I Get the Oscars So Right! Your Grandiose Guide to the Glittery Gold Guy

Stephen Lydic

Others are mired in their opinions being "subjective".  Sad. They worry they're not seeing "all sides" of a cultural debate, and give credence to other opinions willy nilly, especially on tedious, round table NPR shows with titles like "Up, Down, and All Around: Everyone's Damn Viewpoint on Everything."  Blah. So exhausting.

Well, not me. I compartmentalize and double down!! Being the son of English teachers, an L.A. resident, a movie freak, and a classic Virgo, no reason will sway me. I submit to you, here, right now, the correct opinions on the best pictures of the year.  You may not win your Oscar pool from my Grandiose Guide, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing I'm right, and therefore that you're right. And if some stubborn nosed friend of yours needs EVIDENCE as to why you think Dunkirk is worse than Logan, well, just refer them to this link. Boom. Written proof you're right. It's circular and incontrovertible. Like space. Yes, think of me as your Oscar astronomer...oscstronomer...

So, this is your definitive, empirical guide to the best movies of 2017, in order, from worst to first. Plus, I throw in a few of my own awards along the way. Everybody gets a trophy.  Except Weinstein. You'll find him in a soggy cardboard box in the alley behind the Ripley's Believe It or Not! on Hollywood Blvd. Give it a swift kick for me on your way to the Dolby.


Hey World! I saw all the Best Picture nominees this year. There is a first time for everything! Plus, I saw a few more (Thanks MoviePass!). I powered through an intense wrapper crinkling battle during The Shape of Water.  I stumbled, blindly, to another row as one man held his shining iphone up in the middle of Three Billboards like the North Star.  And I did it all for you.

****I may not have seen your favorite movie of 2017.  I don't see how that is my problem, but I'm sure that it is very good.****

I usually dislike lots of movies. I usually love to kick a La La Land or a Hidden Figures in the shins real hard, like a movie bully. But I have to admit; this is a damn strong crop this year.  Well made, charming, interesting, funny, thoughtful, and often exquisite movies are nominated. Argo wouldn't sniff the back row this year.

The Worst of the Best - #11. Dunkirk (2017)

Okay, solid war movie.  The planes looked awesome. Lots of heavy breathing, scary running, and shoving of men into large pillars of unhewn wood. I love that stuff.  The acting was no trouble, solid all around. But you know how, in Bridge over the River Kwai, you're really satisfied at the end because you knew what was happening in the movie? I know about the Battle of Dunkirk, and I still have no idea what was happening. It's quite possible I'm an idiot and didn't understand Nolan's nuanced editing. Or it's quite possible he couldn't just stay on a meat and potatoes narrative, and jumps around in the story's timeline like my three year old daughter hammers at my Roku remote. Sure, you'll end up in the same show, but what the hell scene is this? Wait, they're on a yacht still? Didn't that fighter plane already crash? Somebody rescue those fine men! Wait, they already did. Huh. Don't cry for me Kenneth Branagh, I'm already lost.  But do cry, because you are not in the best picture. This movie is three times better than Titanic

And the Oscar for -Most Men Who Look Like All of the Other Men in Saving Private Ryan Besides Tom Hanks- goes to...Dunkirk.

#10. The Post (2017)

Steven Spielberg, you have made some of the best movies ever in time and space. And your films have the art direction of the gods. They always look perfect for the world you're exploring.  I can breathe in each scene as it unfolds. What's your secret? My guess is a humidifier. All of your movies look so wet and misty. And I love it. But this one was more dry and smoky. And I didn't love it, I just liked it. There was so much smoking I had to wash my hair right when I got home.   It was a little unnecessary. Just like casting Bob Odenkirk and David Cross together as journalists. That was really distracting. It's like having Laurel and Hardy play Woodward and Bernstein.  Cute in a way, but I'm disappointed when a runaway piano doesn't smoosh Deep Throat. And I'm glad you're a fan of all the fun, famous actors, like us, but you don't have to put them all in one movie. It's the story of the Pentagon Papers, not a back booth at Sardi's. Thirdly, I'm not sure about that accent Tom Hanks. But gorsh you are charming. In conclusion, a lot of effort was put in to make a movie marginally better than Hook. This movie is twice as good as Crash.

