With less than a week left for Oscars 2018 – or formally, the 90th Academy Awards – on March 4, there's no better time than now to catch up on all the Best Picture nominees. This year, the race for the top prize is tougher than ever, which has been evident from how the awards season has progressed. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Lady Bird won the two big awards at the Golden Globes, but the former came out on top at the BAFTAs, the British version of the Oscars.
The Shape of Water has momentum of its own, what with the most number of nominations at the 2018 Oscars (13), in addition to picking up multiple guild awards. And that's just three of the total nine Best Picture nominees, which include the likes of blockbuster hit Dunkirk, cultural-phenomenon Get Out, and The Post, featuring big hitters such as Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks.
While most films have gotten a release in India – the exceptions are Call Me by Your Name (it screened during the 2017 Mumbai Film Festival), and Get Out – living here does mean waiting till the very end to catch everything. Lady Bird releases in India on March 2, just two days before the Oscars. In the pursuit of helping you check all nine boxes before the ceremony this Sunday, we have a handy guide to the nominees.
While some movies are only available to watch at home, others are playing in theatres and also up for purchase online. We suggest you check local listings before opting for the couch.
What it's about: Christopher Nolan's first war film eschewed traditional war-film techniques for a mostly non-verbal storytelling method, one that combined the visceral nature of IMAX with Hans Zimmer's chilling score to depict World War II in all its confusion, mayhem, and terror. Set in the same period as Darkest Hour, it follows the evacuation of Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, cutting across three different timelines: land, air, and sea.
Other nominations: Best Director (Christopher Nolan), Best Cinematography (Hoyte van Hoytema), Best Film Editing (Lee Smith), Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer), Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Production Design
What it's about: Set in 1983 northern Italy, a 17-year-old bibliophilic boy (Timothée Chalamet) and a 24-year-old graduate student (Armie Hammer), who's visiting the former's parents' home as an intern over the summer, slowly discover the two have feelings for each other. What proceeds is a sensual, heartfelt, and memorable tale about first love, powered by terrific acting from its two male leads.
Other nominations: Best Actor (Timothée Chalamet), Best Adapted Screenplay (James Ivory), and Best Original Song (Sufjan Stevens)
What it's about: Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) is a newly-minted Prime Minister as the UK enters its darkest hour in World War II, with the successes of Nazi Germany prompting government officials to think about opting for a peace treaty with Hitler. Churchill becomes a lone voice of dissent, and with advice from his wife and secretary, he makes important decisions over a four-week period that helped shape Europe's future.
Other nominations: Best Actor (Gary Oldman), Best Cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling
What it's about: A black man (Daniel Kaluuya) makes some disturbing discoveries during a weekend getaway at her white girlfriend's (Allison Williams) parents' home, which turns out to be more sinister than he could've imagined. Debutant director Jordan Peele used the horror premise to superb, harrowing effect, making pointed remarks about white liberalism and the continued repression of the African-American community.
Other nominations: Best Director (Jordan Peele), Best Actor (Daniel Kaluuya), and Best Original Screenplay (Jordan Peele)
What it's about: A coming-of-age story that explores the turbulent relationship between a daughter (Saoirse Ronan) and a fierce mother (Laurie Metcalf) during the former's last year in Sacramento high school, as she fights to enrol herself in a prestigious East Coast college while figuring out the kind of person she is, through various friendships and (short) relationships. One of the best films about teen years, and a terrific debut for writer-director Greta Gerwig.
Other nominations: Best Director (Greta Gerwig), Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Laurie Metcalf), and Best Original Screenplay (Greta Gerwig)
What it's about: Set in London's 50s couture world, a renowned dressmaker (Daniel Day-Lewis) falls in love with a young waitress (Vicky Krieps). The problem is that he's controlling, ill-tempered and full of himself, and prefers women to be a passing influence on his life, but the strong-willed woman figures out a way to root out the toxic masculinity, and endear herself to him.
Other nominations: Best Director (Paul Thomas Anderson), Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Supporting Actress (Lesley Manville), Best Original Score (Jonny Greenwood), and Best Costume Design
How to watch: Check your local cinema listings
What it's about: Conceived in under a year, Steven Spielberg turns his lens onto the Pentagon Papers scandal of the early seventies, looking at it from the viewpoint of The Washington Post's publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), who learns to juggle the financial and journalistic responsibilities of her role while getting undermined by the men around her. The Post benefited from a terrific cast, including Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, and Matthew Rhys.
Other nominations: Best Actress (Meryl Streep)
How to watch: Check local cinema listings
What it's about: A mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) who works at a high-security government facility falls in love with a scaled creature captured in South America (Doug Jones, via mo-cap) in this wonderful tale from Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth), which boasts of an enchanting score from Alexandre Desplat, and gorgeous video work from Dan Laustsen. Sweet, funny, thrilling, and exciting in equal parts.
Other nominations: Best Director (Guillermo del Toro), Best Actress (Sally Hawkins), Best Supporting Actor (Richard Jenkins), Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), Best Original Screenplay (Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor), Best Cinematography (Dan Laustsen), Best Film Editing (Sindey Wolinksy), Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design
What it's about: Angry over the lack of progress in her daughter's murder case, a mother (Frances McDormand) rents out three abandoned billboards leading into her town, accusing the police of failure. Despite the heaviness of its premise, writer-directed Martin McDonagh crafts a black comedy that's really funny, impactful, and filled with characters that don't fit into any tropes, bolstered by three superb performances.
Other nominations: Best Actress (Frances McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell), Best Original Screenplay (Martin McDonagh), Best Film Editing (Jon Gregory), and Best Original Score (Carter Burwell)