved on, creating the clear division mentioned above. Everyone knew Gary Oldman was going to win Best Actor, even if the film around him wasn’t up to snuff. “It was a legacy award” went the chant, while an undefined contingent wondered when we might stop needing to say such things, and instead get to celebrate the work that we actually liked.

Which brings me to the films that sat right in the middle of the divide – the ones that half of us liked and half of us railed against. More specifically, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Our review praised it, but, personally, I found it distasteful and crass. No matter what you think of the film, it was fairly obvious why it was up there – if not, the “Times Up” pins, shining brightly against black suits, were a pretty good hint.

It is my sincerest hope that in the future we won’t need such glaring political statements to consider a film worthy of recognition. In the same vein, I hope next year we won’t have to take a mediocre biopic seriously. Beyond that, I hope we’ll eventually move past diversity showcases like Shape of Water (politics is fine, but “diversity is good” feels like such a no-brainer that I hope we outgrow it quickly). These aspects of the ceremony already feel outdated – there are richer conversations to be had, the Academy just needs to grow into them. For instance, in the future, we’ll hopefully see more films from people of Asian and Indian backgrounds. Statistically speaking they should be represented far better than they are, maybe one day we’ll examine that problem.

The divisions that we’re experiencing right now aren’t cause for alarm; they’re part of a natural process of correction. It is not that we shouldn’t celebrate white stories, but that they should have to earn their place, rather than being nominated by default. The Oscars are entering a period where they are hungry for exciting ideas from fresh filmmakers. They no longer blindly reflect the movie-going public, but are instead interested in how films function as modern art. You can criticise that approach as elitist, but I would urge you to recognise that the ultimate goal hasn’t changed – it is still to tell stories of everyday people doing extraordinary things. The difference is that the definition of everyday people has been broadened to include groups other than white men. What a world.

Image courtesy of Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Source: http://oscar.go.com/photos/2018/red-carpet-arrivals-2018/90th-annual-academy-awards-arrivals-129