ACADEMY ALERT -- Meryl Streep is realllllly good in this. Not "isn't she cute aww Mama Mia good", but "this woman is one of the best actresses ever good I almost forgot goddamn did you see her in Angels in America oh my god she's good good." She saves the movie and lifts it up. She is reluctant, fierce, and vulnerable. She could win y'all. And if Meryl does, no huffing and whining, please. She will have earned it.

And the Oscar for -Squeezing the most recognizable TV actors from the last ten years onto one set- goes to  ... The Post!

#9.  Darkest Hour (2017)

Gary Oldman, you are a damn fine Winston Churchhill. By the way, I met you once. You are a natty dresser, and you don't have that weird white balloon hair like in Dracula. I was a little disappointed. In Darkest Hour you were inspiring, but this movie felt like a Wright Brothers plane. It just sort of floated above the ground, and it was impressive and I enjoyed it, but then it landed, and it was nothing I hadn't seen before. I am glad Darkest Hour is out, just like The Post, at a time when Donald Trump is banging around the White House in his Putin pajamas. But Darkest Hour, exploring the wildest moments of one of the most interesting men ever to rule the world, still doesn't have the punch and lift other movies do this year.

ACADEMY ALERT -- Ben Mendelsohn is Reallllly good in this. Like "oh my god Christ you should also see him in Bloodline that show is underrated seriously stream it now good." If all the scenes in the movie were as good as Oldman and Mendelsohn's, this would be best picture. He didn't get a nomination, but that's only because a bunch of freaking idiots at the Academy can't see a truly great supporting performance even if it walks up and bites them in the ass.   No biggie.

And the Oscar for Most Durable Jowls in Cinematic History goes to ... Darkest Hour!

#8.  Phantom Thread (2017)

 This movie is good. SLOW. But good. But SLOW. And I am a staunch defender of "slower" films. If this movie didn't take its time, it wouldn't have its necessary shape. P.T. Anderson isn't my favorite director, but he nails something unique and soothing in Phantom Thread. At least for the first two thirds. And it's a story about a lot of subjects that are still a little over my head, if I'm being honest.  But it sort of goes off the rails for me in the last third, and I'm not sure if it's sexist, or if it's sloppy, or if it's pretentious, or what the hell is going on (maybe none of those criticisms are fair), but it is the most boring poisoning since I ate that blue cheese chicken sandwich in Chicago. Beautiful dresses, exquisite Daniel Day Lewis, and an unheralded performance by Vicky Krieps. But just like Lesley Manville's character, this movie had an unsatisfying resolution. This movie is one and a half times better than Gladiator.

And the Oscar for Most Piano Played While Panning Across a Staircase goes to ... Phantom Thread!

The Close to the Best But They Are Not The Best But They Are So Good - #7. The Shape of Water  (2017)

Del Toro's gothic 50's fable is the epitome of this strong Oscar season. Any other year and this bad boy would waltz away with everything, and deserve it. I found it to be haunting and romantic. There were long sections I was completely swept up. The grotesque, reversed and flipped between the sea creature and Michael Shannon was inspired. No, everyone, LISTEN, the sea creature is not gross, he's stunning. Deal with it. And Hawkins buh-brings it. But I didn't cry, I didn't get taken away to that magical place that Del Toro was desperate to drag me to. I was emotional, but felt removed from the story, and that felt like a conscious choice by the filmmaker, to leave the fairy tale under glass. I didn't cry, and I don't know why, but I wanted to. All I know is that my opinion is right, and The Shape of Water just misses being great.  This movie is four times better than Chicago.

ACADEMY ALERT - I do not understand the Octavia Spencer mania. I do not understand the nomination. I know someone might sideswipe me on the 405 for saying this, but I don't get it.  I'm sure she is a lovely person. It is nothing personal. But her down the middle acting bores me, and her fan worship baffles me. In a year of special performances, this one is run of the mill. 

And the Oscar for Most Fedoras in the Moonlight goes to... The Shape of Water!

