It happens every year. The Oscar nom's come out and all of a sudden we're expert film buffs. The list of flicks to watch spirals out of control, and inevitably we don't watch them all before the big Red Carpet. But this year's gonna be different. This year we can all be winners with this comprehensive list of the movies you definitely need to see before the Oscars air on 4 March (mark it in your diary now).
Get comfortable. We have trailers.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Plot in one Sentence: A grieving mother rents out three billboards to call attention to her daughter's unsolved murder.
Nominated for: Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role: Woody Harrelson, Actress in a Leading Role: Frances McDormand, Writing (Original Screenplay): Martin McDonagh, Music (Orginal Score), Film Editing.
Why it’s so good: It’s not an uplifting film, but it’s got the performances and the dabbling of black comedy to stop you feeling quite so bad. Plus Frances McDormand. Now and for all time.
Plot in one sentence: A coming of age story about a girl’s turbulent relationship with her strong-willed mother during an eventful senior year of high school.
Nominated for: Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role: Saoirse Ronan, Actress in a Supporting Role: Laurie Matcalf, Best Director: Greta Gerwig, Writing (Original Screenplay): Greta Gerwig).
Why it’s so good: With two strong female characters as the lead roles, and the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig, the story is strengthened by great writing and a powerful central relationship. Look at the reviews. It’s hard to find a bad one.
The Shape of Water
Plot in one sentence: An other-worldly fairy tale about a woman and a ‘sea monster’ thing falling in love against the backdrop of the Cold War. There's a perfectly ordinary English sentence.
Nominated for: Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role: Richard Jenkins, Actress in a Leading Role: Sally Hawkins, Actress in a Supporting Role: Octavia Spencer, Best Director: Guillermo del Toro, Writing (Original Screenplay): Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, Music (Original Score), Cinematography, Film Editing, Costume Design, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing.
Why it’s so good: On paper, this isn’t a story or a film that should work at all—and yet it does. It's engagingly romantic and incredibly special. With 13 nominations this year, it's a safe bet it'll be winning something.
Plot in one sentence: It’s a creepy thriller/horror that begins with a guy going to meet his girlfriend’s parents for the first time and turns into your ultimate nightmare.
Nominated for: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Kaluuya, Best Director: Jordan Peele, Writing (Original Screenplay): Jordan Peele.
Why it’s so good: It has changed people’s opinions of horror films as a genre. It came out almost a year ago and this movie still remains vividly in our minds.
Plot in one sentence: The dark yet comedic tale of figure skater Tonya Harding, and the lengths she would go to to win.
Nominated for: Actress in a Leading Role: Margot Robbie, Actress in a Supporting Role: Allison Janney, Film Editing.
Why it’s so good: You may leave the film feeling a bit melancholy, but the black comedy will give you a giggle. Full marks for performances by Margot Robbie and Allison Janney. It's hard to believe this actually happened.
Plot in one sentence: The relationship between the Publisher and Editor of the Washington Post as they intend to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades.
Nominated for: Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role: Meryl Streep.
Why it’s so good: It’s a fantastic story, made enthralling and consuming by an Oscar-winning cast of Steven Spielberg directing Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. If you've seen the film poster, you'd be forgiven for thinking the name of the movie is 'Streep Hanks'.
Plot in one sentence: The story of Winston Churchill’s courage to lead against incredible odds that would change the course of history. No biggie.
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role: Gary Oldman, Cinematography, Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling.
Why it’s so good: Gary Oldman gives a highly impressive performance of a multi-dimensional character, and it encompasses a film that will grip your attention until the very end. A proper WWII classic.
Call Me By Your Name
Plot in one sentence: An engaging and enthralling tale of first love.
Nominated for: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role: Timothée Chalamet, Writing (Adapted Screenplay): James Ivory, Original Song.
Why it’s so good: This is the sort of movie you’ll find yourself thinking about for days to come. It'll leave a melancholy feeling in the pit of your stomach, but the acting is out of this world.
Plot in one sentence: Agnus Varda and JR, the director of this documentary, explore rural France creating portraits of all the peoples they come across. Giant portraits.
Nominated for: Documentary Feature.
Why it’s so good: Charming and powerful, this film is a delightfully arty road trip that's not quite like any other film/doco out there. It skilfully finds the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Plot in one sentence: Young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Coco is an adventure to find out about a family history, learning the values of life, death, family and culture.
Nominated for: Original Song, Animated Feature Film.
Why it’s so good: An exceedingly beautiful visual journey with a story that makes us feel all the feels. Limited to one animated film a year? Make it this one.
Blade Runner 2049
Plot in one sentence: A futuristic tale uncovering a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into turmoil.
Nominated for: Cinematography, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects.
Why it’s so good: It's a chilling view of what’s yet to come, but those who are fans of the original are really going to gravitate to this story. For the others, it is a triumph in visual effects, music, direction and camerawork.
Plot in one sentence: A dressmaker, at the centre of British fashion, finds himself swaying from his usual bachelor life for a new strong-willed muse and lover.
Nominated for: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis, Actress in a Supporting Role: Lesley Manville, Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, Music (Original Score), Costume Design.
Why it’s so good: Set in post-war 1950’s London, the costume design in this film is impeccable. It’s a film with beautiful attention to detail, breathtaking in many ways, that tells a story of undefended deep desires.
More of a doco person? We've got all the documentaries you should be watching right now over here.
Image credit: The Shape Of Water