#6. Logan (2017)

Yeah, the Wolverine movie! Fight me about it, I don't care. It's Goooood. How is it so good?! I don't rightly know! Logan is dark, fraught, hopeless, and endearing. Are you surprised a movie about a dude with a metal skeleton is way better than Phantom Thread? I am too. But I don't make the rules of ultimate goodness. And this one is GOOOOD. How good? Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman deserved nominations.  It is so complete it is the movie I would assign any Marvel skeptic to go see. You don't need to know anything about "superhero culture" to fall for this movie. And it is visually gripping. It's weird to say, but it had some of the best color of any movie I watched this year. Yes, be surprised.  But it is complete at a very high level, with badass action to boot! And as wonderful as Jessica Tandy is in Driving Miss Daisy, she never gutted anyone with an adamantium toeclaw. So points to Logan. This movie is five times better than Wings.

SNIFFLE ALERT. You will cry. This one popped my lid a little. There were some teardrops on my X-Men pillowcase, okay? No judging. 

And the Oscar for Best Adorable Children That Can Wipe You Out goes to... Logan!

#5. Lady Bird (2017)

Mark me down as an "independent movie" skeptic. It's a certain brand that critics and studios assign to a film that makes me roll my eyes involuntarily. And too often they are winding, dull films that are really proud of their sardonic performances and ironic shots of high school gyms.  Lady Bird was worrying me, carrying that label, and I immediately felt foolish for doubting it. Lady Bird is everything an "independent movie" should be. It was refreshing, the funniest of all the nominees, and superbly acted. It made Sacramento interesting! It would change pace and own it, and more often than not I found myself holding my breath, hoping Lady Bird would find a way out of the traps all the love surrounding her set. I'm getting to the point where I can't say much more about the top films, because I don't want to spoil them. Suffice to say, this is the first movie on the list that could sweep all of its nominations, and I wouldn't argue for a second. This is the first film I certify worthy of winning Best Picture. And if Gerwig is the future of "independent film", it looks bright. 

SNIFFLE/ACADEMY ALERT - Laurie Metcalf, stop making me cry. Oh, my wife is crying too? Nicely done. Work it, Jackie. And go get that heavy naked gold dude.

And the Oscar for Best Picture Not Having Michael Stuhlbarg In It goes to... Lady Bird!

#4.  Get Out (2017)

Okay, I'm getting to the official odd crossroads now, where the more I like the movie the less I can really say about it. Because I really don't want to spoil these top flicks, and how many times can I type 'awesome'? But this movie is awesome. It's so awesome. Please, just give the Director Oscar to Jordan Peele. Dude should walk away with it in points for difficulty alone. He nailed like three different tones across three different genres effortlessly. Just when I get annoyed that comedians are completely taking over film, and I get all jealous, I'm reminded that sometimes comedians can blow you away on screen. In this case behind the camera. Tone: eerie perfect. So funny, so scary, so modern. And while a lot of fans of the movie described being unnerved, I was more satisfied than anything, when it was all said and done. AND there are alternate endings. This movie is a bag of treats. And of course it is about race, racism is integral to the film, but there is a lot more to it as well I wish we'd all acknowledge. There are great characters, pure moments of self-deprecation, and very quotable lines.  I thought the scenes from his TSA friend's point of view didn't quite hold up to the rest of the movie, but that is nitpicking. As a friend of mine said, a true genre movie never gets to win an Oscar, and this one is very deserving.  Give it all the gold it is up for. No complaints from me. This is the one you watch again and again. And this is the one that needs a sequel. This movie is eight times better than Forrest Gump.

And the Oscar for Scarier White Family Than The Trumps goes to... Get Out!

We're the Best! Gimme Gold! Gold I Say!

#3. Coco (2017)

Yeah, it belongs right here. A movie as beautiful and luminous and vivacious as Coco? It should be up for Best Picture.  It is the best Pixar movie ever made, and that is a big damn statement. Give it the honor it deserves. Idling along side Ferdinand and Boss Baby is demeaning to a film this wonderful. I think the next two films are better movies, but this might be my favorite movie of the year. There are surprises I will NOT give away, but they are peppered throughout the movie, and each one is as moving as the next. And Anthony Gonzalez?! Wow, that little dude should be up for Best Actor. Because his voice acting is impeccable, but so is his singing. Which brings me to why this sweet animated film is so perfect. It has a modern twist, which makes it relatable, but it brings together stunning visual elements, great storytelling and acting, and a captivating soundtrack that puts it over the top. It achieves what the great classic animated films before it have achieved. It brings the very difficult subject of death and grief into a scope children and adults can digest together. Go see this movie. You will hang pictures of your family up that same night, I promise you.  If it doesn't win best animated film, oh my god, I'll scream and throw a huge tantrum, like a boss. Baby. I love Coco.

SNIFFLE ALERT  - Oh my god. You ain't cried this much since Elephant Man. it might sneak up on you, but you'll be doing that ugly teeth shivering crying, and you need to just go with it.

And the Oscar for Most Simultaneously Cute and Sad Skeletons goes to ... Coco!

#2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Oh boy. Now we've hit some hot controversy. At least according to some recent murmuring...'Blah blah insensitive, blah, blah offensive...blah, blah this isn't funny'. Which is weird, because that is not the tune I heard a month ago when everyone was telling me that if I didn't see this movie I was missing their favorite one. If Three Billboards offended you, I believe you, and that sucks, because I think your missing a gorgeous story. This isn't a movie trying to be about "race in America" and it isn't about  "a foreign playwright insulting rural Americans" (which by the way, that take is xenophobic, so careful), this is a story about people: broken, angry, lost, flawed, wonderful people. That do hateful, stupid, cowardly things. And it's funny and awful. Forget the Crock Pot. This Is Us. I really believe McDonagh has written a great movie about dark, taboo subjects we'd rather not address. McDormand's character is no more always right than Rockwell's character is always wrong. But one is way more right. And they can both be supreme idiots.  I was absolutely taken by Three Billboards. I was surprised and heartbroken, and, like the best movies do, it picked me up and didn't put me down until it was done with me. It had hints of a western, a black comedy, and a pure tragedy. McDonagh is one of our great modern writers, and his work shines in this movie. I can't think of a healthier way to explore our darkness than laughing in agony with McDonagh.

ACADEMY ALERT- All of the acting is out of this world. They find the balance of surrealism in the realistic setting, and it works like dynamite. Take Uncle Oscy home, y'all, you get no argument from me.  

And the Oscar for Bitchinest Attack on a Dentist goes to ... Three Billboards!

#1. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

  The only major problem with all of these other movies, in an awards competition, is that Call Me By Your Name is better. It's like it took the greatest strengths from the other movies and put them all together in the calmest, kindest film you might ever watch.  The characters here live in a world opposite of Ebbings, Missouri. And usually I can take or leave a film where academics hang out at an Euro villa (there are a surprising amount of these. Weird.) Chalamet's character gets space, and respect, and a chance to find out who he really is. And it is a feel good movie in one respect, but absolutely heartbreaking too. Call Me By your Name is universal, and I root for everyone in the movie. It feels like the best kind of friendship, and the film effortlessly transports you to this small town. I felt relaxed watching this one, in a way I didn't know I could.  It almost hearkens back to those great, quiet films of the 70's.  It also has hints of last year's best picture, Moonlight, in its quiet, hopeful tone.

But the biggest compliment I can give this movie is that it is vulnerable. So many scenes almost might not work, so much is out there and fragile, and we are able to embrace it. Because when all was said and done, it did work. Brilliantly. Call me By Your Name reminds us that serenity and long monologues still have a place in our whiplash modern world. So go see it.  This movie is ten times better than Shakespeare in Love.

SNIFFLE ALERT. These are big hot tears. These are maudlin, dear diary tears. You'll love it.

And the Oscar for Most Hormonal Villa goes to ... Call Me By Your Name!

Ahh, well now, there you have it. This is a very strong year in American movie history. Don't let the whiners and haters convince you otherwise. I have a lot more to say, but it's time to shut my mouth and let you decide. As long as you remember I'm absolutely right, you'll have a great Oscar night. Can you hear my teacup? You'll. Have. A Great. Oscar night.